How to Make Mashed Potatoes

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Tips for Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Learn how to make mashed potatoes. Use this method for all of your mashed potato recipes and have perfect mashed potatoes every time. 

How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Tips for perfect mashed potatoes that you can use to create all of your mashed potato recipes

How to Make Mashed Potatoes using Various Types of Potatoes:

You can make mashed potatoes from any variety of potato however the results will differ according to two things: 

  • the amount of starch in the potato variety
  • the texture of the potato variety
  • Read more about types of potatoes.

High starch potatoes include russets, Yukon Gold and purple potatoes. A high starch content means fuller potato cells which will give your mashed potato recipe a fluffier texture.

Low starch potato varieties include potatoes that are waxier and absorb less water. Red-skinned potatoes and new potatoes are some low starch potatoes. Waxy potatoes can be more flavorful however they also tend to become "gluey" when whipped or over-mashed.

Potato texture determines how the potato should be cooked. 

  • Waxy potatoes like new potatoes are smaller, immature and tender potatoes that are harvested in spring or early summer.
  • Floury potatoes like russets are those most common in grocery stores. They are mature potatoes harvested in late summer or early autumn.

What is the first step in learning how to make mashed potatoes?

The first decision is "to peel or not to peel." There are advocates on both sides of the question and some good reasons for either choice. If you need to peel lots of potatoes consider purchasing an Electric Potato Peeler.

  • Choosing to cook your potatoes with the skins intact preserves some of the nutrients that are lost when boiling peeled potatoes. There are also some mashed potato recipes,like those made with new potatoes, in which the boiled potatoes are mashed skin and all. You can also boil potatoes with the skin on and peel them after they have cooled enough to handle.
  • Some people choose to boil potatoes for mashing with the skins on to save time however the extra time needed for scrubbing the potatoes clean may negate that time saving. If you leave the skins on, cut the potatoes into smaller pieces so your mashed potatoes don't include large pieces of skin.

If you peel large potatoes, you can cut them into smaller pieces and time will be saved in the cooking process. In most cases, the choice is a personal preference. For the mashed potato recipes we make most frequently, we choose to peel the potatoes in advance. 

300 Best Potato Recipes: A Complete Cook's Guide: Potatoes are just about everyone’s favorite side dish. This book includes dozens of recipes, and ways to cook potatoes, for every part of a meal from breakfast through appetizer, main course, and even dessert.

The Cooking Process for Perfect Mashed Potatoes

  • Place your potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) into a large cooking pot and completely cover them with cold (never hot) water. Add salt to taste and put a lid on the pot.
  • Bring the water to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until they are tender. Pierce some of the potatoes with a long fork or the tip of a knife to test doneness. The cooking process can take from 20 - 40 minutes depending on the size of the potato pieces and quantity of potatoes you are boiling.
  • When the potatoes are tender, drain all the water from the cooking pot. Put the drained potatoes back on the stove on very low heat for a few minutes to evaporate any excess water.
  • If you chose to peel your potatoes after cooking, now is the time to do it. Let them cool slightly before peeling.

It's Time to Mash Your Potatoes

There are many kitchen tools that you may want to know how to use when learning how to make mashed potatoes. Learn how to rice potatoes For many cooks, the smooth, creamy mashed potatoes they desire can only be created with a potato ricer. If you don't have a potato ricer, you can achieve the same results by using the back of a large spoon to force your cooked potatoes through the small holes in a colander. It's more work but the results can be very good.

Some people prefer mashed potatoes with more texture or even "lumps." If that is you, first use the more waxy types of potatoes for your mashed potato recipes. Second, mash or "smash" them for a shorter amount of time to get the texture you like. Some experimenting with various potateo varieties and techniques is a good way to learn your own preferences about how to make mashed potatoes.

**Tip: Using an electric mixer or food processor will likey result in gummy or gluey mashed potatoes. Over beating potatoes will break down the cell structure resulting in "potato paste." 

As your potatoes begin to "mash" add milk, cream, sour cream, butter or even cream cheese. Add one or several of these, in small amounts at a time, until the desired creaminess has been achieved. When adding milk or cream to mashed potatoes, heat milk just to simmering; do not boil. Butter should be at room temperature before adding.

Using buttermilk instead of milk or cream will give your mashed potato recipe a tangy, sour cream flavor with fewer calories and less fat.

For the richest tasting mashed potatoes add whipping cream that has been whipped until stiff. Fold into mashed potatoes just before serving.

More Tips About How to Make Mashed Potatoes

  • For parties or large gatherings, use a recipe for make ahead mashed potatoes.
  • Keep your mashed potatoes warm in a crockpot while the rest of your dinner is getting ready.
  • Freezing potatoes: you can freeze leftover mashed potatoes in a freezer bag or other airtight container for up to ten months.
  • Use fat-free chicken or vegetable broth in place of milk products in mashed potatoes to reduce fat and calories.
  • Save the cooking water from your potato recipes to use in making a potato bread recipe.
  • Storing potatoes: Do not store raw potatoes in the refrigerator. Cold turns the starches to sugar.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes

More About How to Make Mashed Potatoes:

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Best Mashed Potatoes

Baked Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Ways to Cook Potatoes

How to Peel Potatoes

How to Boil Potatoes

How to Rice Potatoes

Back to Mashed Potato Recipe

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