Red Potatoes Vs Russet Potatoes
Potatoes come in several varieties. Just take a quick look at the vegetable aisle in your local supermarket and you’ll likely see at least two to three types of potatoes.
There are more than 200 different varieties but when it comes to everyday cooking, only two types of potatoes stand out: russet and red potatoes.
Red potatoes vs russet potatoes, what’s the difference? Russet potatoes have thick skin with fluffy flesh. These potatoes have a high starch content which makes them ideal for French fries and other delicious recipes. Red potatoes have a thinner skin and a waxy texture, they are great for salads and other recipes that require roasting or baking.
Read on to learn more about the important distinctions between these two types of beloved potatoes and how they are best used!
Russet potatoes get their name from the russet color of their skin. There are several types of russet potatoes, but generally, all of them have more or less the same characteristics.
The primary characteristic of russet potatoes is that they have firm and thick skin which usually requires a high-quality peeler.
The flesh on the inside has a distinct fluffy texture with a high starch content which makes it ideal for frying and mashing purposes.
Russet potatoes can also be bigger and have an oblong-like shape.
They are one of the most consumed varieties of potatoes in the world, and since they are the default choice for making French fries, you may have already tried them in various fast-food restaurants.
Here are some of the important features of russet potatoes:
Russet potatoes have golden-brown skin with a subtle reddish tinge. These potatoes also have fewer spots (or eyes) around the skin and a leaf-like shape.
When peeled, the flesh of the potatoes has a white to pale yellow color and a floury texture, if you rub your thumb against the skin, you will notice white starch form around the edges of your finger!
Although the excess superficial starch can be washed away, the potato will still inherently have a higher starch content than other potatoes.
Since russet potatoes have a dry and fluffy flesh, they are ideal for making mashed potatoes. They can also be baked or roasted to give them a beautiful and delicious caramelized exterior.
The skin of russet potatoes can also be cooked but will take on a particularly chewy texture compared to other thin-skinned potatoes.
The best way to get the most out of these potatoes is to either deep fry them or cook them in an air fryer!
The high starch content helps them get that distinct crispy texture and fluffy interior that is associated with most fast-food fries.
For example, McDonald’s uses Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russe, and other russet varieties for its world-famous fries.
This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using russet potatoes. These potatoes have a milder and more neutral flavor than other types of potatoes, which can be distinctly sweet.
Russet potatoes also provide a faint earthy flavor that goes well with virtually any type of seasoning.
How can their mild flavor be used in cooking?
Well, you can cook or fry the potatoes in flavored oils like peanut, avocado oil, or even duck fat! These oils will impart a delicious flavor that can be further accentuated with the use of seasonings.
Just as the name suggests, red potatoes are a type of potato with thin skin and a reddish exterior.
Red potatoes are known to be one of the most versatile types of potatoes.
They can be cooked in many different ways and are also known for their balanced sweet and earthy flavor that can be paired with several vegetable and even meat-based recipes.
Red potatoes may not be as widely used as russet potatoes, but they are equally popular and may even be the preferred choice in some cooking scenarios.
Here are the characteristics of red potatoes:
Red potatoes are usually smaller than russet potatoes and have a rounder shape – but their shape and size may vary from one subvariety to another.
The skin of red potatoes is noticeably thinner and lighter which means that they are easier to peel and can also be cooked with the skin on.
The skin is also generally smooth with little to no black spots on the exterior. The flesh of these potatoes has a white to pale yellow color and is texturally firmer than russet potatoes.
Red potatoes are known to be very versatile. These potatoes have waxy and firm flesh which allows them to retain their shape even after they are cooked. This makes them especially ideal for various potato salads.
These potatoes can be baked, roasted, boiled, and even mashed – but since they are firmer, they won’t provide the same buttery and fluffy texture as russet potatoes when mashed.
Red potatoes can also be cooked with the skin on. Cooking the skin gives it a crispy and lightly flaky texture which provides a pleasing mouthfeel.
We highly recommend using red potatoes with the skin on when frying for the best experience!
Red potatoes have a sweeter flavor than russet potatoes. Although they aren’t overpowering, their sweetness can be accentuated in certain recipes, like potato salads.
The skin of red potatoes also provides a distinct earthy flavor that adds to their overall sweetness.
The combination of sweet and earthy notes makes red potatoes the best choice for various side dishes for meat and vegetable-based recipes.
Here is a quick and easy chart for the differences between russet and red potatoes:
|Red Potatoes||Russet Potatoes|
|Skin and Color||Thin skin, reddish color||Thick skin, golden to light brown color|
|Flavor||Slightly sweeter and earthy flavor.||Neutral flavor with earthy notes.|
|Texture||Waxy, firm texture||Fluffy texture|
|Best Used||Salads, roasting, baking, boiling, frying.||The default choice for French fries and mashed potatoes. Can also be boiled and roasted.|
|Size||Usually smaller and rounder.||Larger with an oblong shape.|
|Nutrition (Medium, 300g)||130 calories, Carbs: 30g, Fat: 1g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 2g.||170 calories, Carbs: 38g, Fat: 2g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 2g.|
Best Ways to Cook Russet and Red Potatoes
Here are two popular ways to cook each type of potato to bring out the best of their characteristics:
Russet French Fries
To make delicious crispy-on-the-outside and fluffy-on-the-inside fries, follow the below recipe:
- Peeled and cut russet potatoes 250g
- Pot of oil of your choice
Step 1) Thoroughly wash the cut fries in a bowl of water to remove the excess starch.
Step 2) Drain the water again and rewash them until the water is clear. Put the submerged fries in the fridge at 40F for about 4-8 hours. This will cause them to become crispy and will also help in cooking them equally.
Step 3) Drain the water and then pat the fries using a dry paper towel to remove excess moisture. Then heat a pot with an oil of your choice to 300F. Carefully put the fries in and cook them for about 4-5 minutes.
This method of cooking is called blanching.
Step 4) Remove the fries and let them rest on a wire rack. We recommend resting the fries in the freezer at 0F for about 2-3 hours.
Step 5) Now heat the oil to 375F and cook the fries until they get a nice even color and crispy texture. Voila; season them immediately and enjoy fluffy and crispy restaurant-level fries at home!
Roasted Red Potatoes
Roasting will caramelize the sugars in red potatoes and bring out all of their favorable characteristics! Here’s how:
- Halved red potatoes (with skin) 250g
- Olive Oil
Prerequisite) Preheat oven to 400F.
Step 1) Cut the potatoes and lay them down flat (cut side down) on a baking sheet.
Step 2) Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3) When the oven is preheated, put the baking tray with the potatoes at the bottom. We want to cook the potatoes slowly!
Step 4) Cook the potatoes for about 20-30 minutes or until their skin starts to become fluffy.
Step 5) When cooked, let them rest for 5 minutes outside, and then move the potatoes to a bowl. Add additional seasoning if required and enjoy!
Russet and red potatoes may seem similar, but they have a few key differences that make them entirely different! Now that you know how each type is unique, here are some related questions:
What is the best way to store red and russet potatoes?
Both potatoes can be stored in the same way and they also have the same shelf life. Store the potatoes in a cellar, away from sunlight and moisture for the best experience.
If you want added convenience, then you can also freeze balanced russet potato French fries and cook them as needed!
Are red and russet potatoes available all season?
Red and russet potatoes are grown all year and can be readily available at any superstore. You can also easily grow your very own potatoes at home using simple gardening methods that can produce up to 4-6 potatoes from one seed potato!