Want to bring the fluffiest, creamiest, richest, and most indulgent mashed potatoes to the table? (And who doesn't?) Here are all the tips and tricks you need to make mashed potatoes that are more than just an excuse for gravy. First, we'll show you which potatoes to use and how to cook them just right, and then we'll teach you the secret trick to make sure your mashed potatoes are never watery.
How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
For this basic recipe, we used a blend of red and russet potatoes. This combination creates a slight texture variation. If you prefer completely smooth mashed potatoes, this method still applies, but russet or Yukon Gold potatoes — with their high starch content — are the best choices for mashed potatoes.
Related: Find out how to choose the right potatoes for your recipe.
Mashed Potato Ingredients
We used 6 potatoes, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup salted butter, and salt to taste.
1. Peel the potatoes, removing as many of the eyes as possible with the tip of your peeler. (If you prefer more rustic-looking mashed potatoes, keep the skin on half of them and mash them with a potato masher instead of a food mill or potato ricer.) Submerge the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown while you are chopping them. Cut the potatoes into similar-sized chunks so they will cook evenly: the cubes should be about 1½ to two inches wide.
2. Put the cut potatoes in a large pot. Use a pot large enough to hold the potatoes with enough water to cover, plus room for the water to boil up without boiling over. Add salt to the water, if desired. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover the pot and simmer until potatoes are tender — about 15 to 20 minutes. A knife tip inserted into a potato should meet no resistance; if the potato clings to the knife, the potatoes need to cook longer. When potatoes are done, remove from heat and drain immediately.
Reserve the potato water if you would like to use it in place of butter or cream when mashing, or if you plan to make a vegetable soup stock or sourdough bread.
3. Return the drained potatoes to the pot and heat over medium-high heat for about a minute to cook off any excess water. This guarantees your mashed potatoes won't be watery. Stir gently to make sure all the potatoes dry out. The edges will start to look white and flaky, but don't let the potatoes scorch. Meanwhile, heat the butter and cream in a small saucepan at a low temperature. (You can also use the microwave for this step.)
4. Now we get to the mashing part. For this recipe, we used a food mill to break up the potatoes and remove any lumps. Once the potatoes have been passed through the mill, drizzle half of your hot cream mixture through and around the grate to get every last bit of potato. Gently stir in the remaining butter and cream.
At this point, taste the potatoes for seasoning and adjust to taste. Test for consistency, too: If the potatoes are too thick, add more cream. Other herbs and spices can be added at this point as well: chopped chives, Italian parsley, Parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon, roasted garlic, chopped scallions, or creamed leeks are all delicious additions.
Discover Chef John’s secret to truly amazing special-occasion mashed potatoes — lots and lots of butter. The key is to use the good butter — and to bring it to room temp first. And if you can’t quite bring yourself to use as much butter as Chef John recommends, use however much butter you feel comfortable with. But check out the video to see the great mashed potato-making technique:
If you end up with a saucepan full of watery mashed potatoes, all is not lost — this article will tell you how to fix those watery mashed potatoes and turn them into creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes.
How to Make Low-Fat Mashed Potatoes That Are Still Creamy
To reduce the fat content of traditional mashed potatoes, use low-fat sour cream in place of butter, and milk or broth rather than cream. Try some of these excellent spiced-up mashed potato recipes:
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Rosemary Mashed Potatoes and Yams with Garlic and Parmesan
- Mashed Potato, Rutabaga, and Parsnip Casserole with Caramelized Onions
- Spruced Up Mashed Potatoes
More: Browse our entire collection of mashed potato recipes.
- See how to make The Best Mashed Potatoes, using only Yukon Gold potatoes instead of russets.
- Yes, you can freeze and reheat mashed potatoes without losing texture and flavor.