The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat potatoes. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What potato etiquette is

Potato etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat potatoes. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve potatoes to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat potatoes at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat potatoes

What you should know about potatoes

Potatoes are root vegetables that belong to the nightshade family. They are native to the Andes Mountains of South America and were introduced to Europe in the 16th century.

Potatoes are usually oval or round in shape, with smooth skin that can range from brown to red to purple. The flesh of a potato is white, yellow, or sometimes blue, and has a starchy texture. The flavor of potatoes is mild and earthy.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat potatoes

1) How to store potatoes

Store potatoes in a cool, dark place with a temperature between 45-50°F (7-10°C), such as a pantry or cellar. If stored properly, potatoes can last for several weeks to a few months. Do not store raw potatoes in the fridge as this can cause them to become starchy and develop a sweet taste. To freeze potatoes, you should blanch them first to prevent them from becoming mushy. Frozen potatoes can last up to 8 months in the freezer.

Store sliced or cooked potatoes in an airtight container in the fridge. They can last for up to 5 days.

2) How to clean potatoes

To clean potatoes, simply scrub them with a vegetable brush under running water. There are no major risks associated with cleaning potatoes, but it is important to remove any dirt or debris to prevent contamination.

Bad potatoes will have soft spots, sprouts, or a green tint to the skin. They may also give off a musty or rotten odor.

3) How to prepare & cook potatoes

Potatoes can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare potatoes for cooking, they should be peeled (if desired) and cut into the desired shape. Common utensils for cooking potatoes include a knife, peeler, and potato masher. Popular cooking methods include boiling, roasting, baking, frying, and mashing.

Popular potato dishes include french fries, mashed potatoes, potato salad, baked potatoes, and hash browns.

Potatoes can be used in salads and sandwiches and can be prepared in a variety of ways. However, they are not commonly used in juice, smoothies, jam, or preserves. Potatoes are generally suitable for vegan, keto, and paleo diets.

4) How to serve & present potatoes

You can serve potatoes in a variety of settings, from formal dinners to casual meals. Potatoes are appropriate as a side dish, main course, appetizer, or even dessert.

You can serve potatoes hot or cold. It is best to present them in a bowl or on a plate. Use serving tools such as a potato masher or spoon to dish them out.

5) Food and wine to pair potatoes with

Potatoes pair with a variety of seasonings and condiments, such as butter, and sour cream, and herbs and spices, such as garlic, rosemary, thyme, and paprika. They also pair well with vegetables such as carrots, green beans, broccoli, peas, corn, and bell peppers. Potatoes pair well with fruit too, such as apples. They do not pair well with tomatoes or citrus fruit.

Potatoes can pair with a variety of meats, including beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. They also pair well with fish such as salmon and cod. They can pair with shellfish and seafood, such as lobster, crab, or shrimp, although they are not the most ideal match.

Potatoes can pair with cheese and dairy, with popular options including cheddar, Parmesan, and cream cheese. They can pair well with blue cheese or goat cheese.

When it comes to wine and beverage pairings, potatoes are a versatile ingredient that can pair well with a variety of options. White wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay can work well with lighter potato dishes, while red wines like Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Merlot can complement heartier potato dishes. Rosé wine, sparkling wine, and beer can also be good options for pairing with potatoes, while dessert wines and spirits may be better suited to pairing with potato-based desserts.

6) How to eat potatoes

The most polite etiquette when eating potatoes is to use a fork and knife and to cut them into bite-sized pieces before eating. In general, it is not polite to eat potatoes with your fingers, except in casual settings. The peel of the potato is edible, but it is also perfectly acceptable to remove it if desired.

Potato etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common potatoes etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not offering an alternative for guests with dietary restrictions.
  • 6/10. Serving potatoes cold when they should be hot
  • 6/10. Serving undercooked or overcooked potatoes.
  • 4/10. Not properly seasoning the potatoes.

Additional information for properly serving potatoes

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Potatoes contain around 110-120 calories per 100 grams or approximately 130-150 calories per medium-sized potato.

How to buy the best potatoes

A crucial factor in potato etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Potatoes are generally available all year round, but the best season to buy potatoes depends on the variety. New potatoes are typically available in the spring and early summer while baking potatoes are more readily available in the fall and winter.

Choose the best

Potatoes can be found in a variety of forms in commerce, including fresh, canned, frozen, and dehydrated.

The most popular varieties of potatoes in commerce include russet potatoes, red potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, and fingerling potatoes. Each variety has its own unique flavor and texture, and some varieties may be more prized than others depending on the dish being prepared.

When buying potatoes, look for potatoes that are firm, smooth, and free from bruises or blemishes. The potatoes should also be free from sprouts, which can indicate that the potato is old or has been stored improperly. The size of the potato is largely a matter of personal preference.

Alternatives to potatoes

Some common alternatives to potatoes include sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, turnips, and cauliflower. These vegetables can be used in many of the same dishes as potatoes and can add variety to your meals.