How to Make Mashed Potatoes so they come out perfect every time! Creamy, flavorful, easy, and loved by everyone!
We also love this Mashed Cauliflower for a healthier alternative!
There are five things that immediately come to my mind when someone mentions comfort food – chocolate cake, meatloaf, beef stew, chicken noodle soup, and mashed potatoes! We grew up on them, we love them, and they just make us happy, right?
Sure, most people know how to make mashed potatoes, and no doubt everyone has their preferred way. But just like the difference between boring scrambled eggs and the best scrambled eggs, there’s a way to make mediocre mashed potatoes and a way to make the absolute best mashed potatoes. So let’s get to it!
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Before we dive into the actual detailed recipe (at the bottom), let’s touch on ingredients and technique, because they’re equally important!
- The potatoes – Russet potatoes are the most commonly used, but I prefer Yukon gold, which have a creamy texture to them. Either work great, though. You could even mix the two! (Peeling or not peeling the potatoes is a personal choice. My family is in the skins-off camp, so I always peel my potatoes. If you like the texture that the skin adds, than keep them on – totally up to you!)
- Cut the potatoes before boiling – many say to cook the potatoes whole, but not only does it take longer (which is no big deal), but more importantly, they cook unevenly. Avoid this by cutting your potatoes into the same sized cubes before boiling, which will result in even cooking.
- Don’t waterlog your potatoes – too much water can make your potatoes disintegrate and be the kiss of death for wonderful mashed potatoes.
- Don’t overcook – as soon as a fork or butter knife can be inserted easily into a potato with little resistance, they’re done cooking!
- Salt is your friend! – Well, maybe not in all cases, but definitely with mashed potatoes. They need a lot of salt and are practically begging for it. If you think you’ve added enough, chances are you haven’t. The boiling water along with the cooked potatoes need the salt or you’ll end up with sad, flavorless spuds.
- Don’t skimp on the fat! – Potatoes are as starchy as it gets and they need serious fat to turn them creamy, so opt for real butter, full fat sour cream, and whole milk. This is not the time to start worrying about your hips, or you’ll end up with drier mashed potatoes. Blah!
- Use softened unsalted butter – Using unsalted butter gives you control over how salty your potatoes come out, and making sure your butter is softened (not melted!) results in better flavor and the smoothest texture.
- Use Hot milk – Mixing hot milk into your hot potatoes is the best way to incorporate the two and also keeps the potatoes warm while mashing, of course.
- Add in the butter before the milk – This makes your mashed potatoes the creamiest. Butter fat coats the potato starch molecules – if you add in the milk and then the butter, your potatoes could end up being gummy.
- Don’t overmix! – You want to mash your liquids into the mashed potatoes until they are just combined. Too much mixing and your mashed potatoes could end up having the consistency of glue.
How Long To Boil Potatoes For Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes should be submerged in cold water that’s been salted, and brought to a boil. The length of time you need to boil the potatoes for will depend on how you cut them. If they’re large potatoes and you quarter them, it will typically take about 15 minutes. I cube mine into 1 1/2-inch pieces, which usually takes 10-12 minutes to cook. To check if your potatoes are ready, use a fork or butter knife, and if it can be inserted easily into a potato with little resistance, they’re done!
Different mashing techniques give you different results
My mashed potatoes recipe renders wonderfully dense and creamy potatoes, with some texture, which is my preference over completely whipped and silky. But you can totally make them as smooth or as chunky as you like!
Definitely get yourself a good kind of masher. It’s not expensive and is an extremely useful tool to have. I own and love this masher for chunkier mashed potatoes and this masher for smoother mashed potatoes. (<< both of those are Amazon affiliate links.) You can also invest in a ricer, which creates the finest bits of cooked potato, or use an electric mixer, which will whip up those potatoes without any effort and render the smoothest results.
Mashed potatoes keep very well and make great leftovers. (See below for ways to use up leftovers.)
How long do mashed potatoes last in the fridge? Stored in a shallow airtight container or resealable plastic bag, they will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze mashed potatoes? Yep! As long as your potatoes include butter and dairy, they freeze wonderfully. Allow the potatoes to cool completely, then either 1) simply transfer all of the cooled potatoes into a tightly sealed freezer-safe container, 2) transfer them into a resealable plastic freezer bag and press flat, or 3) portion them into single 1 cup servings by placing them on a parchment-lined baking tray, flash freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag to store. They can be stored in the freezer for a couple months without greatly diminishing the quality.
How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes
Cooking time can vary depending on your microwave and the amount of potatoes you want to reheat, but follow these general rules for reheating success. Add about one tablespoon of milk per cup of potatoes for each of these methods.
- Oven – thawed or straight from the freezer, reheat potatoes in a covered baking dish at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely heated through.
- Stovetop – thawed or straight from the freezer, reheat the potatoes in a large pot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Microwave – transfer frozen potatoes to a microwave-safe baking dish or bowl, cover, and heat them in the microwave at 50% power for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Slow cooker – thaw the frozen potatoes in the refrigerator first. Add the potatoes to the slow cooker and heat on “Low” for about 2 hours.
Once warmed through, stir everything well and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
What To Do With Leftover Mashed Potatoes
If I had a dime for every time someone joked “what’s leftover mashed potatoes?!” I’d be rich. And I get it…I mean, mashed potatoes are so good, we gobble them up. But more times than not, I still seem to make more than we need (just like pasta!).
What Goes with Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes make the best side with these dishes!
Other Potato Recipes
These are some other potato recipes that my family goes crazy for!
Best Homemade Mashed Potatoes
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled, knots removed, and diced into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt , divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 diced, 2 sliced)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk , hot
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or horseradish)
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- finely chopped parsley , for garnish
- Place the potatoes in a large pot with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt (not table salt) and enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the pot.
- Add 4 tablespoons of diced butter; stir until melted and combined. Then add in the sour cream, milk, mustard, remaining 1/2 tablespoon salt, and the pepper; mash with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached. (Alternatively, you can use an electric mixer for extra smooth and silky mashed potatoes, but be careful not to over-mix or you could end up with gummy potatoes!)
- Transfer hot mashed potatoes to a serving bowl and top with remaining two slabs butter and finely chopped parsley.