My Dad made the best mashed potatoes. Creamy smooth, and buttery with the perfect amount of moisture. He always thinned his mashed potatoes with milk, however, I’m not a big tea drinker, I prefer coffee, so I use half & half in my creamy mashed potatoes recipe. In the USA, my favorite potatoes for mashing are Russet potatoes. High starch, low moisture potatoes that are light and fluffy when baked.
I make mashed potatoes both skin on and/or peeled, it just depends on the main course and how fussy I feel about it. I like the rustic mashed potatoes with the skin on as a side dish for stews or mashed potatoes that I add other things to, such as herbs, cheese, or smashed green peas.
If you leave the skin on for mashed potatoes, be sure to scrub the potatoes really, really well. A lot of farmers use cow manure as fertilizer, so, yeah, enough said. Scrub your potatoes well. I have a sponge with a coarse, abrasive side that I have set aside specifically for scrubbing root vegetables.
Mashed Potatoes for Two
This recipe is for two people; however, it is easily doubled, tripled, converted for 100 people. The formula for making perfect mashed potatoes is simple and straight forward. It isn’t necessary to add a lot of salt to the finished mashed potatoes, they are boiled in salted water so they should taste excellent, however, add or subtract salt to your personal taste. Just remember the gravy or other components in the meal may have a lot of salt in them as well, so go easy on the salt in mashed potatoes until the meal is fully assembled. To start my mashed potatoes recipe, I use one potato per person, the size you would use for a baked potato, then go from there.
This is my foolproof recipe for creamy mashed potatoes:
- 1-Russet potato
- 2-tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2-tablespoons half & half, or milk
- 1/4-teaspoon of salt
- 1/4-teaspoon of black pepper
Best Potatoes for Mashing
- High-Starch Potatoes: These make the best mashed potatoes. My Dad made the best mashed potatoes, and he always used the high starch Russet potatoes. Russets are a ‘floury’ potato that has low moisture content and more of a fluffy texture when cooked, making them my go-to for light, creamy, smooth mashed potatoes.
- Medium-Starch Potatoes: Yukon Gold potatoes are somewhere in between the Russet and the Red Potato having characteristics of both a waxy and a floury potato. These will produce a dense, creamy mashed potato.
- Low-Starch / Waxy Potatoes: Red Potatoes are what’s called a ‘waxy’ potato and will hold their shape when cooked, they make an interesting niche / rustic mashed potato, but not what we are looking for in this or any traditional mashed potato recipe.
How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Peel the potatoes and cut into equal size pieces, approximately 2-inches. If you choose to leave the skins on, be sure to scrub the skins very well to remove all dirt.
- Boil the potatoes in well-salted water. Anytime a recipe calls for boiling veggies, potatoes, or pasta, in salted water, it should taste like the ocean. Not enough salt and you’ll have a bland result in the end.
- Don’t over boil. You just want them to cook to the point that the tip of a knife will pierce the potato with little resistance. Over-boiling will cause the potatoes to fall apart in the water.
- Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot uncovered. Reserve some of the water in case your potatoes are too gummy and you need to thin them a little. Place them back in a hot dry pot and let them steam for a minute or two to dry out and rid the pot of excess moisture.
- Combine the butter, dairy, and other ingredients in another pot. Bring to a simmer before adding them to the hot potatoes. Never add cold ingredients to your hot potatoes.
- Mash the potatoes by hand, not with a machine. There is a lot of starch in these potatoes, and the mechanical action of a mixer or food processor releases more of the starch. This has the potential of making the finished mashed potatoes gluey and gummy. If this happens, you can rescue gummy mashed potatoes by stirring in more hot cream, stock, or the starchy water that the potatoes were boiled in. Rather than light and fluffy, they will be a lot creamier, but at least they won’t be gummy.
Here is my foolproof recipe for Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- 1/2 Pound Russet Potatoes Peeled, 1-inch dice
- 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 Cup Half & Half
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt Plus extra salt for the boiling water
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- Place diced potatoes in a small pot covered in salted water over high heat. Water should have enough salt to taste like the ocean. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook at a low boil until a knife pierces the potato easily. Approximately 20-minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot over low heat. Let the potatoes steam uncovered for about 1-minute to evaporate some of the excess moisture.
- Combine all the other ingredients in a small pot and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. (or microwave until steaming hot).
- Add the hot liquid to the potatoes and use a hand masher, mash the potatoes until smooth, about 1-minute