Food & Drink

Are Yellow Potatoes the Same as Yukon Gold?

Published on October 20, 2023 | 0 Comments
Are yellow potatoes the same as Yukon gold?

If you peruse the potato section of the grocery store, you’ll notice there’s actually quite a few potato varieties, and there’s one variation that leaves many shoppers asking themselves, "Wait, are yellow potatoes the same as Yukon gold?"

The short answer is…kind of. “Yellow potato” is an entire category of potato types, under which Yukon gold falls. While Yukon gold potatoes are typically an excellent option when working with a recipe that calls for yellow potatoes, knowing why yellow potatoes are not exactly the same as Yukon gold will help you make the most informed cooking decisions no matter what types of potato dishes you're thinking of cooking.


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Are Yellow Potatoes the Same as Yukon Gold?

In the kitchen, yellow potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes are the basically the same. (Yukon gold is considered a type of yellow potato, after all.) In the genetics lab, though, there are some differences.

Not every yellow potato is the same as a Yukon gold potato. If you compare a yellow potato vs. a Yukon gold, you’ll notice a number of similarities in terms of appearance and taste, but you won’t be getting that distinctive Yukon gold experience. The nuance mostly comes down to classification and genetics.


The potatoes we eat are generally sorted into three types: waxy, starchy and all-purpose. Waxy potatoes, such as new potatoes, baby potatoes or French fingerlings, are low in starch and high in moisture. Their skin is thin and has a somewhat soft texture almost like candle wax. On the inside, waxy potatoes are soft, with a firm, creamy flesh. They hold their shape well when cooked, making them the spud to reach for when you want to boil them for potato salad, roast them as a side or slice them to go in a casserole.

High in starch and low in moisture, starchy potatoes have thick, dry skins. Think Russet potatoes, the most famous starchy potato. When you cook a starchy potato, the skin crisps up nicely while the inside is light and fluffy and drier than that of a waxy potato. Starchy potatoes aren't great candidates in dishes where they'd need to hold their shape, like potato salad (that's the job of waxy potatoes), but they're great for frying up or baking and perfect for mashed potatoes.

This leaves the all-purpose category, to which both yellow potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes belong. As the name suggests, all-purpose potatoes fall between waxy and starchy potatoes, and with their medium moisture and starch content they can be used in a wide range of recipes.

a variety of potato types
via Canva


To further understand the ways in which yellow potatoes are the same as Yukon gold and the ways they’re different, you need to take a brief dive into potato genetics. Yellow potatoes (sometimes called gold potatoes) are a large category and include any potato that is more waxy than starchy and has a thin, yellow skin. Potato varieties such as German Butterball, Yellow Finn and Michigold all fall in the yellow potato category.

Although the yellow skin and relatively waxy quality of a Yukon gold makes it practically the same as a yellow potato, the Yukon gold is technically a hybrid between yellow potatoes and white potatoes. A white potato is an all-purpose, medium-sized potato with a thin, light-brown skin.

In the 1960s, scientist Gary Johnston developed the first Yukon gold potatoes, crossing a South American yellow potato variety with a North American white potato. The experiment was a success, and by 1980 the Yukon gold was marketed to the public, becoming the iconic all-purpose potato we all love today.

Yukon gold potatoes
via Canva

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Are Yukon Gold and Yellow Potatoes Interchangeable?

Although technically yellow potatoes are not the same as Yukon gold, you can use them interchangeably in most recipes. Yukon gold potatoes share the basic traits of all yellow potatoes, including the creamy, moist texture. So if you’re making recipes that call for thick, soft potatoes, like dill potato salad or mashed potatoes with sour cream, a yellow potato is essentially the same as a Yukon gold. Just remember to account for a small difference in starch levels when comparing yellow potatoes vs. Yukon gold —a Yukon gold potato will be ever so slightly drier than a standard yellow potato variety.

Dill potato salad
via Cozymeal

Elevate Your Cooking With a Cooking Class Near You

If you’re trying to expand your cooking knowledge and find yourself stumbling over questions like whether yellow potatoes are the same as Yukon gold, consider enhancing your cooking skills with a cooking class. A cooking class is a great way to broaden your knowledge of ingredients and substitutions (like the the right type of potato to use for a particular dish) so you can better develop your own intuition as a home chef.

Check out cooking classes near you today! And if a cooking class isn’t accessible in your area, you can always search for live, interactive online cooking classes instead. 

a chef plating potatoes
via Cozymeal

Yellow potatoes aren’t exactly the same as Yukon gold, but they sure are similar. Although yellow potatoes are a little waxier than Yukon gold potatoes, you can still use them interchangeably in most recipes. Once you've mastered the Yukon gold, why not try out some other types of potatoes and learn to love the immense variety of spuds out there?

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.

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