How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes: Step by step instructions and troubleshooting for making fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes. Includes steps on how to freeze mashed potatoes.
I don’t know about you, but the holidays would not be complete without mashed potatoes!
But if the mashed potatoes aren’t light and fluffy, forget it! I don’t want them.
Let me walk you step-by-step through the process to the perfect mashed potatoes, that will be the perfect side to your family meals.
Recipe for Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Start with your potatoes.
I personally prefer to roast my potatoes in the oven until fork tender.
Once cool enough to handle, peel with your fingers or a knife.
Cut into chunks.
The alternative is to boil the potatoes.
To boil your potatoes for mashed potatoes:
- Peel and cube the potatoes.
- Place into a large pan and cover with water.
- Salt the water.
- Bring to a boil and then boil until fork tender.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the heat, until all the moisture has evaporated–about 1-2 minutes.
- You can also boil the potatoes whole with skins on. Boil until tender and let cool slightly before peeling and mashing.
After my potatoes are perfectly cooked, it is time to mash them.
After the potatoes have been riced, add warm liquid to the potatoes and mix until the liquid is just absorbed.
Why should you add warm liquid to the potatoes: It helps the cream and butter or whatever liquid you are using to be better absorbed by the potato and also will keep your mashed potatoes warm.
For extra creamy mashed potatoes, add in a generous scoop of sour cream. This is my favorite addition to mashed potatoes.
Now you can either choose to serve your potatoes immediately, or make your mashed potatoes ahead of time by following the steps below.
How to make Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time
How many times do you wish you could make your mashed potatoes days before a holiday event?
I can’t tell you how many times I remember waiting on a Holiday meal for my family to finish making the mashed potatoes.
You can easily solve that problem by making mashed potatoes up to 3 days in advance (or even longer if you freeze your mashed potatoes–more on that in next tip!)
When making mashed potatoes in advance, it is best to increase the moisture slightly to the potatoes you add to the potatoes. As the potatoes rest they will absorb extra moisture. By planning for that and increasing moisture in recipe (ie. more cream and butter), you will still be left with creamy mashed potatoes. Tip: you can also just add warm cream or milk at right before serving if needed.
How to Freeze Mashed Potatoes
There is nothing better in my opinion at the holidays then getting a jump start on holiday dishes and freezing them a few weeks or a month in advance.
To freeze mashed potatoes, make as directed and let cool.
Now you have 3 options to freeze your mashed potatoes:
- Freeze in individual servings, by scooping onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze solid and then transfer to a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months.
- Place the mashed potatoes into a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Place the prepared mashed potatoes into a freezer safe container and cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil. Freeze for 2 months. (Remove plastic wrap before following instructions to reheat potatoes.)
To Reheat Frozen Mashed Potatoes:
- For individual servings: place as many as frozen desired servings onto a greased baking sheet and heat at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
- Stove-top: Place desired amount of thaw potatoes into a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, adding in milk or stock as needed.
- Oven: Place desired amount of thaw potatoes in a greased casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes, or until warmed through. Stir once half-way through. If potatoes appear to dry out, dot with butter or stir in a splash of warm milk, stock, or cream. If potatoes are frozen, increase cooking time by 30 minutes and stir an additional 2 times.
- Slow-Cooker: Place thawed potatoes into your slow cooker and cook on low for 2 hours or until warmed through. If potatoes are frozen, increase time to 3 hours and check potatoes. You may need up to 4 hours to fully reheat frozen mashed potatoes. Tip: I plan on 4 hours and if ready at 3 hours, I turn slow cooker to keep warm!
Tips for the Best 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. 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 1/2 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.
How can I make Mashed Potatoes lower in fat and calories?
I make my mashed potatoes with a few “secret” ingredients that are perfect things to use to cut back on fat and calories in mashed potatoes without sacrificing on taste or texture.
- Use evaporated milk instead of milk or cream. It will add richness to your mashed potatoes but be lower in fat. Even skimmed evaporated milk works.
- You can replace half the milk/cream in mashed potatoes by using chicken stock or vegetable stock.
- Add sour cream to mashed potatoes. I love the tang and creaminess that sour cream adds to mashed potatoes. I can cut back on amount of butter used thanks in part to the moisture sour cream gives the potatoes. You can even use low-fat sour cream (just not fat free sour cream–as the quality of taste will be compromised.)
- Portion Control: Fill your plate with vegetable sides like Roasted Green Beans and limit yourself to one serving of mashed potatoes–and savor every bite.
Can I make Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes?
For 3 years, I was dairy-free. So I have found a perfect way to create creamy, tasty dairy-free mashed potatoes. And it is SIMPLE!
- Instead of cream or milk, use vegetable or chicken stock–I like the flavor of the stock much more than non-dairy milk in potatoes.
- I replaced the butter with a non-dairy spread (like Earth Balance)
- Leave out sour cream.
Troubleshooting Tips for Mashed Potatoes
Why are my Mashed Potatoes gummy?
Chances are you overworked the potatoes–either by blending, making in a food processor, or over beating.
How to Keep Mashed Potatoes From Being Lumpy:
Nothing is worse than biting into a lump when eating “creamy” mashed potatoes! Avoid lumps in your potatoes by using a food mill or ricer. This will ensure the perfect texture to mashed potatoes without over processing the potatoes–which like I stated, leads to gummy mashed potatoes.
How to Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm:
The best way to keep fresh mashed potatoes warm, is to make them as directed and then place them in a heat safe serving dish that fits on top of a pot you have. Bring water to a boil in the pot and turn to a simmer. Place the prepared mashed potatoes in the serving dish and cover with plastic wrap. Place the serving dish filled with the potatoes over the simmering water. When ready to serve, remove the serving dish from the pot and wipe off condensation on outside of bowl and they are ready to be served right from the table (just be sure to place a trivet of pot holder down to protect your table from the hot dish!)
If you are making mashed potatoes ahead of time, follow instructions to reheat in oven and then if you need to keep the potatoes warm while preparing other dishes, either leave them in a 200 degree oven for up to 1 hour or take them out of the oven and cover with foil. Wrap in 2 towels to trap heat inside. Set aside for 30 minutes. Potatoes will remain perfectly warm. (This is a great way to transport warm mashed potatoes to a party!)
What to serve Mashed Potatoes With:
Meatloaf, Roasted Chicken, Pot Roast are perfect examples of recipes that are complimented with a serving of mashed potatoes. And of course mashed potatoes are always a welcome accompianment to Turkey, Ham, or New York Strip Roast for a holiday meal.
What to make with Leftover Mashed Potatoes:
Have you ever found yourself with way too many potatoes?
The Best Mashed Potatoes
How to make fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes.
- 3 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes scrubbed clean
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk or 1 cup if preparing in advance
- 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pierce potatoes 3 times and place on baking sheet. Bake potatoes until fork tender--about 40 minutes.
Once potatoes are cooked, cool until just able to handle. Peel off skin with knife or fingers.
Run potatoes through food mill or ricer.
Heat up the milk, butter and salt together. Slowly add to potatoes and mix until absorbed.
Stir in the sour cream if using and serve.
Featured on Meal Plan Monday.