Mashed potatoes are a must-have at many Thanksgiving feasts — often just as essential to the celebration as the turkey. We’ve compiled our best tips for mastering this favorite dish from start to finish, so you never have to worry about less-than-perfect potatoes again.
To make mashed potatoes ahead, complete the six steps below and place them in a buttered dish. Let cool, cover with foil and place in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for approximately 1 hour. Bake in a 350-degree oven, covered, for about 30 minutes or until warmed through.
Russets are the classic mashing potato because their dry, highly starchy flesh readily absorbs butter and milk. Medium-starch varieties also work well, particularly Yukon gold potatoes, which are a favorite in part for their buttery color.
Classic Mashed Potatoes
2 1/2 lb. high-starch potatoes such as russet or medium-starch potatoes such as Yukon gold
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup 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 or not you plan to peel the potatoes, scrub and rinse them well.
|Cook the potatoes
Put the potatoes in a 5-qt. pot and add water to cover them by 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the water to season the potatoes. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer the potatoes until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 25 to 30 minutes.
|Peel the potatoes
Drain the potatoes, then transfer them to a cutting board. Using the tip of a paring knife, slit the skin of each potato lengthwise to create a starting place for peeling. Working with 1 potato at a time, and using a fork to hold it steady, use tongs to peel off the skin. Put the peeled potatoes back into the empty cooking pot, cover, and set aside.
|Mash the potatoes
For smooth mashed potatoes, pass the potatoes through a potato ricer back into the pot. Alternatively, 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.
|Add the butter and milk
Place the pot with the slightly mashed potatoes over low heat. Switch to a wooden spoon and mix the butter into the potatoes. Next, pour in the warm milk, adding it in 1/4-cup increments.
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