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Homemade mashed potatoes — rich, creamy, and buttery — are the stuff of dreams and so easy to make. They make any dinner instantly special, and it’s not a holiday feast without them. I have made this recipe over 100 times for sure, and my family gets excited to see them land on the table every single time. They are thick and fluffy at the same time, and you can mash them as smooth as you like or leave some lovely little bits of potato for some textural variety.

If you are as big a mashed potato fan as I am, you’ll also want to check out Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Herb Mashed Potatoes, Baked Mashed Potatoes, and Slow Cooked Mashed Potatoes. Also, check out Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Garlic for a colorful twist!

Orange bowl of Mashed Potatoes.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes: The ultimate comfort food; it’s hard to imagine a cold weather meal that wouldn’t be better with a side of mashed potatoes.

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  • Kosher salt – Don’t be shy with the salt here. Potatoes are very bland and need salt to bring out their simply earthy flavor, both in the cooking and the seasoning.
  • Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoes – The best option is a 50/50 combo of the two varieties. Peel the potatoes and cut them in half, or if they are very large, cut them into 3-inch pieces.
  • Milk – I always go for whole milk when making mashed potatoes for a richer flavor, but you can use 2% if you prefer. I think mashed potatoes are meant to be indulgent!
Fresh potatoes, cream, and other ingredients for mashed potatoes.
  • Cream – You can use light, heavy, or whipping cream. If you want them a little bit lighter, use half-and-half 
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt in your mashed potatoes. Cut room-temperature butter into pieces so it melts quickly into the potatoes.
  • Freshly ground pepper – You can use white pepper instead of black if you prefer.

The Best Potatoes for Mashing

Amongst mashed potato fans, there is an ongoing debate about which potatoes are best. All-purpose or russet potatoes are what many people lean towards; their insides fall apart once cooked, resulting in potatoes that are fairly light and fluffy. But others lean towards Yukon Gold potatoes, with a creamier, denser flesh and a slightly buttery flavor.

Or, you can use a combo of these two higher-starch potatoes. That’s my favorite option, a blend of half russets and half Yukon Golds. I don’t think there is a wrong way to go here, so use what you have available or what you like best. Avoid waxy potatoes like white or red potatoes, which are very dense and can get gluey in the whipping.

Scooping Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese onto plate.


Lots of things can be added to mashed potatoes to make them special. The amounts here are for the whole recipe. You may want to toss one or two peeled garlic cloves into the pot and simmer them with the potatoes, then mash them, too.

  • 1⁄2 cup soft goat cheese or shredded hard cheese, such as cheddar or fontina
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, or chives
  • 1⁄4 cup pesto
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon drained prepared horseradish
  • 3 ounces room temperature cream cheese, cut into small pieces


How long do you cook mashed potatoes for?

When boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes, cook them for 15 to 20 minutes, until a sharp knife slides right into the cooked potatoes. The knife should slide in easily and come out clean. When they are done, drain them immediately so they don’t get waterlogged and result in watery mashed potatoes.

Should you mash potatoes with or without the peels?

That is a matter of preference! I prefer my mashed potatoes with no peel for a smoother, creamier texture, but others really like little bits and pieces of the peels in their potatoes for texture.

If you decide not to peel your potatoes, make sure to scrub them well before halving them and cooking them.

Is it better to boil potatoes whole or cut into pieces?

I prefer to cut them into halves or 3-inch pieces if the potatoes are very large. Cutting the potatoes into similar-sized pieces allows them to cook faster and more evenly.

How to Make Mashed Potatoes

  1. Cook the potatoes: Simmer the potatoes until they are very tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes: Return them to the pot, and place over medium-low heat. Heat the potatoes, tossing occasionally, until the moisture is all gone and the potatoes have begun to dry out, about 3 minutes.
Boiled diced potatoes in large pot.
  1. Mash the potatoes: Put the potatoes through a ricer or food mill or mash them with a potato masher until they are as smooth as you like them.
Woman putting potatoes through a ricer.
  1. Add the remaining ingredients: Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the warmed milk and the cream, along with the butter, to the potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon or a whisk until well combined.
Woman adding cream to a pot of potatoes.
  1. Season the potatoes: Add salt and pepper to taste and stir over medium-low heat until everything is hot and well blended, about 2 minutes.
Woman grinding pepper into a pot of mashed potatoes.

Potato Mashers, Ricers, and Food Mills

There are a number of ways to get to fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes.

Making Mashed Potatoes With a Potato Masher

A potato masher is a flat disk with a waffle-like grid of holes and a handle attached so that the metal grid can pound the potatoes (or other soft-cooked foods). You can do many things with an old-fashioned potato masher, including making these potatoes, although you will certainly have a lump or two left in the mix. (Many people don’t really mind that; in fact, they love it.)

Woman holding potato masher over pot of cooked potatoes.

Making Mashed Potatoes With a Potato Ricer

A potato ricer is a gizmo that look much like an oversized garlic press. You put a cooked potato (or another thoroughly cooked vegetable — usually a root vegetable) in it, squeeze, and skinny spaghetti-like pieces come out (picture those Play-Doh kits that extrude the dough through various panels). Actually, the bits are more rice-like in shape, and when you mix them with hot milk and cream, they blend perfectly into a smooth mash.

Processing Potatoes through ricer over pot.

Making Mashed Potatoes With a Food Mill

A food mill looks a little like a pot with a colander for a bottom and a hand crank to force the food underneath a metal blade and out through the holes at the bottom. The results are much like those of the ricer, but when you use a food mill to mash some soft foods, it also acts like a sieve, leaving behind the seeds and skins of cooked tomatoes or berries, for instance, while the rest of the fruit goes through and becomes a sauce.

Other items that take well to the food mill: cooked apples, cooked beans, and it’s also handy for making soups. And, if homemade baby food is part of your world, it’s the perfect tool for that as well.

Orange bowl of Mashed Potatoes topped with butter and pepper.

Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes

  • Peel and cut the potatoes in half before cooking so they cook faster and more evenly.
  • Make sure to generously salt the water for cooking the potatoes, as this will really flavor the potatoes. Then, taste the mashed potatoes and add more salt to season to taste.
  • Avoid waterlogging your potatoes. Don’t overboil them — as soon as they are tender enough to mash, drain them.
  • Heat the cooked potatoes after draining them in the pot for a few minutes to remove excess moisture.
  • The fine insert of a ricer or food mill will give you the smoothest texture. Using a potato masher will usually leave some little lumps, which many people find appealing — a sign that they are homemade!
  • When you add the butter and the milk and cream mixture to the potatoes and stir at first, it will look like the potatoes are way too liquidy. Don’t worry; when the mashed potatoes are returned to the heat, they will thicken up and become perfectly fluffy.
Woman pouring cream into pot of mashed potatoes.
  • If you want to keep the mashed potatoes a bit lighter, you can replace the cream with another ½ cup of milk.
  • Do NOT use a food processor to blend your mashed potatoes; they will end up with a glue-like texture. Don’t overbeat them either; you want to combine the potatoes with the dairy just until combined.

How to Store and Reheat Mashed Potatoes

The peeled potatoes can be held in cold water to cover for a few hours before cooking. Make sure the water stays cold. You can also peel the potatoes a day ahead of time and stored them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge for a day.

If you make the potatoes ahead of time, you can hold them covered in the pot for up to 3 hours. Reheat them gently over low heat, adding some more hot milk as necessary and stirring frequently.

Stirring Mashed Potatoes in pot with wood spoon.

You can also refrigerate mashed potatoes for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pot over low heat with frequent stirring until hot, which will take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on quantity. A large pot will obviously take longer. You will also need to add a bit more milk or cream and taste and adjust the seasonings.

Leftover mashed potatoes can also be heated very successfully in the microwave. Stir them frequently until they are hot throughout.

Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Leftover mashed potatoes are amazing in the following recipes!

What to Serve With Mashed Potatoes

What do mashed potatoes go with? Roast turkey! Steak, roast chicken, salmon, pork chops, meatloaf, and brisket….what don’t they go with?

And then there are the holidays. It’s not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes, that’s for sure (pass the gravy or the white gravy). Whenever I am entertaining during the winter and/or making a comfort food meal (which is pretty much every time I am having people over when it’s cold), it’s likely that mashed potatoes are part of the menu. Watch how many times that bowl gets passed around the table. Make more than you think you’ll need.

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Oven Baked Beef Brisket

Mashed potatoes in an orange bowl on a wooden table

More Potato Recipes

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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 People
Possibly the most perfect comfort-food side dish in the world.



  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 8 large Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 pounds total, peeled and cut in half)
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole)
  • ½ cup light or heavy whipping cream or half-and-half (see Note)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter (cut into pieces, at room temperature)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


  • Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add a generous amount of salt, let the water return to a boil, then add the potatoes (the water should cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches). Let the water come to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium, and cook the potatoes, partially covered, until they are very tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot, and place it over medium-low heat. Heat the potatoes, tossing them occasionally, until the moisture is all gone and the potatoes have begun to dry out, but not to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and put the potatoes through a ricer or mash them with a potato masher until they are as smooth as you like them. Return the potatoes to the pot.
  • Place the milk and the cream in a microwave-safe bowl or pitcher and heat until hot, about 1 minute. (You can also heat the milk and cream in the pot over medium heat before you return the potatoes to it.) Add the butter and the hot milk and cream mixture to the potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon or a whisk until well combined.
  • Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste and stir over medium-low heat until everything is hot and well blended, about 2 minutes.


When you add the butter and the milk and cream mixture to the potatoes and stir at first, it will look like the potatoes are way too liquidy. Don’t worry, when the mashed potatoes are returned to the heat, they will thicken up.


Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 31mg, Potassium: 997mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 443IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. These taste like my grandma’s mashed potatoes. She made them for me so I make them for my children. This is the best way to turn around a not so great day.

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