Quick Guide to Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes and sweet potatoes may be basic staples for cold weather menus, but there’s nothing boring about them. The options are endless for holiday feasts and everyday evenings.

Easy Duchess PotatoesThe most delicious foods are waiting for you this season, and we’re here to help you discover them. Through mid-November we’re featuring must-have information on the season’s best ingredients and dishes — winter squash, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing and pies! — to help you plan the tastiest celebrations and everyday meals.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes may be basic staples for cold weather menus, but there’s nothing boring about them. You can roast them, grate them, slice or dice them, steam them, fry them, smash or mash them and dress them up or spice them up. The options are endless!



Look for potatoes that are firm, smooth and the color they should be for their variety. Avoid potatoes that feel soft or have a green tinge or wrinkly skin.

Here are some of the most popular varieties of potatoes and how to use them:

  • Red Bliss and Red Dakota — dry and flaky texture, sweet; ideal for roasting or potato salad

  • Russet and Idaho — starchy dry texture; try baking or mashing

  • Yellow Fingerling — moist, flavorful; perfect for roasting with other juicy veggies

  • Yellow Finn — buttery and creamy flavor; a match for boiling and baking

  • Yukon Gold — tender and buttery texture; an all-purpose potato used for roasting, baking or mashing

Sweet Potatoes

Look for firm, medium-sized sweet potatoes that are tapered at both ends. The skin should be smooth without brown spots.

Mini Potato and Carrot Pancakes with Festive Sour Cream
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Potatoes will keep well in a cool, dry and dark place for a number of months. Exposure to direct sunlight may turn them green and make them bitter. Green potatoes and potato sprouts are high in the alkaloid solanine, which can be toxic if eaten in large quantities. Green potatoes should not be eaten and sprouts on any potatoes should be removed before cooking.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes spoil faster than regular potatoes. Store them at room temperature with good ventilation (for instance in a single layer in a wire basket). Use them within two to three days or one week at the very most. Sweet potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator but do well in dry, dark conditions around 55°F.


Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes opens in a new tab


With potatoes and sweet potatoes, you’re never short on delicious holiday dishes that look impressive too. Here are a few ideas for festive feasts and parties.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
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Potatoes and sweet potatoes are great for everyday meals because they are affordable, filling, easy to prepare and versatile. Here are a few:

  • Baked. Elevate burger night with Baked Sweet Potato Fries opens in a new tab. Seasoning with a blend of 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground spices such as ginger, paprika or cinnamon, if desired. High heat cooking concentrates the sweet potatoes’ natural sweetness and makes for a deliciously crisp snack.

  • With spice. Warm up on a chilly night with Spicy Beef and Potato Curry opens in a new tab served over rice. Potatoes soak up surrounding flavors making them great additions to gravies and stews.

  • In a soup. Potatoes are the starring role in this Potato and Leek Soup with Brie Croutons opens in a new tab. It can be prepared ahead of time and frozen making it perfect for an easy weeknight meal. Potatoes’ starchy texture makes this soup extra creamy.

  • As a sweet treat. Sweet Potato Apple Cake opens in a new tab is a simple moist cake ideal for afternoon tea or coffee with friends or as a treat during a gift-wrapping marathon. Sweet potatoes are sweet (who knew?!) and have a caramel-like flavor and slightly sticky texture when cooked making them a great addition to baked goods.

  • In the morning. Leftover cooked potatoes make the best breakfasts! Enjoy them in Mushroom Potato Hash opens in a new tab, breakfast tacos or cube them, reheat in a pan and top with an egg.

Be sure to check out all of our favorite potato and sweet potato recipes opens in a new tab. And for more seasonal recipe collections, tips and how-tos, visit our holiday guide opens in a new tab.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy potatoes or sweet potatoes?

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