Potatoes get a bad rap in this anti carb world, but try as I might to avoid them, I love those little bundles of starchy goodness. I blame Julie Van Rosendaal for my latest obsession; hash browns cooked in the waffle iron.

So the other day I needed to buy spuds and I couldn’t figure out which ones to buy. Silly right? Do I want reds, whites, russets, baby, purple, or Yukon’s? And when did it get so complicated?

My meal plan for the week included French fries (baked in the oven, not fried), mashed potatoes and hash browns as side dishes. I knew that different potatoes had different starchiness but I didn’t have a clue which was which. Once I made mashed potatoes with the wrong kind of potatoes and they ended up gooey and gross. I don’t want to do that again, but I also don’t want to buy several different kinds because they will go bad before we use them.

So what’s a girl to do? I came home and looked through my kitchen bible; The Joy of Cooking.

Here is what I learned, there are 2 basic types of (regular, non sweet) potatoes:


Waxy or boilers are generally round, can be red or white (or yellow) skinned and are high in moisture, low in starch. They have waxy skins and firm texture so these are great for gratins, soups/stews, potato salads or anywhere you want the potato to retain its shape. They will absorb butter, broth and sauce but do not become mushy. They are also yummy baked as they have a firm but sweet flesh.


Baker potatoes are usually knobby and tuberous, generally white skinned and are low in moisture, high in starch. Their skins are dry and papery with a very soft textured and fluffy flesh so they are good for baking, frying and mashing and they absorb flavors well. They shouldn’t be boiled unless it’s a recipe in which you want them to fall apart (i.e. mashed or as a thickener for soups).

So in my case, a bag of Russets would fit the bill perfectly. Now that I know the difference in my taters, there will be no more produce aisle indecision for me!