A hearty beef stew is the perfect winter comfort food, helping you stay warm and cozy. Succulent beef paired with tender vegetables and satisfying potatoes in a rich gravy really is the ultimate one-pot dinner.
But what are the best potatoes for beef stew? Starchy potatoes such as russet or Yukon gold potatoes are great for adding thickness and texture to beef stew. Waxy potatoes such as new potatoes should be used for hearty, broth-based stews. For a sweeter flavor, consider using sweet potatoes.
Whether you’re new to making beef stew or looking for some inspiration, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the best potatoes for beef stew.
We’ve even got some great tips about how to prepare your potatoes to get the best out of them when using them in beef stew.
Why Put Potatoes In Beef Stew?
Beef stew is one of those all-time classic recipes and many of us remember sitting down to a bowl of this hearty dinner as a child.
Cooking beef at a low temperature over a long period of time really brings out the incredible flavor of this meat and is the best way to make the most of any tougher cuts of beef.
While beef is undoubtedly the star of the show here, many beef stews also contain an assortment of vegetables and potatoes. Vegetables are added for flavor as well as nutrition and also to bulk out the dish. But why would you add potatoes to a beef stew?
Quite simply, including potatoes in a beef stew is the perfect way to turn this into the ultimate one-pot dinner!
The combination of meats, vegetables, and potatoes creates a nutritionally balanced meal. This dish contains the perfect ratio of meat for protein, potatoes for carbohydrates, and vegetables for those vital vitamins and minerals.
The inclusion of potatoes provides a source of slow-release energy, which will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
And, of course, it tastes amazing!
Another reason why potatoes are used in a beef stew is that they can alter the texture and consistency of the dish.
The extent of this effect depends very much on the type of potato used. Some potatoes will thicken the gravy, creating a rich and flavorsome stew. This will have very little effect at all. Such is vital to select your type of potato carefully.
What Makes A Good Potato For Beef Stew?
There is no hard and fast answer to which is the perfect type of potato for beef stew.
The one you choose will depend on the type of stew you are making, as well as the effect you are looking for. This is because all types of potatoes behave differently when cooked within a stew.
You will need to take into consideration whether you want the potato to thicken the gravy or not, and what consistency of potato you were aiming for in the cooked dish.
The key to both of these factors is the level of starch within the potato. As the potatoes cook they release starch into the juices or gravy, and this will alter the texture of both the potato and the dish.
Potatoes that are high in starch will leach a lot of this into the stew, which will thicken the gravy considerably. These potatoes will not hold their shape as well and will become soft and crumbly when cooked in a stew.
Low starch potatoes have the opposite properties. They hold their shape well when cooked in liquid and do not tend to have any thickening effects.
Best Potatoes For Beef Stew
Hey, we have picked the five best potatoes for beef Stew, all with very different properties. So whether you’re cooking a rich tomato-based stew, a creamy casserole, or a flavorsome broth, we’ve got all bases covered.
Here are our top picks for the 5 best potatoes for beef stew:
1. Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yukon gold potatoes are medium-size potatoes with beautiful yellow gold skin.
They have a moderate level of starchiness, so will contribute to some thickening of the gravy whilst also holding their shape well. This makes them ideal for most types of beef stew.
Another great advantage to Yukon gold potatoes is that they have thinner outer skin than other types of potatoes. This means they can be added to the stew without being peeled first.
The skin of a potato is not only nutritious but also contributes a great depth of flavor to the dish.
Yukon gold potatoes are not as large as some other types of potatoes, but should still be sliced into smaller pieces before being added to a stew. Smaller cubes are better than large chunks as these may take a long time to cook right through to the middle.
This potato variety works particularly well in beef stews based on a rich tomatoey sauce, or a mushroom or lentil broth. They will add flavor and nutrients without adding too much thickness to the sauce.
2. Red Potatoes
Red potatoes are small, round potatoes with a distinctive red skin. The inner flesh is normally pure white and has a firm dense texture.
Red potatoes contain relatively low levels of starch and hold their shape incredibly well when cooked in a stew. They will become soft and tender without falling apart.
This means they do not tend to alter the texture of the gravy in your stew, making them perfect for a rich and hearty beef broth.
As red potatoes are quite small, they can be cooked whole within your dish. This adds a distinctive splash of red color to your delicious beef stew. Red potatoes are also perfect for cream-based beef stew recipes.
If you choose to dice your red potatoes, you may find that the skin peels away from the flesh whilst they are cooking. This is not necessarily a problem but can spoil the overall effect of your dish.
For this reason, you may prefer to peel red potatoes if you are dicing them into smaller chunks in your stew.
3. Russet Potato
Russet potatoes are often touted as the perfect potato for beef stew, but they should be used with care.
The reason for this is that russet potatoes have the highest amount of starch of all potato varieties. Whilst this is great for thickening stews, it can have some unwanted side effects.
As russet potatoes cook, they soak up liquids within your dish. This means they will be infused with the flavor of your recipe, but they will also become soft and tend to fall apart.
This starchiness also means that your final cooked stew is going to be very thick and rich. Incidentally, these properties also mean that russet potatoes are the perfect potatoes for making a delicious potato soup!
Most chefs prefer to peel russet potatoes before adding them to a stew. This is because they tend to fall apart during cooking, leading to undesirable pieces of skin floating around in the stew.
However, peeling these potatoes does lead to an additional increase in the thickening effect.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to traditional potatoes in a beef stew.
They added natural sweetness, which perfectly balances out the rich, salty flavors of your beef stew.
Sweet potatoes are also considered to be a healthier form of carbohydrate than normal potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are relatively high in starch and will break down and become soft and mushy in your stew.
They do not take as long to cook as normal potatoes, so it may be preferable to add them halfway through the cooking process. They should be peeled and diced into large chunks for the best results.
Because they can easily become overcooked and mushy, sweet potatoes are not the ideal choice if you are making a batch of beef stew for the freezer. For this, we would choose a potato that holds its shape well, such as red potatoes.
5. New Potatoes
Many people never consider using new potatoes in a Stew, preferring to enjoy them gently steamed instead.
But when it comes down to it, new potatoes are actually one of the best types to use in a beef stew!
New potatoes are normally very waxy and low in starch. They will hold their shape well and will not turn into mush when cooked in a stew. The skins are nice and thin, so they do not normally need to be peeled before cooking.
Another advantage of new potatoes is that they are normally relatively small and can be added whole to your recipe. If you prefer, you can slice or dice them – it’s entirely up to you!
The low level of starch in new potatoes means that they will not thicken your broth at all. If you’re looking for a rich, thick broth, opt for a starchy potato like the Yukon gold or russet instead.
And one final thought on new potatoes is that this type of potato can be bought in cans. So if you don’t have any fresh potatoes in the pantry, a can of new potatoes will do the job perfectly.