How to Make Homemade Mashed Potatoes Just Like Mom’s

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Ready for the creamiest, dreamiest mashed potatoes? Follow along as our Test Kitchen shows you how to make homemade mashed potatoes.

When I was growing up, mashed potatoes were a given at dinnertime. But it wasn’t until later in life that I learned the real reason Mom liked to serve the side so much: It’s incredibly easy to make (much like these other easy potato recipes your family will love).

Ready to learn how to make mashed potatoes? Follow along as we guide you through the best recipe for mashed potatoes, just like Mom used to make.

How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Tools You’ll Need

  • Vegetable peeler: Remove your potato peels with comfort and ease thanks to OXO’s Good Grips swivel peeler.
  • Two saucepans: The non-stick aluminum cookware set from Taste of Home will allow you to cook your potatoes and warm your dairy products quickly. Plus, they’re super easy to clean!
  • Potato ricer (or masher): This KitchenAid potato ricer will make quick and consistent work of mashing your potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper

Directions

Step 1: Prep the potatoes

Person using a knife to chop peeled potatoes into cubesTMB Studio

Before we start cooking, we need to show the potatoes some love. Grab a vegetable peeler and a chef’s knife, and pull out the cutting board for some prep.

Peel the potatoes one by one, sending the skins into a scrap bowl. If you find it’s taking a while to peel your taters, check out our tips for how to use a potato peeler efficiently.

Next, chop the potatoes into 2- to 3-inch pieces. While it might be tempting to cut them smaller to speed up your cook time, tiny potato pieces will absorb too much water while boiling and not absorb the butter and milk later on. You’ll also want the potato pieces to be pretty even in size so none of them end up over- or under-cooked.

Step 2: Boil

add water to cut potatoesTMB Studio

Place the chopped potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. No need to fill the pan to the brim, but make sure there’s at least an inch of water covering the potatoes.

Salt the water to season the potatoes and then bring the pot to a boil over medium to high heat. Let the potatoes cook for 20-25 minutes or until very tender. You’ll know they’re ready when a fork glides through one easily.

With a slotted spoon, scoop the taters from the water. Or, using hot pads, carefully lift the pan and pour the cooked potatoes into a strainer. Whichever method you use, be sure to let the potatoes drain completely and cool until they stop steaming, so any excess moisture can evaporate.

Step 3: Prepare the flavorings

Milk, butter, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over the stovetopTMB Studio

Add the cream, butter, salt and pepper to a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to combine. Heating up the dairy products first will prevent the potatoes from cooling down too much and let them absorb into the potatoes more fully for an extra-creamy and luxurious end product.

Once the butter has melted and the cream is steaming, but not boiling, cut the heat.

Step 4: Mash

mashing potatoes with a ricerTMB Studio

mashing potatoesTMB Studio

Now it’s time to mash! We recommend using a potato ricer for super smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes. It may be old school, but a potato ricer is one of the heirloom kitchen tools we’ll never ditch. To use one, simply place a few pieces of potato into the ricer and press down on the handle over a large bowl. Continue ricing potato piece by potato piece until you have a bowl full of potato squiggles. Then, pour the warmed cream mixture over the potatoes and stir to combine.

If you don’t have a ricer, a potato masher or even a fork can be used. For these methods, place all of your potatoes and the cream mixture in a large bowl and mash away until they reach your desired consistency. With these methods, be sure not to over-mash or mix the potatoes. Doing so will cause them to be goopy and gluey. Here’s more on the best ways to mash potatoes.

Step 5: Enjoy

Finished mashed potatoesTMB Studio

Time to enjoy the spoils! Gobble them up by the spoonful straight from the bowl, or transfer to a serving plate and pair with a savory main course. Here are a few meals you can make in 30 minutes or less.

If you plan on saving the mashed potatoes for later, let them cool and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.

When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, microwave them on high, stirring every 30 seconds until heated through.

Homemade Mashed Potato Variations

Now that you know the basics, our Test Kitchen offers some insanely tasty upgrades to mix up the basic mash:

  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of thinly sliced green onions, snipped chives or chopped parsley.
  • Add 10-12 cloves of oven-roasted garlic, chopped or minced.
  • Put the potatoes in an oven-safe dish, top with 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan, and then broil until golden brown (1-2 minutes).
  • Take a tip from the Pioneer Woman’s mashed potatoes and add softened cream cheese and seasoned salt to your mashed taters.

Here are some more tasty mashed potato upgrades you’ll love.

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Tips for Making Mashed Potatoes

  • Though russet potatoes are the traditional choice, feel free to use any potato you’d like. Our tasting panel also gave high marks to recipes featuring Yukon Golds and red potatoes. Here’s more on what to make with every type of potato.
  • If you’re pressed for time, feel free to leave the skin on the potatoes—just be sure to scrub them well. The end result won’t be as smooth or picture-perfect, but some of us prefer things that way.
  • For especially flavorful and rich mashed potatoes, use our Test Kitchen’s pick for the best butter brand.
  • Before adding your butter to the saucepan, let it come up to room temperature. This will allow the cubes to fully melt quickly so the cream or milk doesn’t scorch.
  • While most cooks mash their potatoes with cream, some prefer milk. It’s strictly a matter of personal preference and you can use either in this recipe.
  • If your diners are on a dairy-free regimen, feel free to substitute the milk and butter with vegetable or chicken broth, with unsweetened almond milk and a bit of Earth Balance spread—or even with the water in which you cooked the potatoes.
  • Resist the temptation to dump the cooked potatoes into a food processor or blender. These machines will severely overwork your potatoes and give them a gluey texture. Ick!
  • If you’re in a time crunch, try making these Instant Pot mashed potatoes or instant mashed potato upgrades.
  • Use any extra mashed potatoes in one of these leftover mashed potato recipes. We especially love the fried mashed potato balls!

Check out these other common mashed potato mistakes to avoid for the best potatoes of your life.

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is the Content Director of TMB's Strategy and Performance team. She oversees the brand's shopping and trend editorial teams and assists with content planning across Taste of Home, Family Handyman, Reader's Digest, The Healthy and Birds & Blooms. With over seven years of experience writing and editing in the food and home space, she enjoys sharing cooking tips, recipe picks and product recommendations that make life a little easier. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's either practicing latte art or fixating on her latest DIY home renovation.
James Schend
As Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversees the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and manages all food content for Trusted Media Brands. Prior to this position, James worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.