A warm, fluffy, creamy bowl of mashed potatoes is a must on any Thanksgiving table. Some of us like them pure with just milk, butter and a pinch of sea salt, while others brighten them up with fresh herbs and cheese.
Here, we’re sharing a basic recipe and a step-by-step guide to perfect mashed potatoes—whatever flavors you choose, this technique will achieve the ideal texture every time.
How to Make Classic Mashed Potatoes: A Step-by-Step Guide
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg.) high-starch potatoes such as russet or medium-starch potatoes such as Yukon gold
- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) milk or half-and-half, warmed
- 1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
|Prepare the potatoes
When using high-starch potatoes such as russets, consider cooking them with the skin on. High-starch potatoes have dry, absorbent flesh, which means they readily take on cooking water if they are peeled and cut up. Whether of not you peel the potatoes, scrub them with a palm brush and rinse them well.
|Mash or rice the potatoes
For chunky mashed potatoes, use a potato masher to press down on the potatoes, turning the masher a little each time and working your way around the pot as needed to break up the potatoes. For smoother mashed potatoes in no time, pass the potatoes through a ricer back into the pot. For the smoothest mashed potatoes (but more effort), run your spuds through a food mill.
|Adjust the seasonings
Taste the potatoes. If you feel they taste flat, stir in a little more salt and/or pepper, a pinch at a time. Add in mashed potato seasoning, if you like, in flavors such as truffle or four cheese. If you like creamier mashed potatoes, add a bit more milk or butter. Mix in each addition a little bit at a time and taste again until you are happy with the balance of flavors and the consistency. Stop mixing as soon as you reach the texture and flavors you like. Overmixing the potatoes will cause them to be gluey. Serves 4-6.
Variations on Classic Mashed Potatoes
Quick mashed potatoes
Cut the potatoes into 2-inch (5-cm.) chunks. Follow the directions above, but reduce the cooking time to 15-18 minutes.
Mashed potatoes with olive oil and garlic
In a small frying pan over low heat, warm 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute until the oil is infused with garlic flavor but the garlic has not browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) milk until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Stir in the olive oil-garlic mixture and set aside. Follow the directions above, replacing the milk and butter with the olive oil-garlic mixture.
Mashed potatoes with pesto
Follow the directions above. In step 5, add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) basil pesto, or more to taste, with the milk and butter.
Ready to try a new twist on traditional mashed potatoes? Consider these original recipes:
- Cheddar-Chive Mashed Potatoes
- Golden Mashed Potatoes with Leeks & Sour Cream
- Mashed Potatoes with Parsnip & Horseradish
- Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root
- Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- See all of our delicious Thanksgiving potato recipes
Tell us: What are your favorite tricks for spot-on mashed potatoes every time?