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How To Make Mashed Potatoes

posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetables and Beans, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
difficulty rating

I was surprised to hear one of the trainers at my gym say that he prefers instant mashed potatoes from a box rather than the real thing! I thought to myself – he needs a few tips on how to make perfect (real) mashed potatoes!


At the grocery store, you will notice that there is an incredible variety of potatoes to choose from. There are usually signs above the potatoes that will tell you which ones are great for baking versus which ones are better for mashing. If there are no signs, just ask someone who works in the Produce section for some guidance.

To make 4-6 servings of mashed potatoes you will need approximately:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • ½ to ¾ cup of milk
  • Salt and pepper (to your taste)
  • 2-6 tablespoons of butter

You can make mashed potatoes in just a few easy steps.

Step 1: Wash the potatoes


Step 2: Peel the potatoes


Step 3: Cut the potatoes into 1 ½ inch chunks


Step 4: Put the potatoes in sauce pan and cover with water

(adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the water is optional)


Step 5: Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Simmer 20 minutes


Step 6: Drain the potatoes


Step 7: Add milk, butter, salt and pepper


Step 8: Start mashing!


Keep mashing until the potatoes are creamy and lump free.  You can garnish your mashed potatoes with some chopped parsley if you like.


Aaahhhh! Perfection

The Equipment you’ll need:

  • Sauce pan with a cover
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Knife
  • Potato masher
  • Timer
  • Colander (optional)

Tempted as you might be to try using a blender or a food processor to mash potatoes…DON’T! Believe me, years ago I tried that. You end up with a gluey, uneatable, awful mess. If you are mashing for a crowd, an electric hand mixer will work beautifully!

Here are just a few more ways to cook potatoes from

Potatoes – Baked Potato with Salsa

Potatoes – Microwave Baked

Potatoes – Microwave Baked (video)

Potatoes – Oven Baked

Potatoes – Roasted

Potatoes – Sweet Potato Casserole

Potatoes, How to Choose and Use


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will said:

my grandma used a foodmill, which provides the best texture that I have come across. She also added some milk, and the best part, nutmeg.

nutmeg flavor in mashed potatoes turns it from mashed potatoes into pure unmitigated comfort food.

Jon Sacker said:

One tip I got relates to washing up your utensils after mashing potatoes.

The thing is that potatoes are very starchy and if you rinse them in hot water, the starch sets like glue. However, if you rinse off the worst of the mash before in old water before you wash your things it all comes of beautifully.

I got this tip from one of my favorite food writers, Jeffrey Steingarten, in his book “the Man who Ate Everything” – a great, fun read for foodie obsessives!!

Kathy Maister said:

Will, when I was a child, my mom always mashed potatoes using a food mill. They always came out creamy and smooth and delicious. I was just reading a catalogue that had for sale, the exact same food mill my mom used. The price was $79. Yikes! That’s a lot of money for someone just starting out!

Nutmeg and potatoes….heaven!

Jon, thanks for the tip! I am going to give that a try!

Ken said:

To make the mashed potatoes more tastier add a small finely chopped when mashing. I always get comments when I serve this to guests.

julien said:

Ken – a small finely chopped WHAT?

Ken said:

Oops, I missed out “a small finely chopped onion” to add to mashed potatoes.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Ken! I’m not a big fan of garlic in mashed potatoes, but a finely chopped onion sounds great!

bella said:

i’m just thinking of making mashed potatoes, but don’t know how, then i found this site and suddenly it feels very easy! i’ll try it, thanks!

Kathy Maister said:

Good Luck Bella! I’m sure you will do just fine!

obethx said:

‘Step 2 Peeling the Potatoes’ can be skipped.

But done after ‘Step 6 Drain the potatoes’.

The skin can be peeled right off without any tools, just your hands, but becareful of the HOT potatoes.

Ryvenna Lewis said:

I LOVE adding a bit of fried, chopped onions to my mashed potatoes.

Kathy Maister said:

Obethx I have such difficulty peeling potatoes that way! My fingers always get burnt! I do often leave on the skins and smash the spuds-skin and all…delicious!

Ryvenna, I’m with you, fried onions are great! (Carmelized even better!)

JB said:

My Top Tip:

Mash the potatoes as much as possible BEFORE adding butter and milk. Try it out.

Kathy Maister said:

JB, that is a very good tip! Thanks!

Riley said:

Frying the onions with a bit of bacon also adds a nice flavor

Kathy Maister said:

Bacon makes just about everything better! :)

Weezy said:

When we have mashed potatoes,I always put a teaspoon of salt when I cook them,but while mashing them,I add Mrs. Dash’s Table Blend(the one with the dark green lid). Also,sometimes,I add Mrs. Dash’s original(yellow lid),along with the Table Blend. Weezy

Kathy Maister said:

Great tip Weezy! Adding flavored salt to food really gives it quite a zing! I use it when I am Roasting a Chicken and it’s great!

Sean said:

I like cooking but don’t know much about it. step 4 said salt was optional. what does it do?

Kathy Maister said:

Adds flavor, that’s it!

Unless you are on a diet that restricts your salt intake, I would add it!

Elisabeth from Amsterdam said:

Hey Kathy,

My mom tought me to peel off the potatoes’ skin, without burning my hands, while sticking a fork in them and holding on to the fork instead of getting blisters ;-)))

(Btw, keep going with this great website!!)

Kathy Maister said:


I always peel my potatoes before I cook them so I don’t have to worry about burning my fingers!

BTW – Three (of the four) of my most favorite museums in the world are in Holland –

The Van Gogh Museum

The Rijks Museum

Museum Van Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht

There is just one more at the top of my list –

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Melanie said:

Any idea or estimate as to how much milk and butter?

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Melanie,
At the top and bottom of every recipe post there is a button for a printable versions of the recipe.


6 medium potatoes
1/2 cup of milk
4 tablespoons of butter
1 dash of salt and pepper


Elisabeth from Amsterdam said:

Hi Kathy,

My absolute favourite museums are in Amsterdam, as well! Great to hear you know them!

(BTW made the breadcrumbs yesterday and the chicken parmesan…my kids wanted to eat it again today! Sorry, wrong tread but thought it was easier to post it here!)

grtz, ELisabeth

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Elizabeth –

We (my husband and I) LOVE your country! (My husband has written many business books, all of which have been translated into Dutch!) :-)

Delighted to hear about the chicken parm!


Leila said:

Hey Kathy! I’ve been going through the website and noticed there are a ton of college students just learning to cook! Add me to the list! Is there a difference between using the potatoe you have in your pictures or using red potatoes? Should they be cooked differently? Also, I know you don’t like garlic, but how should I add it if I want to make garlic mashed potatoes? Thank you!

Kathy Maister said:

The easiest way is to just added the peeled garlic to the potatoes and cook them all at once and then mash them.

There are thousands of different recipes for garlic mash. Here are just a few links:

Holiday Kitchen video - this one uses garlic flavored soft cheese.
Healthy Garlic Mashed potatoes from the Mayo Clinic
Alton Brown

psyam said:

Normally I make great mashed potatoes, no problem. Tonight they came out like glue, no clue what I did wrong. I remember that happening once several years ago too. Any clues?

startcooking said:

Sometimes over beating causes the mashed potatoes to get “gluey”.

Lois said:

I like your potato masher. It seems compact and that it will not scratch nonstick pot. Would you please tell me where you bought and brand?

startcooking said:

Hi Lois, That potato masher is decades old and I don’t even remember where it came from! I think it was part of a set. Potato mashers tend to last forever so be sure to pick out one that you really like!

Robert said:

Hi Guys and Gals,

Am I the only person who uses a Potatoe Ricer? Is there a reason I shouldn’t?

startcooking said:

Hi Robert,

I have a potato rice which I do not use very often. I find it just takes a lot longer to get the job done with a ricer.
Personally I like mashing potatoes by hand with a masher. If I am mashing lots of spuds, then a hand mixer works beautifully.

Each to his own!

Robert said:


What I am trying to do is prepare a fairly large amount of potatoes for fridge storage and use over three or four days.

I never thought of the hand mixer idea, will give it a try. Actually I have a mixer, would that do?

startcooking said:

Yes, a mixer will work just fine!

You can reheat the potatoes in the microwave, just be sure to give them a good stir to fluff them up.

My sister in law freezes leftover mashed potatoes, in serving size portions. I have yet to try freezing the leftovers as my husband LOVES mashed potatoes and there is rarely any leftovers!

Shanna said:

Just made a small batch for myself using my mini food chopper. (I don’t have a mixer or a masher.) I left the skin on, because it’s healthier and less wasteful. And because I just really hate peeling things. And I put a little garlic and onion seasoning in for extra flavor.

Also, I just found your site recently, and I love it!! Everything is so helpful. And I’m especially impressed by your videos. I really love the artistic style of them.

startcooking said:

Welcome Shanna!
Generally speaking, mashed potatoes made in a food processor turn put really gluey. I’m glad yours turned out well using your mini food chopper.

McChic said:

This is fun! I always like to learn more about cooking. When potatoes have been in storage for most of the year, and are soft already, they can turn gluey when mashed correctly otherwise, and right when you have guests, too! Also some of my friends are adding cream cheese for a really rich flavor. Do you have tutoring for gravy too?

startcooking said:


Sour cream, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and marcarpone cheese are just a few of the added extras you can mash into potatoes to make them seriously rich and creamy.

(I can’t imagine potatoes lasting for a year in a cold storage cellar!!!!)


Lacey Johnson said:

I have made mashed potatos a thousand times but I still can never make them without lumps! Does anyone have any suggestions?

startcooking said:

Hi Lacey,
Try cooking them a bit longer. Mashing potatoes with a small electric hand mixer will also yield very smooth and creamy mashed potatoes. Be sure never to try and mash potatoes with a blender or a food processor as they will turn very gluey.
Good luck!

Angel19 said:


Thank you so much for this website! I have been trying to find out how to cook the basics and you’ve put everything into one very convenient site with pictures and video. Doesn’t get much better than that!

I am one of those that was never interested in learning to cook as a child or teen, and now as a young adult, I have realized that I need to be able to cook dinner for my family. I’m going to try these mashed potatoes tonight!

Thanks again!

startcooking said:

Welcome Angel19 to my web site! I wish you the very best of luck developing your cooking skills.

PS I hope the mashed potatoes were a success!

Cindy said:

Great basic recipe. Thank you for the info.

Cadie said:


I’ve just started cooking and thanks to you’re easy to read website I’m begining to know how to make more than Kraft Mac and Cheese

Thank you so much!

weezy1c said:

I have a question. I came across a recipe for microwave mashed potatoes,where you cook the potatoes in the microwave.I did just that,followed the recipe to a “T” but they came out gluey and like paste. My question is what did I do wrong? I cooked them for 10 minutes(like the recipe calls for). I put 1/4 c. melted butter and 1/4 c. milk(heated) just the way yhe recipe calls for.I burnt my fingers peeling them,(but I grabbed a clean rubber glove,so that stopped),but I transfered the potatoes to a pot and mashed them the way I always did.I never had gluey or pastey potatoes before. Help!!!!!


startcooking said:

Perfect mashed potatoes can be tricky. Over mashing is usually what can cause potatoes to get gluey.
(BTW – Using a blender or a food processor is a sure way to ruin mashed potatoes!)

You might want to try a different type of potato for the macro wave version mashed potatoes or just go back to my tried and true method – wash, peel, cut, boil, simmer drain and then mash!


startcooking said:

Good Luck Cadie and Happy Cooking!

weezy1c said:

Thanks for the tip.I wanted to try the microwave method for a long time.I think the tried and true way(in the long run) was faster and better. Weezy

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