The Best Potatoes To Use For Grilling, According To An Expert

Potatoes show off all their best qualities — soft and fluffy on the inside, crispy and browned on the outside — when introduced to your backyard best friend, the grill. They only need a quick sizzle to absorb a hint of smoke that pairs deliciously with entrees like a perfectly grilled skirt steak. However, to achieve the tastiest flame-kissed spuds, you'll want to choose the right type of potato. 

Grilling expert Max Daniel, chef of Jinzú at Pilo's Tequila Garden, tells Food Republic he prefers grilling Yukon gold or fingerling potatoes, which he describes as "basically baby Yukons." Both Yukon golds and fingerlings like the French and Russian Banana varieties are known for their buttery, nutty, and sweet flavor, as well as their smooth texture. It's no surprise that they're delicious when caramelized on the grill, and their small size makes them quicker and easier to both cook and eat.

Daniel preps the potatoes by pricking the skins with a fork and boiling them in for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Once a fork can penetrate the center, they're ready to hit the grates. Boiling potatoes before grilling ensures that they're tender all the way through — no raw, crunchy centers here – and makes them a breeze to char over the flames. "Usually they only need a few minutes to finish," Daniel says.

Seasoning and grilling the smoky spud

For extra-flavorful and aromatic grilled potatoes, Max Daniel seasons them after boiling and before grilling. "Pull them out to dry on a rack and once they're cooked lightly toss them with oil or butter, salt and whatever aromatics you like," he says. "I usually do a little thyme, rosemary, and garlic." To draw out more of the innate buttery flavor of both fingerlings and Yukon Golds, you could use butter as the base for your coating, or finish with a splash of sweet, nutty browned butter. Add a sprinkle of smoked paprika to enhance the char of the grill, or even some soy sauce for a salty umami hit.

Your grilled potatoes will taste delicious when placed onto the grill whole. However, you can add a more dynamic texture by smashing the boiled veggies flat on a baking sheet before placing them on the grates or in a grill basket. The increased surface area will make them extra crispy, and they'll pick up more char. You could also slice the potatoes in half for a balance of crisp and creamy. Finish with a squirt of lemon to provide a tart contrast to the root vegetable's natural sugars, or add chives or scallions for an extra burst of savory flavor. In the unlikely event you're faced with leftovers, try repurposing them by crisping smashed potatoes up with fried eggs.