The 18 Best Ways To Cook Potatoes, In Order

Plus: why they are the Mariah Carey of vegetables.

The potato is the Mariah Carey of vegetables.

They're both super sexy and bring in tons of money a year, obviously. But they're also alike in that their popularity makes a lot of people underestimate their technical gifts. Just as Mimi can plumb the depths of a G#2 and ascend to the whistle tone stratospheres of a G#7 with a singing voice that has a broader range than almost any other singer in the history of pop, potatoes can assume a wider array of textures than pretty much any other vegetable -- or even food -- in the world, from the absolute crispiest to the most luscious, velvety and smooth.

My point is that, all too often, we take potatoes and Mariah Carey songs for granted, when, really, we should be building temples to them in major cities and worshipping them for the incarnations of the divine that they are.

Let this list be a start. Here are 18 of the most popular ways to cook potatoes, ranked from worst to best, in my purely subjective opinion. (I didn't include dishes, like samosa and pierogis, where potatoes are a filling, by the way, but I love them too!) If you want to dispute my ranking, or debate between "Emotions" and "Vision of Love," get at me in the comments or on Twitter. Just please don't carp about the nutrition of potatoes or the schmaltziness of Mariah's music. I don't want to hear that kind of sacrilege.

Boiled Potatoes
Every time I've eaten these, they tasted like tears. Because I weep to see potatoes wasted like this.
Potato Soup
You know what kinds of soup are better than potato soup? All of them. Except split pea. Ew.
Potato Salad
More like potato sad-lad.
Baked Potato
These taste great topped with a mound of sour cream, bacon, melted cheddar cheese and diced scallions. So does everything else!
Potatoes Au Gratin
I've occasionally encountered potatoes au gratin that were amazing, but nine times out of 10, they're goopy mounds of curdled milk.
Oven Fries
Nothing wrong with these. Nothing all that right, either.
Home Fries
Home fries should get a Presidential Medal of Commendation for their service to the country. They've been saving thousands of people from hangovers every Sunday for decades.
Hasselback Potatoes
I will admit that "hasselbacking," which originated at Restaurant Hasselbacken in Stockholm, is the most photogenic of all potato-cooking methods, and that scoring a potato before baking it makes it vastly crispier and more delicious. But I'm sorry: a better baked potato is still, on some level, a baked potato.
Potato Chips
The crunchiest food in the world!
Hash Browns
Arguably the best use for a box grater known to man.
Yes, some homemade latkes are clammy and limp. But they're also two of the three necessary ingredients for the greatest sandwich on earth: the brisket-on-latke.
Potato Skins
Transcendant, bacon- and cheese-filled half-shells of fried goodness more than make up for the occasional powdery or soggy potato skin.
Tater Tots
True story: when I was in fifth grade, I would eat an entire bag of Ore-Ida Tater Tots every day after school. I was very fat and very happy.
True story: after I got my tonsils out, all I wanted to eat was gnocchi, rather than the traditional ice cream. Apparently the pain medicine temporarily made me a genius.
Roast Potatoes
Good roast potatoes, like the ones in this stock photo, even sound amazing -- from the satisfying suction sound of chopping the raw potatoes into the properly angular pieces and the faint hiss of steam escaping from the oven while you cook them to the loud crack of a knife-tine piercing its crisp exterior and the moans of delight that emanate, without fail, from the people eating them.
French Fries
There's a reason the average American eats almost 30 pounds of french fries a year. They're pretty close to a perfect food -- in terms of taste and texture if not health.
Patatas Bravas
Everything good about home fries and roast potatoes -- plus spicy aioli. Few foods make me happier.
Mashed Potatoes
In the French Laundry cookbook, Thomas Keller says that the secret to amazing mashed potatoes is "knowing exactly how much butter and cream you can get into them -- and then knowing how to get even more in!" That may be the only time he's ever used an exclamation mark, but it was more than justified by the perfection of the kind of mashed potatoes he's talking about: insanely rich, divine hybrids of clouds and butterfat.

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