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Potatoes 101

August 29, 2022
9 min. read

Who doesn’t love a delicious side of potatoes with any meal? With so many varying forms to choose from, it’s hard not to love at least one version. Which one is it for you: a hearty baked potato loaded with toppings like cheese, chives, and bacon? Or maybe you prefer the crispy bite of freshly-cooked shoestring fries that pair perfectly with a burger? Of course, our favorite is a fluffy Martin’s Potato Roll alongside a homemade dinner plate.

Whichever potato type is your personal preference, familiarize yourself with all things potato with our Complete Guide to Potatoes.

Potatoes 101 - Infographc


The Complete Guide to Potatoes

Click the links below to skip to the various sections:


Baked Potato

We’ll start off this guide with one of the more formal or classic versions of potatoes – baked! With so many delicious toppings to choose from, a baked potato makes a perfect side to many entrees or a delicious meal all on its own!

Tips for Baked Potatoes

  • We recommend a larger potato variety like white or russet (shown above) for baking so that you have plenty of room for toppings.
  • Though a large potato makes a great base for toppings, they can be tricky to cook through. According to The Kitchn, a good formula for baking a spud is 60 minutes in a 425-degree oven. Try covering the potatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper before baking to infuse flavor and preserve moisture. And, don’t forget to prick with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking.
  • The toppings for a baked potato are virtually endless! Here are some of our favorites:
    • Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt
    • Butter
    • Sour cream
    • Chives
    • Chopped bacon
    • Shredded cheddar cheese
    • Chili
  • Some of our favorite dishes to eat with a baked potato are steak, grilled chicken, pork ribs, or by itself with a ladle of chili and a sprinkle of cheese.

Give it a try and adjust the time, temperature, and toppings according to your liking!


Roasted Potatoes

Sheet Pan Crispy Parmesan Garlic Chicken

If you’re looking for an easy potato recipe that’s the best of both worlds (crispy on the outside and soft on the inside), roasted potatoes are the way to go. You can cut your potato to different sizes and shapes (like cubes or wedges) to suit your preference. Plus, you can add a variety of spices and seasonings to get them just right.

Tips for Roasted Potatoes:

  • Because roasted potatoes are so customizable, you can use virtually any potato you have on hand for these recipes. Just be mindful that cooking times may vary depending on size.
  • Basic GuideIf you cut your potatoes into 1-inch quarters as shown above, we recommend following the times in our Sheet Pan Recipe.
    1. Lay out potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
    2. Toss to coat, then bake in a 425-degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • For maximum flavor, don’t forget to add salt, pepper, and spices to your roasted potatoes! Here are a few additional combinations:
    • Smoked paprika
    • Garlic powder + paprika
    • Garlic powder + red pepper flakes (for some spice)
    • Garlic powder + rosemary + a squeeze of lemon
    • Parsley + rosemary + thyme
    • Italian seasoning
    • Taco seasoning


Smashed Potatoes

Image from

You may have seen this trendy potato preparation method on social media. They’re crispy and seasoned to perfection on the outside while still soft on the inside. Plus, they’re bite-sized and easy to snack on. Keep scrolling for a video tutorial to learn how to make them yourself!

How to Make Smashed Potatoes

  1. Add about a dozen small, washed potatoes to a pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until soft. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Once potatoes are cooked, drain and arrange on a greased or oiled baking sheet. Gently smash each potato with a fork until it is ½-inch thick. Drizzle olive oil on potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper and desired seasonings.
  3. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot.

Video Tutorial for Smashed Potatoes:

Need a visual demonstration on what exactly smashed potatoes are supposed to be? Check out this tutorial from The Cooking Foodie above!


French Fries

Poutine Burgers

Who doesn’t love a side of hot French fries? This famous potato snack can be accessed in just about every restaurant in its various forms (see below), and thanks to the grocery store frozen section, you can also prepare this dish at home in just a few minutes—especially if you own an air fryer!

Types of French Fries

  1. Fresh Cut Fries: Prepared with by slicing potatoes with skins still on. Deep-fried and served fresh, usually without freezing.
  2. Shoestring Fries: Skinned and thin “strings” of potato, typically deep-fried until golden but not browned.
  3. Steak Fries: Thickly-cut and peeled potatoes, fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
  4. Curly Fries: Spiral-cut potatoes fried until crispy and golden brown, then seasoned with signature spices.
  5. Waffle Fries: Waffle-cut and deep-fried potatoes, iconic at some fast food restaurants. Larger in size than most other French fry varieties.

French Fry Recipes:


Mashed Potatoes

Pork Schnitzel

A favorite side dish of homemade dinners everywhere, mashed potatoes are a foolproof addition to any hearty meal. With just a few easy ingredients, you can whip up a creamy bowl of mashed potatoes in a short amount of time—perfect for weekday meals or hurried holiday prep.

Perhaps you’re already an expert at this classic food or maybe you’ve never made them yourself! Either way, check out our recommended tips and recipes below.

Tips for Mashed Potatoes

  • Basic Guide:
    1. Wash, peel, and dice potatoes into large cubes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil
    2. Gently place potatoes into pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until very soft.
    3. Carefully drain and place potatoes into large mixer (or bowl if using hand mixer). Add butter, salt, and any other desired ingredients to a mixer. Start mixer and slowly add milk as ingredients combine. Mix until smooth.
  • For additional flavor, try whipping up a batch with ranch seasoning and sour cream mixed in.
  • Getting chunks in your mashed potatoes? Make sure that the potatoes are thoroughly boiled and plenty soft before mixing. Ensuring that the potatoes are similar sizes will help with even cooking.

Mashed Potato Recipes


Hash Browns

CRSPB Loaded Breakfast Sandwich

This potato variety, used almost exclusively for breakfast can mean different things to different people. Check out some of the most popular types below:

Types of Hash Browns

  1. Traditional hash browns: This type (pictured above) is prepared according to its name by shredding (or “hashing”) potatoes and pan-frying or deep-frying until browned.
  2. Hash Brown Patties: A more modern form of traditional hash browns, this type is an oval- or rectangle-shaped patty, typically store-bought or served in fast food restaurants.
  3. Country-Style Hash Browns: Shown in the image at the top of this page, country-style hash brown are prepared by pan-frying small, cubed potatoes with salt, pepper, and other seasonings until browned on all sides.
  4. Home Fries: Often served in traditional diner breakfasts, home fries are thinly-sliced potatoes that are pan-fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Tips for Hash Browns

  • When preparing homemade traditional-style hash browns, be sure to soak the grated potatoes first to remove starch and then pat completely dry before pan-frying.
  • For extra crispy hash browns, the key is not to overmix! Lay out all grated potatoes in the pan with a generous amount of oil and let fry until golden brown then flip the entire pan and fry the other side.
  • If you’re going for convenience, store-bought hash brown patties can be cooked in minutes and are delicious when prepared in an air fryer.

Hash Brown Recipes


Scalloped Potatoes

Fried Chicken Plate with Scalloped Potatoes

We don’t know about you, but scalloped potatoes remind us of homemade dinners around the table. Prepared in a casserole dish with thin potato slices and cheese, scalloped potatoes are one of the most satisfying comfort foods.

Tips for Scalloped Potatoes

  • Basic Guide:
    1. Make sauce from butter, chopped onion, flour, salt, pepper, and milk.
    2. Arrange thinly-sliced potatoes in a greased casserole dish. Pour butter mixture over potatoes. Cover dish with tin foil.
    3. In a 350-degree oven, bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for one hour or until potatoes are tender.
    4. Let stand 5-10 minutes before service.
  • Scalloped potatoes are best enjoyed when still hot, right out of the casserole dish. We recommend pairing this side with fried chicken (like above), pork tenderloin, ham steak, pork ribs, baked chicken, and more!
  • No time to spare? You can also try making and serving scalloped potatoes in a slow cooker, like in this recipe.
  • Check out our recipe for an Easter Dinner Plate, including scalloped potatoes on the side!


Boiled Potatoes

boiled potatoes
Image from

Like baked potatoes, boiled potatoes are exactly what they sound like. Boiling potatoes is a great way to induce extra moisture into your potatoes before making mashed or smashed potatoes. Or, you can serve them diced with salt, pepper, and butter.

How to Boil Potatoes

  1. Add washed potatoes to a pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until soft (about 20-35 minutes, depending on potato size).
  2. Once potatoes are cooked, drain in a colander and let sit until cooled enough to handle.
  3. Dice potatoes (optional) and serve warm with butter, salt, and pepper.


Potato Rolls (and Bread)

Easter Dinner Plate

And now for the grand finale, our favorite end product of the humble potato: potato rolls and bread! Our potato roll recipe was passed down from our co-founder, Lois Martin, who prepared the rolls by mixing mashed potatoes with regular bread dough.

We’ve been following that basic formula ever since, now with dehydrated potatoes (or potato flour) and milk! This combination is what gives our potato rolls and bread their signature fluffy texture, moist bite, and slightly-sweet taste.

Potatoes have so many versatile uses and our potato rolls are made better by including them as an ingredient. You can read all about the different kinds of rolls and bread that we bake in our Complete Guide to Martin’s Rolls and Bread Products.

To learn more about how our rolls are made, visit our blog:

Potato Roll Recipes


What’s your favorite technique for cooking potatoes? Let us know on social media!

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