Perfect Mashed Potatoes

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes Recipe

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  • 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 Cover peeled, cut potatoes with cold, salted water, simmer until tender: 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 Melt butter, warm cream: 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 Drain cooked potatoes, mash with butter, cream, milk: 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

Showing 4 of 101 Comments

  • Brent Wambold

    While you CAN heat the milk and butter together in the same pan, you will want to heat them separately. Adding the butter to the potatoes first coats them in fat first, making them more silky and then adding the milk will loosen them up and make them smooth. If you add both together and beat too much you run the risk of them getting too glue like – adding fat first avoids this.

  • Heather Lampman

    I’m a firm believer in yukon golds for mashed potatoes. But, I also use a potato ricer – easily found on Amazon – they produce a better product than a masher. Also, I add my warmed cream before adding my butter ’cause that’s what Cooks Illustrated said. After all of the above, my mashed potatoes are legend.

  • Shawn

    I like color, texture and flavor. Small Cauliflower pieces, Carrot shreds, cheddar cheese, Bread crumbs, potato skin, almond milk – the leftovers make great potato pancakes.

  • Mark A Nohner

    I need to find an old ricer like my family used. Nothing beats riced potatoes. Those were the days.

  • Marilynn

    After the potatoes have cooked & drained, I put them back in to pot and, on low heat, allow them to steam for a few minutes, so as to remove all the moisture from the potatoes. I then use a ricer to get all the lumps out. Glad you said to warm the butter & cream….Nothing can ruin mashed potatoes more than adding those cold! (& haven’t we all done this at one time? :-) ) Thanks for the recipe!

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