How to Cook Mashed Potatoes

Most cooks feel confident they know how to cook mashed potatoes. It's simple: just boil up some potatoes and mash them with butter, milk, and a little salt and pepper, right? Sure, that will work, but there's so much more you can do to punch up the flavor! By adding a few extra ingredients to the basic mashed potato recipe, you can make potatoes that go from everyday to gourmet with little effort. Classic mashed potatoes, a perfect vehicle for holding rich gravy, may be what you want with meatloaf, turkey or roast chicken. But for grilled pork chops, steak, lamb or a fish dish, one of the variations that follow might make an even better choice. Even George Washington loved his mashed potatoes: A recipe for garlic mashed potatoes is included in Martha Washington's cookbook, Booke of Cookery.
Hi. I'm Miranda with and, today, I'm gonna show you how to make Mashed Potatoes. Now, this simple side dish is such a classic and such a favorite, and as you'll see, really, really easy to do. So I have all of our ingredients laid out here. We're starting with 1-1/2 pounds of baking potatoes such as russet or Yukon gold and they have been washed, peeled, and quartered. I have them right here. We're gonna use 3 to 5 tablespoons of milk. I've used 5 just because I like my mashed potatoes to be nice and creamy. We also have 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. We have a half of a teaspoon of salt and then just a little pinch of pepper that we're gonna use over here to taste. So, I've got water in this medium saucepan over here and it's already started to-- to heat. I'm going to add my potatoes right now and then I'm gonna bring them to a boil, and we're gonna let this boil covered for about 20 to 25 minutes until our potatoes are nice and tender and ready to mash. Also gonna add our salt in now. We're gonna salt the water. Pop this on, and now we're going to let it boil for 20 to 25 minutes and we'll check it. You can always do the fork test: insert a fork to see if it's tender. If it is, you know you're ready to go. It's been 20 minutes and our potatoes are nice and soft, so I've drained them and put them into this bowl because I'm gonna mix everything together, so I'm using a potato masher today but you could also use a hand mixer. I would caution against ever putting it in a blender or a food processor, or even using your hand mixer on too high. Potatoes are so high in starch that they can actually become like gluey really, really quickly. You can't overprocess a potato, so just keep that in mind. So when you're working with a small amount like this, I find that a potato masher works just fine. So we're just gonna start and just kind of break it up a little bit, mash, mash, mash. This doesn't have to be perfect yet. We're just starting-- starting the mashing process. And now we're gonna add in the butter, so let's pop our butter in here, and you'll definitely wanna make sure that you're doing this, you know, right after the potatoes have been drained because, you know, obviously, the heat and the steam from the potatoes are-- was going to melt our butter here, and now it's time to add in a little bit more salt and pepper. This is to taste. You remember that we boiled our potatoes using the salted water and so now this is just to taste. I happen to like my mashed potatoes with quite a bit of salt, but that's different for everyone, so you just do however much you like. Just remember that you could always add more but you can't take any out so maybe don't be too heavy-handed if you're not sure what your preference is yet. And just mix, mix, mix. So it's starting to get nice and light and fluffy so we can add in the milk. Now, a note about milk. You wanna make sure that you use-- not cold milk. If you can use at least room temperature or warm milk, that's better. If you use cold milk, it will react with the starch and also give you kind of that glue difficult texture. I've learned that the hard way, a long time ago, so definitely you wanna use some-- some warm milk or room temperature if you can. It's just a little trick to make it a bit easier for you. So we're just gonna add it in, in sections so I'm just gonna do kind of half right now, just drizzle, and mash it up, and then the remaining little bit, and once you have this recipe down, you'll be able to customize it to your, you know, heart's content. You could add in pesto. You could do roasted garlic. You can even add salsa into mashed potatoes. There are so many things, but once you have this recipe down, you are good to go. There you go, creamy, delicious, the perfect quintessential side dish, that's how you make Basic Mashed Potatoes. Thanks for watching, and for more great recipes and savings, visit us at

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2  pounds baking potatoes (such as russet or Yukon gold), peeled and quartered
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 2   tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 - 5   tablespoons milk
  •  Salt
  •  Black pepper
  •  Butter or margarine (optional)

Step By Step

In a medium saucepan cook potatoes and the 1/2 teaspoon salt, covered, in enough boiling water to cover for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed. Add butter. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Gradually beat in enough milk to make mixture light and fluffy. If desired, serve with butter.
Makes 4 servings.

  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Prepare as above, except add 4 peeled garlic cloves to water while cooking potatoes and substitute 2 tablespoons olive oil for the butter.
    Per 3/4 cup: 171 cal., 7 g total fat (1 g sat. fat),1 mg chol., 303 mg sodium, 24 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 3 g pro.
    Daily Values: 32% vit. C, 3% calcium, 6% iron.
    Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 1 Fat
  • Pesto Mashed Potatoes: Prepare as above, except add 2 tablespoons purchased pesto along with the butter.
    Per 3/4 cup: 212 cal., 11 g total fat (4 g sat. fat),17 mg chol., 402 mg sodium, 25 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 4 g pro.
    Daily Values: 4% vit. A, 30% vit. C, 2% calcium, 5% iron.
    Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 2 Fat
  • Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes: Prepare as above, except add 1/2 cup dairy sour cream with the butter. Stir 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives into the potatoes just before serving. If desired, sprinkle with additional snipped fresh chives.
    Per 3/4 cup: 209 cal., 11 g total fat (7 g sat. fat), 27 mg chol., 356 mg sodium, 25 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 4 g pro.
    Daily Values: 8% vit. A, 32% vit. C, 5% calcium, 5% iron.
    Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 2 Fat
  • Cheesy Chipotle Potatoes: Prepare as above, except stir 1/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces) and 1 teaspoon finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce into potatoes before serving.
    Per 3/4 cup: 215 cal., 11 g total fat (7 g sat. fat), 31 mg chol., 437 mg sodium, 24 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 7 g pro.
    Daily Values: 7% vit. A, 30% vit. C, 13% calcium, 6% iron.
    Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 1/2 High Fat Meat 2 Fat
Learning how to cook mashed potatoes that are fluffy and light is a skill you'll be happy you have. With or without the added ingredients, mashed potatoes are one of the best-loved foods in America.
Note: Although russet or Yukon gold potatoes are best for mashing, all-purpose potatoes can also be used with excellent results.

nutrition information

Per Serving: cal. (kcal) 157, Fat, total (g) 6, chol. (mg) 16, sat. fat (g) 4, carb. (g) 23, Monounsaturated fat (g) 2, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 0, fiber (g) 2, sugar (g) 3, pro. (g) 3, vit. A (IU) 194.36, vit. C (mg) 17.71, Thiamin (mg) 0.09, Riboflavin (mg) 0.07, Niacin (mg) 1.78, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0.33, Folate (g) 12.1, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (g) 0.06, sodium (mg) 344, Potassium (mg) 643, calcium (mg) 20.19, iron (mg) 0.9, Starch () 1.5, Fat () 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
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