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Basic Mashed Potatoes

Basic mashed potatoes are a must with a Thanksgiving dinner and roast beef or just about anything with gravy. These are light, fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes.

No peeling necessary. No potato ricer, stand mixer or food mill needed. No cream cheese, No heavy cream. No sour cream. But I promise they are foolproof and absolutely delicious. 

bowl of mashed potatoes f

 

Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. Is there a “perfect” homemade mashed potatoes recipe 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 golds – my potato of choice. 

If you are looking for one of the easiest and best mashed potato recipes, 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 a handheld electric 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 potatoes (also called yellow potatoes) 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 🙂 I sometimes use red potatoes instead. These are waxy potatoes that should not be over beaten or they will become pasty.

Serving portions 

  • You will need about 1 pound (0.45kg) of potatoes to make 2 cups mashed or 3-4 servings.
  • Raw potatoes needed: Figure about 1/4-1/3 pound (113-151 grams) of raw potatoes per person, so one pound (454 grams) of potatoes will serve 3-4 people. (Not counting my husband who eats double).
  • Mashed potatoes needed: Figure about 1/2 – 3/4 cup (125-250g) mashed potatoes per person. 

How-to Tips

  • The best way is to start with salted cold water, then add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Don’t start with boiling water.
  • 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. You can skip the hand mixer and just use a potato masher if you like. The mashed potatoes will not have the same creamy texture, but they will still taste great. Sort of like smashed potatoes.
  • Some cooks say you have to add hot milk to the potatoes. I don’t agree. With our method, the milk turns hot when you add it to the hot pot. 
  • 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%), heavy cream (35%), sour cream or cream cheese in the potatoes. I use 2% milk (or sometimes whole milk) combined with a bit of half and half cream to keep the calories down. And definitely butter. Obviously, the more cream and butter you use, the richer they’ll be so it’s up to you. 
  • You can also add fresh herbs or a little bit of Parmesan cheese if you like when mashing the potatoes.

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” hot potatoes 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 (salt and black pepper) to your taste. 

mashed potatoes in bowl

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 salted 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. Just add a little bit of milk or cream to loosen them up. 
  • I freeze mashed potatoes for months and reheat them in the microwave. Usually I defrost them first. Some say the texture is altered, but if you have  mixed in butter and cream, I never have a problem.

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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 black 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/2.5 cm 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 on high heat, then lower heat to medium and boil gently for about 15-20 minutes, depending on size of pieces. Potatoes should be fork tender and easy to pierce with a knife but not disintegrating.
  • DRAIN: potatoes in a colander. Place back in pot and shake over medium-low 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?
    • 1 pound (0.45kg) of potatoes makes 2 cups mashed or 3-4 servings.
    • Raw potatoes needed: Figure about 1/4-1/3 pound (113-151 grams) of raw potatoes per person 
    • Mashed potatoes needed: Figure about 1/2 - 3/4 cup (125-250g) mashed potatoes per person. 
  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 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, fresh herbs, grated cheese or Parmesan 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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