Mashed potatoes: how hard could they be, right? It turns out that there are many a pitfall on the road to perfect mashed potatoes, and minor adjustments can make all the difference.
Cooking larger chunks of potatoes in simmering water to achieve richer-tasting and smooth potatoes is all well and fine, but there’s no denying this method takes quite a bit of time, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd.
Luckily, there’s a better way.
Don't Boil Potatoes – Steam Them!
Steaming beats boiling for many reasons.
First, it’s faster. Because steaming requires just an inch or so of water, it takes much less time to heat than a large pot of water heating to a boil. Where two pounds of potatoes takes around 40 minutes to come to a boil and cook through, steaming the same amount takes about half as long.
Second, you use the same amount of water. Whether you’re steaming one, two, or four pounds of potatoes, you can use basically the same amount of water. If, say, you’re cooking for a group on Thanksgiving, you can double your recipe and not worry about adding extra cook time. (Making an even larger quantity may require more water, but the point stands: cook time does not increase significantly when increasing quantity.)
Finally, no contact with water means no flavor dilution! This is another reason steaming is superior to boiling: the potatoes don’t absorb water like they do when boiled, so you’ll end up with a fuller, richer flavor – no extra cream or butter required.
If you’re worried about starch and wondering if you ought to rinse the potatoes, here’s my advice: use Yukon Gold potatoes, which are starchy (as opposed to waxy) but also sturdier and buttery. They make the best potatoes for mashing, especially if you’re steaming instead of boiling.
How to Steam Potatoes for Faster Mashed Potatoes (Step-by-Step Instructions)
- Peel and cut the potatoes: Peel two pounds of potatoes and cut them into 2-inch chunks.
- Boil an inch of water: Bring an inch of water to boil in a large pot and turn to medium heat.
- Steam the potatoes for 20 minutes: Transfer the potatoes to a steamer basket, place it in the pot, and cover. Let the potatoes cook for 20 minutes or until a fork can pierce them easily. Do not rinse!
- Proceed with your recipe: After the potatoes have steamed, proceed with your mashed potato recipe of choice! Since the potatoes won't be diluted from water contact, if you're looking to reduce the butter, salt, or, cream, feel free to do so in small amounts. But when it comes to mashed potatoes, is extra butter, salt and cream ever a bad thing?
Now feel free to invite a few more guests to the table, because you can double the recipe with no extra time needed.