Red Potatoes vs Russet Potatoes: Unveiling the Battle of the Spuds

Red Potatoes vs. Russet Potatoes: A Comparative Analysis

Potatoes are a staple food in many cuisines around the world and come in many varieties. Among the many types of potatoes available, two popular varieties stand out: red potatoes and russet potatoes. While both types are widely used in cooking, they have different characteristics that make them suitable for different culinary applications. In this article, we will explore the differences between red and russet potatoes, including their appearance, uses, flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles. We will also provide cooking tips for each variety to bring out their best qualities.

Red Potatoes

Red potatoes are known for their thin skin and reddish color. Considered one of the most versatile potatoes, they can be cooked in a variety of ways and are known for their balanced sweet and earthy flavor. Their visual characteristics include a rounder shape compared to russet potatoes, with smooth skin and little to no black spots. The flesh of red potatoes is white to pale yellow and has a firmer texture than russet potatoes.


Red potatoes are versatile and can be used in many culinary applications. Their waxy, firm flesh holds its shape well after cooking, making them ideal for potato salads. Red potatoes can also be baked, roasted, boiled, and mashed. However, when mashed, they do not have the buttery, fluffy texture of russet potatoes.


Red potatoes have a sweeter flavor than russet potatoes. While not overwhelming, their sweetness can be accentuated in certain recipes, such as potato salads. The skin of red potatoes adds a distinct earthy flavor that enhances their overall sweetness. This combination of sweet and earthy notes makes red potatoes an excellent choice as a side dish to meat and vegetable-based recipes.

Nutrition facts

A medium-sized red potato (about 300 grams) contains about 130 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

Best ways to cook red potatoes

  1. Roasted red potatoes:
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Cut the red potatoes in half, leaving the skin on.
  • Place the potatoes flat (cut side down) on a baking sheet.
  • Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place the baking sheet with the potatoes in the oven and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until the skin becomes fluffy.
  • Once cooked, let the potatoes rest out of the oven for 5 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.
  • Add seasoning to taste and enjoy!
  1. Boiled red potatoes:
  • Wash and scrub the red potatoes to remove any dirt.
  • Put the potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover them.
  • Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Drain the water and allow the potatoes to cool slightly before using in the recipe of your choice.

Russet Potatoes

Russet potatoes, named for their russet skin, are the first choice for many classic potato dishes. They have a thick skin and fluffy flesh, making them ideal for recipes such as French fries and mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes have a higher starch content than red potatoes, which contributes to their unique texture.


The dry, fluffy flesh of russet potatoes makes them perfect for mashed potatoes. They can also be baked or roasted for a nice caramelized exterior. The skin of russet potatoes can be cooked, but it tends to have a chewier texture than other thin-skinned potatoes. However, russet potatoes are best known for their high starch content in French fries. The starch gives them a distinctive crispy texture and fluffy interior, making them a favorite choice for fast food chains like McDonald’s.


Russet potatoes have a milder and more neutral flavor than other potato varieties. This mildness makes them compatible with a variety of seasonings and cooking methods. They have a slightly earthy flavor that complements a wide range of seasonings. Cooking russet potatoes in flavored oils such as peanut, avocado, or duck fat can further enhance their flavor.

Nutrition facts

A medium-sized russet potato (about 300 grams) contains about 170 calories, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.

Best ways to cook russet potatoes

  1. Russet Potato Puree:
  • Peel and chop the russet potatoes.
  • Place the potato pieces in a pot and cover with cold water.
  • Add salt to the water and bring to a boil.
  • Cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Drain the water from the pot and return the potatoes to a low heat for a few minutes to remove any excess moisture.
  • Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork.
  • Add butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  • Adjust consistency by adding more milk if needed.
  • Serve the mashed potatoes as a delicious side dish.
  1. Roasted russet potatoes:
  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Wash and scrub the russet potatoes, then cut into evenly sized wedges or cubes.
  • Place the potato pieces in a mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and add salt, pepper and any herbs or spices you like (such as rosemary or paprika).
  • Toss the potatoes in the bowl until they are evenly coated with the oil and spices.
  • Place the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast the potatoes in a preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the potatoes cool for a few minutes before serving.


In conclusion, both red and russet potatoes have unique characteristics that make them suitable for a variety of culinary uses. Red potatoes offer a balance of sweetness and earthiness and are ideal for potato salads, roasting, boiling, and various other cooking methods. Russet potatoes, on the other hand, are known for their fluffy, starchy texture, making them perfect for mashed potatoes, French fries and baking. Understanding the differences between these two popular potato varieties can help you choose the right one for your recipes and create delicious meals. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider your cooking needs and preferences when deciding whether to pick up a bag of red or russet potatoes.


What is the main difference between red and russet potatoes?

Red potatoes have a thinner skin, rounder shape, and firmer texture than russet potatoes. Russet potatoes, on the other hand, have a thicker skin, a more elongated shape, and a fluffier texture.

Can I use red and russet potatoes interchangeably in recipes?

While both red and russet potatoes are versatile, they have different textures and flavors. Red potatoes hold their shape well when cooked and are great for potato salads, roasting and boiling. Russet potatoes are great for mashed potatoes and baking. While you can substitute one for the other in some recipes, the texture and flavor of the dish may change.

Do red and russet potatoes have different nutritional profiles?

Yes, there are slight differences in the nutrient profiles of red and russet potatoes. Red potatoes tend to have slightly fewer calories and carbohydrates than russet potatoes. However, the exact nutritional content can vary depending on the size of the potato and how it is prepared.

Can I eat the skin of both red and russet potatoes?

Yes, you can eat the skin of both red and russet potatoes. However, the skin of red potatoes is thin and smooth, making them more palatable. The skin of russet potatoes is thicker and can have a slightly tougher texture, so it may be a matter of personal preference whether or not to eat it.

Which potato variety is best for making French fries?

Russet potatoes are the preferred choice for making French fries. Their high starch content and fluffy texture make them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside for delicious French fries.

Are red or russet potatoes better for potato salads?

Red potatoes are often preferred for potato salads because they hold their shape well after cooking. Their firm texture adds a nice bite to the salad. However, some people enjoy the fluffy texture of russet potatoes in their potato salads. Ultimately, the choice depends on personal preference and the desired texture of the potato salad.