The Best Mashed Potatoes in the world barely even need a recipe, they're so easy to whip up. All it takes is three ingredients to make perfect homemade potatoes that absolutely hit the spot with every fluffy forkful.
Don't wait for Thanksgiving! Serve the Best Mashed Potatoes with a DIY Rotisserie Chicken, Wisconsin Beer Brats, or Grilled Pork Chops for a fantabulous dinner any night of the week. Other irresistible potato recipes can be found in just one click.
No matter what's on the menu for the holidays, mashed potatoes always make an appearance. They make the perfect moat to hold all that gravy on the plate, plus they taste great with everything--even cranberries. Some people just eat mashed potatoes--who could blame them?
Of course, there's a million recipes for mashed potatoes 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, this is the recipe to use. It's simple enough to make every day, but delicious enough to be served for potlucks and special occasions, like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Making mashed potatoes for two, or mashed potatoes for 20? No matter! Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What's the best potato for mashing?
Believe it or not: the Russet, the original baked potato, makes the best mashed potatoes.
Russets or Yukon Golds make fluffier (better) mashed potatoes than the waxier varieties, such as white and red potatoes. They're drier and they have more starch, which is a good thing for mashed potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes ingredients:
The classic recipe for mashed potatoes is about as easy as it gets.
- Potatoes. Russet (baking) potatoes make delicious mashed potatoes, but some people swear by Yukon Golds. You can use your favorite, or use a 50/50 blend of the two. Skin on, skin off, it's all up to you.
- Butter. Salted or unsalted.
- Milk. Whole fat, vitamin D milk is delicious! (Some great substitutions for dairy-free mashed potatoes are down below.)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Garlic. Roasted garlic makes unbelievably mellow mashers. Roast your own garlic here, or go all out with Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
- Herbs. Chopped chives, parsley, or scallions.
- Cheese. Grated Parmesan cheese or a sharp cheddar wouldn't be a bad thing.
How to make the Best Mashed Potatoes:
- First, prep the potatoes. Whole potatoes don't usually cook as well as cut-up ones. Cut the potatoes into uniformly-sized 1" chunks to make sure they cook evenly.
- Next, place the potatoes in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Add some salt. Then bring the pot to a boil and cover, cooking the potatoes until a knife inserted into the potato goes in with almost no resistance. Mashed potatoes cooking time could be anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. Whole potatoes will take longer.
- While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter and heat the milk.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and wipe the pot dry. Then return the potatoes to the pot.
- Before adding anything, mash the potatoes up using a potato ricer, potato masher, or even a pastry cutter.
Remember: Butter Before Milk Makes Potatoes Like Silk. Thanks to Cook's Illustrated, this little tip when making mashed potatoes really comes in handy. Always add the butter first, because the butter fat coats the potato starch molecules. Then, add the hot milk to make the creamiest mashed potatoes. If you mix up the order, you could end up with gluey mashed potatoes.
- After adding the butter, pour in most of the milk, and fold it into the mashed potatoes. If you like the consistency, stop there. But if you want to thin the potatoes down, add the rest of the milk a little at a time.
- Once you get the perfect texture, season to taste with salt and pepper. That's all there is to it!
What do you mash potatoes with?
You don't need to use a KitchenAid mixer or a food processor to mash potatoes-- a hand held potato masher works great. However, which one you will need depends on what type of texture you like your mashed potatoes to have.
- For super smooth fluffy mashed potatoes, use a potato ricer. It makes the smallest, finest pieces of cooked potato, but it works better for peeled potatoes.
- For chunky, rustic style mashed potatoes, or mashed potatoes with skin, use a pastry blender or a basic potato masher.
- For mashed potatoes that walk the line between chunky and smooth, look for a waffle-head masher that will mash the potatoes into a smooth consistency.
- If you want to make mashed potatoes without a masher, use a pastry blender or a couple sturdy forks.
Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes:
- Cut up the potatoes. Whole potatoes cook unevenly, so cut them into uniform pieces before you cook them. By the way, you don't have to peel the potatoes if you want skin-on mashed potatoes; leave the skin on!
- Don't overcook. The potatoes are done cooking when a fork, skewer, or the tip of a sharp knife can be easily inserted into the thickest part of the potato.
- Don't over mix. After mashing, gently fold in the melted butter and hot milk, mixing until everything is just incorporated. Over mixing will make the potatoes starchy and gluey.
- Keep it simple. Don't feel like you have to add everything and the kitchen sink to these basic potatoes. They're super delicious, and very potato-y, all by themselves. Chances are people will love them exactly as they are (with a little gravy).
Mashed potatoes variations:
- Mashed potatoes without butter. For vegan mashed potatoes, use your favorite brand of vegan butter or olive oil.
- Olive oil mashed potatoes. Simply use 3/4 cup of olive oil for every cup of butter called for in the recipe.
- Mashed potatoes without milk. Dairy free mashed potatoes are easy to make. Substitute nut milk or chicken stock for the milk.
- Sour cream mashed potatoes. Use half the amount of butter but add sour cream to the potatoes to amp up the richness.
More mashed potatoes around Culinary Hill:
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes
- Boursin Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes
How to make Mashed Potatoes ahead of time:
It's always a good idea to prep in advance.
- Peel and cube the raw potatoes.
- Then submerge them in cold water in the refrigerator up to 24 hours in advance.
- For the best results, don't boil the spuds until the day you're going to eat them.
However, once you make them, you can put the mashed potatoes in a crock pot and heat on the LOW or WARM setting to keep them warm and fluffy throughout your feast.
If you'd rather get the mashed potatoes made so you don't have to worry about it, head over to the best Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes for another recipe that uses cream cheese in the mashed potatoes for a little longer staying power.
Can you freeze mashed potatoes?
As long as you use butter and dairy, mashed potatoes freeze beautifully.
Once the potatoes are completely cooled, you can scoop them into single serving portions and place them 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.
How to re-heat frozen mashed potatoes:
- Slow cooker. Thaw the potatoes in the refrigerator first. Add the potatoes to the slow cooker and heat on LOW or WARM for 2 to 4 hours.
- Stovetop. Reheat the potatoes, thawed or straight from the freezer, in a large pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once heated through, add adjust the seasoning and add butter, if needed.
- Oven. Reheat the potatoes, thawed or straight from the freezer, in a covered dish at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely heated through.
- Microwave. Add the potatoes to a covered microwave-safe dish and heat them in the microwave at 50% power for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cooking time may vary based on the microwave or the amount of potatoes you're reheating. Once cooked through, stir everything well and adjust seasoning.
The Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- 5 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into large, uniform sized pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup butter melted (2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups milk hot, plus more if desired (up to 2 cups)
- 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 1/2 cups hot milk. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to adjust the consistency as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Make Ahead: You can peel and cube the potatoes, submerging them in water, up to 24 hours in advance (keep them in the refrigerator).