Quick & Easy Mashed Potatoes — Buttery, creamy, PERFECT mashed potatoes that rival your favorite restaurant’s version but EASY and made with just 5 ingredients!! The quintessential holiday side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a great family-friendly weeknight comfort food side dish!!
Table of Contents
- Classic Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- Ingredients for Mashed Potatoes
- How to Make Mashed Potatoes
- How Long Should You Boil Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes?
- How Can You Tell When Potatoes Are Done Boiling?
- What’s the Best Tool for Mashing Potatoes?
- Make-Ahead Instructions
- Recipe FAQs
- How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes
- How to Freeze Mashed Potatoes
- Recipe Variations to Try
- More Potato Side Dishes:
- Quick and Easy Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Classic Mashed Potatoes Recipe
If you’re a fan of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes that you thought only grandma or a five-star steakhouse could execute to perfection, I’m here to share my tips for success for how to make the best mashed potatoes.
Turns out, it’s not quite as easy as throwing some potatoes in water and then mashing them up with butter and cream in order to yield the best possible results — almost that easy, but not quite.
However, this post will guide you through what to do and not do. If you’re already a mashed potato pro, feel free to scroll down to the recipe and skip my chatter, photos, and advice.
Ingredients for Mashed Potatoes
This is the simplest ingredients list and that’s what makes them so good. Real food, simply prepared, and kept simple.
To make basic mashed potatoes from scratch, all you need are the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
What Are the Best Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes?
Mashed potato purists will say that you should use 100% Russet potatoes. The reason for this is that they are really starchy and it’s probably the most traditional.
However, it’s a nice option to mix half Russet potatoes with half Yukon Gold potatoes which are more buttery and a bit waxier. The two combined make a wonderful batch of mashed potatoes.
I’m not as big of a fan of using solely Yukon Golds without being mixed with some Russets, but you can experiment of course.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Making easy homemade mashed potatoes is a quick process that anyone can master. Just make sure to follow my advice for mashed potato success!
Let’s go over how to make basic — but perfect! — mashed potatoes:
- Cube your potatoes, put them in a large pot of cold water, drain the water once, refill with more cold water, and bring to a boil with a lid on the pot which will take about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, and allow the potatoes to rapid simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until done.
- Drain, return the potatoes to the pot, and shake them around in the pot vigorously. This will break them up a bit and will help to release excess steam and water, which you don’t want or need in your final dish.
- Set the pot over medium heat for about a minute to help cook off any of the final amount of water that was released.
- Add butter, half-and-half, salt, pepper, stir, and mash. Voila, you’re ready to dig in!
How Long Should You Boil Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes?
It will probably take about 30 minutes for them to be done, but of course it will depend on the size, type of potato, and how rapidly your water is simmering.
How Can You Tell When Potatoes Are Done Boiling?
When a fork or a dinner knife easily punctures the potatoes, they’re done. Don’t forget about them and keep them going longer!
Overboiling breaks down the potatoes, water logs them, and won’t yield the creamiest mashed potatoes. They’ll taste a little, well, watered down.
What’s the Best Tool for Mashing Potatoes?
I recommend a good old-fashioned potato masher for classic mashed potato consistency and texture. If you prefer smoother mashed potatoes with less texture, then this smooth potato masher is your ticket.
If you want them even smoother, then look for a potato ricer. It’s more work because you have to run the potatoes through it, batch by batch, and I don’t really love the consistency of mashed potatoes pureed down to baby food consistency, but some people do.
Do not use a handheld electric mixer or stand mixer to mash them. It will overmix them rapidly and you’ll be left with gummy potatoes. Not a good look for the family-favorite side dish at your holiday feast!
For make-ahead mashed potatoes, make them as written, store them airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days, and rewarm them in something like a slow cooker, Instant Pot, the microwave, or a double boiler on the stove.
However, it will take nearly as long to re-warm this very big batch of potatoes as it would to just make them from scratch the day-of, which is what I strongly recommend.
If you’re somehow trying to keep these “healthier” by including the skin or you just like the texture of the skin in your creamy batch of goodness, then you can keep them on. However, for my family and me, no skins allowed and we peel our potatoes.
It is best if you cube your potatoes into about 1 to 1.5-inch chunks and boil the chunks.
I actually use half-and-half, which is a mixture of half whole milk and half heavy cream. For us, this is the perfect middle ground.
If you want to lighten them up, you could use all whole milk or possibly a non-dairy milk if you’re trying to keep them dairy-free or vegan. You’d want something thicker in my opinion like cashew milk rather than rice milk for instance.
My recipe calls for 1.5 cups of butter per 5 pounds of potatoes. That’s 3 sticks in the US, or 24 tablespoons.
Yes! I recommend heating the half and half (or milk, if that’s what you prefer using) before mashing it into the potatoes. This will keep the mashed potatoes nice and hot until you’re ready to serve them, and the milk will also absorb better into the potatoes and not cause them to clump or become gluey.
I personally don’t do this, as I prefer to salt the simple mashed potatoes to taste once they’re cooked.
You’ll want to add the roughly cubed potatoes to a pot of cold water and bring the whole pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork.
This Easy Homemade Gravy is wonderful and I highly recommended it!
Absolutely! I adore sweet potatoes and you can follow this exact recipe and just swap in sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. I do absolutely suggest peeling the sweet potatoes.
Gluey or gummy potatoes means your basic mashed potatoes contain too much starch OR you overworked them while mashing. To avoid this, use Russet potatoes that have been covered with water and drained before being re-covered with water and boiled. This removes a bit of the starch prior to boiling the potatoes.
Also make sure to use an actual potato mashed (or ricer) to mash the potatoes and not a food processor, which will overwork the potatoes.
If your mashed potatoes seem at all dry, chances are you didn’t follow my recipe and tried getting away with less butter or half and half! Use the full amount of butter and half and half (or milk) for the creamiest mashed potatoes.
How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes
If you’d like to prep these best mashed potatoes in advance or simply wind up with leftovers, I recommend reheating them gently in a pot over low heat until warm (you may need to add a splash of milk or cream). You could also reheat larger servings in a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
How to Freeze Mashed Potatoes
Yes! Let them cool completely, then seal in a freezer bag or a freezer-safe container. These easy mashed potatoes will last up to 3 months.
When ready to enjoy, place in fridge overnight to thaw or reheat from frozen in the oven (transfer to a baking dish first).
Recipe Variations to Try
Purists would add nothing, however for those rule-breakers of us out there who want to jazz up the mashed potatoes, here are few suggestions. I would add the following items in when you’re adding in the melted butter and half-and half, with the exception of the garlic.
If you want to make these homemade mashed potatoes even better, here are some add-ins:
- A couple cloves of garlic, finely minced (for this option, cook the garlic in the saucepan with the melted butter and cream so that raw garlic taste mellows)
- Other fresh herbs you have on hand from making turkey (rosemary, sage, parsley, etc.)
- Shredded cheese such as Parmesan or sharp cheddar, or chunks of blue cheese or goat cheese
- Cooked bacon bits
Pin This Recipe
- 5 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks (or a mixture of half Russet and half Yukon Gold potatoes)
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks or 24 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half (whole milk or heavy cream may be substituted*)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Add the potatoes to a large stockpot, cover with 2 inches cold water, drain the water (removes starch), and refill with more cold water to cover by 2 inches.
- Bring to a boil over high heat with a lid on the pot which will take about 10 minutes.
- Once the water is boiling, remove the lid, and allow the potatoes to rapid simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes over medium-high heat, or until done. The potatoes are done when you can easily pierce with a fork or dinner knife. Don't overboil the potatoes once they are done.
- While the potatoes are boiling, to a separate medium saucepan, add the butter, half-and-half, and heat over medium-low heat to allow the butter to melt. Once the butter has melted, keep the saucepan over medium-low or low heat. However, you do not want this to simmer but simply keep this butter-cream mixture warm until the potatoes are done cooking and ready to mash.
- When the potatoes are done, drain the water, return the potatoes to the pot, and shake them around in the pot vigorously. This breaks them up a bit and will help to release excess steam and water, which you don’t want or need in your final dish.
- Place the pot over medium-high heat for about a minute to help cook off any of the final amount of water that was released; turn the heat off.
- Drizzle in melted butter and half-and-half mixture, add the salt, pepper, and mash to your desired consistency. For traditional mashed potatoes, I use this masher. For smoother use this smooth masher, and for ultra-smooth use this potato ricer.
- Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. I generally add more salt and pepper, but start with amounts called for and increase to your tastes. Serve immediately.
- Potatoes will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days.
*I prefer half-and-half, which is a half whole milk and half heavy creamy rather than all of one, or all of the other. However, suit your personal taste preferences. I have read of people using nondairy/vegan milk-substitutes in mashed potatoes however I have never personally tried although did write more about it in the "What Milk or Cream Is Best" section in the body of the blog post.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 401mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 6g
More Potato Side Dishes:
Bacon Cheddar Loaded Mashed Potatoes — If you like loaded baked potatoes, you’ll LOVE these mashed potatoes with bacon, cheddar cheese, butter, sour cream, and more!
Browned Butter Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes — Creamy and decadent from the herbed browned butter, these mashed potatoes are a family favorite side dish! Made in the slow cooker to free up stove and oven space.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping — This is the BEST sweet potato casserole ever!! The sweet potatoes are tender and creamy, while the streusel topping adds a delightful buttery crunch thanks to the pecans!
Parmesan and Herb Roasted Potatoes — These herb roasted potatoes are sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and are made with seasonings you already have on hand. So easy to prep, and crazy delicious!
Crispy Parmesan Ranch Roasted Potatoes – The BEST roasted potatoes you’ll ever eat!! Tender potatoes seasoned with ranch mix and topped with a CRISPY Parmesan breadcrumb topping! So DELICIOUS you don’t even need a main course!!
Honey-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey-Cinnamon Dip – The honey glaze and the creamy cinnamon dip make these potatoes irresistible!!
Honey Butter Smashed Sweet Potatoes – Soft, tender potatoes with crispy skin and the most HEAVENLY melted honey butter on top!! EASY comfort food that’s a perfect side dish anytime!!
Loaded Twice Baked Potato Casserole – Tender potatoes mixed with butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions for the ultimate in LOADED baked potatoes!