Yukon Gold vs Yellow Potatoes: What’s the Difference?

You say potato, I say potato! Wait, that doesn’t really work when you type it out. Nevermind. However you say it, the potato is one of our most versatile foods and is responsible for so many bangers. You’ve got mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries, potato chips, tater tots, and so many more. But just as there’s oodles of ways to cook potatoes, lots of different kinds of potatoes can be grown. You may have seen some potatoes in the grocery store labeled as yellow potatoes, then seen similar looking potatoes somewhere else labeled as Yukon Gold. What’s up with that? Are yellow potatoes the same as Yukon Gold? Let’s match up Yukon Gold vs yellow potatoes and see what these spuds are all about!

Yellow Potatoes vs Yukon Gold Potatoes

They look alike, feel alike, smell alike, and taste pretty similar. So, are yellow potatoes the same as Yukon Gold? Sort of, but not really. What the heck does that mean? Well, yellow potatoes are their own whole category of potato. And Yukon Gold falls into that category. According to the Potato Association of America, Yukon Gold potatoes are a hybrid of a yellow potato (specifically a wild South American yellow potato and a North American white potato). 

Yukon Gold potatoes and grocery store yellow potatoes are different potatoes, but they can be pretty interchangeable in recipes. So, when you’re at the store and see yellow potatoes and Yukon Gold sitting right next to each other, those two potatoes are different genetically, but they can be used for the same things without noticing much of a difference. 

For the most part, all the potatoes we eat can be divided into three different classifications: starchy, waxy, and all-purpose. Starchy potatoes are the all-stars, responsible for a lot of our favorite potato dishes. These spuds are low in moisture, high in starch, and have dry, thick skins. That skin gets nice and crispy when cooked. These are your russet potatoes. They’re great for fried and baked dishes. Then you’ve got waxy potatoes, which are high in moisture and low in starch. These are your fingerlings, baby potatoes, and new potatoes. They have soft, thin skin but really firm flesh. These taters are great for dishes that call for potatoes or potato slices to hold their shape, like in potato salad. Coming up the rear are the all-purpose potatoes. These potatoes have medium starch and moisture, right in the middle between waxy and starchy. This is where you’ll find yellow potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes. 

Let’s get into everyone’s favorite subject: potato genetics! So, those all-purpose potatoes have starch and moisture levels between waxy and starchy, but the individual potatoes within the category can lean one way or the other. Both yellow potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes fall into the more waxy side in the all-purpose category. 

But the difference is that Yukon Gold is actually a hybrid made with yellow potatoes and another all-purpose tater, white potatoes. In the 1960s, in Guelph Ontario, Gary Johnston and Geoff Rowberry crossbred the two taters and came up with Yukon Gold. So, Yukon Gold potatoes are slightly starchier than yellow potatoes. And some folks say they’re more flavorful, too. They’re also characterized by their pink eyes. 

The debate over Yukon Gold vs yellow potatoes has divided nations, ended friendships, and torn apart marriages. But hopefully now we can come to a better understanding and realize that these two potatoes have more similarities than  differences. Let’s see past these labels and just eat all the potatoes.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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