Improving potato production is of high importance to safeguard China’s future food supply as yield gaps are relatively large compared to those of the main cereals. Meanwhile, inefficient resource use and environmental pressures are threatening environmental sustainability in the country. The present study assessed the scope and pathways of sustainable intensification of potato production in China. The aim was to investigate how to enhance potato production with sustainable practices that balance the agronomic, economic and environmental goals. The findings indicated that the scope for improving potato yield is large. Enhancing yield goes hand in hand with improved quality and farm revenue. The current production has high resource inputs, medium output, medium resource use efficiency and high environmental impact. However, it was estimated that in the long-term, with more efficient management practices a good compromise between different sustainable development goals can be achieved. This estimation was verified experimentally in North China, i.e. better irrigation and nitrogen fertilizer management were demonstrated pathways to enhance yield, resource use efficiencies, and reduce environmental impacts simultaneously.