10 Tips for Making Perfect Mashed Potatoes

January 27, 2020
Mashed potatoes are a common dish, but these tips can help you get the perfect taste and texture every time.

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 and a few tricks to make delicious mashed potatoes every time.

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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.

Some potato facts

Potatoes are a source of carbohydrates, which can give the energy that you need for your daily activities.

According to information from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, potatoes provide the following nutrients:

  • Antioxidants.
  • Dietary fiber.
  • Vitamin C and vitamin B complex.
  • Essential minerals such as potassium.

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 potatoes.

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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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.

Remove excess moisture

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.

Dry crispy french fries remove moisture for the perfect mashed potatoes

Cook the potatoes a few minutes more, and make sure all the extra moisture has evaporated. Too much moisture 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 use a potato masher, which granted is a bit more work, but you’ll have much better results.

Don’t overmix

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.

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. That makes it easier to avoid over mashing.

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

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.

Use creamy butter for the 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.

If you’d like more information about food composition, check out the USDA FoodData Central website.

Prep your ingredients

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.

Use these tricks to help you make delicious and creamy mashed potatoes every time!

  • Base de Datos Española de Composición de Alimentos. [Internet]. Disponible en: http://www.bedca.net/bdpub/index.php
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [Internet]. Las papas, la nutrición y la alimentación. 2008. Disponible en: http://www.fao.org/potato-2008/es/lapapa/hojas.html
  • Camire, M. E., Kubow, S., & Donnelly, D. J. (2009). Potatoes and human health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 49(10), 823-840. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19960391
  • Navarre, R., & Pavek, M. J. (Eds.). (2014). The potato: botany, production and uses. CABI. https://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20143417132