The Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe. Potatoes are boiled until soft and tender then mashed together with warm milk, melted butter, and tangy sour cream. Learn how to make these easy mashed potatoes and enjoy this classic side dish with all your favorite family recipes.
The Best Homemade Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are the ultimate side dish recipe and comfort food. A universal favorite, mashed potatoes are creamy, delicious, and truly amazing with just about everything from chicken and beef to stew and eggs.
A must-have on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas – a holiday is incomplete without a well of mashed potatoes to hold all the gravy.
But mashed potatoes do not just simply happen.
Unless prepared correctly, even the easiest mashed potato recipe can be bland and gummy.
So, I got to work.
And after several attempts, I can finally claim that I have nailed (my version) of the perfect mashed potato recipe. With just four simple ingredients (plus some generous seasoning from salt and pepper), anyone can turn boring potatoes into everyone’s favorite side dish.
What Potatoes are Best for Creamy Mashed Potatoes?
The best kind of potatoes for mashed potatoes are starchy potatoes. This type of potato includes russet potatoes, Idaho potatoes (technically russet potatoes they’re just grown in Idaho), and Yukon gold potatoes.
Starchy potatoes result in fluffier, smoother, and overall better-textured potatoes.
Russet potatoes have thicker, tougher skin compared to Yukon gold. I always peel my potatoes when I’m making mashed potatoes, but especially so if I’m using Russet potatoes.
What about red potatoes?
Red potatoes are a much waxier potato when compared to russets or Yukon golds. As such, they require much more mashing to become creamy. In my experience, in order to get fully mashed red potatoes, you need to run them through a food processor or use a hand mixer. While this isn’t necessarily bad, overmixing quickly leads to glue-like, pasty potatoes that aren’t appealing at all.
Continue reading: Waxy vs. Starchy Potatoes: Which One to Use?
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
1. Peel potatoes and cut potatoes into chunks approximately equal in size for even cooking.
2. Immediately transfer potatoes to a large pot and sprinkle with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 20-25 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the size of potato chunks).
4. Remove from heat, drain through a large colander, and then return the potatoes back to the pot.
5. In a separate, smaller saucepot, add the butter, milk, sour cream, salt, and black pepper. Set over medium heat and cook until hot, stirring often to prevent milk from burning.
What are some additions to make even creamier mashed potatoes?
- Cream cheese
- Half-and-half or heavy cream
- Mascarpone cheese
- Extra butter
6. Meanwhile, use a potato masher or potato ricer to mash potatoes. Pour the heated milk and butter mixture in with the mashed potatoes and continue to mash and mix until desired texture and consistency is reached. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
7. Transfer the potatoes to a large serving bowl and top with additional butter, cracked black pepper, and chopped parsley or chives if desired.
How Long to Boil Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes
The total time will vary depending on how large or small your potatoes were chopped. In general, however, once the water reaches a boil, the total cooking time will take somewhere between 15-25 minutes.
For best results, chop your potatoes into equal size pieces. This way, they will cook at approximately the same time.
As soon as you can stick your potatoes with a knife or fork with no resistance, they’re done.
Tips and Tricks
1. Salt the water –
It is important to generously salt the water the potatoes are being boiled in. The reason for this is that when potatoes cook, the starch granules expand and bloat, absorbing both the water and salt. This is an easy way to preseason and infuse flavor into your potatoes as they cook.
2. Cover them with cold water (not hot) –
For a long time, I would add my potatoes to a pot filled with hot water. In my mind, I simply assumed this would lead to a faster boiling and therefore, faster cooking. Unfortunately, when you start potatoes in hot water, they cook unevenly, with the outside cooking much faster (and falling apart) before the inside has had a chance to catch up.
3. Don’t over-boil your potatoes –
I realize this may seem trivial, but it’s not. Overboiled potatoes will crumble apart and take on too much water. To avoid this,
- Cut your potatoes into evenly sized smaller chunks. This will speed up the cooking time and allow for even cooking.
- Don’t get distracted. In other words, try not to forget that you have potatoes boiling. Check regularly after 12-15 minutes.
- As soon as you can stick your potatoes with a knife or fork with no resistance, they’re done.
4. Thoroughly drain the potatoes –
It’s important to thoroughly drain the potatoes before mashing. You can also add the drained potatoes back to the hot stockpot over low heat and, holding the pot by the handles, gently shake the stockpot for 1-2 minutes to help release the steam and moisture. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Preheat the butter and milk –
I mean, unless you want cold mashed potatoes?
But seriously, all it takes is three minutes to gently heat the butter, milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan until warm.
6. Do not overmix –
Remember when I said that potatoes can turn into a paste-like glue? Well, this typically happens from overmixing. Just like overmixing cake batter isn’t a good idea, the same can be said for potatoes.
This is because all those tiny little bloated starch granules in the cooked potatoes are quite delicate. Mashing too long or too vigorously releases a lot of (extra) starch, resulting in unappealing gluey mashed potatoes.
Your best bet is to mash your potatoes by hand using a hand masher.
Possible mashed potato variations include,
- Cheesy mashed potatoes– It’s a known fact that potatoes love cheese. Shredded cheddar cheese is popular, but why not try something a little more unusual such as goat cheese, feta, Parmesan, or (my favorite), smoked gouda.
- Roasted garlic – Roasted garlic, fresh garlic, or even a little powdered garlic, it’s totally up to you. But, just like cheese, potatoes love a little (or a whole lot) of garlic.
- Add some veggies – Remember cauliflower? Of course, how could you forget that magical vegetable? Anyway, trade a pound of potatoes for a head of steamed cauliflower florets. I can guarantee no one will even notice it’s in there.
How to Store Mashed Potatoes
There’s a world of possibilities for leftover mashed potatoes.
Fortunately, mashed potatoes store well in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days in a sealed container. I like to serve leftovers scrambled together and fried with eggs or as a quick and easy dinner side dish.
Can I Freeze Mashed Potatoes?
A super popular question – can mashed potatoes be frozen?
The answer is yes! As long as you’ve been generous with full-fat milk and butter. Mashing potatoes with skim milk or just broth will, unfortunately, yield some pretty sad potatoes.
To freeze your potatoes use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to portion approximately 1-cup portions onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and allow the potatoes to freeze completely before transferring to a large freezer-safe bag. Return to the freezer until ready to use.
Reheating is easy. To reheat, place a portion of the mashed potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel. Microwave for approximately 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until heated through.
More Potato Recipes,
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes (coming soon)
If you try making these yummy mashed potatoes, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Mashed Potatoes Recipes (How to Make Mashed Potatoes)
- 4 pounds Russet potatoes (peeled and cut into quarters)
- 1/2 cup butter (plus more for topping)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- salt + pepper (to taste)
- Prepare potatoes - Peel potatoes and chop into chunks approximately equal in size for even cooking.
- Cook potatoes - Transfer potatoes to a large stockpot and sprinkle with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 20-25 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the size of potato chunks). Remove from heat and drain then return back to the pot.
- Heat the milk and butter - Add the butter, milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until hot stirring often.
- Mash the potatoes - Meanwhile, use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Pour the heated milk and butter mixture in with the mashed potatoes and continue to mash and mix until desired texture and consistency is reached. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve - Transfer potatoes to a large serving bowl and top with additional butter, cracked black pepper, and chopped parsley, if desired.
- The best potatoes to use? Russet, Idaho, or Yukon gold. Unsure which one to use? Try a mix!
- You are going to need salt. How much exactly depends on you, but potatoes by themselves are bland. I typically salt the water that the potatoes are being boiled, add salt to the potatoes after they are drained, add salt to the butter and milk mixture, and any additional salt to taste.
- Don't be shy when it comes to butter. I added an entire stick of butter (equal to 8 tablespoons butter) to this recipe plus some on top. I know, it seems like a lot, but that's the point of creamy, buttery, mashed potatoes. If you're making this recipe dairy-free or vegan, swap out the regular butter for a vegan butter substitute. Feel free to use salted or unsalted butter.
- I used whole milk. Skim milk is too watery and cream is too heavy (in my opinion). Of course, feel free to use a non-dairy alternative if you're sensitive to dairy.
- Sour cream is super important. It's creamy, tangy, and delicious. My parents always added loads of sour cream to their mashed potatoes and they were good. Feel free to add more or less sour cream according to your own personal preference. Substitute with Greek yogurt if preferred.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)