Is there any more perfect flavor delivery device than the noble potato? While we normally associate potatoes with European and Northern American dishes, this starchy staple was first cultivated around 8,000 BC by the Incas in Peru. Since then, they have become a mainstay in homes, topping the chart as the fifth most important crop around the world.
There are now more than 200 varieties of potatoes sold in the United States alone, and 4,000 varieties worldwide! Each type can be categorized in one of seven types:
- Russet: Thick skin with a light and fluffy center that is best used in baking, roasting, sautéed , mashing, or fried.
- Red: Thin skin and stays firm when cooked. Best baked or roasted, boiled for salads, soups and stews, grilling, or steamed.
- Yellow: Thin skin, but with a creamier texture. Best baked, mashed, boiled for salads, in soups and stews, or grilled.
- White: Thin skin, nutty flavor, and firm when cooked. Best pan fried or sautéed, boiled for salads, soups and stews, fried, or steamed.
- Purple: Vibrant violet color and earthy flavor. Best baked or roasted, boiled for salads, steamed or microwaved.
- Fingerling: Nutty and buttery flavor, firm texture when cooked. Best baked or roasted, sautéed, steamed or microwaved.
- Petite: Just how it sounds! Teeny versions of their larger counterparts. Usually have a more pronounced flavor. Good for baking, roasting, pan frying, sautéing, and microwaving.
What Spices or Herbs Go Best With Potatoes?
Better question: what doesn’t? A potato’s mild flavor allows it to absorb whatever you want to sprinkle it with.
The Classic Spices and Herbs
- Garlic (Minced, Granules or Powder)
- Black Malabar Pepper
- Summer Savory
- Sweet Paprika
- Smoked Paprika
Some Spices That are a Bit More Out of the Box
- Ancho Pepper: If you like Paprika, but also like a little heat, try Ancho. It’s simply dried poblano pepper
- Sumac: Tart, similar to lemon juice. A great replacement for those watching their salt intake
- Chili Flakes
- Nigella/Kalonji Black Seeds: Traditionally used in Indian cuisine as a garnish for Aloo
- Coriander Seed Powder
- Turmeric Root Powder
Spice Blends, Flavored Salts and Pinch Seasonings That Will Be a Big Hit on Potatoes
- Balsamic Salt: A kicking salt that will have your taste buds tingling with delight!
- Black Truffle Salt: A natural, delicious sea salt with black truffles.
- Blackened (Blackening Seasoning)*: Our special blend of Cajun spices with paprika, garlic, black pepper, thyme, celery seed, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
- Buffy’s Slayer Helper: All organic blend of minced garlic, garlic granules, garlic powder, chili flakes, parsley, sea salt, and basil.
- Humboldt Sazón: This sazón has no MSG! But it does have sea salt, black pepper, white pepper, cumin, garlic, onion, coriander, oregano, and annatto (for color.)
- Pinch Valley Ranch (with Buttermilk): Midwestern moms rejoice! Toss that pouch and throw this into the rotation for roasted potatoes! Contains dairy, (not vegan,) but an herby blend of garlic, onion, salt, parsley, black pepper, dill, and chives mixes with creamy buttermilk powder and no added preservatives!
- Madras-Style Curry Powder*: A classic blend of cayenne chili, turmeric, fenugreek and Ceylon cinnamon.
- Everything on Everything: Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, minced onion and salt
- Herbs de Provence*: Traditional French herbal blend with basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, and a hint of floral lavender.
- La Dulce Vita: Translating to “The Good Life” in Italian, this is a spicy salty, sweet blend with salt, evaporated cane sugar, fennel, garlic, black pepper, basil, coriander, and bird’s eye chili.
- Porcini Salt: Oh yeah, this exists and it’s wonderful. Sea salt infused with porcini mushrooms. You gotta try it.
- Veggie Sprinkle: Potatoes are vegetables, too! Lemon zest, garlic, green peppercorns, grey salt, summer savory, sesame seed, Herbs de Provence, celery seed, and ginger.
- Mrs. Pinch (Salt Free) Seasoning*: All organic and salt free, minced onion, coriander, granulated onion, celery seed, sumac, onion powder, dill weed, black pepper, and dill seed.
- Za’atar: Citrusy and herbal with sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, salt, oregano and marjoram.
Like we said earlier, potatoes are so versatile, you can’t go wrong. There are no rules. Sprinkle on your favorites and enjoy.
The Best Methods for Cooking Potatoes
Use a fork to carefully poke through the skin about 10 times around the potato, (which will keep it from exploding in your oven!) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a foil or parchment lined sheet pan, Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and carefully brush with butter or oil and sprinkle with your favorite salt or salt blend. Replace on the sheet pan top side down to cook evenly. Place sheet pan with potatoes back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Check doneness by piercing with a sharp knife. Cook for 5 minute increments until potato is soft all the way through. Slice lengthwise and serve with your favorite toppings.
Or you can impress your diners with this super fancy and easy Hasselback Potato recipe.
There are two schools of thought here. The first is a two step process of boiling the potatoes prior to roasting which makes a crunchy outer layer and fluffier center. The second is more roasted on the outside and a firmer texture. Both are equally delicious.
Boil a large lidded pot of water (about 2 quarts) with 2 large tablespoons salt, half teaspoon baking soda, and 4 pounds of potatoes chopped into 1-inch pieces. Bring up to a boil, then simmer until soft which will take about 10 minutes.
Drain the potatoes. Mix together 5 tablespoons olive oil and seasonings and add to the drained potatoes. Put the lid on the pot, and carefully, while securing the lid and wearing oven mitts, roughly shake the pot for about 30 seconds.
Transfer potatoes to a rimmed sheet pan and spread evenly. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove sheet pan and use a spatula to turn potatoes. Replace sheet pan into the oven and cook 30-40 more minutes. Remove from oven and salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 3-4 pounds of potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place into a large bowl. Add ¼ cup good olive oil, 1-2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1-2 teaspoons of your seasoning. Toss until potatoes are well coated.
Transfer to a sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour using a spatula to turn the potatoes halfway through cooking time.
Pan Fried/Sautéed Spuds
Slice potatoes into ¼ inch medallions. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of high heat oil, (coconut oil, peanut oil, avocado oil are good ones,) to high heat. Add medallions and season with salt and pepper. (Any seasoning with garlic, herbs or sugar may burn, so you will want to add this at the end.)
Cook untouched for 4-5 minutes. Flip potatoes with a spatula and cook 4-5 minutes, or until golden. Add your seasoning and serve.
Homestyle Mashed Potatoes
Again, two preferences here, skin on or off. That’s a personal choice. Cut potatoes into evenly sized pieces. Add to a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes or until soft.
Drain the water. Return to dry pot and turn the heat to “low”. Using oven mitts, gently shake the pot on the burner for about one minute to remove excess water and steam. Remove from heat and mash your potatoes using your favorite masher. Add butter, milk, seasoning, salt, and pepper in whatever combination tastes best to you.
Boiling ‘Taters for Salad
Follow the same instructions for mashed potatoes, (boil for 10-12 minutes,) then… don’t mash them. Follow your favorite recipe for potato salad or check out this yummy curry version of potato salad.
Fried (The French Fry Kind)
Slice potatoes into ½ inch sticks. Soak in cold water from 1 hour to overnight. The longer you soak, the crispier the fries will be. Dump the water and rinse with cold water through a strainer. Using paper towels or a tea towel, pat completely dry.
In batches, so as to not overcrowd the fryer, deep fat fry at 300 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Remove from fryer. Increase the heat to 400 and place the par-cooked fries back in the fryer in batches until the outside is golden and crispy. Finish with your favorite gourmet salt or seasoning (and see dipping sauce recipes below!).
Shredded and Hasbrown’ed (Yep, we’re calling that a method!)
Shred one pound of peeled Russet potatoes on the largest holes of your grater or food processor. Wring out excess liquid by placing the grated potato in the center of a clean kitchen towel, gather up the sides to make a bundle, and squeeze the shreds. (You can let the starch settle from that liquid and use it in place of corn starch in recipes!)
Transfer potatoes to a plate lined with 2 layers of paper towels and cook on high for 2 minutes. In a large nonstick skillet on medium high heat, bring oil to temperature and then add shredded potato.
Season with salt, pepper, or seasoning, and press flat with a spatula. Do not move for 2 minutes. Use spatula to flip and cook 2 more minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat, drain on paper towel, and serve immediately.
This is a great method for baby potatoes and fingerlings! In a large bowl, toss washed and dried potatoes with oil, salt, pepper, and other seasoning of your choice.
Air fry at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the air fryer basket, stir or toss and cook for 8-10 more minutes at 400.
Yes! The ol’ science oven! Place about 1 pound of small or fingerling potatoes in a microwave-safe baking dish, spreading them out as much as possible. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water. Cover tightly and microwave about 8 minutes, or until tender. After the potatoes have cooled, discard any remaining liquid. Add butter, oil, salt, pepper and seasonings.
If you want to make a quick after school or work snack, you can also make a quick microwaved “baked” potato. (As a latch-key kid of the ‘90s, I had this a lot growing up.) Take a medium Russet potato and poke with a fork about 10 times. Cut the potato lengthwise and add a full bay leaf in between the halves. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, taking care to twist the ends of the wrap and tuck them under. (This is important if you don’t want a rubbery potato.)
Cook for 5-8 minutes or until you can pierce the potato with a sharp knife. Allow to cool a few minutes with the plastic wrap on, and then remove the wrap. Remove the bay leaf and add your toppings as you would a baked potato.
Cut 4 large potatoes into 8 wedges. Boil in well salted water for 5-7 minutes.
Oil the grate of a medium high heat grill. In a large bowl, mix together ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and any desired seasonings. Toss the wedges in the olive oil mixture. Place potatoes on the grill and cook for 5 minutes or so and turn once.
8 Easy Homemade Potato/French Fry Dipping Sauces
- Famous Fry Sauce: In a small bowl, add ⅓ cup ketchup, ⅔ cup mayonnaise (regular or vegan,) and 1 teaspoon dill or Kosher pickle juice. Stir to combine.
- Garlic Aioli: In a small bowl, add 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Buffy’s Slayer Helper, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and pinch of black pepper.
- Honey Mustard: In a small bowl, add ⅓ c Dijon mustard, ¼ cup honey (or you can sub agave, date, or maple syrup for vegans,) 1 tablespoon lemon juice, (or you can sub white or apple cider vinegars.) Stir to combine.
- Cajun Remoulade: In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Louisiana style hot sauce, 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard, 1 teaspoon Buffy’s Slayer Helper, 2 teaspoons chopped capers, (or pickle relish,) 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons Blackened Seasoning. Stir to combine.
- Peanut Dipping Sauce: In a small bowl, mix together, ⅓ cup chunky peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce, 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Stir to combine. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency. Stir to combine.
- Spicy Ketchup: In a small bowl, add ⅓ cup ketchup, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons of sriracha hot sauce. Stir to combine.
- Curry Mayo: In a small bowl, add ⅓ cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons Madras-Style Curry Powder, 1 teaspoon lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro to taste. Stir to combine.
- Sri-Ranch-a: In a small bowl, add ½ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup sour cream, 1 ½ tablespoons of Mrs. Pinch (Salt Free) Seasoning, and 1 tablespoon of sriracha hot sauce (if you can take the heat!) Stir to combine.
With the vast variety of potatoes and the multitude of ways they can be prepared, there’s a spud for every bud! All that’s left to do is get creative, and Pinch Spice Market is here to help.