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Basic Mashed Potatoes

Basic mashed potatoes are a must with turkey and roast beef or just about anything with gravy. These are light, fluffy, creamy and sensational. No peeling necessary. 

Basic Mashed Potatoes in a bowl

Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. There are a ton of “perfect mashed potato” recipes online. All I know is that these are excellent. They should be. I’ve made them over 200 times I figure!  

This recipe is just your basic mashed potatoes. You can be confident of great results. And, they take less than 30 minutes to make which you can even break up into a couple of steps if needed. I don’t even bother to peel the potatoes if I’m using thin-skinned Yukon Gold – my potato of choice. 

If you are looking for an easy basic mashed potato recipe, this is it. Some cooks will tell you that the only way to make perfect mashed potatoes is to use a ricer, but I find that mine come out fine – better than fine – with just an electric handheld mixer.  In fact, you can even use a potato masher if you don’t mind a slightly less creamy texture and are willing to put some muscle behind the mashing. 

If you’re looking to add extra nutrients and a hint of sweetness, try our root vegetable mash. I make it with white and sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips and/or celery root. Delish. And a great way to hide some veggies for kids. 

Tips to make perfect mashed potatoes

Here are my best tips based on lots of experience and research. 

Best potatoes to use: Everyone says Russet/Idaho or Yukon Gold/Yellow (pictured below) are best.  Or a combination of the two. My favorite, hands down, are Yukon Gold.  Apparently they have a richer taste. Who knew? I guess when you put gravy on the potatoes, it’s hard to tell 🙂

Serving portions:  Figure about 1/4-1/3 pound of potatoes per person, so one pound of potatoes will serve 3-4 people. (Not counting my husband who eats double). 

How-to Tips:

  • Start with cold salted water, then add potatoes and bring to a boil.  Don’t boil the water first.
  • Don’t over beat the potatoes or they can turn to glue (trust me!). The mashing takes less than a minute with an electric hand mixer. Oh, and don’t use a food processor or immersion blender.
  • Check recipe notes for how to keep mashed potatoes warm before serving. 

Seasoning and add-ins:

  • Since you salt the water before boiling, watch not to over salt at the end, especially if you are using salted butter. Taste and add as needed.
  • Many cooks use half and half (10%) or cream (35%) or cream cheese in the potatoes.  I tend to use 2% milk combined with a bit of half and half cream to keep the calories down. Obviously, the more cream and butter you use, the richer they’ll be so it’s up to you.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Try adding a 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped fried or caramelized onions to your mashed potatoes. Delish!
  • If preferred, used olive oil instead of butter.
  • Use milk or cream 0%-35% depending on how rich you want the dish. I use 2% milk and maybe a splash of 10% cream.
  • Milk can be substituted with broth or sour cream or Greek yogurt (fat free is fine).  

Make ahead

  • See 3 ways on how to keep mashed potatoes warm in the recipe notes.  
  • For a dinner party, I cut the potatoes early in the day and keep them in a pot of cold water on the stove. An hour or more ahead of serving time, I boil and mash them. They are easy to keep warm and still maintain their deliciousness.
  • If you have to make them a day ahead, you can heat them in the microwave.
  • And they freeze beautifully for months. 

Love potatoes? Here are a few of our best potato recipes

How to make basic mashed potatoes

a pile of Yukon gold potatoes
Start with Yukon Gold potatoes (my fave) or Russet potatoes. 
cubed potatoes on cutting board
Cut potatoes into even pieces for even cooking. Peel if you like. I don’t bother.
cube potatoes in pot boiling
Boil potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes until soft and easily pierced with a knife.
cooked potatoes in pot with butter and milk on top
Drain potatoes, “dry” them over medium heat in the pot for a minute and add butter and milk (or cream).
mashed potatoes in pot
Whip potatoes, butter and milk and adjust seasonings to your taste. 

mashed potatoes in bowl

Basic Mashed Potatoes in a bowl
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Basic Mashed Potatoes

Basic mashed potatoes are a must with turkey and roast beef or just about anything with gravy. These are light, fluffy, creamy and sensational. No peeling necessary. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 (or 6 smaller servings)
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (0.68 kg) Yukon gold potatoes Russet ok too
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk or cream
  • 3 tablespoon (56 g) softened butter (or 4 tbsp for extra richness)
  • salt and pepper to taste (2-3 tsp to salt the water for boiling)

Instructions

  • PREPARE POTATOES: Wash and peel potatoes if desired. (I leave the thin skins on Yukon gold potatoes - extra nutrients and less peeling). Cut into even size chunks - the smaller they are, the quicker they will cook. 1 inch is good. Place potatoes into pot with just enough cold water to cover them. Add 2-3 tsp salt. NOTE: Potatoes can sit in cold water for several hours before boiling - so this can be done ahead.
  • BOIL POTATOES: Bring to boil, then lower heat to medium and boil gently for about 15-20 minutes, depending on size of pieces. Potatoes should be soft and easy to pierce with a knife but not disintegrating.
  • DRAIN: potatoes in a colander. Place back in pot and shake over medium medium heat for a minute or two to dry them out and evaporate any remaining water (this will make them fluffy, not gluey). Stir in milk (or cream) and butter. Turn off heat.
  • MASH AND SERVE: Use an electric hand mixer (not a food processor or immersion blender) to whip potatoes, butter and milk for 30-60 seconds. Don't over beat. Taste and add salt, pepper, more butter or milk as needed. You can also just mix well with a potato masher or fork (they won't be as smooth). Serve immediately or keep warm. Note 4.

Notes

  1. How much per serving? Figure about 1/2 - 3/4 cup (125-250g) mashed potatoes per person. You will need about 1 pound (0.45kg) to make 2 cups mash or 3-4 servings. 
  2. Substitutes:
    • If preferred, used olive oil instead of butter.
    • Use milk or cream 0%-35% depending on how rich you want the dish. I use 2% milk and maybe a splash of 10% cream.
    • Milk can be substituted with broth or sour cream or Greek yogurt (fat free is fine).  
  3. Optional add-ins: caramelized onions, chopped fresh chives, grated cheese. 
  4. To keep mashed warm/reheat: If you have a warming ring on your stove, set to medium, place pot on ring, add a bit of milk to sit on top of potatoes, cover and let them sit on the stove for up to an hour. Mix in milk to re-fluff potatoes and serve. If you have a crock pot, transfer potatoes, set on low for up to 4 hours. Potatoes can also be warmed in a microwave on high with a bit of extra milk/cream, 30 -60 seconds at a time (keep checking and stirring).
  5. To freeze: Mashed potatoes can be frozen in a sealed container for several months. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates and depend on how much extra butter and milk or cream you add. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Basic Mashed Potatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 225 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 26mg9%
Sodium 680mg30%
Potassium 756mg22%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 312IU6%
Vitamin C 34mg41%
Calcium 57mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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This basic mashed potato recipe, originally published in 2017, has been updated with new information, tips and images. 

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