My Best Mashed Potatoes recipe – scaled down for 2! They are just 3 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and so simple they barely even need a recipe.

Cornish hens, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a plate.

They make the perfect moat to hold all that gravy on the plate, plus they taste great with everything. Even cranberries! For some, it’s the best part of the dinner.

Of course, there’s a million recipes out there, but in case you’re looking for an old-school, classic mashed potato recipe that really lets the flavor of the potato shine, make this one. It is tried and true and absolutely foolproof.

Recipe ingredients:

Mashed potatoes ingredients labeled.

Ingredient notes:

  • Potatoes: I always go with Russets, which are the classic baking potato, too. They’re dry and starchy and they make the best mashed potatoes ever.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Find a pot that will fit the potatoes, and cover the potatoes with about 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and let simmer (partially covered) for 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
    Peeled, cut potatoes in a pot for boiling.
  2. You’ll know they’re ready when the tip of a sharp knife slides into the potato smoothly. Drain the potatoes in a colander, dry the pot, and return the potatoes back to the pot.
    Boiled potatoes in a colander.
  3. Mash any way you like, then fold in the melted butter using a rubber spatula. After the butter, add the hot milk. Add small amounts of milk until you get the consistency just the way you want it. Then season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Boiled potatoes mashed in a pot.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Potatoes: Whole potatoes cook unevenly, so cut them into uniform pieces before you cook them. By the way, if you want skin-on mashed potatoes; leave the skin on.
  • Butter before milk: Always add the butter first so the butterfat coats the potato starch molecules. Then, add the hot milk to make them creamy. If you mix up the order, you could end up with gluey spuds. (Thanks Cook’s Illustrated for this tip!)
  • For chunky, rustic-style potatoes, or skin-on potatoes: Use a basic potato masher. A waffle-head masher will mash the potatoes into a smoother consistency if you like them somewhere in-between.
  • For super-smooth, fluffy mashed potatoes: Use a potato ricer (peeled potatoes) or food mill (unpeeled potatoes). These gadgets make the smallest, finest pieces of cooked potato, which fluff up beautifully.
  • No masher: A pastry blender or a couple of sturdy forks work just fine.
  • Make ahead: Peel and cube the raw potatoes up to 24 hours in advance. Cover with water and chill in the refrigerator. Or, try my Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, a recipe that uses cream cheese for a little more staying power.
  • Slow cooker: Once the mashed potatoes are ready, you can put them in a crockpot and heat on the LOW or WARM setting to keep them warm and fluffy throughout your feast. I honestly have never found a mashed potato recipe MADE in a slow cooker that I thought tasted good.
  • Freezing: As long as you use butter and dairy, mashed potatoes freeze beautifully. Let them completely cool, then scoop them into single-serving portions and place on a parchment-lined sheet tray in the freezer. When completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag and store. Or, if you don’t want to portion them, spoon the mashed potatoes into a freezer-safe container.
  • Garlic mashed potatoesToast garlic in a skillet (or roast whole bulbs of garlic in the oven), peel, mince, and add to your mashed potatoes. You’ll need about 2 bulbs of garlic (40 cloves) for every 5 pounds of potatoes.
  • Fresh herbs: Try a sprinkling of minced fresh parsley or snipped chives.

A plate of roasted trukey, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries.

More Thanksgiving for Two recipes:

A plate of roasted cornish hen, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetable casserole, and cranberry sauce.

Mashed Potatoes for Two

My Best Mashed Potatoes recipe - scaled down for 2! They are just 3 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and so simple they barely even need a recipe.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 2 servings (1 ¼ cups each)
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 402

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound russet potatoes peeled and cut into large, uniform sized pieces (see note 1)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter melted (½ stick, see note 2)
  • 1/4 cup milk hot, plus more if desired (up to ½ cup)

Instructions 

  • In a small pot, add potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt. Add cold water to cover potatoes by 1 inch.
  • Over medium-high heat, bring to boil and partially cover pot. Cook until potatoes are tender and a fork can be easily slipped into the center, stirring once or twice, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well, tossing in colander to remove excess water.
  • Wipe pot dry. Return potatoes to pot and mash to a uniform consistency. Using a rubber spatula, fold in melted butter until just incorporated.
  • Slowly stir in ¼ cups hot milk. Add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to adjust the consistency as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Notes

  1. Potatoes: For the fluffiest, smoothest, and most flavorful mashed potatoes, choose high-starch potatoes like Russet, Idaho, or Yukon gold potatoes.  Waxy potatoes (such as new, red, or white varieties) require more mashing to become creamy which could result in gluey, pasty spuds.
  2. Butter before milk: Always add the butter first so the butter fat coats the potato starch molecules. Then, add the hot milk to make them creamy. If you mix up the order, you could end up with gluey spuds. (Thanks Cook’s Illustrated for this tip!)
  3. Yield: This recipes makes about 2 ½ cups mashed potatoes, enough for 2 (1 1/4-cup) servings.
  4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  5. Make ahead: Peel and cube the raw potatoes up to 24 hours in advance. Cover with water and chill in the refrigerator. Or, try my Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, a recipe that uses cream cheese and egg whites for a little more staying power.
  6. Freezer: As long as you use butter and dairy, mashed potatoes freeze beautifully. Let them completely cool, then spoon the mashed potatoes into a freezer-safe container. Label, date, and freeze for up to 1 month.
  7. For chunky, rustic-style potatoes: Use a basic potato masher. A waffle-head masher will mash the potatoes into a smoother consistency, if you like them somewhere in-between.
  8. For super-smooth mashed potatoes: Use a potato ricer (peeled potatoes) or food mill (unpeeled potatoes). These gadgets make the smallest, finest pieces of cooked potato, which fluff up beautifully.
  9. Garlic mashed potatoes: Toast garlic in a skillet (or roast whole bulbs of garlic in the oven), peel, mince, and add to your mashed potatoes. You’ll need about 10 cloves for 1 pound of potatoes.
  10. Cauliflower mashed potatoesFor a low carb, highly satisfying side dish, try cauliflower mashed potatoes (without a potato in sight).
  11. Boursin mashed potatoes: Soft-skinned small red potatoes mixed with fresh herbs and a block of Boursin cheese. You don’t even have to peel the potatoes!
  12. Mashed sweet potatoes: These mashers are flavored with fresh thyme and a touch of brown sugar.
  13. Potatoes for a party: For a full-sized batch of mashed potatoes (12 servings, 1 cup each), see my Best Mashed Potatoes recipe.
  14. Potatoes on top: Delicious mashed potatoes are critical for the best possible Shepherd’s Pie.
  15. Slow cooker: Once the mashed potatoes are ready, you can put them in a crock pot and heat on the LOW setting to keep them warm and fluffy throughout your feast. I have never found a mashed potato recipe MADE in a slow cooker that I thought tasted good.
  16. Fresh herbs: Use the extra fresh herbs to make an herb butter to mix into your mashed potatoes, or simply garnish the spuds with a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cupsCalories: 402kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 6gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 292mgPotassium: 986mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1064IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 2mg
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Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip regarding adding melted butter, then hot milk to avoid the gooey mess. This worked well, and is sincerely appreciated. :)5 stars