Simple Mashed Potatoes
For a couple years, the only part of Thanksgiving dinner my youngest would eat was the mashed potatoes. Seriously, I couldn’t blame her. They are crucial to Thanksgiving––what better way to soak up all the gravy––but they’re also delicious on a regular old Tuesday night. Mashed potatoes don’t need to be complicated, and they sure don’t need to be gummy. I have a few rules to follow and a simple recipe to share. I include a variation to keep things dairy-free and I also give you some make-ahead tips. Let’s talk!
Tips for making the best mashed potatoes:
- After you peel the potatoes, cut them into even chunks so they cook at the same rate.
- Don’t overcook the potatoes, boil until just fork tender.
- Dry out the potatoes after boiling to make sure the water is fully evaporated. After drained, just add them back to the empty pot and turn the heat on the lowest heat setting for a couple minutes. Shake the pot to remove excess water. You don’t want to brown the potatoes, so turn off the heat as soon as any excess water is gone.
- Don’t over mix the potatoes while mashing, they will turn gummy or even gluey. This happens when the potatoes are overworked and too much starch is released. Mix just until combined.
- Be sure to taste for salt, and for the best outcome use good quality salt such as Diamond Crystal kosher salt, Redmond Real Salt or sea salt.
Russet vs. Yukon Golds
In my opinion, both are great! They are both starchy potatoes that will hold up well to mashing. At my house, we typically use Russets for Thanksgiving. They are naturally creamy and smooth when mashed. But so are Yukon Golds! Other people have stronger opinions about this, but I say either/or. Although the beauty of Yukon Gold potatoes, Dutch Gold or small red potatoes is that you can mash them with the skin on! I am a big fan of that method, but my family not so much.
Dairy-free or Whole30 mashed potatoes
Feel free to use any nut milk or coconut milk to make this dairy-free, but my favorite adaptation is to use good-quality chicken stock instead of dairy milk. It will create a light and flavorful mashed potato. You can also finish these with ghee instead of butter, which is Whole30 compliant.
What is the best tool for mashing potatoes?
- Low Tech: Potato Masher or collander and wooden spoon
- Old School: Handheld Mixer
- Culinary School: Potato Ricer
- Emergency: The biggest fork possible
How far in advance can I make mashed potatoes?
Mashed potatoes can be made almost completely ahead. Do everything––peel, boil and mash, then add milk, butter and salt––up to two days ahead. Before serving, reheat. Add a little extra butter on top before reheating.
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes?
- Meyer Lemon Cranberry Sauce
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- Chopped Collard Green Salad
- Baked Pumpkin Custard (Dairy-Free)
- Apple Cranberry Crisp
Also, check out the guide I did last year on getting organized for Thanksgiving.
Simple Mashed Potatoes
- 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup milk, half and half or heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Place potatoes in a large Dutch oven or stockpot; cover with cold water by 1 inch. Place pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer; cook potatoes 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain well.
- Return potatoes to pan; place over low heat. Cook 4-5 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally (do not brown). Place potatoes and butter in a ricer or food mill, or large colander with medium-small (1/8-inch) holes. Set aside.
- Warm the cream in the potato pan over medium-low heats, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt. Set mill or colander over pan; crank mill, or use the back of a ladle or large spoon to press cooked potato through a colander into milk mixture. You can also use a large potato masher at this point.
- Gently stir the potatoes until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.
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