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How to Make Mashed Potatoes Just Like Mom’s

Learn how to make creamy, dreamy, delicious mashed potatoes with tips from our Test Kitchen.

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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.

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 30-minute meals your family will love).

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

You’ll need:
6 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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).

Don't Forget the Gravy!

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With my easy recipe, even someone who has never made homemade gravy before can be assured of success. —Phyllis Schmalz, Kansas City, Kansas.

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Save those turkey wings! Then use this richly flavored stock in my pour-it-on-everything herbed gravy. —Angela Lively, Conroe, Texas

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Ready Gravy Mix

This dry mix keeps up to 6 months, so any time you yearn for chicken or beef gravy, you can stir up a portion. You'll love its just-made flavor and convenience. —Edie DeSpain, Logan, Utah

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This gravy is so creamy and good I could eat it like soup. But it's best draped over mashed potatoes and other Thanksgiving fixings. For reheating the next day, if it's too thick, just stir in a bit of milk. — Mindie Hilton, Susanville, California

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My grandma made this gravy every Thanksgiving to drizzle over sliced turkey and stuffing. When I have leftover turkey and mushroom gravy, I chop the turkey into small pieces and add it to the gravy. I serve it over a piece of bread, open-face style. —Joy Mellwig, Naples, Florida

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How to Make Gravy

Use these easy steps to learn how to make gravy, and find great gravy recipes for your holiday meal.

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Author
Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.
James Schend
James Schend is the Editor of Food, Videos and Experiential Events. He oversees all Food Editors as well as managing content for videos and Taste of Home Live, formerly the Taste of Home Cooking School.