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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

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This isn't your conventional way to make mashed potatoes, but it works great for getting a fluffy, perfect result.See More: Mashed Potato Recipes

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Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds russet, Yukon gold, or long white potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup milk, or cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and cut potatoes into 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water add 1 tablespoon salt. bring to a simmer. If using a potato ricer, fill another saucepan with water place over low heat. Keep potatoes at a low simmer until a knife slips in and out easily. Drain potatoes in a colander. Place milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

If using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, proceed to Step 4. If using a potato ricer, place a heat-proof bowl or top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Press hot, drained potatoes through ricer into bowl.

Stir potatoes with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 1 minute. Using a whisk, incorporate butter. Drizzle in hot milk, whisking continuously. Add pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste whisk to combine. Serve immediately.

For the electric-mixer method, transfer hot, drained potatoes to bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed, until most lumps have disappeared, about 1 minute. Add butter mix until blended. On low speed, add hot milk in a slow stream, then add pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Mix to combine.

Boil the Potatoes Whole

Plenty of recipes and tips will have you peel and cut potatoes into even pieces. A much better option is to buy potatoes that are all about the same size so they will cook evenly. Scrub these same-size potatoes clean, put them in a large pot, cover them with cold water, and bring the whole thing to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add enough salt to the water so it tastes salty. This will likely be at least a tablespoon and maybe more. Cook the potatoes until they are very tender when pierced with a skewer, let even small potatoes cook for 20 minutes after the water starts boiling before checking them.

You want the potatoes very cooked and as dry inside as possible, each time you check them they will pick up some water, so limit your tests as much as possible.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

For someone who has blogged for almost four years, you would think that I would have posted a recipe for mashed potatoes along time ago … I guess I just always assumed it’s one of those things people know how to make! I started getting a few questions on Facebook about how to make mashed potatoes that are light and fluffy and it got me to thinking, maybe I should do a recipe for mashed potatoes! Don’t worry, I’ve gotcha covered in another post for the Perfect Gravy, too!

I have to tell you, one of my favorite comfort foods is mashed potatoes with plenty of gravy! Don’t be stingy with the gravy, either! To be honest, it is one of my favorite things when it comes to holiday meals! I could skip everything else, but don’t even think about leaving out my potatoes!


You can also use Yukon Gold potatoes. If you can find rattes potatoes, please use them.

Please use ground white pepper to season the mashed potatoes. Ground black pepper is frowned upon in culinary school. Ground white pepper infuses the mashed potatoes with a subtle peppery taste.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

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Nice and easy skin-on 'smashed' potatoes. Drying the potatoes out is necessary for success. Don't over-mix. I like to use buttermilk as a tangy substitute for the regular milk, especially if I'm adding a bit of sharp cheddar.

I found the potatoes to be very dry and weirdly chunky.

what makes this recipe 'perfect' is not the ingredients - it's the technique. i used to wonder why i always ended up with leaden mashed potatoes, but now after drying them out,i know why. even without sour cream, these potatoes are light and fluffy.

I have been using this recipe for years. yukon gold gives it the intense buttery flavor without the extra butter and I use half & half instead. Hand mixer makes it extra fluffy after I mash them by hand. Reheats well.

add a couple of heaping tablespoons of sour cream for really delicious potatoes

Has anyone tried making these ahead and reheating? I need to bring the sides to an upcoming dinner party and thought Iɽ try these.

I added sour cream, half & half (out of heavy cream) white cheddar cheese to these already sublime mashed potatoes. Some fresh chives on top - perfect. I will never cut & peel my potatoes and throw them in boiling water again. These were so good I was able to eat them cold out of the fridge the next day.

You really want perfect add a bit of horseradish - Japanese horseradish "Wasabi" works too. And I HATE horseradish - yet it works as a great 'seasoning'

I believe it is important to use a ricer for perfect consistency. Also important to melt butter and fully stir in to potatoes before adding the warmed milk. I set the prepared potatoes over a double boiler for over an hour while the rest of the meal preparations were completed, and the potatoes stayed warm and fluffy (and proved delicious!).

Straightforward and delicious. I've only made mashed potatoes a few times in my life, but these were the best - so good and simple to prepare that I'll now make them part of my permanent repetoire. I followed part of the magazine's suggested "white cheddar/chipotle" variation by adding a cup of grated cheddar. Delicious!

Maybe this would have turned out better if I had a potato ricer or food mill. Using the old hand masher, I was not impressed. Potatoes turned out lumpy and it was difficult to mix in the milk/butter mixture. It's much easier to use the hand mixer. let it do the work. Plus, even though I let the potatoes cool, I still burned my fingers.

What is unique about this recipe is not the ingredients, but rather the preparation. If only Iɽ been "drying" my potatoes all these years. Give this a run and I promise that even your leftover mashed potatoes (if there are any)will taste as though they were just made. Great tips!

Take the butter and milk from the fridge and leave at room temperature.

Prepare the potatoes by peeling and cutting in to ½ inch cubes.

Rinse off with cold water and place in a saucepan, filling it with enough cold water to cover the surface of the potatoes.

Can you see the starch? You need to rinse and replace with clean water

Bring the potatoes up to a boil on high heat and then turn the heat down to low and simmer gently with the lid on.

This will take around 15 - 20 minutes.

Test if the potatoes are cooked through by inserting a fork through a potato.

It should go through easy and the potatoes should be soft.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and return immediately to the pan whilst they're are piping hot.

Take your potato masher and break up the potatoes

Take care not to over mash!

and milk and mash until smooth.

Finish with a final stir and transfer to a serving dish.
Be careful not to over mash as this will make the potatoes gluey.

Prepare as directed, except beat in one 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened, and an additional 2/3 cup milk until smooth and creamy. Beat in 2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese and 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary. Nutrition Facts per serving: 215 cal., 6 g protein, 25 g carb., 11 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 30 mg chol., 3 g dietary fiber, 7% vit. A, 45% vit. C, 433 mg sodium, 9% calcium, 6% iron

Prepare as directed, except replace milk with buttermilk or sour milk. Stir in 1/2 cup crisp-cooked crumbled bacon (about 8 slices) and 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions. Nutrition Facts per serving: 188 cal., 6 g protein, 25 g carb., 8 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 20 mg chol., 3 g dietary fiber, 4% vit. A, 46% vit. C, 439 mg sodium, 4% calcium, 7% iron

Two Tricks for Perfect Mashed Potatoes

I am unabashed in my love for mashed potatoes, and as such, have made them using a hundred different methods. I have cooked the potatoes whole and sliced, steamed them, boiled them, baked them, roasted them, Instant-Potted and slow-cookered them I have mashed them with a fork, a spoon, a whisk, a masher, a ricer, and electrical appliances. I have tried scientific approaches and shortcuts and everything in between – and I am here to tell you that I have found the perfect way to make mashed potatoes.

Now of course my "perfect" may be your imperfect, and vice versa, but I love this method for "Perfect Mashed Potatoes" adapted from Seriously Simple Holidays by Diane Rossen Worthington – and it is easily adjustable to suit many preferences.

Some recipes call for boiling potatoes whole (less watery potatoes and easy skin removal) or steaming them (less watery potatoes, again) – but I find that cooking them whole results in uneven cooking and steaming is just kind of a pain and requires extra equipment. I always resort to the simplest method: Cut, boil, add ingredients, mash in pot – which is basically what Worthington calls for but with these two steps which are game changers:

  • After draining the potatoes once they are done boiling, return them to the pot and cook off the extra water for a few minutes.
  • Use a combination of butter and olive oil, and heat it up with your dairy before adding.

The post-boil cooking dries them out and also adds some extra depth of flavor. Meanwhile, adding olive oil to the mix gives more flavor (and is healthier, yay) – and warming it all up before adding makes it easier to incorporate, meaning less opportunity to overwork the potatoes, which can lead to the saddest thing of all: Gummy mashed potatoes.

I lean toward yellow-fleshed (like Yukon Gold) potatoes for mashing, I love their texture and flavor – though you may prefer a starcher spud for a fluffier mash, which will work with this method as well. Since I like the skin on (healthier, less waste, good flavor and texture), gold potatoes are also great because of their thin peel. If you like them without the skin, you can slip them off after boiling.

For non-vegan, which I am including for the recipe here, I use milk – but if I have buttermilk, cream, sour cream, or yogurt to use up, they work wonderfully well. For vegan mashed potatoes, I use a little vegetable stock and olive oil or a plant-based butter.

The recipe below will make about 8 cups of mashed potatoes but can be converted to just a few servings if you like. You will get about one cup of mashed potatoes for every half pound of raw potatoes you use. The gold potatoes I used here were half a pound each, about the size of an orange.

Perfect mashed potatoes

  • 4 pounds yellow potatoes (like Yukon Gold), cut in halves (or in 3-inch pieces if large)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled (optional, see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling, add potatoes, garlic (if using), and salt. Cover partially and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on size of potatoes. They should feel very tender when pierced with a fork, but not falling apart in the water.

2. Drain the potatoes and garlic and return them to the pot over high heat. (If you don't like skins, they can be removed when draining – save them for something else though!) Cook, tossing the potatoes and gently breaking them up, for two minutes, or until all the moisture is evaporated – if they start getting a little toasted, all the better. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher or ricer – leave them lumpy or make them smooth, as you wish.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, warm the butter, milk, and olive oil until the butter is melted. Add to the potatoes and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed, season with salt and pepper.

Note: Roasting garlic in the oven makes for a mellow, flavorful, velvety garlic which is great added to potatoes when mashing. But adding it to the potatoes while they are cooking is easier and doesn't require heating up the oven for something so small – and it comes out still mellow and flavorful.

Mashed potatoes do not need anything else, but if you're feeling adventurous, they make a splendid blank canvas. Just a few of many ideas on things to add: I never loved straight mashed sweet potatoes, but mixing sweet and regular potatoes in a mash is the best of both worlds. Or try adding sauteed leeks, roasted parsnips, steamed cauliflower, cooked beets, sauteed mushrooms, herbs, parmesan cheese, compound butter, seaweed butter, wasabi, pesto . basically, open your fridge and see what's there.

One time I had the pleasure of eating Thomas Keller's Purée de Pommes de Terre, or potato purée. It was so sublime that I was completely stumped – how can someone make mashed potatoes (technically a purée, but still) taste like that? What is this magic? He is surely a wizard, I thought. Then while watching the chef's Master Class, well, the curtain was pulled back and the wizardry was revealed: They are basically one part potatoes to two parts cream and butter! As you can see in the recipe here, which calls for 750 grams of potatoes, 190 grams of cream, and 275 grams of butter. I felt retroactive heart pains just watching . even so, I still think he is a wizard, and I will never forget those potatoes, but it was pretty funny.

Since many of us are attached to our own perfect mashed potatoes, what tricks or tips do you swear by?

More Mashed Potato Recipes


1 1/2 pounds (680 g) Y ukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters

4 tablespoons (60 ml) heavy cream

2 tablespoons (30 g) butter

1 tablespoon milk (or more)


Place the peeled and cut potatoes into a medium saucepan. Add cold water to the pan until the potatoes are covered by at least an inch. Add a half teaspoon of salt to the water.

Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can easily poke through the potatoes with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter and warm the cream. You can heat them together in a pan on the stove or in the microwave.

When the potatoes are done, drain the water and place the steaming hot potatoes into a large bowl. Pour the heated cream and melted butter over the potatoes.

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Then use a strong wooden spoon (a metal spoon might bend) to beat further.

Add milk and beat until the mashed potatoes are smooth. Don't over-beat the potatoes or the mashed potatoes will end up gluey.