I made baked potatoes using 4 different kinds of spuds, and I'd definitely use 2 of them again

Fully baked potatoes cut open onto plates.
I baked and taste-tested russet, Yukon gold, red, and sweet potatoes.Paige Bennett
  • I used the same recipe to make baked russet, Yukon gold, red, and sweet potatoes.

  • Russets are usually used to make baked potatoes and were my favorite choice after trying all four.

  • A sweet potato was a fun and tasty alternative but it wasn't the best for toppings.

There are many ways to make a baked potato, but many recipes stick to a classic russet potato.

But russet potatoes aren't the only option out there, and potatoes can vary in price and moisture and starch levels. So, I wanted to test how each potato varies in taste and texture when baked the same way and find out if russets are really the best option.

Using my favorite baking method for potatoes from Olivia Roszkowski, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, I compared baked russet, Yukon gold, red, and sweet potatoes.

The baking method involves washing and thoroughly drying each potato, poking holes in it with a fork, covering it in olive oil and salt, and baking at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the size of the potato, it cooks for about 40 minutes to an hour. Then, I score it with a knife and bake it again for 10 to 20 minutes to help achieve a crispy exterior and a soft interior.

Here's how the process went.

Russet potatoes are common for baking.

Russet potato with salt sprinkled on top being cut through.
Baked russet potatoes tend to have fluffier insides.Paige Bennett

Russet potatoes are best for baking because of the low moisture content and high starch, which makes the interior fluffy rather than gummy.

Of the four spuds I purchased, the russet potato was the largest. It was the second-most expensive potato next to the red potato, but it was a good deal for its size, costing $0.79.

This potato took 60 minutes in the oven to start, and after I pulled it out and scored it, I put it back in the oven for a 15-minute bake.

As expected, I loved the russet potato when baked.

Russet baked potato cut and opened.
This potato had a great interior for toppings.Paige Bennett

When I make baked potatoes, I always use a russet. Though they take a little longer because of their size, I can count on russet potatoes to come out of the oven with a soft, fluffy interior. This spud was no different.

The exterior didn't get as crispy as it usually does, possibly because there were other potatoes on the same tray in the oven. Still, the skin turned out crispier than the other potato skins.

The interior flavor wasn't exciting being that I did a plain taste test, but the texture was ideal for a blank slate ready to be loaded with toppings.

I typically reserve Yukon gold potatoes for mashing or frying.

Gold potato after being baked.
Yukon gold potatoes tend to be more dense than some other options I tried.Paige Bennett

I like to use Yukon gold potatoes when I want thinly sliced fried potatoes or mashed potatoes. They tend to be denser — not necessarily a trait I want in a baked potato — but are great for rich, creamy mashed potatoes.

I've baked these potatoes Martha Stewart's way before, though, so I wondered how they'd compare to my usual method for preparing russet potatoes.

The Yukon gold potato was the second-largest potato and cost the same as the russet at $0.79. It took about 40 minutes in the oven at first, plus 20 more minutes after scoring it.

The flavor was good, but the texture wasn't quite right.

Gold baked potato with fork scooping insides out.
The potato's skin came out flaky.Paige Bennett

I love the natural flavor of gold potatoes, and this potato had a richer, almost buttery taste that was much more appealing than the plain russet potato.

Though the texture wasn't awful, it wasn't what I wanted in a baked potato.

The dense potato came apart in chunks instead of being fluffy, and the skin was papery and flaky, rather than crisp.

Red potatoes aren't common for baking.

Red potato pre-baking.
Red potatoes are great for boiling.Paige Bennett

Red potatoes tend to be smaller and waxy. Their higher moisture and lower starch content are great for boiling or roasting, and they manage to hold their shape well.

These properties tend to make them less desirable for a baked potato, which should be a little larger in size and easy to fluff up on the interior.

The red potato I purchased for this experiment was smaller and cheaper than the rest. It was $0.69 and took 40 minutes in the oven to start, then another 15 minutes after I scored it.

The red potato was my least favorite of the baked spuds.

Red baked potato cut down the middle.
The red baked potato came out chewy.Paige Bennett

Unfortunately, the red potato just didn't taste good, and the texture was way too dense. It was cooked fully, but the interior wasn't soft.

Instead, it was slightly chewy and had a really earthy flavor. The skin was flaky, like the skin of the Yukon gold baked potato.

I'll be saving red potatoes for roasting or using in potato salad recipes rather than baking.

Sweet potatoes are commonly swapped for russets in baking for a unique flavor.

Sweet potato before baking.
The sweet potato was a little smaller than the russet potato.Paige Bennett

Sweet potatoes have a little higher moisture content compared to russets, which is why the skin doesn't crisp up as much, as the moisture steams the potato while it bakes.

Although there are many sizes and shapes of sweet potatoes, the one I bought turned out to be slightly smaller than the russet potato and a similar size to the gold potato. This was the most expensive spud I purchased at $0.89.

I baked this potato for 40 minutes to start, then another 15 minutes after scoring it. Unlike the other potatoes, this one had a sugary liquid that leaked out of the skin while baking and ended up charring onto the silicone liner on the baking sheet.

I loved the taste of this, but it didn't quite hit the spot for a baked-potato craving.

Sweet potato after being baked and cut open.
The sweet potato's insides were incredibly creamy.Paige Bennett

The baked sweet potato was a whole different ball game than the other potatoes.

The interior was super flavorful on its own, and the texture was melt-in-the-mouth creamy, but had a slightly stringy texture to it. The skin peeled right off of the potato, but it wasn't very flavorful or crispy compared to the russet-potato skins.

Though I enjoyed the sweet potato, it wasn't exactly what I'd go for if I was craving the comfort of a classic baked potato with butter, cheese, and sour cream.

I'll be sticking to russets for baking from here on out.

Author holding up russet baked potato on plate.
Sweet potatoes are a fun alternative to russets.Paige Bennett

The baked Yukon gold potato could've been a little better. The baked red potato wasn't my favorite. Instead, I'll reserve the waxier potatoes for frying, boiling, and roasting.

Ultimately, I think russet is the way to go for baked potatoes. When I'm looking for something a little different, I'll be swapping in a sweet potato.

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