When I was growing up, mashed potatoes were a given at dinnertime. No table setting was complete until the arrival of Mom’s flower-patterned Pyrex piled high with the fluffy stuff. Honestly, I couldn’t get enough of it. Mashed potatoes tasted amazing with everything. Rotisserie chicken, pork chops, bacon-topped meatloaf—you’d better believe we had heaping helpings of those dreamy, creamy potatoes on the side.
Ready to learn how? Follow along as the Taste of Home Test Kitchen guides you step by step through the best recipe for mashed potatoes. (Serving them in a vintage floral Pyrex is totally optional.)
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
6 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
3/4 teaspoon salt
Test Kitchen tip: 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.
Step 1: Prep the Taters
Before we start cooking, we need to show the potatoes some love. Grab a vegetable peeler and a chef’s knife, and get out the cutting board for some prep.
Psst…. If you loathe prep work, bring your boom box or Bluetooth speaker into the kitchen and crank up the tunes! I’m not saying Lynyrd Skynyrd will make your taters taste better—but it’s never been proven false.
Peel the potatoes one by one, sending the skins into a scrap bowl. (Compost, throw out or smother in oil and toss in the oven for easy homemade chips.)
Pro tip: If you’re pressed for time, 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.
Next, roughly chop the potatoes into cubes that are similar in size.
Step 2: Boil
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.)
Cover and bring the water to a boil. 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 and drain thoroughly. Or, using hot pads, carefully lift the pan and pour the cooked potatoes into a strainer to drain.
Step 3: Add the Tasty Stuff
Allow the potatoes to cool slightly. Meanwhile, add the milk, butter, salt and pepper to a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to combine.
Test kitchen tip: While most cooks mash their potatoes with milk, some prefer cream. It’s strictly a matter of personal preference. 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.
Step 4: Mash, Mash, Mash!
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and pour the butter mixture over the top. This is the fun part: It’s time to get mashing!
You can use a handheld masher, a potato ricer or even a fork to mash potatoes. Simply press down firmly on the potatoes again and again.
I like to think of mashed potatoes as the perfect way to vent my frustrations. Got a parking ticket? Mash! Friend never paid you back? Mash! The kids didn’t clean their room? Mash! (Maybe I’ve found the real reason my mom loved this dish so much.)
It may take a bit of time, but mashing will transform the boiled potatoes into a smooth, fluffy side. And those lumps? They prove your potatoes didn’t come from a box.
Test kitchen tip: Resist the temptation to dump the cooked potatoes into a food processor or blender. Overmixing gives spuds a gooey, gluey texture. Ick!
Step 5: Enjoy
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 options you can make in 30 minutes or less.
If you plan on saving the mashed potatoes for later, let them cool and then store, covered, in the fridge for later.
Test Kitchen tip: When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, microwave them on high, stirring every 30 seconds until heated through.
How to Make It Your Own
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).