Learn the secrets to making perfect homemade mashed potatoes with this recipe for mashed potatoes. They are creamy, fluffy, buttery--everything you want in mashed potatoes!
Let me share with you 5 tips that will teach you how to make the best homemade mashed potatoes. They are the perfect side dish for Roast Turkey, Meatloaf, Chicken Marsala, New York Strip Roast, or Instant Pot Honey Baked Ham.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are an all-American, classic side dish that is a must for Sunday dinners and of course for the holidays.
And while everyone can agree, that when done correctly, there is nothing more comforting than a big scoop of homemade mashed potatoes.
But if mashed potatoes are lumpy, gummy, or flavorless, no one enjoys them.
With my tips for perfect mashed potatoes, you will NEVER disappoint anyone with this recipe. It is simple, yet perfect.
Notes on Ingredients
- Potatoes: Choose a starchy potato, like Russet or Yukon Gold. This is not the time to use red potatoes.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter to control the sodium content. You can use a dairy-free butter replacement, but the flavor will not be as rich.
- Milk: Use any fat percentage of milk you like, you can even opt to use cream or half and half. Keep in mind that the higher the fat content of your milk or cream, the richer, more luxurious your mashed potatoes will be.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream may sound like an odd addition, but the tanginess of the sour cream finishes off these potatoes perfectly. It also helps to keep them light and fluffy. Reduced-fat sour cream is fine to use, but do not use fat-free sour cream as the flavor is not as good.
5 Secrets to Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Secret #1: Cook Potatoes Evenly
The first step to achieving really great mashed potatoes is going to sound obvious. BUT, it is one that is easily overlooked--especially when in a hurry!
It is really important to dice your potatoes into equal size chunks and to begin the cooking process with cold water. This will ensure that the potatoes all cook evenly and will be fork tender at the same time.
If you have randomly sized pieces of potatoes, the smaller potatoes will become water-logged and mushy in the time it takes the larger potatoes to cook through.
Secret #2: Get rid of Excess Moisture
After your potatoes have cooked through, you need to drain off the cooking liquid.
But draining off the water is not enough!
Instead, place the drained potatoes back into the hot pan and cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until all of the water has evaporated. This will let potato flavor really shine through and you won't be left with watered-down mashed potatoes.
Secret #3: Do Not use a Mixer
If you want to avoid gummy and tough mashed potatoes, skip mashing your potatoes with a handheld or stand mixer. This overworks the starch in the potatoes, turning them into a gummy mess.
Secret #4: Add Warm Liquid
Once your potatoes have been mashed, you want to stir in the cream and butter. But you do not want to add in cold butter or cold milk. This can cause the potatoes to seize up a bit.
Instead, gently warm up your milk and butter on the stove or in the microwave and then add to the potatoes. By adding in warm milk and melted butter, the potatoes absorb that delicious flavor while staying light and fluffy.
Secret #5: Add Flavor
At this point, your mashed potatoes are great. But if you want memorable mashed potatoes, now is the time to add in some flavor.
I always finish mashed potatoes with a generous scoop of sour cream. The sour cream adds creaminess, richness, and a bit of tang that makes these mashed potatoes incredible.
You can also add in freshly grated Parmesan, fresh herbs, or roasted garlic for additional flavor.
FAQs about Mashed Potatoes
Which potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?
For creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes, you want to choose a starchy potato-like Russet or Yukon Gold. And peel the potatoes for the creamiest mashed potato recipe. Red and white potato varieties are waxier and therefore best used for smashed or roasted potatoes.
How much Mashed Potatoes should you make?
As a side dish, you should plan on ½ pound of potatoes per person. That means if you are planning on 10 people, use 5 pounds of potatoes. 4 people, use 2 pounds of potatoes.
Can you Freeze Mashed Potatoes?
YES! Prepared Mashed Potatoes can be frozen for up to 2 months.
To freeze leftover mashed potatoes, allow them to cool and then place in a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 2 months.
To reheat frozen mashed potatoes, place frozen mashed potatoes in a casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil, stir, and add in 1-2 tablespoons of additional milk. Cover again with foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.
How to Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm?
To keep your potatoes warm until serving, simply set the bowl of prepared mashed potatoes over a pot of simmering water--sort of like a double boiler. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and give the potatoes a stir every few minutes to keep the heat evenly distributed. You can hold your potatoes warm like this for up to 1 hour.
Leftover Mashed Potatoes?
Serve Mashed Potatoes With
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- Easy Baked Ham
- Homemade Rotisserie Chicken
- Instant Pot Pork Chops
- Chopped Steaks with Mushroom Gravy
I hope you enjoy this recipe for the BEST Homemade Mashed Potatoes. Please be sure to leave a comment and rating below.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- 3 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes scrubbed clean
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt divided
- ¾ cup half and half or milk
- 3 tablespoons butter unsalted
- ½ cup sour cream
- Peel and cube the potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Place into a large stock pan and cover with water. Salt the water with 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
- Bring the potatoes to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (the chunks should fall apart easily when pieced with a fork.)
- Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pan. Place over low heat and simmer until all the moisture has evaporated–about 1-2 minutes.
- Heat the half and half or milk and butter together in a small saucepan or in the microwave, until the butter is melted. Slowly fold the warm milk into the potatoes and mix until absorbed and creamy.
- Stir in the sour cream if using and serve. Taste and season with additional ½ teaspoon salt as needed.
- Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes are best for creamy mashed potatoes.
- Half and half is best for the richest luscious mashed potatoes, but milk of any fat percentage can be used if desired.
- Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes: Use vegetable stock in place of milk and use vegan butter in place of butter. Omit sour cream.
- Low Fat Mashed Potatoes: Use evaporated milk or skim milk in place of cream and decrease butter to only 1 tablespoon. Use low-fat sour cream.
- Serving Size: As a side dish, you should plan on ½ pound of potatoes per person. That means if you are planning on 10 people, use 5 pounds of potatoes. 4 people, use 2 pounds of potatoes.
- To freeze leftover mashed potatoes, allow to cool then place in a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat frozen mashed potatoes, place frozen mashed potatoes in a casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil, stir, and add in 1-2 tablespoons additional milk. Cover again with foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.
- To keep the mashed potatoes warm until serving, simply set the bowl of prepared mashed potatoes over a pot of simmering water--sort of like a double boiler. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and give the potatoes a stir every few minutes to keep the heat evenly distributed. You can hold your potatoes warm like this for up to 1 hour.
This post was originally published in 2017 but updated with new pictures and a video in 2020.