Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Perfect homemade mashed potatoes may seem like the stuff of dreams, but they could not be easier to make, and they make any dinner instantly special.

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

What to Serve with Mashed Potatoes

What do mashed potatoes go with? Roast turkey! Steak, roast chicken, salmon, pork chops, meat loaf, 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). The same probably goes for Christmas, and whenever I am entertaining during the winter and 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 time that bowl gets passed around the table. Make more than you think you’ll need.

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Simmer the potatoes, partially covered, until they are very tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pot, and place it over medium-low heat. Cook the potatoes, tossing occasionally, until the moisture is all gone and the potatoes have begun to dry out about 3 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and 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. The fine insert of a ricer or food mill will give you the smoothest texture, whereas using a potato masher will usually leave some little lumps, which many people find appealing — a sign that they are homemade!

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Return the potatoes to the pot.

Heat the milk and the cream then add along with the butter to the potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon or a whisk until well combined.

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

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.

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Cooking Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes

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.

If you want to keep the mashed potatoes a bit lighter, you can replace the cream with another 1/2 cup of milk.

Do NOT use a food processor to blend your mashed potatoes; they will end up with a glue-like texture.

Best Potatoes for Mashing

Amongst mashed potato fans there is an ongoing debate about which potatoes are optimal for this dish. All-purpose or russet potatoes are what many people lean towards, with their insides falling 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. 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.

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 make 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).

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 other 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.

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. 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.

Homemade Mashed Potatoes Variations

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
How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

What the Kids Can Do

Kids might peel the potatoes, cut up the butter, measure the liquids, mash or rice the potatoes, and stir up the potatoes.

Sautéed Chicken with Spinach and Red Onions / Mandy Maxwell / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Reheating Homemade Mashed Potatoes

If you make the potatoes ahead of time you can hold them, covered in the pot, for up to three hours, then reheat them gently over low heat, adding some more hot milk as necessary and stirring frequently.  You can also refrigerate them for up to 3 days, but they will have to be reheated over low heat with frequent stirring until hot, which will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes. You will also need to add a bit more milk or cream, and taste and adjust seasonings.

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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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Possibly the most perfect comfort-food side dish in the world.
Yield: 8 People
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • Kosher or coarse salt
  • 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

Directions

  • 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.
  • You can continue with Step 5 or see the Fork in the Road suggestions for add-ins on this page.
  • 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.

Notes

Cooking Tip

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.

Nutrition Information

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

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  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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