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Potatoes: humble, historic, and transcendent in the right hands. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about making perfect potatoes.

A potato is an unassuming thing, yet it has almost unlimited potential; mash it, bake it, boil it, roast it, fry it, pine for it if you’ve decided to cut carbs. It’s certainly deserving of its own holiday, and it has one: National Potato Day is on August 19. To celebrate the stupendous spud then and all year long, we put together this guide to (almost) everything you need to know about potatoes.

Potatoes at a Glance

While we’re mostly familiar with a few basic types of potatoes (russet, Yukon Gold, new potatoes, red potatoes, fingerlings), there are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes in the world, most of which grow in the Andean Mountain region—no wonder Peruvian cuisine is so heavy on spuds. They’ve become a staple ingredient in cultures worldwide, though they’ve also recently been vilified as carb-heavy diet destroyers. It’s true that they’re no superfood when it comes to nutritional value; potatoes are mostly water, and are indeed high in carbs. They’re low in fat, though, and contain significant doses of vitamins B6 and C—but when you cook them, those vitamin levels decrease, so maybe a moot point unless you enjoy munching raw potatoes.

We don’t (okay, some of us do occasionally sneak a raw potato slice when we’re cooking—anyone else?), but we definitely can’t resist potatoes in any of their other glorious forms.

are sprouted potatoes poisonous?

Jenny Dettrick / Moment / Getty Images

Can Potatoes Poison You?

Before you prep your potatoes, you should know one other thing: Are sprouted potatoes poisonous? (Spoiler: They’re probably fine as long as you cut off the sprouts and green spots, with a couple other caveats. Find out more, then get cookin’!)

How to Cook & Peel Potatoes

How best to cook potatoes depends, of course, on what end result you’re going for (crisp, creamy, a combination of the two), but if you need to peel your potatoes, here’s an easy hack for doing it without a peeler:

Bialetti Pasta Pot with Strainer Lid, $34.99 on Amazon

This pot makes draining your potatoes a cinch too.
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Now, on to all the terrific things you can do with a potato, broken down into rough categories so you can easily find your faves!


Potato Salad Pointers

In summer, potato salad is a mainstay, but there are so many ways to make it you’ll never get tired of finding it on your picnic table or backyard BBQ platter. However, there are some pressing questions concerning potato salad, which we’ve addressed:

Korean Potato Salad recipe

Chowhound

Naturally, we’ve collected plenty of potato salad recipes too; here are some highlights:


Mastering Mashed Potatoes

As we move into the cooler months, mashed potatoes will be on our plates much more often, and this is a superb way to make them:

But as always, there are divided opinions on the perfect mashed potatoes, so here are some oldie-but-goodie threads on the matter from the Chowhound community:

OXO Good Grips Potato Ricer, $24.95 on Amazon

If you like super smooth potatoes, a ricer is the only way to go.
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And a couple other interesting points concerning mashed potato shortcuts:


Beautiful Baked Potatoes (& Roast Potatoes Too)

These dishes are fraternal twins so we’re lumping them together—and potato skins too, because they’re kind of like a hybrid of both.

Baked Potatoes

Another classic potato preparation, baked potatoes are a blank canvas and can be dressed up any which way.

Fully Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes recipe

Chowhound

Why, yes, we have some ideas:

Roasted Potatoes

They’re cooked in a similar manner (dry heat in the oven), though they’re cut into smaller pieces first and often peeled.

Perfect Roast Potatoes

View Recipe

Here are a couple more hot tips for making them:

Potato Skins

baked potato skins with sour cream, cheese, and bacon

Chowhound

At some dreamy place in between the two lies the potato skin, bar snack extraordinaire, well worth mastering at home.


Fantastic Fried Potatoes

Fried potatoes are eternal, good all year round for any meal of the day. Here are a few of our favorite forms and some essential info on each iteration:

French Fries

Chowhound

They really need no introduction.

Potato Chips

Is there any better partner to a sandwich?

Tater Tots

Cafeteria classic, still going strong.

easy homemade tots recipe

Chowhound

Potato Latkes

What’s not to love?

Don't Forget About Hash Browns!

View Recipe


Potatoes’ Other Fabulous Forms

The whole world loves a potato, so here are even more ways to spotlight spuds on your menu:

Potato & Cheese Pizza

View Recipe


Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole with Bourbon

Chowhound

Though similarly named to spuds, sweet potatoes are not actually potatoes—they’re considered root vegetables, not tubers (and they come from the morning glory family, while potatoes are nightshades). Nonetheless, you can prepare them in virtually all the same ways as true potatoes, plus put them in all your holiday casseroles. Check out our sweet potato recipe page for even more delicious ideas.

What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes? Got a hot potato tip? Let us know in the comments!

Header image courtesy of billnoll / E+ / Gettty Images

Jen is an associate content producer at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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