In Vegetarian cooking for everyone, Deborah Madison writes that it’s sometimes difficult to know which potatoes are best for what. These words are still relevant 25 years later when you consider the variety of heirloom and conventional potato varieties found at grocery stores and farm stands.

The best potatoes to bake differ from those you use to make a vegetable soup or a gratin. Potatoes come in various sizes, textures, and levels of starch.

It is helpful to understand the three main types of potatoes: starchy potato, waxy potato, and all-purpose potatoes.

Starchy potatoes such as Idaho or Russet are great for baking, mashing, and frying.

Waxy potatoes are the best for any recipe that requires the potato to retain its shape. Red Bliss and Russian Banana are examples.

All-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or purple potatoes, have moderate amounts of starch and moisture, so they can be used for most recipes, whether mashed, steamed, or roasted.

Here are eight of the finest potatoes for baking, mashing, and roasting.

Russet Potatoes

Although Russet potatoes can be baked, they also make great mashed and good fried potatoes. Because they are rich in starch, thick-skinned Russet potato skins are ideal for baking.

Joshua McFadden writes in Six Seasons, “Their flesh soaks into liquids and falls apart to a fluffy texture. You want this in French fries, mashed potatoes, and potato soup. Do you want something else for potato salad, hash, or gratins?

You can try Russet potatoes with The Best Mashed Potatoes, Pommes Frites, or Baked Potatoes.

Idaho Potatoes

The Idaho Potato Commission has allowed trademarking of this name for any Idaho potato. However, most potatoes with this label are Russets. You can also interchange Russets and most Idaho potatoes in mashed, baked, and fried potato recipes.

Idaho Potatoes (Russets) in Melting Potatoes or Martha Stewart’s Idaho Potato Cake.

Red Bliss Potatoes

Red Bliss, also known as red potatoes, are easily identified by their thin red jackets. They have yellow interiors and can be identified by their waxy appearance. These are best used in salads, gratins, and any other dish the vegetable needs to retain its structural integrity.

Red Bliss potatoes can be found in Hasselback Potatoes and Classic Potato Salad.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold potatoes can be considered “all-purpose” because they are versatile and can be used in many recipes. They are rich in starch, allowing their interiors to turn creamy when heated in the oven. Additionally, their crusts are crunchy and waxy so that they can keep their shape. Yukon Golds make the best potatoes for roasting. However, they can be used in various recipes that require starchy or waxy potatoes.

You can try Yukon Gold potatoes in Gold, Crispy Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, and Dauphinoise Potatoes.

Purple Majesty Potatoes

These waxy potatoes, rich in purple hues and easy to find at farmers’ markets or grocery stores, are easy to spot. Purple Majesty potatoes, like Yukon Gold, have medium starch and low moisture levels. They can be used in baked or roasted dishes but are less suitable for mashed potatoes.

Try Purple Majesty potatoes with Diner Style Home Fries or Hasselback potatoes with Beet Salt.

Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerlings are often confused with new potatoes because of their small stature. They are a distinct variety of mature potatoes. They don’t need to be peeled, and their firm interiors can withstand high temperatures without losing shape.

Try fingerling potatoes in Crispy Parmesan Potatoes or Roasted Garlic Butter Fingerling Potatoes.

Russian Banana Potatoes

Russian Bananas, an heirloom potato, are usually three to four inches long and have a firm, waxy interior.

Russian Banana potatoes with Mustard-Braised Potatoes and Chicken Thighs or Roasted Fingerlings Potatoes With Pea Shoots, Pesto, and Hazelnuts

New Potatoes

This term covers any potato harvested in the early part of the season. New potatoes can include Russets, Red Bliss, and any other young potato. New potatoes are harvested earlier than mature starchy potatoes, so they have less starch. They also tend to retain their shape better. They have thin skins and plenty of moisture.

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