You want to serve up a steaming bowl of creamy, fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes… And I have all the tips and secrets for you to make it happen.
I will never forget how my grandma used to make mashed potatoes.
With fresh milk from the farm, a potato ricer, probably while brushing a cow with her other hand.
And she always, always made a few boiled potatoes for grandad. He didn’t like mashed potatoes.
As an adult, it felt like cheating whenever I made mashed potatoes from a box. Could it really be this hard to boil a pot of potatoes?
And truthfully, it isn’t. It is the easiest thing ever to make homemade mashed potatoes.
It takes 5 ingredients. Five!
One pot. And the most time-consuming task by far is peeling the potatoes.
I have started regularly making mashed potatoes from scratch about a year ago. And now that the colder months are rolling around again, I’m almost giddier about mashed potatoes than I am about pumpkin (did I just say that out loud?)
When I put that steaming pot on the table… My girls’ eyes light up. “Are those mashed potatoes, mama?”
Yes, dear. And then they happily eat mountains of fluffy mash.
If you want to know how to make the best, simplest and creamiest classic mashed potatoes, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are my best tips for simple, basic (but exceedingly good) homemade mashed potatoes:
Which potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?
The most important part of mashed potatoes is the kind of potato you’re using.
Definitely use a higher starch variety, Russets or Yukon Golds are a good choice.
If you use waxy potatoes, chances are your mashed potatoes will be chunky, lumpy and – worst case scenario – paste-like and glue-y.
Very important: Peel the potatoes before cooking! Otherwise you won’t be able to handle them while they’re still hot.
Cook them until soft, but not until they’re starting to dissolve (they will be too wet and turn into a sticky mess no matter what you do to them).
How do you make smooth and creamy mashed potatoes?
There is a very simple, ingenious solution I learned from my husband (he is a trained European chef, I should probably trust his advice more often than I currently do):
Use your handheld mixer with the beaters attached. Even if people tell you this is why mashed potatoes turn into paste.
They’re only halfway right.
It takes barely any effort and the potatoes turn out fluffy, smooth and simply divine if done correctly.
You just have to avoid overbeating (20-30 seconds on medium speed should do the job just fine if your potatoes are boiled enough). Never use a blender or food processor (!!) and pay attention to the next tip:
How do you make mashed potatoes light and fluffy?
Finally, the mash doesn’t only have to be smooth… It also has to be light and fluffy!
Part of that is using the right potatoes, as the starch with help.
But the other part is mashing the potatoes while hot.
Once your potatoes are boiled and drained, you should leave them to steam off any remaining moisture completely, as they need to be as dry as possible before mashing. But then you need to get right to mashing while they’re hot.
If you let them get too cold, they turn out very pasty very fast.
A very special extra credit tip:
This is something I very honestly do not do very often myself.
This trained chef husband of mine, on the other hand? Wouldn’t dare to leave it out.
His secret is… Tada: Using piping hot milk.
It will affect the starch from the potatoes less and help even more to prevent those dreaded gloopy mashed potatoes.
I’m usually fine without it, but if this is Thanksgiving or Christmas and your task is holiday sides and you have never made mash before… Better heat your milk, just to err on the cautious side 😉
P.S: Any leftovers? Make Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes with Cheese – they’re almost better than the mashed potatoes themselves.
Get the printable instructions for how to make homemade mashed potatoes here:
Homemade Mashed Potatoes
- 2 pounds floury potatoes like Russet or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk please do not skimp on the fat content here - more fat equals more velvety creaminess
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for cooking the potatoes
- Cook the potatoes: Fill a comfortably large pot with cold water. Place the potatoes into the cold water, then bring to a boil. Salt very generously and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain very well.
- Release all steam: The easiest way is to place the potatoes over very low heat for 30 seconds, shaking the pot every so often. Allow them to get really dry, but don't burn them! Alternatively, just let them sit in the colander for 2 minutes. Do not cool them for any longer than that.
- Cream: Place about HALF the milk, all the butter and all the seasoning into the pot with the potatoes. Using your handheld mixer, whisk them up until creamy. Add more milk if they seem dry, but be careful: Adding too much milk will turn your creamy mashed potatoes into a gloopy, runny mess!
- Serve: Dot with a little additional butter and sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives, if you like. Serve immediately.