The Best Mashed Potatoes in the world are just 3 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and so simple, they barely even need a recipe.

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.

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.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. The Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled mashed potato ingredients.

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.
Peeled, cut potatoes in a pot for boiling.
  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 potatoes in a silver colander.
  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.
Mashed potatoes in a black pot with a potato masher.
  1. 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.
A metal serving dish full of the absolute best 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. Or, try my Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, a recipe that uses cream cheese and egg whites for a little more staying power.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
A plate of roasted trukey, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries.

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Delicious main dishes

A metal serving dish full of the absolute best mashed potatoes.

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.
5 from 6 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. 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 2 bulbs of garlic (40 cloves) for every 5 pounds 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. Small batch: Making mashed potatoes for your next date night in? Try my scaled-down mashed potatoes for two 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: 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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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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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