Varieties and Uses for Potatoes


The potato is America’s favorite vegetable, according to a 2009 survey conducted by the Idaho Potato Commission. However, not all potatoes are alike. According the U.S. Potato Board, hundreds of varieties of potatoes are grown in all 50 states in the United States. Over 100 varieties are grown in Colorado alone. In spite of the large amount of varieties, potatoes can be sorted into six types, based on specific characteristics.


  • Russet potatoes are the most widely used potatoes in the United States, and 99 percent of the potatoes grown in Idaho are russet potatoes. These potatoes have an even, round shape, brown-colored skin with few shallow eyes and white flesh. Russets are high in starch and have a light and fluffy texture when cooked. These all-purpose potatoes are particularly good for baking, frying and mashing. Russets are available all year long.

Round White

  • Round white potatoes have a creamy white flesh that has a medium to low starch level. The skin is smooth, thin and tan in color. Because these versatile potatoes hold their shape after cooking, they are particularly good for boiling for use in salads. Additionally, this all-purpose potato is ideal for steaming, frying or roasting. Round white potatoes are available all year long.

Long White

  • Long white potatoes, like the round white potatoes, have a white flesh and smooth, thin tan skin. However, instead of a round shape, the long white potatoes are oval-shaped. Long white potatoes have a medium starch level and a creamy texture when cooked. This all-purpose potato is excellent boiled, microwaved or pan-fried. Long white potatoes are available all year long.


  • Yellow-flesh potatoes like the popular Yukon gold potatoes are firm with a cream to light brown, smooth skin. The golden flesh is dense and creamy. When cooked, these potatoes have a mild buttery flavor. Yellow potatoes perform well mashed, baked, steamed, roasted and boiled. Because of their increasing popularity, these potatoes are now available most of the year.


  • Red potatoes are easily recognized by their naturally rosy red skin. The flesh can be white, yellow or red. The firm, smooth waxy texture makes them great for roasting, boiling or steaming. Because they maintain their shape well during cooking and mixing, red potatoes are also a good choice for salads and soups. They are available year-round.

Blue and Purple

  • Blue and purple potatoes originated in South America but are gaining popularity in the United States. The richly colored skins of these uncommon potatoes vary in color from dark blue to deep purple. The flesh has a nutty flavor that can vary in color from dark blue to lavender to white. Blue and purple potatoes can be steamed or baked with excellent results; however, microwaving preserves the interesting colors the best. These unusual potatoes are mainly available in the fall.

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