Mashed potatoes are one of the most popular and versatile side dishes in the world. They are creamy, fluffy, and comforting, and they go well with almost any main course. Learn to make mashed potatoes with basic or customized ingredients in four steps, along with tips for enhancement. In addition to adding seasonings, toppings, and mix-ins, you can customize them with just a few simple ingredients. Follow this guide and enjoy your homemade mashed potatoes:
Step 1: Choose and Prepare the Potatoes
The first step to making simple mashed potatoes is to choose the right type of potatoes. There are many varieties of potatoes, but not all of them are suitable for mashing. The best potatoes for mashed potatoes are starchy ones, such as russet, Idaho, or Yukon gold.
High-starch, low-moisture potatoes absorb more liquid, becoming light and fluffy when mashed.
Avoid waxy potatoes like red, new, or fingerling, as their low starch and high moisture content can lead to a gummy texture when mashed.
To prepare the potatoes, you will need to peel them and cut them into equal-sized pieces. This will ensure that they cook evenly and quickly.
You can use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife to peel the potatoes, and a chef’s knife or a potato cutter to cut them. The ideal size for the potato pieces is about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm).
You can also leave the skins on if you prefer a more rustic texture and flavor, or if you want to save some time and nutrients.
Step 2: Cook the Potatoes
The second step to making simple mashed potatoes is to cook the potatoes until they are soft and tender. You can do this by boiling, steaming, or microwaving them. Here are the instructions for each method:
This is the most common and traditional method of cooking potatoes for mashing. To boil the potatoes, you will need a large pot, water, and salt.
Fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch (2.5 cm).
Add a generous pinch of salt to the water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and return them to the pot.
This is a faster and healthier method of cooking potatoes for mashing. To steam the potatoes, you will need a steamer basket, a pot, water, and salt.
Fill the pot with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Place the steamer basket over the pot and add the potatoes to the basket.
Sprinkle some salt over the potatoes and cover the pot with a lid. Steam the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.
This is the quickest and easiest method of cooking potatoes for mashing. To microwave the potatoes, you will need a microwave-safe bowl, water, and salt.
Place the potatoes in the bowl and add enough water to barely cover them. Add a pinch of salt to the water and stir to dissolve.
Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or a plate and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes well and return them to the bowl.
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Step 3: Mash the Potatoes
The third step to making simple mashed potatoes is to mash the potatoes until they are smooth and creamy. You can do this by using a potato masher, a ricer, a food mill, or a mixer. Here are the pros and cons of each tool:
This is a handheld tool that has a metal or plastic head with holes or slots. It is the most basic and affordable tool for mashing potatoes, and it gives you more control over the texture and consistency.
However, it can also leave some lumps and require more effort and time. To use a potato masher, simply press it down on the cooked potatoes and lift it up, repeating until you reach your desired smoothness.
You can also use a fork or a wooden spoon if you don’t have a potato masher.
This is a handheld tool that looks like a giant garlic press. It has a metal or plastic hopper with small holes and a plunger that pushes the cooked potatoes through the holes.
It is the best tool for making smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes, as it eliminates any lumps and incorporates air into the potatoes. However, it can also be more expensive and harder to clean.
To use a ricer, simply fill the hopper with the cooked potatoes and squeeze the plunger over a large bowl, repeating until you use up all the potatoes.
This tabletop tool features a bowl with small holes and a crank-operated blade that pushes cooked potatoes through the holes.. It is similar to a ricer, but it can also puree other ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables.
It’s great for smooth, fluffy mashed potatoes but can be more expensive, bulky, and harder to clean.To use a food mill, simply place it over a large bowl and add the cooked potatoes to the bowl.
Turn the crank until you use up all the potatoes.
This is an electric tool that has a metal or plastic base and a pair of beaters that rotate and mix the cooked potatoes. It is the easiest and fastest tool for mashing potatoes, as it does all the work for you.
However, it can also overmix the potatoes and make them gluey and sticky. To use a mixer, simply place the cooked potatoes in a large bowl and beat them on low speed until they are smooth and creamy.
You can also use a hand blender or a food processor if you don’t have a mixer.
Step 4: Add the Liquid and Seasonings
The fourth and final step to making simple mashed potatoes is to add the liquid and seasonings to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
Liquid and seasonings add moisture, flavor, and richness to mashed potatoes and can be adjusted to taste. The most common liquid and seasonings for mashed potatoes are:
Milk adds creaminess and sweetness to the mashed potatoes, and you can use any type of milk, such as whole, skim, or non-dairy. You can also use cream, half-and-half, or sour cream for a richer taste.
The amount of milk you need depends on the texture you want,
but a good rule of thumb is to use about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of milk for every pound (450 g) of potatoes.
You can heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave before adding it to the mashed potatoes, as this will help them stay warm and absorb the liquid better.
Butter adds richness and flavor to the mashed potatoes, and you can use salted or unsalted butter, depending on how salty you want your mashed potatoes.
You can also use margarine, oil, or vegan butter for a dairy-free option. The amount of butter you need depends on your preference,
but a good rule of thumb is to use about 2 tablespoons (28 g) of butter for every pound (450 g) of potatoes.
You can melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave before adding it to the mashed potatoes, as this will help them stay smooth and glossy.
Salt enhances the flavor of the mashed potatoes and balances the sweetness of the milk and butter.
You can use any type of salt, such as table salt, kosher salt, or sea salt, but be careful not to add too much, as you can always add more later.
The amount of salt you need depends on your taste, but a good rule of thumb is to use about 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) of salt for every pound (450 g) of potatoes.
You can also add some salt to the water when you cook the potatoes, as this will help them absorb some flavor.
Pepper adds some heat and spice to the mashed potatoes and complements the salt. You can use black pepper, white pepper, or cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want your mashed potatoes.
You can also use fresh or dried herbs, such as parsley, chives, rosemary, or thyme, for some extra flavor and color. The amount of pepper you need depends on your taste,
but a good rule of thumb is to use about 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) of pepper for every pound (450 g) of potatoes.
To add the liquid and seasonings to the mashed potatoes, simply pour them over the mashed potatoes and stir well with a wooden spoon, a spatula, or a mixer.
You can also use your hands if you don’t mind getting messy.
Taste the mashed potatoes and adjust the liquid and seasonings as needed. You can also add some cheese, bacon, garlic, onion, or any other ingredients you like to make your mashed potatoes more interesting and delicious.
Mashed potatoes are a simple and satisfying side dish that you can make with just a few ingredients and tools. They are easy to customize and pair with any main course, and they are always a hit with family and friends.