Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Everybody seems to have their favorite way of making mashed potatoes. Some cook them with the peel on, some without. Some add a little of the cooking water to the mashed potatoes for extra starch. I have found that the single thing that makes the biggest difference for making perfect creamy, heavenly potatoes is the type of potatoes you use.

Most people use starchy Russets for mashed potatoes. With their high starch and low water content, they’re good for baking, for making French fries, and for mashing. Here’s my secret though—even better than Russets for mashing are Yukon Golds. They’re a little more expensive than Russets, but worth it. They’re naturally creamy when mashed, never mealy, and have a slightly buttery flavor all on their own. Yukon golds make the most perfectly creamy, buttery mashed potatoes.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

From the recipe archive, first posted 2005.

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Perfect Mashed Potatoes Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Always put potatoes in cold water to start, then bring to a boil. That way the potatoes cook more evenly.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs (680 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp (30 g) butter
  • 1 Tbsp milk (or more)
  • Salt and Pepper

Recommended equipment—a potato masher

Method

1 Place the peeled and cut potatoes into a medium saucepan. Add cold water to the pan until the potatoes are covered by at least an inch. Add a half teaspoon of salt to the water. Turn the heat on to high, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can easily poke through them with a fork.

2 While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter and warm the cream. You can heat them together in a pan on the stove or in the microwave.

3 When the potatoes are done, drain the water and place the steaming hot potatoes into a large bowl. Pour the heated cream and melted butter over the potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Then use a strong wooden spoon (a metal spoon might bend) to beat further. Add milk and beat until the mashed potatoes are smooth. Don't over-beat the potatoes or the mashed potatoes will end up gluey.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Perfect Mashed Potatoes

69 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Oh how I wish I could find Yukon Gold in this country where they haven’t really got a clue to what a GOOD potato is like! Italy has the supremacy over my native country Sweden on a lot of things but we sure know the importance of nice potatoes better than they! Once I was offered fantastic mashed potatoes when I visited an acquaintance living in the mountains close to where I live but that’s the ONLY time in my Italian history….

    • Annie

      Grow your own! You can even grow potatoes in a barrel if you don’t have much space.

  2. Carl

    This is pretty my my recipe as well – delicious, aren’t they? Two tricks I use: first, I drain the potatoes and return them to the still-hot pot while I heat the butter and cream – the extra minute in the pot dries them a bit and they absorb the fats better. And second, I run them thru my ricer into the mashing bowl, which really helps de-lump quickly. Still use my masher to integrate the butter, milk, and cream though.

  3. Jeff

    Not bad. Personally, I like to skip the heavy cream and use a combination of sour cream and cream cheese. I also toss a few cloves of garlic in with the potatoes (while cooking) – then just leave it in and mash it up when they are cooked :)

  4. veronica

    You know, I’ve been eating mashed potatoes for over 50 years and I love russets. Whether you mash, boil, fry, or bake, you can’t beat them for flavor and versatility. Although I do suggest a waxier potato for a salad, I believe that for the money, russets are a much better potato for all-round use. If you think they are a little dry, you simply didn’t add enough liquid.

  5. Johnny Smith

    Use Red Pontiacs or Lasodas. They’re even better.
    There is no such thing as a white potato in my home!

  6. aardvarknav

    I’m with you. Mashed potatoes are a vehicle for gravy. And its not just pouring the gravy over the mashed potatoes – you have to make an indentation in the potatoes to hold the gravy. Heaven forbid that someone uses the gravy ladle to make the indentation and then puts it back into the gravy bowl with potatoes attached. Sometimes I even prefer the mashed potatoes and gravy without the potatoes. One of the first things we learned as young kids was how to make a mashed potato dam to hold the maximum amount of gravy.

  7. Steve Fuller

    I live in Toronto. It may interest you to know that the Yukon Gold potato was developed at the Ontario Agricultural College (University of Guelph) near Toronto. They were selected for colour, cooking properties and, of course, taste.

    They’re understandbly very popular here in Canada.

  8. Elise

    Hi Carl – thanks for the tips on the still-hot pan and using the potato ricer. These potatoes taste so good I’m not that concerned with lumps, but if I were, the ricer would be a great way to get rid of them.

    Hi Jeff – we do the same with garlic sometimes, thanks for sharing.

    Hi Johnny – will have to keep my eye out for those, thanks!

    Hi Aardvarknav – we used to call them mashed potato “volcanos”, yummmm.

    Hi Steve – I had no idea that Yukon Golds were developed in Canada, but with the name “Yukon”, that should have been obvious. Did you know that potatoes originally came from the Incas in Peru, where they had something like 3000 varieties? The conquistadors brought them to Europe from the new world in the 1500s.

  9. Tony

    Great Post! I totally agree that Yukon Gold’s do make the best mashed potatoes and they are all I ever use. I always get asked what I did to make them taste so good. When using russets, a chef in a restaurant taught me to throw in some regular mayonaise when mixing them. Don’t use the low-fat or fat free. This made them nice and creamy.

  10. BigJim

    On this Potato thing. It is just what a person
    likes. I myself don’t use cream or milk when
    making mashed potatoes. I add some butter and
    mayonaise, and it gives it more taste, and I eat
    more. They come out nice and fluffy and they aren’t dry. I live here in central California
    where all the vegetables and fruits come from.
    I know everything has different varities so I
    say it’s just what a person likes. If you have
    never tried putting mayonaise in you potatoes
    just try it one time, I also use a hand mixer
    instead of a masher.

  11. Nupur

    Elise, thanks for a great recipe…I tried it for my thanksgiving dinner and everyone enjoyed it! I added some roasted garlic. your recipe is indeed “perfect”.

  12. Gareth

    Thanks Elise, nicely done!

    Here’s a UK tip that you might want to try:

    Boil the potatoes with the skins on, obviously scrub them first thoroughly, but we find that this helps to keep in some flavour and moisture, though adding garlic or mint to the pot can be nice too!

    Also the tip on putting them through a ricer has always worked nicely for me, they come out very smooth and creamy.

  13. Amanda Robbins

    Thank you Elise! The Yukon Gold potatoes made all the difference. I hardly used any butter or cream at all, and my boyfriend took one look at them and said “Why did you add so much butter!?” They are that rich looking compared to russets.

    I plan on using a hand beater next time- I got lazy mashing them myself and they were a bit lumpy as a result.

  14. Dave

    I’ve been using Yukon’s for smashed taters for a long time. My wife and I prefer them with the peelings on. Also I have found that I like them with a small can of Cream of chicken condensed soup in them and a stick of butter. Sometimes with a bit of garlic too.

  15. Kooper vinbet

    I never used to like mashed potatoes but when i tried this recipe i started to love them. I never knew that a day would come that i would love mashed potatoes now i make it all the time. I cant belive i never liked it.

  16. Jacky

    This recipe sounds very tasty, and I plan on making it once I find Yukon Gold potatoes, but for now I’ll stick with the potatoes I make. I use Russet potatoes, boiled and drained. Then mash them up with butter, salt, pepper, and Sour Cream. It tastes awesome if you put the right amount of everything. I don’t go by recipes for this because my aunt taught me how to make it, But just put as much of the ingredients as your taste likes =)

  17. Tomisina

    Great Recipe and really goes great with any other food to like fried chicken!

    LOVE IT!

  18. Liane

    Has anyone ever tried making mashed potatoes ahead of time and freezing them? Do they turn out OK reheated?

  19. Barbara Sturdy

    These potatoes are probably very delicious and I will try them but, have you ever tried just mashing them with fat free chicken stock and light cream cheese, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. They are to die for. A friend gave me this recipe and I have been using it ever since. My family loves the potatoes this way and they are less fat because we don’t use any butter.

    Hope you try this recipe.

    Thank you,

    Barb

  20. Friday

    One additional tip – I use white pepper instead of black in my mashed potatoes. It gives a slightly different flavor and helps with presentation (if you’re trying to be fancy). Otherwise, great recipe.

  21. Kim

    Hi, Thanks for the tips.
    I make my potatoes about three hours before we eat. That way everything is cleaned up and makes things run smooth. I place the potatoes in a slow cooker this is diffrent then a crock pot. slow cooker on about 2 and stir every hour stays hot and creamy. (don’t use a crock pot they will turn sticky) I always make the mash potatoes and looking for something diffrent I can’t wait to try yours. I never heard of mayonaise, would like to try this also.
    Thank
    Kim

  22. Rebecca

    Yellow potatoes are magical for making mash – you can make them with no butter or oil at all and nobody notices!

    I love mash with many different additions -
    mayo with chopped spring onion and sweetcorn
    pasta sauce and greenery
    pesto
    olive oil, tamari and chopped onion
    salad dressings
    chopped fresh mint

    I love adding cress, and raw leafy greens, or herbs or dulse (a seaweed).
    And I like to have something crunchy in with it, such as pine nuts or raw peas, or raw onion.

    Eating mash in the same mouthful as leafy crunchy salad is just gorgeous to me.

  23. RK

    This is a great recipe idea, mashed potatoes where you are able to use less butter and cream is always good. I like to add garlic and cheddar to mine because of how we use leftover mashed potatoes. We make patties out of them (they should be cold for this) and then dredge them in some bread crumbs and fry them in butter…sooo bad for you, but so delicious. I think the cheddar in the potatoes helps to hold them together during this process as they get really soft as they are reheated while frying.

  24. Dominic

    This recipe sounds great! I’m going to try it this weekend as a side with stuffed clams. One additional thing I’ve put in mashed potatoes is bacon bits! With this approach you use less salt, add a bit of texture and integrate that distinctive bacon taste to the mix! If you don’t want to add bacon directly to the potatoes it also works as a garnish.

  25. Kaybe

    I am going to try this recipe for Thanksgiving. Looks great. I have just made up my own recipe in the past, using ranch dressing instead of sour cream, believe it or not, adds an extra zip.
    Thanks for posting!

  26. Vicki

    Has anyone ever made mashed potatoes the night before Thanksgiving and then warmed them in a crock pot the next day?

  27. Tina

    Thanks for this perfect recipe! I just made it to take to my boyfriend’s family’s house for Thanksgiving. I was in charge of the mashed potatoes and creamed corn. I used your recipe and threw in some sour cream and chives. Super yummy! I didn’t have milk so I just used some more whipping cream. What does the milk do for the mashed potatoes, anyways?

  28. Joslyn

    I like to add onion powder with the parsley already in it and a little onion salt.

  29. Jen

    Thanks for the great mashed potatoes recipe! I am a terrible cook but I was able to make these and they came out great! I’m so appreciative because I am spending my first xmas away from home in Japan and I didn’t want to be eating sushi on xmas!

  30. Jim

    Next time you make mashed potatoes try using red skin potatoes, butter and believe it or not buttermilk. Makes for fluffy and sort of tangy potatoes. Red skins are for a little color.

  31. Colleen

    I live in Peru (with our originally ~3800 varieties and now ~300 available varieties). The best potato in the world is the Peruvian Yellow Potato (Papa Amarilla) if you are looking for richness, but it is for some reason impossible to find outside of Peru. I am using it this year for thanksgiving mashed potatoes and following basically the recipe listed above. For more info on potatoes you can go to the international potato center! http://www.cipotato.org

  32. lovepugs

    Thank you! They turned out great. I made the adjustments for 9 lbs of potatoes today for 15+ people.

  33. Debbie

    I always use Yukon Gold potatoes for the perfect tasting mashed. One trick I learned that gives it such incredible flavour is to put some onion powder in the water when boiling them. I also add a touch more when I mash them with milk, butter, salt and pepper. Everyone just loves them!

  34. Yoshi Sagamiori

    This is s great mashed potatoes recipe, I LOVE IT! Yukon Gold potatoes are so easy to find here in Canada :) Although I wonder if it’d be easy to find once I go back to Japan…

  35. Alex

    Thanks for posting this recipe; it was simple, easy-to-follow, and came out great when I tried it. I also appreciated the interesting information on comparative water/starch content between Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes.

  36. Bob

    Here are a couple of tricks to try for great mashed potatoes.

    Toss a few cloves of garlic into the water when boiling your potatoes. After draining, just mash them right into the potatoes for great garlic mashed.

    Don’t think about this one too much, just try it. While mashing your taters, crack a raw egg in and beat it in thoroughly. The heat from the potatoes will cook it so no worries. Season the potatoes as you normally would. Taste. Then wonder why in the world nobody taught you this years ago. :)

  37. Pops Hazel Basa

    Thanks you..I did it well..my hubby likes it..GOD SPEED..

  38. brit

    Thanks so much, my potatoes were amazing.

  39. Krzys Banka

    Hello everyone. Excellent recipe. I also added some garlic….hmmmmm

  40. Mindy

    Agree on the Yukon gold for mashed, French fingerlings for German Style potato salad and russet for baked. Easy to grow potatoes on your own and there’s nothing like home grown.

    I always make extra mashed potatoes, add some flour the next day and make potato pancakes. My kids love them better than mash w/gravy!

  41. Amanda

    Is the cream absolutely necessary? I JUST got home from the grocery store and only now realized I needed heavy cream.

  42. Christi Vaughan

    In addition to using the Yukon Gold potates and sour cream, I put mayonaise in my mashed potatoes. This gives it extra flavor and fluffiness.

  43. devi

    Does anyone know where I can buy yukon gold potatoes in california? I have only seen them rarely at my local grocery stores – I can’t figure out why they’re so hard to find. Do they sell them in cali?

    Safeway carries them, as well as Raley’s. Sometimes they’re not labeled as yukon gold, but just as new potatoes (that happen to be yellow). Ask the produce guy/gal in your local supermarket about them. ~Elise

    • Graham

      Don’t be deceived by fake Yukons. A “Yellow fleshed” potato does not mean it is a Yukon Gold. Yukons are yellow all the way thru and have a higher sugar to starch ratio that makes them more desirable for taste. Often grocers will prey on people’s ignorance and sell “yellow fleshed” potatoes that are no different from getting a white variety like a shepardy or a superior, only with yellow skin on the outside for the premium price.

  44. Alla Zilberg

    Hi,
    all the recipes look amazing and I cannot wait to make the Turkey, cranberry relish and other tasty things this Holiday season :) – Thank you for shearing these with us

    Mashed potatoes are my very very favorite food ever since i have been a child, so i would like to share one or two other tricks about mashed potatoes. When boiling the potatoes, try adding ONE of the following – 1 sweet potato / carrot / peeled onion. Sweet potato and carrot should be left and mashed together with potatoes – it will give that sweeter taste – very tasty. Onion should be taken out and thrown away after cooking, but it does add a unique flavor to potatoes. Also, i like to add a little bit of Vegetta spice to cooked potatoes and always put LOTS of butter…mmmm…delicious holidays to you all :))))

  45. C Ikehara

    Perfect Mashed potatoes is creamy and delicious. I had so many requests for the recipe at our church potluck. Definitely a keeper.

  46. Jeff

    Wow, what a great recipe and so many interesting posts from around the world. One additional thought on Alla ‘s suggestion to add onion — make it a Vidalia onion. Grown here in Vidalia, Georgia (the Georgia in the southeast United States), this onion will not have to be removed after cooking, because it is sweet and smooth, and will add texture and a bit of twang.

  47. Elizabeth

    Since everyone’s putting their two cents in regarding “extras”…..When I feel like changing things up a bit, I use my mortar & pestle to grind dried rosemary or thyme, then put it in with the potatoes to boil (yes, minced garlic and onion too…YUM-EEE!).
    You can also add it AFTER the potatoes cook; just mash it in with the butter, milk, heavy cream (or whatever you normally use to make your mashed-taters).
    It does not take much(rosemary can overwhelm a dish quickly, if you’re not careful). All in all though, I think it emparts a wonderful flavor to the potatoes, and is very complimentary when served with steak or chicken. :)

  48. kris

    This may sound bad but…Do You Peel the potatoes before you boil or after?

    Good question. Before. ~Elise

  49. Dian

    Someone asked about making potatoes ahead of time. I have been using this recipe for many years, One less thing to do on the day of “the Big meal”.
    5 lbs potatoes
    8 oz.cream cheese
    1 cup sour cream
    2 tsp onion salt
    2 tbsp. butter
    Boil potatoes until tender and mash well. Add rest of ingredients and beat until fluffy. Place in a buttered casserole and dot with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Remove about 1 hour before supper and bake 30 minutes at 350º. Yield 10-12 servings.
    This is from CANADIAN KINETTE COOKERY sent in by Linda Dey of Camrose, Alberta ; 1979

  50. Jan

    We used this recipe tonight, and this was our first time using Yukon potatoes instead of Russets. TERRIFIC — thank you for this!

  51. Trudy

    Is there any other way of reheating mashed potato than putting it in the oven? Wouldn’t this dry it out? Would re-heating it in a microwave be O.K.?

    You could easily reheat mashed potatoes in a microwave. ~Elise

  52. Ruth

    Some people on here have mentioned adding an egg, and I have to say I’ve always made the best mash potato with potatoes, cream, butter, salt and pepper, and an egg! Crack 1 egg into the potato whilst mashing. I think you’ll agree it helps make the perfect mashed potato!

  53. Hillary

    Hi Elise:
    I was wondering about how many potatoes would it take to get 1 1/2 pounds? The yukons are fairly small, about on the smaller medium range. Thanks! I’m planning to make this along with your pot roast. :)

    No idea, it completely depends on the size of the potatoes. If you don’t have a scale, look for something packaged in your fridge or pantry that is 24 ounces. (That’s a pound and a half.) Then compare. You can also just wing it, this recipe is just a guideline, not an absolute. ~Elise

  54. Anna

    I’ve done it both ways but I actually like to peel the potatoes after boiling them. You have to wait for them to cool off a little bit first, but it seems to help keep them from getting waterlogged.

  55. Lady Amalthea

    I’m lazy so I often don’t peel my potatoes. I’ve also started adding celery into my mashed potatoes (cook in boiling water with the potatoes, then mash everything together). Adds a lovely lightness!

  56. Bridget

    this was soooooooooooooo delish! i made them and im only 11, my parents said that we are going to eat these alot! i love potatoes and these are the best!

  57. Heather

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe and all of your recipes. It was my first attempt at homemade mashed potatoes and they really were, “perfect”.

  58. Emily

    Try boiling potatoes in chicken or vegetable stock – so much extra flavor!

  59. Jennifer

    I am wondering about “day ahead” mashed potatoes? If I make these a day ahead and then reheat them in the oven… just add a bit more milk and stir well, heat in oven til hot? Any other suggestions on reheating these for “the big meal” ? Thanks…

    If I were to make mashed potatoes a day ahead, I would add an egg or two, fill a casserole dish, coat with a little melted butter on top, and then heat in a 375°F oven until the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. ~Elise

  60. Sandi

    Does anyone know how to make the “perfect pear”? It’s mashed potatoes shaped like a pear. Some kind of coating, maybe fine bread crumbs, on the outside and browned…or maybe it’s the potatoes themselves…make this look exactly like a pear. Then a leaf is added next to a small sliver of potato that makes the stem. It is awesome and really dresses up a plate. Anyone know how it’s done? Anyone?

  61. Megan

    This is a fabulous starting point for a recipe. I tweaked it a bit, switching out the proportions of milk and cream so that I used more 2% milk, and less cream. It still had a lovely rich taste without being too heavy tasting.

    I actually did 10lbs. of potatoes and scaled the other ingredients accordingly. I used a ricer and very gently folded the warm milk mixture into the potatoes. I made them the night before Thanksgiving and put them in the slow cooker insert in the fridge. A few hours before Thanksgiving dinner I put them on the lowest setting on the slow cooker and stirred them right before serving. There was no change in the texture and they were still very creamy without adding any additional liquid.

    I find it much easier to make up a very large batch of mashed potatoes and freeze in quart bags. I always re-heat in a saucepan on the stove. The texture suffers if you re-heat in the microwave. Heat them very slowly over low heat on the stove. They will initially look like they have separated and are very runny, but once they are warm, stir them gently and they go back together beautifully.

  62. andrea

    I the mash turned out greatr it was a hit. thank you :)

  63. Hillary

    My husband won’t let us use any other recipe..and he insists on following it to the letter!

  64. Roman

    This is pretty much the recipe I use to make mashed potatoes, except I also add quarter pound of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and my kids love that! Thanks!

  65. Paige

    We like Yukon golds and red potatoes, unpeeled. My secret is lots of salt in the cooking water; they are sweeter that way.

  66. Susan Walter

    I’ve never encountered a Yukon Gold in Europe or Australia. The only reason I have heard of them is because all the North American food bloggers rave about them :-) Here in France I grow my own potatoes and use a little known variety called Stemster (aka Prospere) for mash. In terms of supermarket potatoes I would use Agata or Charlotte. Both a little dull, but reasonable. Many French people use packet freeze dried potatoe flakes to make purée, as mash is called here.

  67. Mia

    I always use Russet and have never ventured to the Yukon or the reds. I’m going to try it out next week for Thanksgiving! Thank you!

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