These basic mashed potatoes are easy to make and just as easy to customize - be sure to check out the variations at the end of the recipe. Note that this recipe doubles or triples beautifully in case you have a full table; cut it in half for smaller gatherings. Learn more about making perfect mashed potatoes with these tips and explanations.
- 2 1/2 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup whole milk, half-and-half, or cream
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
- Scrub the potatoes clean, put them in a large pot, and cover them with cool water.
- Bring to a boil, add the salt and cook, adjusting the heat to maintain a steady low boil, until the potatoes are tender all the way through, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, warm the milk or cream in a small saucepan or in a microwave. Put the warmed milk or cream in a large bowl. Cut up the butter into small pieces and add them to the warm cream or milk.
- Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot over low heat. Cook, shaking the pot frequently, to dry the potatoes out a bit. Less moisture in the potatoes will result in fluffier potatoes at the end.
- If you are lucky enough to own a ricer (and for about $15, I recommend you put yourself in this lucky position, if at all possible. You can find a potato ricer here), put one of the potatoes in the ricer and press into the bowl with the warmed milk or cream and butter. Lump-free mashed potato will be in the bowl and the potato skin will be in the ricer. Repeat with remaining potatoes and mix thoroughly with the milk and butter in the bottom of the bowl.
- If you don't have a ricer, use an oven mitt to hold a potato and a paring knife to scrape off its skin. Put the peeled potato in the bowl with the milk or cream and butter. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. Use a potato masher or large fork to mash the potatoes with the milk and butter until they are as smooth as possible. Some people like to use an electric mixer to do this. If you choose that method, be careful not to over-mix the potatoes since they can become a bit gluey if overworked.
- Taste the mashed potatoes and add salt (and pepper, if you like) to taste. Serve hot or at least warm.
Tangy: Use sour cream or crème fraîche in place of the milk or cream
Light: Use about 2/3 cup buttermilk in place of the butter and milk
Garlicky: Peel a head of garlic cloves, wrap them in foil with a drizzle of olive oil, bake until tender and mild - about 30 minutes, and mash with the potatoes
Herbal: Add fresh sage or thyme leaves to the milk or cream when you warm it - take out the leaves for less flavor, or mash them with the potatoes for more herbal essence