Are you ready to make the best mashed potatoes ever? This is my ultimate mashed potatoes recipe – the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving (or any day!) PS – For a full guide to everything mashed potato, check out Mashed Potatoes 101!
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Alright. Welcome to my favorite simple mashed potatoes! Are you pumped? Because I’m puuuuumped.
Today, I’m sharing my very best, super ultimate, perfect-every-time mashed potatoes recipe. If you read Mashed Potatoes 101, you know that we used this as our Master Recipe when we tested nearly 30 mashed potato recipes – and it’s a foolproof mashed potato recipe even when you make swaps, tweaks, or substitutions!
The recipe I’m sharing here has the techniques and ingredients that we’ve found make the very, very best mashed potatoes. We even shot some step-by-step photos (WOO) to make it extra easy-peasy, so you can spend less time learning a new recipe (and more time stuffing your face with mashed potatoes, because HELLOOOOOO).
Here – let me show you!
First, we start with 2 pounds of yellow potatoes (AKA butter potatoes AKA yukon gold potatoes). I like to use a kitchen scale to weigh the potatoes out. You won’t always have EXACTLY two pounds of potatoes – and that’s fine! Just get as close as you can.
If you have the option of being a little light or a little heavy as you weigh your potatoes, always go a little heavy. When you peel or trim your potatoes, you’ll lose a little bit of weight, so don’t worry if you’re a bit over (see the photo below!)
Next, peel and cut your potatoes.
Over the course of our #MashedPotatoWeek recipe testing, I found I really do prefer to peel my potatoes for mashed potatoes, especially if I’m using a potato ricer or food mill. But if you like the peels (or you’re like me 98% of the time and just too lazy to peel them) go ahead and leave them on!
When it comes to cutting the potatoes, I prefer to halve any smaller potatoes and cut any larger potatoes into quarters. You want all pieces to be roughly the same size so they cook evenly. I usually end up with pieces about 2.5″ long.
When your ‘taters are ready to go, cover them with some COLD water (more about why I do this here and in the recipe below!) and add a tablespoon of Kosher salt.
Cover the pot, put it over medium heat, and bring the water to a boil. Cook until potatoes are cooked through – you’ll be able to easily pierce them with a fork, and they’ll look something like this:
Drain your potatoes, set them aside, and pop that pot back on the stove over low heat.
Add your buttaaahhhhh, half and half, salt and pepper, and bring it all to a low simmer. Turn off the heat as soon as the simmering starts and it looks all gorgeous and swirly, then return your cooked potatoes to the pot (if you’re using a traditional potato masher or hand mixer, that is! If you’re using a potato ricer, rice the potatoes and then add them to the butter and half and half mixture. See a full breakdown of mashing methods here).
For this particular recipe, I chose to mash my potatoes with a traditional hand masher (I’ve been loving this one from OXO!) But you can mash them aaaaaaaaany way you like! Hop over to Mashed Potatoes 101 for a full comparison (with photos!) of the most popular mashing techniques.
The short version (for any ;tldr folks out there): Potato mashers, hand mixers, potato ricers, and food mills all make delicious mashed potatoes. Choose your mashing method based on your personal preference (like lumps? go masher or hand mixer. creamy with no lumps? ricer or food mill) and the equipment you already have on hand.
Also, PRO TIP: The less you handle or mash or process your potatoes, the fluffier your mashed potatoes will be (overmixing causes tough, gluey, sticky potatoes! which YUCK).
I recommend working a potato masher in a clockwise motion, trying to mash each potato only once or twice, then stirring everything together with a spoon or spatula. It keeps things a little lighter and helps preserve that ultra-creamy, ultra-fluffy mashed potato texture.
And that’s it! You’re ready to be a potato-mashin’, side-dish-conquering, hero-of-the-dinner-table mashed potato GENIUS.
For bonus points, drizzle some melted butter over your finished mashed potatoes and add a sprinkle of fresh chives, fresh cracked pepper, and sea salt. Your family and guests (and taste buds!) will thank you.
There are, of course, a bazillion other notes down in the recipe itself – and don’t forget to check Mashed Potatoes 101 or drop us a comment if you have any lingering questions!
The Ultimate Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Our best mashed potatoes! This easy recipe makes delicious, fluffy mashed potatoes perfect for Thanksgiving (or any day!)
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 35 min
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
TO BOIL THE POTATOES:
- 2 lbs. yellow potatoes (also called Butter or Yukon Gold potatoes)
- 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt (see recipe notes)
TO MASH THE POTATOES:
- 2 oz. high-quality unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold or Vermont Creamery)
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (see recipe notes)
TO GARNISH THE POTATOES:
STEP 1: PREP THE POTATOES
- Peel the potatoes (optional – I’ve grown to like peeled potatoes best! Peeling also makes it easier to use a ricer or food mill if you like)
- Cut potatoes into evenly sized, 2.5″ ish pieces – it usually works best to cut large potatoes into quarters and smaller potatoes in half.
- Place potato pieces in a pot or large saucepan and cover with COLD water (more on why I do this here!) I find 6-8 cups of water is usually plenty to cover the potatoes.
- At this point, you can move directly to Step 2 and cook the potatoes, or you can cover the potatoes and set the pot aside for a few hours until you’re ready to cook. This is a great make-ahead trick – on Thanksgiving, I always cut my potatoes first thing in the morning, then cover them with water and set them aside until I’m ready to cook them. The cold water keeps the potatoes from browning so they’re ready to go whenever you are.
STEP 2: COOK THE POTATOES
- Add 1 Tbsp. of Kosher salt to the water and potatoes. No need to stir – just throw it in there!
- Cover potatoes and place the pot on a burner over medium heat. If you’re using a glass or electric stove (or if you just want to speed the process a bit) you may want to bump the heat up to medium-high.
- Let potatoes cook until they reach a low boil, about 25-30 minutes. By the time the water boils, the potatoes are usually pretty close to being done. To check doneness, pierce potatoes with a fork: if the fork slides easily through the potato, they’re done. If they aren’t yet soft, cook 3-4 more minutes and then test again.
- When potatoes are cooked through, drain them and set aside. Return the pot to the stove and proceed to Step 3.
STEP 3: MASH THE POTATOES
- Return the empty potato pot to the stove over low heat.
- Add butter, half and half, salt, and pepper to pot and bring to a low simmer. Give everything a stir to bring it together, then turn off the heat.
- Return potatoes to pot and mash with your favorite method (see a full breakdown and comparison of mashing techniques here!) For this recipe, I used a traditional potato masher and worked through the potatoes in a clockwise circle, trying to only mash each area of the pot once or twice. One the potatoes are mashed, use a spoon or spatula to gently fold everything together. The less you process the potatoes, the better texture you’ll have!
- Taste the potatoes and add seasoning as necessary, then move on to Step 4!
STEP 4: GARNISH YOUR MASHED POTATOES (optional, but fun)
- Spoon the potatoes into a serving bowl. If you’d like to make swirls (like we did for these pictures!) use the back of a large spoon to apply light pressure and “draw” a spiral, starting from the very center and working your way outwards.
- Drizzle melted butter over potatoes and top with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, a few turns of cracked black pepper, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.
A note about salt: I use Morton Kosher Salt, which is a bit, well, saltier than some other varieties. If you’re using Diamond Kosher Salt, I recommend adding an extra 2 tsp. of salt to the cooking water and an extra 1/4-1/2 tsp. when you mash the potatoes. If you’re using regular table salt, I recommend using just 3 tsp. in the cooking water and 1/4 tsp. or so when you mash the potatoes. No matter what salt you use, make sure you taste often and adjust as needed! If you like things less salty, start with just a pinch or two, then taste and add as needed. For more info, check out Mashed Potatoes 101!
This recipe makes fluffy, airy mashed potatoes – if you like your potatoes runnier or richer, by all means add more butter and half-and-half! For roll-across-your-plate potatoes, I recommend using a potato ricer or food mill (for that silky smooth, lump-free texture!) in place of a potato masher and adding an extra 1 oz. of butter. Rice, mix, and taste the potatoes, and – if you want them richer or runnier still – add an extra splash of half and half.
If your mashed potatoes are too dry, fold in an extra pat of butter or a splash of half and half.
To add extra flavor to your mashed potatoes, try one of my favorite mix-ins (you can add these when you simmer the butter and half and half or stir them into your just-mashed potatoes):
- 2 Tbsp. chicken stock
- 2-3 Tbsp. cream cheese
- Roasted garlic
- Fresh herbs (I like chives, rosemary, parsley, and basil)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (I like parmesan, gruyere, smoked gouda, sharp white cheddar, brie, or goat cheese!) – if you add cheese, you may also want to add an extra pat of butter or splash of half and half to keep the potatoes loose and fluffy.
- 2-3 Tbsp. sour cream
Leftover mashed potatoes will keep for 5-6 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
To reheat mashed potatoes, put a pat of butter on top of cold potatoes and microwave (I like using a cover) until hot. Stir the melted butter in and serve. You can also reheat mashed potatoes in a slow cooker – put a pat of butter (or two! or three! #YOLO) on top, cover, and cook on low until warm (best for reheating larger quantities rather than single servings. I usually let the potatoes cook on low for 2-3 hours depending on when we plan to eat). If reheated potatoes are dry, gently stir in additional melted butter or a splash of half and half to loosen them up again.
Wondering why we used certain ingredients or methods in this recipe? Read all about it in Mashed Potatoes 101.
Have questions about your mashed potatoes? I cover EVERYTHING you need to know – from potato types to mashing techniques to ingredients – in Mashed Potatoes 101.
Keywords: mashed potatoes