My all-time favorite Mashed Potatoes Recipe. Flavored with rich and flavorful milk, butter, and sour cream, learn How to Make Mashed Potatoes and enjoy this creamy classic side dish with all your favorite family recipes.
Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Mashed potatoes are the ultimate side dish recipe. A must-have, universal favorite, mashed potatoes are creamy, delicious, and truly amazing with just about everything from chicken to seafood to hearty beef stews.
Not to mention all the important holidays – I mean, Thanksgiving cannot be had without a well of mashed potatoes to hold all the gravy.
But mashed potatoes do not simply happen. Unless prepared correctly, even the easiest mashed potato recipe can be bland and gluey.
After countless attempts at the perfect mashed potato recipe, 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 mashed potatoes
First and foremost, you need potatoes. But what kind of potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?
For best results, choose a higher starch potato such as Russet or Yukon Gold. These potatoes will result in the fluffiest, smoothest, and overall best-tasting mashed 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, a waxy potato, 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 which aren’t appealing at all.
Ingredients in Mashed Potatoes
The ingredients needed to make creamy mashed potatoes include,
- Potatoes – Yep, you’re gonna need some potatoes. Which type of potato you choose is entirely up to you. Go with one type (like I did here with Russet potatoes) or a mix!
- Salt – 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.
- Butter – Don’t be shy when it comes to butter. I added an entire stick of 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.
- Milk – I like to use 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 – 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.
- Toppings – Fresh ground black pepper is an absolute must. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle on some chopped parsley or green onions for color and freshness.
How to make mashed potatoes
To make this easy mashed potato recipe, simply:
- 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.
How long to boil potatoes for mashed potatoes
First placed in a pot of salted cold water, once the water starts to boil the total length of time it will take to cook potatoes depends entirely on how small or how large you cut your potatoes.
I typically chop a medium Russet potato into approximately six evenly-sized chunks. Cook time varies between 15-20 minutes.
As soon as you can stick your potatoes with a knife or fork with no resistance, they’re done.
Tips and Tricks for making the best mashed potatoes
Here are a few of my top tips and tricks for making the absolute best mashed potatoes.
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 to your potatoes as they cook.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
- Extra cheesy – 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.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic or powdered, 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.
What to serve with mashed potatoes
These amazing mashed up tubers love to be served with just about everything. They really are the perfect, all-around side dish.
A few of my favorite recipes to enjoy with mashed potatoes include Salisbury Steak, Cioppino, and Beef Bourguignon. Anything with a rich sauce or gravy taste amazing mixed with the creaminess of the potatoes.
Other delicious options include,
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 you 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.
To reheat, place a portion of the mashed potatoes on 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 side dish recipes,
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- How to Roast an Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Cheesy Baked Asparagus Gratin Recipe
- How to Cook Beets (3 Methods)
- Spinach, Feta, and Pear Salad
If you try making these delicious 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 milk
- 1/2 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.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)