The Secret To Perfect Mashed Potatoes – the ultimate comfort food

Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. We all love them, don’t we?  I get asked often for cooking tips, but when people taste my mashed potatoes, they always want to know my tip for making them.  So…drum roll… Here we go: How to make the perfect mashed potatoes, step by step.

The secrets to perfect creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes, every time. #comfortfoods
For me, the ultimate comfort food is a generous helping of mashed potatoes.  When I was a child, I used to make volcanos of them and pour on the gravy, and every time I make them now, I think of those days.  (and am even tempted to make volcanoes again!)

Everyone can make mashed potatoes, right?  Well, “sort of” is the short answer.   Yes, we can all combine potatoes, butter and milk and mash them together and put them on the table, but there is more to perfect mashed potatoes than this.

In my quest for the perfect mashed potatoes, I’ve tried just about every recipe out there.  But quite honestly, the “Perfect” part is not about the recipe, so much as it is the technique.  Here are some of my tips for making fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes that will cry out “comfort food” every time you put them on the table.

These things are important if you want to make perfect mashed potatoes.

The potato matters. Be sure to use the right kind of potato.   There are three kinds of potatoes, starchy, waxy and all purpose.  To make the best mashed potatoes, you will want a potato from the first type, such as a Russet, or from the last type, such as a Yukon gold.  Never use waxy potatoes such as red bliss or fingerlings.  Starchy potatoes break down better, and this will mean a more creamy mashed potato when you are done.

Use starcy potatoes for the best mashed potatoes. #comfortfoodsEven sizes are important. Cut your potatoes into even sized pieces before cooking them.  If you use some large and some small pieces, you will end up with some overcooked and some under cooked.   This doesn’t give you a good texture to the mash. 

Be sure to cut the potatoe into evenly sized pieces. #comfortfoodsGentle cooking is the key. Start your cooking with cold water, then raise the heat to a simmer and then cook until they are uniformly done. Always peel them first to get the most uniform size.

Mashing 101. Now for the mashing. Into the blender or food processor or mixer to make it easy, right?  WRONG…over blending does not work with starch.  If you beat it too much, you will break down the starch and then the mixture will tighten up.   You want mashed potatoes to be light and fluffy, not hard and sticky.  Get out the potato masher and mash them by hand.  And even with a potato masher, go lightly.  Light and fluffy, remember?

Hand mashers are best for perfect mashed potatoes. #comfortfoodsBrr, it’s cold outside.  Now for the butter and cream.  If you take these out of the fridge and add them into the hot potatoes, they will not absorb as well.  Bring them to room temperature for best results.   And while we are talking about cream, go lightly. We want fluffy mashed potatoes, not potato soup!

Be sure the milk and butter are at room temperature for the best mashed potatoes. #comfortfoodsDon’t skimp on the butter. For the tastiest mashed potatoes, you just can’t go lightly on the butter. Yes, it will save calories, but you won’t end up with the perfect mashed potato, just some imitation of it.  If you are having a big heaping pile of mashed potatoes, you aren’t exactly dieting anyway, so add the extra butter, just this once and be like Paula Deen.

You cannot skimp on the butter if you want perfect mashed potatoes. #comfortfoodsFinal tip.  And whatever you do, don’t make them ahead and heat them up.  They will dry out and what might have been the perfect mashed potato will end up a runner up!

The secrets to perfect Mashed Potatoes every time. #comfortfoods

And here it is folks.  My printable recipe for the perfect mashed potatoes every time. The ultimate in winter comforts!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Perfect Mashed Potatoes - the ultimate comfort food
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound or russet, Yukon gold or all purpose potatoes (don't use fingerlings or red bliss or other waxy potatoes)
  • 1½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ⅛ cup milk
  • ⅛ cup of cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • pinch of freshly ground cracked black pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Take out the milk, cream and butter so that they will be at room temperature when you are ready to use them.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into evenly sized pieces. Place them in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water; add ¾ tsp salt. and bring to a simmer. Raise the heat to medium and cook until a knife slips in and out easily. Drain the potatoes in a colander.
  3. Mash the potatoes until they are light and fluffy with a potato masher.
  4. Using a whisk, incorporate the butter. Drizzle in the milk and cream, whisking continuously. Add the pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste; whisk to combine. Serve immediately.

  21 comments for “The Secret To Perfect Mashed Potatoes – the ultimate comfort food

  1. 01/26/2014 at 1:57 pm

    I am sure the mashed potato fanatic in my house will thank you for this when I’ve made them. 🙂

    • admin
      01/26/2014 at 2:33 pm

      Enjoy them Melissa. I sure do when I make them!

  2. 01/26/2014 at 2:10 pm

    Nutmeg! This I got to try, sounds delish 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • admin
      01/26/2014 at 2:32 pm

      yes…nutmeg adds a lovely subtle touch!

  3. 01/26/2014 at 3:22 pm

    My husband is the potato masher in our house and his are always lovely and creamy. Lovely comfort food with gravy in this long, long winter we are having. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 01/26/2014 at 3:35 pm

    Mashed potatoes smothered in butter, the best!

  5. 01/26/2014 at 6:32 pm

    Great tutorial, Carole. I never knew to mix the type of potatoe. I will do that next time for sure. It’s a special treat when we have mashed in our house as we don’t eat a lot of potatoes. So any tips will be terrific. Thanks

  6. 01/26/2014 at 10:42 pm

    And I thought I knew how to make mashed potatoes – who knew that there was so much to remember? Thanks, Carol!

    • admin
      01/27/2014 at 10:51 am

      It becomes second nature once you have done them once! Carol

  7. 01/27/2014 at 7:39 am

    These mashed potatoes sound incredible, Carol!

    • admin
      01/27/2014 at 10:50 am

      They sure are Barb. Very fluffy and light. Just the perfect texture.

      Carol

  8. 01/27/2014 at 4:37 pm

    I actually heat my milk up in the microwave before adding to mashed potatoes! All of my kids love mashed potatoes.

    • admin
      01/27/2014 at 6:20 pm

      that’s a great idea Carlene!

  9. Amy
    01/27/2014 at 4:42 pm

    Carol, I am a Yukon girl, and I love mashed potatoes, nothing says the holidays and winter comforts like mashed potatoes

    • admin
      01/27/2014 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Amy. Thanks for visiting! Carol

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