Different Types of Potato and How to Cook Them
Filling, versatile and packed with nutrients, potatoes are a familiar fixture for countless slimming friendly recipes. Whether you’re looking to use potatoes at the heart of your meal or as an accompaniment, we’ll guide you through which varieties are best to use and when, so you’ll always have the fluffiest, crispiest or creamiest potato possible on your plate!
This post contains affiliate links. Find out what this means.
Best for Boiling
For potato salads, soups or casseroles, you want your potatoes to hold their shape and add some texture to your dish, even after they’ve been boiled. Waxy varieties of potato are lower in starch content and hold together much better than floury types, even while they’re bubbling away.
We use new potatoes whenever we’re rustling up our Potato Salad recipe as they’re tough, waxy and easy to bung in the pan with the skin on – you don’t even need to chop them up! ‘New’ or ‘baby’ potatoes are picked early, which is why their skin is so thin and light to bite. They provide the perfect texture for pairing with our homemade, creamy yoghurt and chopped chive dressing…
You don’t have to use new or miniature potato varieties for boiling; as long as the potato variety you boil is waxy, you should get the results you’re after. Boiling can take anywhere from 12 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your spuds – so it’s best to peel and chop larger types down into smaller, even-sized chunks (roughly 2 inch chunks, if possible).
For slow cook recipes like our Ham and Leek Potato Soup, you’ll want to use a waxy, white potato type so that you can slow cook your potato chunks for hours before they’re soft and tender.
Charlotte or Anya potatoes would hold together nicely whilst the mixture bubbles away, and you’ll be able to mash up the chunks towards the end of cooking if you fancy thickening your soup!
Best for Mashing
While waxy varieties are great for holding their shape, they don’t mash as well. For recipes where you need a creamy, smooth texture, you’re best using floury potato varieties that will break down nicely after they’ve been boiled under an inch of salt water for around 20-25 minutes.
For our Creamy Mashed Potato recipe, why not try using Marabel potatoes to really bring out the flavours? Marabels are sweeter than your average potato and they have a naturally buttery texture, so there’ll be no need for added butter (or calories!).
If you want your potatoes to be light and creamy, we’d recommend using an electric potato masher like this one. It’s what gives our mashed potato recipe an indulgent texture for only 176 calories per serving!
Mash-topped pie, anyone? You can’t beat the comfort of a fluffy, potato topping on a classic homemade pie. As they’re far lower in calories than a pastry-topped alternative, with recipes like our Chicken Bacon and Leek Cottage Pie, you’re already onto a winner.
You’ll want a good amount of potato to create a thick layer for your topping (around 740g for a family of 4), so we’d recommend using a good-sized potato variety like Maris Piper or Kestrel.
Maris Pipers are the most widely grown potato variety in the UK because they’re so versatile; despite being floury, they’re good for boiling, baking, roasting and mashing!
Let your pie warm in the oven until the creamy chicken filling is heated through and your cheesy potato topping is golden brown.
You can even use sweet potatoes to create an alternative, fluffy topping for your next batch of shepherd’s pie. Our Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Mash recipe offers flavours that are a little different, and oh-so-delicious.
The longer you cook sweet potatoes, the more you bring out their natural sweetness, which is why we like to roast ours in the oven with the butternut squash for around 60 minutes before mashing. How’s that for a pop of colour on your plate?
Best for Air Frying
Using an air fryer is a great way to avoid frying your chips in high calorie oil, and it’s just as quick! Don’t have an air fryer at home? You can often use your oven as a healthy alternative, or we’ve got a guide that’ll help you choose the best air fryer for your kitchen here.
Sweet potatoes are perfect for air-frying into chips because they’re a tough-skinned variety with a satisfyingly sweet, soft centre. You don’t even need to par-boil them before you cook, as they’re naturally softer than white potato varieties.
One top tip for making sure your Sweet Potato Fries turn out nice and crispy is to bathe them in cold water after you’ve chopped them down to size. Leave them to soak for 30 minutes at least, or overnight – this’ll lower their starchiness and leave them with an irresistibly crispy skin after cooking!
Air frying is an easy, go-to cooking method for rustling up a Fakeaway-quality batch of fried chips. Our slimming friendly Salt and Pepper Chips recipe comes in at only 288 calories per serving, and they’re far more budget-friendly than the takeaway alternative (oh, and just as tasty!).
Russet potatoes are fantastic for fries as they’re fluffy, floury and super starchy, so their naturally yellow tinge will be a lovely golden brown after frying.
The key with this recipe is making sure the salt and pepper flavours are evenly distributed; so long as you generously coat your chips with a regular refresh of low calorie cooking spray, they’ll be coated in fiery flavour.
Best for Baking
One of the most satisfying, low calorie ways to make a potato-based family dinner or side dish, you can’t go wrong with a baked potato recipe. You want your baked potatoes to be crispy on the outside with a flavourful skin and a fluffy, satisfying texture on the inside, like our Chipotle Hasselback Potatoes recipe.
The key with the hasselback method is to carefully slice your potatoes part of the way through. This allows them to hold their shape as they crisp up in the oven, and it gives our Chipotle rub time to really soak in.
We recommend using good-quality, small potatoes for this recipe (like Charlottes) or baby potatoes, as you want them to be nice and waxy so that they’ll hold firm as they bake.
Why use bowls when you can use sweet potatoes? Our Chilli Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins recipe is a refreshing, crispy way to serve up the second round of your chilli con carne leftovers. We use medium-sized sweet potatoes (around 5 inches long) for our recipe, as they’re the perfect size for a hearty portion of chilli-stuffed flavours. How good does that melty cheese topping look?
We know that getting oven chips right is serious business, which is why our Homemade Oven Chips recipe uses King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes. With their light, fluffy texture, they’ll crisp up nicely and hold their shape – ideal!
Whether you go for Maris Pipers or King Edwards, there’s a chance your taters could break up a bit if you’re using our air-fryer method – so just be sure to keep an eye on them as they crisp.
Best for Roasting
While baked potato recipes are typically skin-on, fluffy, golden roasties are peeled before you pop them in the oven. You can use a few different potato varieties to make hearty, crispy Roast Potatoes, including King Edward, Maris Piper and Désirée (red) potatoes.
The trick to achieving crisp perfection with your roasties is parboiling and draining them after they’ve been chopped down to size. Once they’re drained, your potato chunks need to be very well coated with plenty of salt and pepper before they go in the oven.
A generous coating of low calorie cooking spray will guarantee the flavours spread evenly and crisp up well!
A delicious alternative to having roasties with your midweek meal, Fondant Potatoes are sliced thinner than roasties and browned in the pan before they’re laid out to be oven-cooked in stock. It’s well worth trying out this method on your spuds for special occasions – they look so impressive even though they’re super easy to make!
You can find more tasty ways to make the most of your potatoes here.
Ready to cook up a slimming friendly potato recipe?
We’d love to hear about any potato recipes you cook up as part of your slimming journey. Join the discussion over in our Facebook group where we have almost 1 million members waiting to support you!
Did you know that you can now share your hints, tips, quotes and photos in our PON Gallery too? It’s an all-new space for all the Nom community to contribute. (Psst! There might even be some SWAG up for grabs for our favourite submissions…)