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

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.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 402kcal


  • 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 (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup milk hot, plus more if desired (up to 1/2 cup)


  • 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 1/4 cups hot milk. Add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to adjust the consistency as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. Potatoes: The best potato for the job? The Russet, the original baked potato. They're drier and they have more starch which is a good thing for mashed 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.
  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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. No masher: A pastry blender or a couple of sturdy forks work just fine.
  6. 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.
  7. Slow cooker: Once the mashed potatoes are ready, you can put them in a crock pot 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.
  8. 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.
  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. Fresh herbs: Try a sprinkling of minced fresh parsley or snipped chives.
  11. Sour cream: Use half the amount of butter but add sour cream to the potatoes to amp up the richness.


Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 986mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1064IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg