23 Popular Potato Dishes, Ranked Worst To Best

Tubers, spuds, taters ... potatoes may go by many names, but the root vegetable is well-loved and recognized throughout the world. Though the potato appears quite humble in nature, there are tons of available preparations to transform the veggie into a delicious appetizer, side, or main course.

But not all potato dishes are created equal. With that in mind, we examined some of the most popular potato preparations out there to determine which deserves the title of top spud. In establishing this ranking, we considered several factors, including the taste and texture of the dish, ease of preparation, and adaptability to fit many different meal ideas.

Moreover, as extreme potato enthusiasts, we've tried (and tried making) the vast majority of potato dishes on this list. Since we consider ourselves more than qualified to determine the ultimate style of potato preparation, here are 23 popular potato dishes ranked worst to best.

23. Skin-on mashed potatoes

Who in their right mind thought that skin-on-mashed potatoes would be a good idea? The tiny flecks of skin don't do anything for this dish besides distract from the heavenly texture of the creamy, smooth potatoes. Plus, for the most visually appealing recipe, you'll need to use red potatoes — which we don't think are ideal for mashing potatoes because of how waxy they can be.

Skin-on mashed potatoes seem to exist solely because someone wanted to be certain they were eating actual potatoes rather than a gelatinous bowl of mush. So if you enjoy picking potato skin out of your teeth, by all means: make this recipe for your homestyle dinner. But otherwise, grab a potato peeler next time, and skip the worst potato dish.

22. Boiled potatoes

You mean to tell us there's someone out there who just eats boiled potatoes ... sans seasoning or anything? Inconceivable. Yet boiled potatoes are indeed a popular potato dish that provides a blank canvas for additional ingredients.

We suppose a bite of boiled potato might balance out an exceptionally salty cut of steak or pork. Plus, you can boil potatoes in pickle juice to infuse additional flavor rather than relying solely on water.

Even though boiled potatoes are designed to be bland, they don't have to be. Along those lines, our main qualm with this spud preparation is its overwhelmingly starchy consistency. There's no variation in texture, so we'd get tired of eating them quickly. Hence, boiled potatoes rank near the bottom.

21. Duchess potatoes

Creamy, rich duchess potatoes may be beautiful to look at, but the dish is a pain in the neck to prepare. After all, it requires a chef to perfectly rice potatoes with butter, cream, and eggs before piping the mixture into delicate little rosettes on a baking sheet. Finally, you need to egg-wash the rosettes to achieve a perfect color, then wait another 20 minutes until they finish baking.

Now, if you're anything like us? You gave up after the word "pipe" — particularly since duchess potatoes are essentially just an elaborately constructed mashed potato. Given we don't necessarily love the consistency of mashed potatoes, layering a baked film around the exterior makes us want to eat them even less. It may not be the worst potato dish we've ever encountered, but it's close.

20. Fondant potatoes

Although these stacks might resemble scallops, they are indeed potatoes. Fondant potatoes are an elegant presentation which involves meticulously cutting the potato into a cylinder, then browning the ends and roasting the potato in stock. 

Now, we can admit pommes de terre fondant (the fancy name for this potato dish) produces a beautiful potato that looks like it should be the star of a steak dinner. Yet it also seems a bit egregious to spend that much time on a potato dish when the return is so minimal. It can take well over an hour to cook fondant potatoes from start to finish, after all. Since we've also found fondant potatoes taste drastically better the moment they're prepared (while becoming substantially worse after a day or more), this potato dish ranks close to the bottom.

19. Croquettes

If you like mozzarella sticks and fritters, croquettes will likely be right up your alley. These fried balls are made with grated potatoes, stuffed with cheese and herbs, and covered in crispy breadcrumbs. Usually, this potato dish is made in the deep fryer (even a surprisingly light croquette recipe uses that cooking method). But you can easily cook them in an air fryer, too, to diminish the oiliness. 

The main reason croquettes aren't our favorite type of potato dish (or rank higher than 19th) is their excessively heavy consistency. Even if you cut the potato with more cheese or brighten it up with a light dipping sauce, well ... they're still fried potato balls. Furthermore, while their denseness and consistency make them a great appetizer or fair food, they're hardly ideal for a weeknight dinner or midday meal.

18. Potato skins

Loaded potato skins always seem to make their way to game day celebrations. This makes sense and is a great use of the potato skin's crunchy exterior. Load them up with bacon, cheese, and sour cream, and you've got the ultimate snack. They may be messy, but they're also a versatile vessel for whatever fillings you have hanging around in your kitchen.

Still, since this dish requires you to scoop out the inside of the potato, it's a fairly wasteful recipe. Unless you're planning on making a mashed potato or gnocchi dish with the leftover creamy flesh, you'll just end up discarding all that starchy deliciousness. We also don't love that potato skins are really only appropriate in casual settings, so we're ranking them in the bottom half.

17. Scalloped potatoes

First off: Scalloped potatoes are not potatoes au gratin. The key difference between the two potato dishes is that au gratin is interspersed with layers of cheese, while scalloped potatoes are cooked in a cream sauce and often (but not always) topped with cheese. Though cooking potatoes in cream infuses an unprecedented richness to the spuds, it also makes this dish really, really soggy.

At least with au gratin, the broiler, layers of cheese, and breadcrumbs help draw out some of that moisture — which isn't the case with scalloped potatoes. They may be tasty, but they're also the sort of dish you'll take three bites of before calling it a day (meaning we can't rank them any higher).

16. Baked potatoes

If you find yourself asking "how hard can it be to wrap a potato in foil and pop it in the oven," well ... the answer is it's a lot harder than it looks. After all, creating a truly delicious baked potato involves a systematic process of piercing it, coating the skin in oil, choosing your seasoning, and keeping them hot until serving. Considering the potato's skin rarely comes out crispy, it's not usually worth the effort. 

One perk to baked potatoes is their ability to be a side dish or anchor a whole meal. Since they're also easy to make in bulk and customize based on whatever else is on your plate, we'll give baked potatoes some props — just not enough to crack our top 15.

15. Potato salad

How you feel about potato salad may depend on whether you can jive with mayonnaise. Because when it comes to potato salad, it's never about the potatoes — it's about the controversial condiment (and those weird pieces of pickles and other ingredients interspersed throughout the dish). While we don't despise mayonnaise — it makes aioli possible, after all — the idea that perturbs us the most is eating potatoes cold.

Frankly? Cold potatoes just seems wrong. Now, the easy remedy to this aversion is to make a warm German potato salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise. But at that point, we'd consider it more of a hash coated in a dressing — thus, we can't justify moving potato salad higher on our list.

14. Mashed potatoes

Of all the controversial food opinions we've ever shared (and there are many), this one may get the most amount of criticism. But we're not afraid to say it: Mashed potatoes are terrible. Now, as a side dish? We suppose they're fine. Yet we always feel the need to drench them in gravy or mix them with other food to make them interesting — and therein lies our issue. Even when we douse mashed potatoes in garlic butter, they never have enough flavor to make them worth eating.

There's also far too many ways to screw up this dish. Use the wrong mashing utensil? You end up with a bowl of gloop. Cook the potatoes too long? Again, gloop. Simply put, all we've ever gotten from mashed potatoes is a bowl of flavorless mush. We won't go so far as to rank them dead last, but we're comfortable placing them at number 14.

13. Potatoes au gratin

Au gratin potatoes were made for cheese lovers. You'll never be able to return to basic cheesy mashed potatoes after tasting this decadent combination of cheese, sliced potatoes, and breadcrumbs. Most people wouldn't venture to make this elaborate potato dish every day, but it's ideal for a holiday dinner or similar special occasion.

Beyond the challenging preparation, au gratin is also extremely rich. The cheese and cream seeps into every crevasse of these potatoes, which makes it difficult to eat — especially with other foods on your plate. Plus, we've always preferred crispier potato dishes over creamier ones, meaning potatoes au gratin misses the mark compared to the 12 dishes ranked higher.

12. Home fries

Home fries are essentially the hash brown's ugly cousin. But the difference between home fries and hash browns comes down to preparation as home fries are frequently cubed — and often cooked with onions. Unfortunately, the inclusion of this notoriously wet and slimy ingredient (as well as the potato's shape) tends to prevent home fries from getting perfectly crisp every time.

Now, home fries may have more flavor than hash browns, but their oft-soggy texture can become monotonous on a plate with spongy eggs or soft flapjacks. We may never refuse a side of home fries with our meal. But seeing how we'll also probably complain about the consistency when they arrive at our table, home fries take the center spot on our list.

11. Crispy smashed potatoes

You'll want to add crispy-edged smashed potatoes to your spuds rotation. In short, we love these potatoes. Dressed up with herbs and spices, crispy-edged smashed potatoes works well whether it's a fancy dinner at a high-end steakhouse or a regular weeknight side. And unlike other potato preparations, this dish allows you to get the perfect balance in every bite: a fluffy softness surrounded by a crispy exterior.

Still, crispy-edged smashed potatoes score in the middle of our ranking because they're incredibly difficult to make in large quantities. You have to smash each one individually with a glass, after all, and also boil them to get them soft enough to smash — leaving you with a lot of dishes and too much work.

10. Potato hash

Potato hash is a dish that includes potatoes alongside other ingredients. At your local diner, you may find potato hash cooked in a skillet and served with flecks of bacon, peppers, onions, and topped with a fried egg. Now, this clearly differs from other potato dishes — breakfast or otherwise — because there's more than just potatoes in there. This makes potato hash more flexible than other potato dishes because you can incorporate whatever veggies, cheeses, or meats you have on hand.

Yet those additional ingredients means there's a good chance you'll lose focus on what really matters: the potato. Potato hash belongs in the top 10 of our rankings. But it's also far too easy to lose track of the spuds in this deceptively simple dish.

9. Potato chips

Potato chips are the only potato preparation we'd consider eating as a late-night snack on our couch. A bag of thinly sliced (and often fried) potato chips can be irresistible — so much so that we've never met someone who can only eat one (Lay's was right).

Moreover, food engineering has allowed us to produce potato chips with almost any flavor imaginable, including sour cream and onion and all dressed chips – a Canadian product that's essentially ketchup, sour cream and onion, barbecue, and salt and vinegar all combined into a single chip.

Since potato chips are really only ideal for snacking, adding an extra layer of crunch to your sandwich, or as a side at lunch? They come in ninth place.

8. Pan-fried potatoes

As we've noted before, the perfect potatoes are crispy — and wasting their starchy qualities is nothing short of a travesty. Even if you don't have a deep fryer in your kitchen, you can still enjoy pan-fried potatoes with your skillet. Fry garlic herb skillet potatoes and watch your spuds transform into something fantastic. Plus, you won't have to boil the potatoes before cooking, which significantly cuts down on prep time. 

Although pan-fried potatoes are a relatively novice-friendly recipe, there is some precision required. We recommend slicing potatoes into coins to maximize the surface area and increase the crispiness. This does require some effort (which some folks may balk at), but other shapes simply aren't as conducive to creating a fluffy interior when pan frying.

7. Gnocchi

Is gnocchi a pasta or a potato product? Since it's made of mashed potatoes, we're going with the latter. Gnocchi is versatile and valuable for more than just drowning in marinara sauce. We love adding them to a hearty winter soup or serving them as a side with sausage or chicken. Now, some may contend these dumplings are too doughy and soft, making for a starchy (and almost mucus-like) bite. But gnocchi doesn't have to be slimy.

You can even make crispy gnocchi by first boiling them, then transferring them to an oiled skillet and cooking until they're golden brown. You can eat these delectable gnocchi right off the plate or cover them with your favorite sauce and cheese.

6. Hasselback potatoes

Crispy hasselback potatoes are as fun to eat as they are to look at. These potatoes are sliced three-quarters of the way down, which adds more surface area and crevasses to stuff with cheese, garlic, meat, and butter. There's also something satisfying about peeling off each individual sliver of the potato. You can even tweak the recipe to make it with sweet potatoes instead of the standard (and starchy) baked potatoes.

Although hasselback potatoes seem like they'd be a great finger food, they're best suited to eat with a fork. Given this messiness and the necessary attention to detail when slicing them, they can't quite crack the top five. Still, the resulting potato is definitely worth the effort, and hasselback potatoes belong as the sixth best potato dish.

5. Hash browns

Hash brown is an ambiguous term that can refer to the perfectly shaped patties sold by McDonald's or crispy shreds you'd get at a diner. Although the two share a name, the consistency of the diner version is different than the ultra-convenient frozen patty (which is basically an enormous tater tot). For our purposes, then, we consider a hash brown to be the diner-style shreds.

There's plenty of tips to cook hash browns perfectly — the type that stays crispy on the outside without soaking up too much oil like other potato styles. Plus, we love how the ratio of this potato preparation leans towards crusty rather than soft, with tiny bits of soft potato interspersed in each patty. This makes hash browns a phenomenal breakfast accompaniment to eggs and sausage — and worthy of kicking off the top 5.

4. Latkes

Latkes are a Jewish culinary classic and seasonal staple in many homes (this writer included), though some make these fried potato pancakes year-round. Classic latkes are made with grated potatoes, onion, and seasoning mixed together, then pressed into tiny patties. The rounds are then fried in a pan until golden brown, and served plain or with sides like applesauce or sour cream.

If given the choice between a hash brown patty and a latke, we'd choose a latke every ... single ... time. They have a more profound crunch and a dynamite flavor that earned it fourth place. But if we're being honest, grating the potatoes, squeezing out every drop of moisture, and patiently frying them in a pan with oil is a time-consuming task. Since you can easily pop a frozen hash brown patty into a toaster and call it a day, it's clear why latkes are best saved for special occasions.

3. Potato wedges

Some people incorrectly lump potato wedges into the same category as french fries. But these crispy-skinned potatoes are often baked rather than fried, which provides a reprieve from the grease. When cooked to perfection, potato wedges have a starchy yet airy interior surrounded by the crispiness of baked potato skin.

Although you can't really stuff these potatoes with any fillings as you would with a baked potato, you can coat them in a blend of your favorite seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs. Potato wedges are also highly versatile. You can pair them with an elaborate dinner or serve them as a less oily replacement for french fries with your homemade burgers. You may not get the same crispiness as a standard French fry, but wedges are more than worthy of third place.

2. Twice-baked potatoes

If it was up to us, we would phase out potato skins and swap them for twice-baked potatoes. Both are stuffable, after all, but with this version? You can repurpose the potato fillings since this dish is essentially the deviled egg of the spud world.

Your version of the ultimate twice-baked potato can include crowd-pleasing bacon, chives, sour cream, and cheddar. Or try a Greek-inspired recipe made with feta, artichoke hearts, and spinach. The versatility of this potato is what shot it up to the number two spot. Twice-baked potatoes do have a lot going on that can distract from the main course (which is, in part, why they couldn't rank number one). But if you play your cards right, you can eat this potato dish as a meal in themselves.

1. French fries

Unsurprisingly, french fries are the best potato preparation out there. You can't go wrong with french fries, which are also an umbrella for potato products like tater tots and steak fries. The best type of fry likely depends on what you plan to use it for, but therein lies one of the great things about fries: There's bound to be a fry to fit any occasion.

Aim for the shoestrings or matchsticks if you're preparing pommes frites with a demi-glazed steak. If you need a fry to scoop up toppings, waffle fries will be your best friend. You can also eat fries at almost any time of day and with any meal, which is what pushes this potato dish into the number one spot.

Our methodology

Picking one potato dish over another seems a bit arbitrary, but we set justifiable reasoning for why one potato dish is better than the other. We looked at the dish's versatility, which included how it pairs with other foods and flavors and whether it was reserved for eating at a single meal or not. As a result, dishes we found more versatile and adaptable were ranked higher than one-hit wonders. We also considered the general flavor and texture of the dish itself, while the ease of preparation was another important factor when ranking these dishes.