In this recipe for creamy garlic mashed red potatoes, you can leave the vegetable peeler in the drawer. Keeping the skins on the potatoes gives these mashed potatoes a gorgeous rustic look.
Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Mashed red potatoes make for a creamy, delicious side dish that pairs well with everything. They’re a nice change of pace from traditional mashed potatoes made with starchy potatoes like russets. Starchy potatoes will create a smooth, fluffy mash, but they also require a lot of butter and cream to achieve a velvety-smooth consistency. Waxy red potatoes, on the other hand, have a buttery, rich character. That means you don’t need as much butter or cream to make a beautiful mash. Add a few garlic cloves, and these mashed red potatoes are nothing short of phenomenal.

As a bonus, red potatoes have thin, delicate skins, so you don’t need to peel them before using. The bright color of the skins will speckle throughout the mashed potatoes, creating a rustic look and texture. Just don’t be concerned if your mashed potatoes still contain some lumps. Mashed red potatoes will have some lumps, regardless of whether you peel them. Just be careful not to overmix the potatoes trying to remove every single lump. Red potatoes have firm flesh that can become gluey or gloppy when it’s overmixed. It’s all-too easy to overmix using an electric mixer, so we recommend using a handheld prep tool like a potato masher.

Ingredients for Mashed Red Potatoes

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  • Red potatoes: We leave the skins on for our mashed red potatoes recipe. The skins taste great, and they boast numerous health benefits. When we asked Hillary Cecere, MS, RDN, about peeling fruits and vegetables, she told us that potato skins contain fiber, iron, vitamin C, potassium and folate.
  • Garlic: Garlic mashed red potatoes are the best, and this recipe makes it so you never have to chop a garlic clove! The whole garlic cloves will cook with the potatoes and soften as they simmer. Simply peel the garlic cloves, and toss ’em into the pot whole.
  • Milk: We use fat-free milk, but any type of milk works here. If you only have half-and-half in the fridge, use it! You can also use heavy whipping cream or full-fat milk to create more decadent mashed potatoes.
  • Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter for this recipe. Adjust the amount of added salt depending on which you choose.
  • Parmesan cheese: This nutty cheese boosts the umami-like richness of the mashed potatoes.


Step 1: Cook the potatoes

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Place the potatoes and garlic cloves in a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender.

Editor’s Tip: The potatoes will cook more evenly if they start in room-temperature water. If you drop them into already-boiling water, their outsides will cook before their centers, leaving you with a mushy mash.

Step 2: Drain the potatoes

Drain the potatoes well.

Editor’s Tip: Return the potatoes to the hot pot after draining, then wait five minutes before you add the remaining ingredients. This gives the potatoes time to steam and release excess moisture, ensuring the mash will be thick and robust instead of thin and watery.

Step 3: Mash the potatoes

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Add the butter, milk and salt. Mash together.

Editor’s Tip: There are several ways to mash potatoes, but we recommend using a handheld potato masher for red potatoes. Avoid a blender or food processor, as electric-powered mixers can overmix the potatoes, making them gummy and gluey.

Step 4: Add the cheese

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Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.

Editor’s Tip: To add visual appeal, top the mashed red potatoes with a pat of butter, chopped chives and/or freshly cracked black pepper.

Recipe Variations

  • Make them indulgent: Stir in crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese to make these garlic mashed red potatoes extra-indulgent.
  • Add tang: Fold in sour cream or strained (Greek-style) yogurt after adding the Parmesan cheese.
  • Use precooked garlic: Instead of cooking the garlic with the potatoes, you can saute chopped garlic in butter for more richness. Roasted garlic is a great way to add a mellow, caramelized flavor. In a pinch, you could also use garlic powder or granulated garlic.
  • Swap in olive oil: Change the flavor profile of these potatoes by swapping the butter out for aromatic extra-virgin olive oil.

Can you make mashed red potatoes ahead of time?

Yes, you can make mashed red potatoes ahead of time, then use one of these techniques for keeping food warm till it’s time to eat. We like to use a slow cooker. You can hold the mashed potatoes, covered on the warm setting, for up to two hours. Check the temperature from time to time to make sure the potatoes stay above 140°F. If needed, fluff up the potatoes before serving, and stir in a little warmed cream or melted butter.

How to Store Mashed Red Potatoes

Let the mashed potatoes cool, then transfer them to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat mashed potatoes in the microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds, until heated through. If needed, stir in extra milk or butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Alternatively, you can reheat mashed potatoes in a 350° oven. Let the mashed potatoes sit on the counter while the oven preheats, then pop them in the preheated oven. Cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through to 165°.

Can you freeze mashed red potatoes?

Yes, you can freeze cooked and cooled mashed red potatoes in a freezer-safe container for up to two months. You can also freeze them in individual portions: Dollop the cooled potatoes onto a baking sheet, then freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen dollops to a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag, and store in the freezer up to two months.

Thaw frozen mashed red potatoes in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat as directed.

Mashed Red Potatoes Tips

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Are red potatoes good for mashing?

Red potatoes are great for mashing. They create lumpy, rustic mashed potatoes, especially when you leave the skins on. If you prefer a smoother, airier mash, try traditional mashed potatoes that use starchy russet potatoes or all-purpose Yukon Gold potatoes. Those types of potatoes are more forgiving during the mashing process, and you can whip out the lumps.

How long do you boil red potatoes for mashed potatoes?

How long to boil red potatoes for mashed potatoes really depends on the size of the potatoes you’re using. We boil our quartered red potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re tender and easily pierced with a fork. If you boiled the potatoes whole, they would take longer to cook through than small, quartered pieces.

How do you fix too much garlic in mashed potatoes?

It’s easy to fix too much garlic in mashed potatoes if you accidentally went a little heavy-handed on the garlic. Add a little lemon juice to taste to counteract the strong garlic flavor. Sweeteners like maple syrup or honey can also help reverse the too-strong taste.

How do you make fluffy mashed potatoes?

For fluffy mashed potatoes, heat the milk and butter before adding to the potatoes. Liquids will absorb better into the cooked potato if all ingredients are warm. Then, mash just until done, and avoid overmixing.

Watch how to Make Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes

Mashed Red Potatoes

These creamy garlic mashed potatoes are so good, you can serve them plain—no butter or gravy is needed. This is one of our favorite red potato recipes. —Valerie Mitchell, Olathe, Kansas
Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time

Prep/Total Time: 30 min.


6 servings


  • 8 medium red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk, warmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
  2. Drain well. Add the butter, milk and salt; mash. Stir in cheese.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 190 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 275mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 4g fiber), 8g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fat.