10 Tips for Making Perfect Mashed Potatoes

· February 2, 2016
For perfect mashed potatoes, it's important to remember things like adding salt at the beginning, using the right potato and right amount of butter.

Mashed potatoes can be a superstar dish for family gatherings and dinners. This popular side has countless variations, and can nicely complement a variety of other recipes. While it may seem like an easy dish to prepare at first glance, it does require good technique. Here are a few tricks for the perfect mashed potatoes.

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

Tips for Making Perfect Mashed Potatoes

1. Choose the Right Potato

Person peeling potatoes for perfect mashed potatoes
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, creamy, and perfect 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.

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2. Cut the Potatoes into Pieces of Equal Size

Potatoes cut into different sizes will cook at different speeds, meaning that the larger pieces will take longer than the smaller ones. That means your final mashed product won’t be as consistent as if you had chopped your potatoes uniformly.

Try to cut them into small pieces to ensure the whole pieces cook simultaneously and the end product has a good consistency.

3. Remove excess moisture

Dry crispy french fries remove moisture for the perfect mashed potatoes
There are a variety of ways to ensure that your mashed potatoes are light and fluffy. One of the most well-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.

4. 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 use a potato masher, which granted is a bit more work, but you’ll have much better results.

5. 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. Otherwise, they will be over-mashed.

6. Don’t add cold milk or cream

Use warm cream for the perfect mashed potatoes
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.

7. 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 liquidy. The only solution to this error is to add more potatoes.

8. A little butter goes a long way

Use creamy butter for the perfect mashed potatoes
The best chefs recommend using less than 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, perfect mashed potatoes.

9. 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.

10. 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. Therefore, 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.

  • Uan, D. G., Cheng, M., Wang, Y., & Tang, J. (2004). Dielectric properties of mashed potatoes relevant to microwave and radio‐frequency pasteurization and sterilization processes. Journal of Food Science69(1), FEP30-FEP37.