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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

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We know a thing or two about making great mashed potatoes... Our Test Kitchen has made hundreds and hundreds of batches, lots of different ways -- and all this potato mashin' has taught us the secrets to achieving smooth and velvety mashed potatoes that we all want to eat. And just to make sure we covered every base, we even asked our friends at Idaho® Potato for their best tips, making this the only source you'll ever need for perfect mashed potatoes, every time.

  1. Start with the right potato. We love starchy russet Idaho® potatoes for mashing, and you can also use all-purpose potatoes like Yukon Gold.
     
  2. How many will I need? The general rule we like to follow is about 1/2 pound per person. 
     
  3. Don't over-mix. Over-mixing can cause starchy, sticky mashed potatoes. How to Make Perfect Mashed PotatoesThis is easy to do when using a hand mixer or blender, so be careful! Try using a handheld masher for chunkier potatoes. If you have a food mill or potato ricer, using one of these to pass the potatoes through will ensure the a silky result.
     
  4. Keep 'em warm. It's important to keep your mashed potatoes hot while mixing them. (This is why it's best to heat the milk and the butter should be room temperature before adding.)
     
  5. Cook the potatoes evenly. Start with cold water rather than hot water when boiling the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into small, uniformly-sized chunks for fast and even cooking.
     
  6. Don't overcook or undercook the potatoes. Undercooked potatoes will produce lumpy mashed potatoes, and overcooked potatoes will become soupy and bland. You're looking for potatoes that cut easily with no resistance, but they shouldn't crumble or fall apart.
     
  7. Like 'em fluffy? Try adding 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the potatoes, milk, and butter. Let it sit a few minutes before serving. Another secret is from Patty, our Test Kitchen Director, who grew up eating mashed potatoes as her family had a potato farm. Patty tells us that after you drain your potatoes, you should put them back into the pot and allow them to sit over the heat for a minute or so. This will ensure that all of the water evaporates from the potatoes.
     
  8. Toss something different into the pot. Try boiling potatoes in milk instead of water for extra richness. Or, try adding several peeled garlic cloves to the pot of boiling potatoes and mash as usual.
     
  9. Experiment with your additions. Adding whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream after mashing will also make for a richer mashed potato.Cream cheese and sour cream both will add a tangy creaminess. We love adding everything from fresh herbs to grated cheese and bacon bits.
     
  10. Prep in advance. You can peel, slice, or chunk potatoes and keep them in a bowl of water until you are ready to cook them. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the water to prevent browning. Rinse and pat dry before cooking, or place the refrigerator and store for up to 2 days.
     
  11. Do-ahead tip: Mashed potatoes can be made in advance and kept warm in a slow cooker for up to 2 hours. This sure does come in handy during the holidays when oven and stove-top space is limited! If you want to leave them on the stove for a short while, you can cover the pot with a damp towel instead of the lid. This will keep the potatoes warm for up to 30 minutes.
     
  12. Get practicing! Try one of our favorite mashed potato recipes today.

               Best Mashed Potatoes Ever

               Cheesy Herbed Mashed Potatoes

               Smashed Potatoes
 

Ideas for Leftovers

  • Use leftover mashed potatoes to thicken soups, stews, and sauce.
     
  • Try one of our favorite recipes using leftover mashed potatoes:

               Cottage Pie              

               Meatloaf and Potato Casserole      

               Cheddar Potato Patties

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