Are green potatoes safe to eat? We dug into the science to find out.
It’s been a long week, and the one bright spot is that humble bag of potatoes in the pantry. Soon you’ll transform them into some truly delicious french fries at home. But what do you do when you pull out said bag of potatoes and find bright green spots on them? Are your french fry dreams over before they’ve even started? We’re breaking down why potatoes turn green and how to still enjoy your favorite potato recipes safely.
Why Do Potatoes Turn Green?
When potatoes are exposed to direct sunlight, they will naturally start to turn green. The green color comes from chlorophyll, a term you probably haven’t heard since middle school science class. Chlorophyll is a harmless compound that gives plants their green color.
Chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis, the process that plants use to feed themselves. Exposure to sunlight speeds up the production of chlorophyll in potatoes. This is why it’s important to store them in a dark area.
Are Green Potatoes Safe to Eat?
According to the National Capital Poison Center, green potatoes are not safe to eat. When chlorophyll increases in a potato, turning it green, it’s likely that the compound solanine has also increased. A higher level of solanine causes potatoes to taste bitter and can even lead to health problems.
When eaten in large quantities, this compound can lead to digestive issues like nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches and neurological problems. It’s helpful to remember that you’d have to eat a serious amount of green potatoes to start to feel these effects. That being said, a good rule when it comes to potatoes is this: If it tastes bitter, don’t eat it. Here, find out if it is safe to eat raw potatoes.
How to Fix Green Potatoes
So does that mean that an entire bag of potatoes with green spots has to be trashed? Not exactly. If a small part of your potato has turned green, fear not. There is no need to toss the whole spud. Simply cut off the green part and use the rest of the potato safely. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it’s best to also remove the potato’s skin because more solanine can be found in the skin.
To prevent your potatoes from turning green too soon, always store them away from direct sunlight. A cool, dark place like the pantry or a cabinet are best. Basements make a great storage spot as well. This also prevents your potatoes from sprouting.
Potato pancakes, or latkes, are really versatile. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, they can be a side dish for just about any meal or the main course for a light meal. We have them often at our house. —Lydia Robotewskyj, Franklin, Wisconsin
Butter, lemon juice, parsley and chives enhance this simple side dish. I usually prepare these potatoes when I'm having company. Since they cook in the pressure cooker, there's plenty of room on the stove for other dishes. —Tara Branham, Austin, Texas
This homemade potato salad recipe doesn't have many ingredients, so it isn't as colorful as many that you find nowadays. But Mama made it the way her mother did, and that's the way I still make it today. Try it and see if it isn't one of the best-tasting potato salads you have ever eaten! —Sandra Anderson, New York, New York
I let my young son pick out seed packets and he chose kale, which grew like crazy. This hearty soup helped make good use of it and rivals a restaurant version that we love. —Michelle Babbie, Malone, New York
You can serve this homey blend of fresh green beans, potato wedges and chopped red onion hot or cold. Either way, this easy side dish makes a pleasing accompaniment to Mom's meat loaf or almost any other meat. —Daria Burcar,
My sister-in-law always made this delicious breakfast dish when we were camping and had to come up with good, easy breakfast ideas. Served with toast, juice and milk or coffee, it's a sure hit with the breakfast crowd! One-dish casseroles like this were a big help while I was raising my nine children. Now I've passed this recipe on to them. —Pauletta Bushnell, Albany, Oregon
I was inspired to make this recipe after I couldn't stop thinking of a similar dish served in my elementary school cafeteria more than 50 years ago! I like that it's quick to make, and my husband and grandchildren love it. —Ronna Farley, Rockville, Maryland
The next time you’re craving fries, opt for these speedy, health-conscious wedges that bake in the oven. They’re just as tasty as deep-fried versions and made with less mess. —Pat Fredericks, Oak Creek, Wisconsin
For a satisfying brunch, try some sausage and potatoes! I never have to worry about leftovers with these tasty potatoes—everyone loves them and the pan always empties. You can also serve these as a side dish at Sunday supper or for potlucks. —Linda Hill, Marseilles, Illinois
Why settle for traditional mashed potatoes when you can enjoy three times the flavor? Combine spuds with rutabaga and parsnips, along with the zip of horseradish, for a taste treat. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
I threw this sausage recipe together one night to use up produce before going out of town. Who knew it was going to be such a hit! Now it’s a recipe I turn to whenever time is tight. —Elizabeth Kelley, Chicago, Illinois
My husband and I avoid fried foods, but potatoes are part of our menu almost every day. These delectable sliced potatoes get nice and crispy and give our meals a likable lift. —Mary Lou Kelly, Scottdale, Pennsylvania
I was raised on a farm, so a warm soup with homey ingredients, like this corn chowder with bacon, was always a treat after a chilly day outside. My hearty chowder nourishes the family. —Katie Lillo, Big Lake, Minnesota
Pancake lovers know these fluffy delights are not just for breakfast. Try serving these savory ones as a side dish with any main, or enjoy them solo topped with some homemade applesauce. They will not disappoint. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
I fix this saucy skillet dish often, especially when I'm running late, because it takes so little time to prepare. The recipe won first prize in our local paper some years back. —Emma Magielda, Amsterdam, New York
I love making breakfast recipes with eggs for dinner, especially this combo with potatoes and cheese that's started in a skillet on the stovetop and then popped into the oven to bake. —Nadine Merheb, Tucson, Arizona
You'll be surprised at the taste of this rich and cheesy easy potato soup. It really is the best potato soup recipe, ever. I came up with it after enjoying baked potato soup at one of our favorite restaurants. I added bacon, and we think that makes it even better. —Coleen Morrissey, Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania
My mother came from Ireland as a teen and brought this homey recipe with her. I find that it's a fantastic way to get my family to eat cooked cabbage—it is hidden in Grandma's potatoes! —Marie Pagel, Lena, WI.
Wondering how to cook potatoes the right way? Here are the best ways to cook potatoes in the oven, on the stovetop, in an air fryer and more.
Tuna lovers will find this to be a real treat. My husband and I enjoy it as a nice change from the ordinary baked potato. Add a salad for a simple lunch or dinner. —Rosella Peters, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan
One Saturday night a few years ago, I came up with this dish on the spur of the moment. It was dinnertime, and I had to use what I had on hand. It's been a hit with my family ever since. —Nancy Russell, Englewood, Colorado
No need to hunt through kielbasa and potato recipes, this smoky take steals the show as a hearty home-style, all-in-one meal. It's especially perfect on those cold late fall and early winter nights. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Who knew there was such a thing as healthy corned beef hash?! Loaded with red potatoes and deli corned beef, our lightened-up version of corned beef hash delivers fresh flavors and a dose of fiber. It's so spot on, you'll swear you're in a diner. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Some fragrant rosemary, fresh or dried, gives these roasted red potatoes a distinctive and subtle taste. This dish is simple to prepare yet elegant in color and flavor. It's a wonderful addition to any menu. —Margie Wampler, Butler, Pennsylvania
Here in Louisiana we have a lot of get-togethers, and if you want your dish to be chosen over all of the rest, it has to have a kick! This Cajun potato salad does the trick. —Amanda West, Sibley, Louisiana
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.