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The Best Tools for Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Want to make creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes like these? Read on ...

Mashed Potatoes

Photo by Meredith

Jennie Phaneuf of The Messy Baker explains the difference between using a food mill, potato ricer, potato masher, and a handheld mixer and reveals which one works best.


Get the recipe for the best mashed potatoes.


The Food Mill

So, you don’t want a single clump in your mashed potatoes? Okay, I feel ya. If you’re willing to spend some extra cash and make a little room in your pantry, the food mill is where it’s at. This is my favorite way to do the mashed potato. The result transcends any other potato-mashing method. Think creamy, silky, velvety potatoes without a single lump—I just drooled a little.

These are the kind of potatoes they make at the expensive restaurants. For example, Thomas Keller makes his potatoes this way. If you want an unforgettable mashed potato experience, you’ll want to use the food mill.

The food mill is easy to use. Place the mill over a large bowl and add the cooked potatoes to the bowl of the food mill. Turn the handle until all of the potatoes are mashed. Scrape the bottom of the food mill to release any potatoes that may be sticking to the bottom of the grater. Gently stir in the warm milk mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Warning: Once you go food mill, you won’t go back. It’s true, folks. I exclusively use the food mill to prepare my mashed potatoes.

Food Mill

Photo by Meredith

The Potato Ricer

A potato ricer looks a little like a garlic press on steroids. It works by pressing chunks of cooked potato through a grate with tiny holes to produce perfectly smooth potatoes with no lumps. Unlike a food mill, you'll work with only one or two chunks at a time. After pressing the potatoes through the ricer, they'll look a little like very fine noodles. To fluff them up, stir them with a spoon or whisk, then add the warm milk and butter mixture and season to taste.

Potato Ricer

Photo by Meredith

The Potato Masher

The easiest and quickest way to make mashed potatoes is with a potato masher. You probably received one as a wedding present. It’s the thing in your utensil drawer that has a long handle with a zig-zag shaped head or a plate with holes attached to the end. If I’m in a hurry or want to enjoy a bowl of mashed potatoes during the week, I bust out my potato masher. You’ll have your potatoes mashed in no time. This method of mashing is also a great stress reliever—pound those potatoes into submission!

When using the potato masher, I recommend mashing the potatoes with the masher before adding any liquid. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the warm milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Potato Masher

Photo by Meredith

The Handheld Mixer

If you have a few extra minutes and desire a creamier, whipped mashed potato, the handheld mixer or stand mixer attached with the whisk attachment may be more your style. The beaters of the handheld mixer or whisk of the stand mixer yield a smoother, fluffier bowl of mashed potatoes.

Drain your fork-tender potatoes, cook off any excess moisture, and transfer them to a large bowl (if using a handheld mixer) or to the bowl of your stand mixer. Whip, starting on low and slowly increasing your speed to medium to prevent it from raining mashed potatoes, until you reach your desired consistency. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add the warm milk mixture until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

The Stoutest Fork You Own (emergencies only)

I've never had to try this, and I don't know how effective it would be, but it would work in a pinch if you had a fierce mashed potato craving and none of the equipment listed above.

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