The Best Mashed Potatoes
The Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe! How to make mashed potatoes that are creamy, fluffy and buttery. This easy recipe will become your go-to!
Mashed potatoes are a favorite side dish, and for good reason. They’re easy to make and can elevate any meal to special occasion status. These homemade mashed potatoes are perfect for serving alongside your favorite main dishes. Try them with Crock Pot Pork Chops, Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin, Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Baked Salmon.
This mashed potatoes recipe is simple to make with just a few ingredients. Below you’ll find my tips for making perfect mashed potatoes that are deliciously creamy and flavorful. A few small tricks really do make a big difference!
If you have an Instant Pot, you’ll also love my favorite Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes. For a make ahead option, try these Crockpot Mashed Potatoes. Planning your holiday meal? Find more inspiration with these Thanksgiving Side Dishes.
Best Potatoes for Mashing
When making mashed potatoes, choose either Russet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes. My personal favorite is Yukon gold mashed potatoes because they are rich, flavorful, and super creamy when mashed. Russet potatoes will be lighter and fluffier. Or, get the best of both worlds and use half Yukon gold and half Russet potatoes. You can also use red potatoes, but the mashed potatoes will be heavier and less creamy and fluffy.
- Potatoes: Yukon golds or Russets.
- Butter: You want the butter to be softened but not melted. Room temperature butter will melt into the potatoes easily.
- Salt and Pepper: You’ll add some salt to the cooking water and then more salt, to taste, after cooking.
- Milk: Whole milk makes the best rich and creamy mashed potatoes, but you can use skim milk if that’s what you have on hand. Warm the milk before stirring it into the potatoes. This keeps the potatoes from cooling off too much and helps to make creamy potatoes.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Here’s an overview of the recipe steps. Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
Scrub the potatoes. Whether or not to peel the potatoes is up to you. I usually peel Russet potatoes but not Yukon golds. Yukon gold potatoes have thin skins and the skins add nice texture.
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Try to make the pieces about the same size so that they will cook evenly. Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat.
How Long to Boil Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes
Boil potatoes for 12-15 minutes, until they are very tender when pierced with a fork. To avoid lumpy potatoes, be sure to cook them until very tender. However, you don’t want to cook the potatoes so much that they are falling apart.
Pour the potatoes into a colander and drain them well. Then put the potatoes back into the hot pot for 2-3 minutes to allow extra moisture to evaporate. This step gives you fluffier, creamier mashed potatoes.
Add the butter and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. The butter will melt into the potatoes as you mash them. Stir in the warm milk. Potatoes can vary in how thirsty they are, so add milk until the mashed potatoes reach your desired creaminess. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!
- Start the potatoes in cold water and then bring it to a boil. Using a cold start promotes even cooking, so the outsides of the potatoes won’t overcook by the time the insides are done. Even cooking is also why you want to cut potatoes before boiling, instead of boiling them whole.
- Adding salt to the cooking water flavors the potatoes from the beginning. It really does make a difference!
- To avoid lumps, cook the potatoes until they are very soft and tender when pierced with a fork or knife. Lumpy mashed potatoes are usually caused by mashing undercooked potatoes.
- I recommend mashing your potatoes by hand for fluffy mashed potatoes. Using an electric mixer is easy, but it can result in a gummy or gluey texture because it makes it too easy to overwork the potatoes. The same goes for when you are mashing and stirring by hand – be careful to not overwork the potatoes.
- Be sure to use softened butter and warm milk (or cream).
How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes
- Potatoes tend to dry out over time, so add more milk to make them creamy again.
- In the microwave: Microwave on high power, stirring occasionally, until hot. Add more milk as needed.
- In the oven: Stir a bit of milk into the potatoes and put them in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350° F until hot, stirring once or twice.
- Make ahead: You can make this recipe up to two hours ahead and then keep the potatoes warm in a slow cooker using the warm setting.
- Extra Rich and Creamy: Instead of milk, use half and half or heavy cream for richer mashed potatoes.
- Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes: Substitute buttermilk for the milk. Do not warm the buttermilk or it may curdle. You’ll love the tangy buttermilk flavor!
- Cream Cheese: Add 4 ounces of cream cheese per 3 pounds of potatoes. Soften the cream cheese to room temperature and then mash it into the potatoes along with the butter.
- Sour Cream: Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream, plus more to taste if desired. Sour cream makes the potatoes extra creamy and adds a slightly tangy flavor.
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes: For easy garlic mashed potatoes, stir in garlic powder, starting with 1/4 teaspoon and then adding more to taste.
- Herb Mashed Potatoes: Chives are a classic addition to mashed potatoes. Or, add other fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme or sage. If you want to add dried herbs, oregano, thyme and basil are good options.
- Bacon: Because everything is better with bacon! Cook chopped bacon in a skillet and then top mashed potatoes with the cooked bacon crumbles.
- Loaded Mashed Potatoes: The ultimate comfort food! Stir in sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles and chopped chives or green onions.
The BEST Mashed Potatoes
- 3 pounds Yukon gold or Russet potatoes (about 8 medium Yukon gold or 4 medium Russet)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces, plus more if desired, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt (divided, plus more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
- ½ cup whole milk (warmed, plus more as needed)
- Scrub the potatoes under cool water. You can peel the potatoes or leave the skins on, depending on your preference.
- Cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Place them in a pot of cold water. Add ½ teaspoon salt to the water.
- Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil potatoes for 12-15 minutes, until very tender when pierced with a fork, but not falling apart. Transfer potatoes to a colander and drain well.
- Immediately return the drained potatoes to the empty hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 2-3 minutes to evaporate any extra moisture.
- Add the butter pieces to the potatoes in the pot. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes.
- Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, and half of the warm milk. Stir. Then stir in the remaining milk, plus more if needed to reach your desired creaminess. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve.
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