Potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, starring in favorite recipes such as creamy mashed potatoes, saucy scalloped potatoes, fluffy baked potatoes, and more. Start by picking a potato that is right for the recipe. There are three categories of potatoes: waxy (such as round white potatoes), high-starch (such as russet potatoes), and medium-starch (such as Yukon gold potatoes). Learn all about cooking potatoes with these tips.
For the best scalloped potatoes, select a waxy or medium-starch variety such as Yukon gold, red, yellow, or white potatoes. Slices of these potato varieties tend to hold their shape better during baking than higher-starch potatoes. Because these potatoes have thin peels (unlike russets), you can leave the peels on the potatoes for extra color and texture. Here are some other tips for making homemade scalloped potatoes:
The thickness of your potato slices is key; typically 1/8 inch is recommended. Because you'll want the thickness of all the slices to be consistent for even baking (to avoid over- or underbaked areas), your best bet is to use a mandoline. If you don't have access to a mandoline, use a sharp chef's knife to cut thin, even slices.
To ensure the white sauce for your scalloped potatoes is smooth and rich, always thicken it with a roux. A roux is a mixture of equal parts melted butter (or any fat) and flour that is whisked into the milk. The roux doesn't leave lumps in the sauce like a thickening mixture of flour and water, because the butter coats the starch molecules of the flour and prevents them from clumping. In addition, the butter adds a rich flavor to the sauce.
Get our classic Scalloped Potatoes Recipe.
Mashed potatoes are a delicious side for almost any kind of main dish. Start by selecting potatoes that are either high-starch or medium-starch varieties. Russets (high-starch) will give you light, fluffy mashed potatoes, while medium-starch varieties such as Yukon gold and red potatoes will give you a creamier texture. Follow these essential steps for amazing mashed potatoes:
Handheld Potato Masher
Mash potatoes with a potato masher or electric mixer, or press through a ricer.
A potato ricer will create the fluffiest mashed potatoes. To use this method, you will need to peel all of your pototoes before boiling.
If using an electric mixer to mash potatoes, only beat until potatoes are light and fluffy. Beating too long will break the starch molecules, giving the potatoes an undesireable gluey texture.
Popularized as the perfect side for a juicy steak, baked potatoes are among the easiest potato recipes to make. Always use high-starch potatoes, such as the russet. Here's the best no-hassle way to make baked potatoes for dinner: