How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Learn how to make perfect mashed potatoes with this step-by-step guide and some tips from Cooking Channel.

Six Secrets to Amazing Mashed Potatoes

There are many ways to "skin a potato," but when it comes to making the perfect mash, these simple steps produce really good results.

1. Gentleness Equals Tenderness

First, remember that no matter what tool you use to mash potatoes, use it with some precision.

2. Warm the Dairy

Gently warming the milk or cream before adding it will help it incorporate better, avoiding a "gummy" texture and also keeping everything warm.

3. Chunks of Butter

Cut the butter into small cubes and add a little at a time, allowing each to melt before adding the next batch.

4. Cold Water

Always start with cold water to ensure even cooking. Place the potatoes in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.

5. Type Matters

Russet potatoes are high in starch and low in moisture, so they absorb butter and cream while staying light and fluffy. Yukon Gold potatoes have a more delicate flavor and also mash well, but if you're feeling adventuresome, try purple.

6. Size Matters, Too

Be sure to use potatoes of similar size, or cut them into uniform chunks to help them cook evenly. (Don't cut them too small or they will absorb too much water.)

To Peel or Not to Peel?

Cooking potatoes whole with their skins on will yield superior taste (and makes your job a lot easier). The peel prevents the potato from getting water-logged, imparts flavor into the cooking liquid and makes it easy to pull off the skins after they are boiled and cooled. For a delicious (and nutritious!) twist, mash them with the skins on. Try putting your whole cooked potatoes in a food mill and save your energy for something else. Instead of peeling and mashing by hand, place the whole potato in the food mill, which removes and discards the skin and creates a perfect texture for the addition of other ingredients.

Get Perfect Texture

A meat grinder is a great way to mash large amounts of potatoes in a short amount of time. Pull that meat grinder or grinding attachment from the back of your cabinet and you won't have to worry about how much your arm will hurt mashing 10 pounds.

This tool breaks the potato into small pieces, grinds it, and produces a light and fluffy texture with a few little lumps here and there to remind you that your mash is real. If you don't have a grinder, try a food mill or ricer.

The Beauty of Potato-Cooking Liquid

While cream and butter are essential for fluffy mashed potatoes, adding some of the cooking liquid from the boiled potatoes will give your dish a flavorful boost and help it achieve a velvety texture. It is hard to think you can make something as perfect as mashed potatoes even better, however, tap into your inner explorer and try adding different liquids.

Lots of Liquid Add-Ins

There are plenty of flavorful liquid add-ins for achieving the mashed potato texture you like best:

- Half and half: rich and creamy
- Low-fat milk: if you are watching your diet
- Buttermilk: a tangy, lower-fat alternative to milk or cream
- Chicken or vegetable broth: a flavorful twist
- Vinegar: adds a powerful punch to potatoes
- Olive Oil: silky, smooth and herby

Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm

When time is limited and mashed potatoes are a "must-have" on the menu (which is always), keep the prepared potatoes warm by placing them in a heat-resistant bowl, covering, then setting it over a pot of simmering water. The potatoes should still be tasty 2 to 3 hours later. If stovetop space is limited, try a slow cooker or Crock-Pot, set on low.

How to Make the Most of Leftover Mashed Potatoes

You never want to run out of mashed potatoes at dinner, which usually means preparing extra and having tons of leftovers. There are more ways to enjoy leftover mashes than spoon-in-bowl: Try them formed into cakes and pan-fried, stirred into soup as a thickener or seasoned and stuffed into small piquillo peppers.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato Samosas with Ginger-Cucumber Raita

Now You Freeze It, Now You Don't

You've made too much and are thinking, "They freeze mashed potatoes in TV dinners, so can't I do it, too?" If you really have to freeze leftovers, you can. Freezing mashed potatoes affects their texture, but they can still be used alone or in other leftover recipes. Adding a small amount of white vinegar or concentrated lemon juice before freezing will keep them looking good.