10 Tips for the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

· February 2, 2016

Mashed potatoes can be a superstar dish for family gatherings and dinners. This popular side has countless variations, and can nicely compliment a variety of other recipes for any occasion. While it may seem like an easy dish to prepare at first glance, it does require good technique and there are a few tricks you can use to make sure your mashed potatoes come out perfectly delicious.

Are your mashed potatoes not turning out as well as you’d hoped? If you’ve ever tried and failed to produce the best mashed potatoes with a creamy, smooth texture, we invite you to try the following 10 tips for perfect mashed potatoes.

Choose the right kind of potato for the perfect mashed potatoes

raw potato
Although you might not always notice the subtle differences, you should first know that there are three different kinds of potatoes: starchy, waxy, and baking. If you want to ensure you have smooth and creamy mashed potatoes, be sure to choose the starchy potatoes, such as red potatoes. This type of potato breaks down easily, making it very creamy. If you don’t have starchy potatoes available to you, you can substitute baking potatoes.

Cut the potatoes into pieces of equal size

Potatoes that have been cut at different sizes will cook at different speeds, meaning that the larger pieces will take longer than the smaller ones. That means your mashed final product won’t be as consistent as it would if you chopped your potatoes to equal size. Try to cut them into small pieces to ensure they cook simultaneously and have a good consistency.

Remove excess moisture

french fries
There are a variety of ways to ensure that your mashed potatoes are light and fluffy. One of the better known tricks is to drain your potatoes well after cooking and then return them to the pot while the stove is still hot. Make sure all the extra moisture has evaporated, because this can cause your mashed potatoes to be moist or watery.

Use a potato masher

Don’t use your blender, food processor, or hand mixer. If you beat them too heavily, the starch in the potatoes breaks down, resulting in a sticky product. That’s why you should choose a potato masher, which granted is a bit more work, but you’ll have much better results.

Don’t mix them too much

Similar to the above, once you’ve mashed your potatoes by hand it’s important to continue to gently mix in the cream, milk, or butter.

Don’t add cold cream or milk

When you add your cream or milk to the mashed potatoes, make sure it has been warmed up so it’s easily absorbed by the potatoes, eliminating the need for over processing them.

Don’t add too much liquid

While you can incorporate cream, milk, or mayonnaise (and more!) into your recipe, avoid adding too much of these ingredients to keep your mashed potatoes from becoming too watery. The only solution to this error is to add more potatoes.

A little butter goes a long way

aThe best chefs recommend using a half a pound of butter (200 g) per pound of potatoes to maintain a balance between the two ingredients. This will give you smooth and delicious mashed potatoes.

Don’t forget the salt

When you’re cooking your potatoes it’s important to season the water just like you would with pasta. This helps the potatoes absorb it early and makes them easier to mash. Nothing – not even butter – will provide as much flavor as the seasoning you use from the beginning.

Don’t wait until the last minute

Like a lot of other foods, mashed potatoes are best when they’ve been freshly prepared, not when they’re reheated. A good tactic is to prepare your ingredients the day before your meal, so that all you need to do is boil the potatoes, mash them, and mix in the remaining ingredients.