Gather round people, because I have knowledge to impart. I love mashed potatoes. In fact, they are my all-time favorite side dish. I have been known to eat a straight up bowl of mashed potatoes for lunch. With nothing else. BUT. It took a lot of years, testing, practice, and enduring extremely bad mashed potatoes for me to get to this place. So let's break down how you're going to get the best mashed potatoes of your life.
I'm super passionate about this topic. Like, weirdly so. I have threatened to travel to family holiday functions with my potato ricer to ensure that the texture of the mashed potatoes was perfection (I figured this would not make me popular though, so I didn't. I regret it. Those potatoes NEEDED to be riced.)
To make the best mashed potatoes, there are few hacks that are going to take them over the top. None of them are hard.
Finally, I know that everyone has slightly different tastes and preferences when it comes to mashed potatoes. My dad, for some inexplicable reason, loves lumpy mashed potatoes. I mean, he's wrong, obviously, but if this is something that floats your boat, then do it.
The point is, use one or all of these hacks to test out and make mashed potatoes that are right for YOU. Experimentation in the kitchen is a beautiful thing - and will lead to some of the most amazing dishes you've ever created. Promise.
1. Use the Right Potatoes
What are the 'right' potatoes, you ask? Great question. In my opinion, it's got to be yellow-fleshed, or Yukon gold potatoes. Here's why: they have a sweet, slightly rich buttery flavor, that is PERFECT for the other ingredients we're going to add (hint: it's more butter), plus their texture is sooooooo creamy. They also don't absorb a large amount of water when they cook, so there's less of a chance of you over mashing them and turning them to glue.
If you're a fan of fluffier mashed potatoes though, go with russet. Their texture is ideal for lighter, less dense mashed potatoes.
Here's my recipe for my basic mashed potatoes. We're going to talk about all of the ingredients as we move along!
2. Boil them in Stock, not Water
This is such a genius game changer. I first heard about this on TikTok from comedian Jourdyn Parks. I immediately could not understand how I had not thought of this. It lends such a deep, complex flavor to the mashed potatoes without being overwhelming. Try cooking your potatoes in chicken, beef, or veggie stock to see how they turn out!
Make sure you reserve about a quarter of a cup of the cooking stock to add back into the mashed potatoes later for an extra flavor boost.
3. Use a Potato Ricer instead of a Masher
I cannot stress this enough. Get yourself a potato ricer. This is the key to getting the perfectly creamy, silky, and smooth mashed potatoes. Plus, it ensures that all of our other ingredients are going to blend in seamlessly with the potatoes.
4. Use Heavy Cream
Listen, if you want to make healthy mashed potatoes, I completely get that, and you can keep using milk. But if you want to indulge a little (especially around the holidays), heavy cream is the way to go. It just adds so much flavor to the potatoes, nothing can really compare.
5. Salt is your Friend
You're probably going to need more than you think. The potatoes tend to suck the salt in like crazy, and their dense texture makes it harder for the salt to make it's way around the pan. I typically use about a teaspoon of salt per 5-7 potatoes.
However, I'm a huge proponent of salting and taste testing until you get it just right. This is especially true of things like pasta sauce and mashed potatoes.
6. Butter is Also your Friend
If you're looking for the perfect flavor with mashed potatoes - we really need the trifecta of cream, salt and butter. Like I said, I do not eat these mashed potatoes every day. But they are so. dang. good. for special occasions and holidays.
7. Get Creative with Flavor
Because potatoes have such a mild flavor of their own, you can go wild with adding different flavors too them. Instead of the usual cream cheese, bacon and chives, consider these options:
- Brown your butter before adding it to the potatoes. This gives it a delicious, subtle, nutty flavor that's perfect for the holidays.
- Roasted garlic: roast an entire bulb of garlic in the oven at 375F for about 45 minutes. Mash the cloves into a paste with a bit of olive oil, and add to the potatoes.
- Try Truffle: if you can spring for the fresh stuff, amazing, but if you can't (like 99.9% of the population), add a bit of truffle oil or truffle butter to mash. Don't go over board though! Start with a ¼ teaspoon, taste, and then build from there.
- Boursin cheese: this is probably the easiest addition. Just add a block of Boursin cheese, and watch as your flavor and creamy texture peak.
- Lobster: remember how we keep talking about indulgence? Ya. Add chunks of cooked lobster meat for the ultimate delicious and decadent mashed potatoes (and don't forget plenty of butter, lobster and potatoes love butter.
8. Heat your Cream and Butter before you Add them to the Potatoes
This way, your potatoes stay nice and steamy up until you serve them! It makes a huge difference. You can do this on a burner on a stove, or simply in the microwave (that's how I do it).
9. You can Make them Ahead of Time
And for a crowd! This is one of the most amazing, time-saving holiday hacks ever. There is one downside: it takes up oven space. If you can work around that though, these potatoes are going to save you so much time on the big day. And, they are straight up FIRE.
There you have it! Follow all (or even just one) of these hacks and I promise you, your mashed potato game is going to change forever. Which ones are you going to try? Let me know in the comments!
Hi, I'm Cara! I'm a food writer, journalist, and recipe developer. I'm obsessed good food, good wine, good cocktails and entertaining. I've picked up a few tips over the years, and love sharing them with others.