Mashed Potatoes

$2.83 recipe / $0.57 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
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Is there anything better on earth than a big bowl of buttery mashed potatoes? Wait, don’t answer that. Let’s just appreciate how amazing mashed potatoes are in their own right. And if you want to know how to make the creamiest, fluffliest, cloud-like mashed potatoes that you’ve ever had, stick with me. I’m going to show you how it’s done.

Overhead view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter.

Why Do Mashed Potatoes Get Gluey?

Two things lead to heavy, sticky, gluey mashed potatoes: too much starch and over-whipping or over-stirring. To keep these mashed potatoes light, fluffy, and cloud-like, we rinse the excess starch not once but TWICE during the process, then briefly whip the potatoes after mashing to get them extra smooth and aerated. The result is heavenly.

What Type of Potatoes to Use for Mashed Potatoes

I find that russet potatoes make the lightest and fluffiest mashed potatoes, but if you prefer something a little more dense and stick-to-your-ribs, you can go with something like a red potato or Yukon gold.

Close up side view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter.

Do I need to Peel the Potatoes?

To peel or not to peel potatoes is totally up to your personal preference. If you’re going for a super smooth and silky mashed potato, you’ll probably want to peel them first. If you want a mashed potato that is a little more rustic, feel free to leave the peels on! The peels do add a nice bit of flavor and texture, which can be fun.

How to Flavor Mashed Potatoes

The recipe below is for a really classic mashed potato, flavored only with milk, butter, salt, and pepper. But there are SO many different ingredients that you can add to mashed potatoes to give them more flavor. Here are some ideas for mashed potato add-ins:

Close up view of a scoop of mashed potatoes on a spoon.
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Mashed Potatoes

Follow these easy steps to make the smoothest, fluffiest, cloud-like mashed potatoes you've ever had! Plus ideas for more flavor add-ins.
Close up side view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter.
Servings 5 1 cup each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs. russet potatoes ($2.00)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to salt the boiling water) ($0.02)
  • 4 Tbsp butter ($0.60)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ($0.17)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Peel and dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place the diced potatoes in a colander and rinse well with cool water to remove the excess starch.
  • Place the rinsed potatoes in a pot and add fresh water until the potatoes are covered by one inch. Add ½ tsp salt to the water in the pot.
  • Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes, or until they are very tender (a fork can pierce the potato effortlessly).
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse again briefly with warm water.
  • While the potatoes are draining, add the butter and milk to the pot used to boil the potatoes. Heat them over medium until the butter has melted.
  • Add the drained potatoes back to the pot and mash with a potato masher.
  • Season the potatoes with salt and pepper (I used ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper, but if you use unsalted butter you'll probably want more salt).
  • For extra smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes, use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes until there are no lumps and they are light and cloud-like. Serve and enjoy!

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Equipment

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 6gFat: 10gSodium: 441mgFiber: 3g
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Mashed potatoes being scooped out of a bowl.

How to Make Mashed Potatoes – Step by Step Photos

Diced potatoes in a colander.

Peel and dice 2.5 lbs. of russet potatoes (roughly half of a 5 lb. bag) into 1-inch cubes. Place them in a colander and rinse with cool water to remove the excess starch.

Salt being added to a pot full of potatoes and water.

Add the potatoes to a pot and add fresh water until the potatoes are covered by one inch. Add ½ tsp salt to the water.

A fork piercing a potato from the pot.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the pot up to a boil. Continue to boil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes, or until they are very tender. If there is any firmness left in the potatoes, your mashed potatoes will not be smooth. You can test the doneness by piercing the potatoes with a fork.

Boiled potatoes in a colander after rinsing again.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse briefly with warm water.

Butter and milk in the pot, butter melting.

While the potatoes are in the colander, add 4 Tbsp butter and ½ cup whole milk to the pot that was used to boil the potatoes. Heat the butter and milk until the butter is melted.

Salt and pepper added to mashed potatoes in the pot.

Add the rinsed potatoes back to the pot and mash with a potato masher. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. I used ½ tsp salt and about ¼ tsp pepper, but if you’re using unsalted butter you may want more salt.

Potatoes being whipped in the pot with a hand mixer.

To make the potatoes extra light and fluffy, beat them with a hand mixer until no lumps remain.

Finished mashed potatoes in the pot being smoothed with a spoon.

Serve the potatoes with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Close up side view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter and a spoon.
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  1. This method has never failed me! My family now insists that I bring the mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving and Christmas because they are soooo good. I use my Instant Pot to cook the potatoes, which saves me time and stove space.

  2. To make mine fluffy, I rice them using a ricer. Love mashed taters! Butter and milk, have to add some fat to the carbs. Everything in moderation but it’s an important part of the meal.