The Best Mashed Potatoes

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The Best Mashed Potatoes in the world are just 3 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and so simple, they barely even need a recipe. You’ll want these at your table for all the major holidays (and probably a lot of the minor ones, too).

A pot of mashed potatoes.

No matter what’s on the menu for the holidays, mashed potatoes should always make an appearance.

There are millions of recipes out there, but if 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

Labeled ingredients for the best mashed potatoes.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • 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.
  • 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!)

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, add potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt. Add cold water to cover potatoes by 1 inch. Over medium-high heat, bring to boil and partially cover pot.
Potatoes being boiled in a silver pot.
  1. 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.
Cooked potato cubes being poked with a knife.
  1. Wipe pot dry. Return potatoes to pot and mash to a uniform consistency. Using a rubber spatula, fold in melted butter until just incorporated.
A silver pot with mashed potatoes.
  1. Slowly stir in 1 ½ cups hot milk. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to adjust the consistency as desired.
A silver pot of mashed potatoes.
  1. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
A pot of mashed potatoes.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipes makes about 12 cups mashed potatoes, enough for 12 (1-cup) servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Peel and cube the raw potatoes up to 24 hours in advance. Cover with water and chill in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: Mashed potatoes wind up watery and unappetizing after thawing from frozen (unless the recipe is created for that purpose such as our freezer-defying Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe which uses cream cheese and egg whites for a little more staying power).
  • 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 2 bulbs of garlic (40 cloves) for every 5 pounds of potatoes.
  • Cauliflower mashed potatoesFor a low carb, highly satisfying side dish, try cauliflower mashed potatoes (without a potato in sight).
  • 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!
  • Mashed sweet potatoes: These mashers are flavored with fresh thyme and a touch of brown sugar. Or try Sweet Potato Casserole with a delicious marshmallow topping.
  • Small batch: Making mashed potatoes for your next date night in? Try my scaled-down mashed potatoes for two recipe.
  • Potatoes on top: Delicious mashed potatoes are critical for the best possible Shepherd’s Pie.
  • 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.
Three plates with roasted pork, mashed potatoes and figs.
Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze and Figs, Mashed Potatoes, and Blanched Broccoli.

Recipe FAQs

How do I make chunky, rustic-style mashed 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.

How do I make super smooth, silky 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.

Can I make mashed potatoes in a slow cooker?

In my professional opinion, you should make mashed potatoes on the stove and then transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm on the low setting. I have never found a mashed potato recipe MADE in a slow cooker that I thought tasted good.

Can you freeze mashed potatoes?

Mashed potatoes wind up watery and unappetizing after thawing from frozen (unless the recipe is created for that purpose such as our freezer-defying Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe which uses cream cheese and egg whites for a little more staying power). I don’t recommend that you freeze regular mashed potatoes.

A plate of roasted trukey, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries.
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The Best Mashed Potatoes in a blue Dutch oven.

The Best Mashed Potatoes

The Best Mashed Potatoes in the world are just 3 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and so simple, they barely even need a recipe.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 12 servings (1 cup each)
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 304

Ingredients 

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

Instructions 

  • In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, add potatoes and 2 tablespoons 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 1 ½ cups hot milk. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to adjust the consistency as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe Video

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 12 cups mashed potatoes, enough for 12 (1-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.
  6. Freezer: Mashed potatoes wind up watery and unappetizing after thawing from frozen (unless the recipe is created for that purpose such as our freezer-defying Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe which uses cream cheese and egg whites for a little more staying power).

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 304kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 5gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 158mgPotassium: 833mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 524IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 2mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Like the Barefoot Contessa’s mantra goes, “There’s no such thing as too much butter.”  You just taught me something – use hot milk for a creamy finish. Most times I make mine with the jackets on and use a hand masher so they’re lumpy. For guests, I break out the stand mixer. My mom used to use a ricer because she did not have a good mixer with sufficient power to whip the huge amount we would eat at Sunday dinner.

    Great recipe – simple with lots of butter!!!5 stars