Perfect mashed potatoes are, in my opinion, an important part of every holiday meal. Nobody likes lumpy, pasty potatoes, so I’m going to show you how to make perfect mashed potatoes!
In the great big world of side dish recipes, mashed potatoes are king. At least they are if you ask the good folks at the potato association. They say that the average American eats approximately 142 pounds of potatoes a year, and especially on Thanksgiving!
Next to making the perfect turkey or herb roasted chicken, I think carb-loaded side dishes make or break the meal. Seriously. Have you ever lifted a spoon full of mashed potatoes at Aunt Betty’s Thanksgiving table and felt like you were lifting wet concrete? Or as you slide the spoon into your mouth and suddenly feel like you’re eating wallpaper paste. Ew!
Happy Thanksgiving meal memories are not made this way, people! I’m protesting nasty tasting side dishes! I’m going to give you my tips on how to make perfect mashed potatoes. With a few simple tips and my special technique, nobody will be able to associate Thanksgiving horror stories around your food!
Perfect Mashed Potatoes, By the Numbers
According to statistics, 30 billion pounds of potatoes are grown commercially in the United States every year. That’s a lot of spuds, kids!
To determine how much mashed potatoes you’ll need to make for dinner, calculate 1/3 to 1/2 pound of potatoes for every adult person at your dinner table. When I make mashed potatoes, I always make a double batch. Why? Well, Brian eats enough for 2-3 people, PLUS I have loads of uses for leftover mashed potatoes.
What Type of Potato to Use?
The type of potato to use in your recipe depends on the type of mashed potatoes that you’re looking to eat.
Here’s a little guide to help you decide. (Ooo, did ya catch that rhyme?)
- Light and fluffy = russet potatoes
- Smashed or chunky = thin skinned potatoes, like baby reds
- Smoother, but a little bit heavier = yellow potatoes, like Yukon Gold
I normally use russet potatoes,but I got a nice selection of organic baby reds in my weekly organic produce delivery from Brewer’s Organics, so I took full advantage of having them. I love thin skinned potatoes as it is, and the taste difference with organic potatoes is something not to be missed! Sure, organic vegetables are more expensive, but I’m willing to pay a little more, because vegetables that grow under the ground, like potatoes, carrots, and beets are more susceptible to pesticide infiltration. The nature of the beast, as it were. I’d rather know that I’m getting a healthier dose of nutrients than I am of chemicals.
The perfect mashed potatoes recipe
As you’ll see below, one very important tip to keeping your potatoes light and creamy is to make sure that the butter and milk are warm. If you add cold milk to hot potatoes, it’ll cause them to seize up, turning to the consistency of paste. Over mixing potatoes gives that same, pasty result. Be gentle with those spuds, stirring as little as necessary! The more you work them, the heavier they’ll become.
My very best advice is to use a Stand Mixer ,fitted with a paddle attachment, for the initial mashing. After you’ve added the butter and milk, then switch to the whip attachment. That way you won’t have to work them for more than 20 seconds, leaving you with perfect mashed potatoes, every time.
How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- 4 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
- 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces (1/4 liquid cup) milk, any variety
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (more or less, if desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper (more or less, if desired)
- Wash, peel, and cut potatoes into quarters.
- Place potatoes into a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches, then bring to a boil over high heat. Once potatoes are fork tender (about 10-12 minutes), drain water and return to the pot for a minute to absorb excess moisture.
- While potatoes are boiling, place butter and milk into a small saucepan over medium low heat and allow butter to melt, then reduce heat to lowest setting possible to keep mixture warm.
- Mash potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or with a potato masher) to remove large lumps, but don't over mash them. Once potatoes are mashed, change to whip attachment. IF USING A POTATO MASHER, just mash potatoes half way before following the next step..
- Add 1/2 of the heated milk mixture, salt and pepper to the potatoes and use whip attachment to mix on medium high speed, just until the liquid has absorbed into the potatoes, about 10 seconds. If using a potato masher, follow the same steps, using the masher as quickly and lightly as possible to incorporate the milk mixture.
- If the potatoes appear too dry, add more of the milk mixture and mix quickly again.
- Taste and add additional seasoning, if desired.