Potatoes are the epitome of comfort food -- soft, hearty, and filling. Delicious on their own with minimal spicing and able to take on nearly any flavor without losing their identity, potatoes are a culinary wonder. They're also highly productive and dirt-cheap, making them a staple of many cuisines. There are endless ways to prepare them, from baking or boiling to mixing them into cake batter. Potatoes provide critical vitamins and minerals along with a satisfying array of flavors and textures. Celebrate the humble spud year-round with these easy and inexpensive recipes.
Potato wedges make any meal seem more complete and nourishing. The wedge shape lets the potatoes crisp on the outside while the inside stays soft, for a pleasurable textural contrast. Wedges can be seasoned with anything from a simple blend of salt and pepper to herbs, chili powder, minced garlic, or barbecue seasoning. This version includes Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
Making fries is not difficult, but it is a process. In addition to potatoes, oil, and salt, a thermometer and a heavy pot for boiling and frying are necessary components. And substitute paper grocery bags for paper towels when draining the potatoes -- paper bags help fries stay crisper after a final fry. Serve with a variety of sauces or condiments, from the ubiquitous ketchup to an exotic chutney.
Recipe: Ree Drummond
A French comfort food, this classic side dish combines potatoes, cream, salt, and pepper with Parmesan cheese to yield a dish that tastes far more expensive than the sum of its parts. The key is slicing the potatoes thinly and evenly and layering the slices in a snug, slightly overlapping pattern to ensure maximum flavor.
Recipe: Once Upon a Chef
Crispy, salty potatoes are one of Americans' favorite foods, and surely something everyone remembers from childhood, even if mom only heated them up from a freezer bag. While the frozen version is often inexpensive, there's not much cheaper than a plain potato. Cutting a potato into cubes, seasoning, and roasting in the oven creates small morsels of crispy brown potatoes a whole lot healthier than packaged tater tots.
The earthy and subtly sweet flavor of potato pairs well with any combination of herbs. Roasted potatoes with herbs is a versatile side dish, and the leftovers can be used in many ways. In general, roast at very high heat (475 degrees) until the skins brown and crisp and the natural sugars in the potatoes caramelize slightly. Bringing out the sweetness of the potatoes enhances the herb flavor even more, making the most of the ingredients.
Seasoned with little more than milk, butter, salt, and pepper, mashed potatoes are a comfort food most Americans come to love from an early age. Starchy potatoes such as russet are the best for mashing into a light and fluffy texture. Master the basic preparation and add a signature or seasonal touch to this otherwise bland dish. Favorite mix-ins include scallions, bacon, and cheddar cheese. The only limit is a cook's imagination.
Recipe: Food Network chef Nigella Lawson
This variation on the classic mashed potato, not recommended for those on a low-calorie diet, deserves special mention. Most of the flavor comes from generous additions of butter, cream, and slow-roasted garlic and makes an indulgent accompaniment for broiled fish or lean meat, or as the basis of a one-bowl meal with roasted vegetables and a protein such as tempeh. BuzzFeed has a list of more variations, such as mashed sweet potatoes with kale and slow-cooker mashed potatoes.
Recipe: Food Network
Blitva is an Eastern European standby that combines potatoes with chard, garlic, and olive oil for a pungent and flavorful side dish. The combination of leafy greens and starch make it nutritionally balanced, as well. Cook the potatoes and chard with the garlic oil for one to five minutes to bring the flavors together and ensure richness in every bite.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
Every culture has a name for pan-fried potato cakes, from latkes to rösti. Light, crispy, and paradoxically hearty, they can be topped with savory or sweet condiments. A food processor is a time saver, but the old-school method of hand grating, along with onion, is well worth the extra work. To get the right texture, squeeze the moisture out of the potatoes before adding other ingredients and forming into patties. For German potato pancakes, season with salt and pepper and add a touch of flour and an egg to hold the mass together. Heat a good amount of oil in a heavy skillet, ladle in portions one at a time, and flatten each into a patty. Traditional accompaniments include sour cream and applesauce, but be creative -- everything tastes good with fried potatoes.
The fancy man's tater tot, these creamy-on-the-inside and crisp-on-the-outside bundles of joy are the great equalizer at dinner parties. The simple ingredients take a bit of patience to transform into classic French croquettes; fry shortly before serving so the croquettes are warm, crisp, and at their peak through and through.
Recipe: Fine Dining Lovers
A potato hash takes advantage of both inherent textures of the root vegetable: soft and crispy. Although a hash may seem like a haphazard combination of ingredients warmed up in a skillet, there is an art and technique to apply, from partially cooking potatoes in vinegar water to maintain their shape to cooking in batches to make sure each element crisps properly. For added flavor, the combinations are countless. Try the classic of onion, green peppers, and chili peppers, or sweet potatoes and mushroom. Turn this into a cheap yet hearty meal by topping the hash with sunny-side-up eggs.
Recipe: Serious Eats
Like so many Italian peasant dishes, potato gnocchi has staked a claim on fine-dining menus. Frugal consumers will appreciate how cheap and easy it is to make this potato-based pasta at home. The trick is to make the dough quickly without overworking it. The technique takes a bit of practice, but a basic recipe calls for just five ingredients (including a pinch of ground pepper). The texture is lighter when using a potato ricer, but hand-mashed potatoes also work. Either way, gnocchi should be soft and pillowy, never gummy.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
Potato breads are extra rich and soft, provide nutritional variety for bread lovers, and toast with distinction. Incorporating potato into bread also creates a texture ideal for sandwiches. A recipe adapted from "The Bread Machine Cookbook V" uses leftover mashed potatoes in place of the more typical potato flakes -- a thriftier and more wholesome approach. Kneading by hand in the absence of a bread machine is a bit of a workout, but yields a loaf that's just as tasty. The dough can also be formed into homemade burger and hot dog buns to elevate the next backyard barbecue.
Recipe: Common Sense Home
Almost everyone has their own way of making potato salad. From a mustard-based salad to sour cream and chive, the differences are often regional; a summertime staple, the rich and creamy Southern style is a cooling component for meals with heavily spiced foods or sauces. Make a basic, traditional cold potato salad and it will adapt well to twists and changes, such as reducing the quantities of mustard and mayo for a tangier and lighter dressing, or adding favorite vegetables -- leftovers make perfectly fine mix-ins.
Recipe: Deep South Dish
Hearty and satisfying German potato salad is fuller in flavor yet lighter than its mayonnaise-based counterpart. This recipe combines bacon and onion to draw out the earthy and savory side of potatoes; cooking the bacon until crisp and browning the onion in the bacon grease packs each bite with umami-rich flavor. (Vegetarians could substitute mushrooms for the bacon.) But the key is to use add-in ingredients as supporting actors and let the delicious and inexpensive spuds be the star.
Recipe: Add a Pinch
Soft and creamy and sometimes laced with spice, potatoes make a hearty filling for dishes from pierogi to samosas. Spud stuffing is a satisfying alternative to meat and a frugal way to use potato leftovers, whose mild flavor and adaptable texture make them ripe for experimentation. Potatoes and chorizo is a combination that shows up often in sandwiches, tacos, and burritos in Mexico. The cheese topping in a papas con chorizo recipe is a nice touch when serving the skillet dish, but unnecessary when using the mix as a filling. For a healthful alternative that doesn't stint on traditional taste, swap out the chorizo for broccoli, or another vegetable, and add chorizo spices such as cumin, chili powder, and vinegar.
Recipe: Leite's Culinaria
Cooks have been puréeing potatoes into soup to thicken the texture for years, yet potatoes can also hold their own as a silky and satisfying soup, even after swapping out heavy cream for milk to lower the calorie count. Some recipes call for blending all the ingredients to ensure the smoothest consistency, but this one keeps some chunks for texture. (In fact, consider adding potato chunks for extra bulk in any soup or stew recipe to increase the comfort factor.) Topped with the typical baked potato fixin's, this soup boasts the boldness of a loaded baked potato.
Recipe: Gimme Some Oven
One of the best things about this irresistible party food is its adaptability. This version features broccoli and avocado cream rather than the more typical bacon and sour cream. Don't feel limited by the given ingredients -- add favorite seasonal vegetables or whatever is in the refrigerator. Anything from kale and onions to shredded chicken is guaranteed deliciousness when loaded into a potato skin and topped with cheese.
Recipe: Ellie Krieger
This three-ingredient recipe is a fun way to turn an everyday, mindless snack into a special homemade treat. While it may be tempting to skip the step of soaking the potatoes in water, don't. It helps achieve the right texture and color in the end. A mandoline makes for thin, easy, and even slicing, although hand slicing with care also does the job.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
Potatoes absorb other flavors masterfully, which makes them a prime choice for use in curry. The blog offers step-by-step instructions for creating one with layers of flavor and potato as the featured ingredient. Spices and aromatics include cumin seed, onion, garlic, turmeric, salt, tomatoes, coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala, and cilantro, all of which are available at most grocery stores.
Recipe: Swasthi's Recipes
Hasselback potatoes are the luxury version of a simple baked potato. Vertical cuts ensure both crisp and creamy textures and boost the satisfaction factor. Just slice and brush the potatoes with oil and/or butter; the rest is up to the cook. Herbs between the slices? How about shredded cheese or minced garlic? Whatever the choice, the textural variety livens up a meal.
Recipe: The Kitchn
Combining potatoes into waffle batter creates a hybrid dish that's the best of both. A recipe suggests topping the waffles with traditional baked potato toppings such as bacon and sour cream, but the range of options is unlimited. Other recipes for potato waffles, including one at Serious Eats, start with leftover mashed potatoes, widening the world of waffles to the delight of brunch lovers everywhere.
Recipe: Food & Wine
Essentially a thick frittata with potato rounds, this very simple, traditional egg dish appears in Spanish cafes alongside glasses of wine throughout the day. The mild flavors are sweet and earthy and often complemented with paprika and aioli. One of the most important steps in making this dish is to cut the potatoes evenly so they cook at the same rate, ensuring that each bite is soft but not mushy.
Perhaps the simplest of all to prepare, the humble baked potato can be a side or main dish. Prick a few holes in a potato and place in a 350-degree oven until tender, usually an hour or so. A baked potato becomes the perfect canvas for endless toppings: cheese, chili, sour cream, chives and bacon, coleslaw and hot sauce, corn and chickpeas, salsa and black beans, sautéed mushrooms and onions, or even brie and ham. Called kumpir in Turkey, a baked potato can be dressed with up to 15 different salads and condiments. Set out a variety of toppings for a fun, hands-on meal that lets diners express their culinary style.
Recipe: For 91 Days
Potatoes lend a rich, creamy texture and lightly sweet, earthy flavor to an indulgent soup. Baking or Yukon gold potatoes and leeks are the basis of this go-to recipe for when you'd rather raid the pantry than spring for expensive takeout. Hit a home run by preparing the soup in a pressure cooker: cheap, healthy, simple, and fast.
Recipe: The Veggie Queen