How to make perfect mashed potatoes
If you’re a beginner cook, a good mashed potato recipe is one of the first things you should learn! The ultimate comfort food. Here’s how to make perfect mashed potatoes.
Ahhhh… mashed potatoes. Is there any better comfort food on the planet?! Maybe cheesy pasta… but it’s a close one, and I think mashed potatoes might just come out on top – especially if they’re drenched in gravy! If you’re a bit of a novice cook, here’s how to make perfect mashed potatoes.
How to make mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are easy to make – I’m sure most of us have made them at least once in our lives. Just cook your potatoes, and mash them up. It’s pretty straightforward.
But if you want to take your mashed potatoes from good to great, there are plenty of other things that you might want to consider!
Just follow this easy guide and you’ll be making perfect mashed potatoes every time!
What type of potato should you use to make mashed potatoes?
You can use any type of potato to make mashed potatoes, but some varieties will give a better end result than others.
In the UK, bags of potatoes are often labelled with what they’re best for (roast potatoes, baked potatoes, etc.), so if in doubt, just check the packet and choose one that says they’re great for mashing.
Otherwise, fluffy and floury potatoes like Maris Piper and King Edward potatoes are great for perfect mashed potatoes. I used Maris Pipers.
Do you need to peel potatoes to make mashed potatoes?
The short answer: Yes! Peel your potatoes when making mash.
The longer answer: Honestly, if I’m just cooking for my family and I’m feeling lazy, I often don’t peel my potatoes for mash. I don’t mind lumpy mashed potatoes, and there are loads of nutrients in the skin. Plus, one less job to do in the kitchen is always a bonus.
But if you want to make perfect mashed potatoes – if you want smooth, creamy mash that makes you sigh when you take that first bite – then yes. Peel them! That way your mash will be beautifully smooth and creamy.
How big should you cut potatoes for mashing?
Once you’ve peeled your potatoes, cut them into even-sized pieces. The exact size isn’t super important, as long as you try to make sure they’re all around the same size, so they cook evenly.
You don’t want to leave the pieces of potato too huge, though – definitely don’t boil the potatoes whole! – otherwise the edges will be disintegrating while the middles are still hard. Aim for something like two-bite pieces.
How long should you cook potatoes for to make mashed potatoes?
Pop your chopped potatoes in a pan with plenty of water to boil. I like to crumble a vegetable stock cube into the water – it will, of course, be drained away later, but it’s an easy way to make those potatoes extra tasty as they absorb the liquid.
Floury potatoes like Maris Pipers can break down a bit if you boil them for too long, which can lead to wet and soggy mashed potatoes (i.e. not perfect!).
But equally, you don’t want undercooked potatoes either, as that will lead to lumps!
So, keep an eye on your potatoes as they’re cooking. As soon as they’re soft all the way to the middle (when you can poke them with a sharp knife and there’s no resistance), take them off the heat and drain away the liquid.
What to add to mashed potatoes
I usually add four things to my mashed potatoes:
- black pepper
The quantities of each will depend on your preference, so just keep adding until your mash looks and tastes how you like it. Personally I like a good glug of milk, to make the mashed potatoes fairly creamy, plus plenty of butter for flavour!
And don’t forget heaps of salt and pepper, since potatoes always seem to need a lot!
Just add it all to the hot potatoes, and give it a really thorough mashing. If you have a ricer, that’s ideal for making lump-free mash, but you can do the same with a regular masher – it just takes a little longer!
Extra add-ins for mashed potatoes
If you want posh mashed potatoes, with extra add-ins, try adding some of these (not all of them at the same time!):
- any type of grated cheese (mix it in until it melts)
- finely chopped fresh herbs
- finely chopped spring onions
- frozen vegetables (boil them with the potatoes to make very veggie mashed potato!)
- mashed roasted garlic
- a dollop of pesto, chipotle paste, hummus, etc.
- whatever spices you like (Indian-style spices, smoked paprika, nutmeg, etc.)
- other root vegetables (boil them up with the potatoes)
- sautéed onions or leeks
- sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise
Can you make vegan mashed potatoes?
Of course! I’ve never made vegan mashed potatoes myself, as I’ve never had a reason to, so I asked in my Facebook group Easy Vegetarian Dinners to find out the best vegan ingredients to use.
The general consensus was that oat milk is best for making vegan mashed potatoes, plus some kind of dairy-free spread or margarine. Other suggestions included soy milk, unsweetened almond milk, and olive oil.
You can see all the ideas on the thread here (you’ll need to join the group first!).
How to serve mashed potatoes
Okay, so you’ve made your perfect mashed potatoes. It’s smooth and creamy, with a beautiful buttery flavour. Now, what do you do with it? Here are a few ideas for how to serve it.
- with sausages and green veg, for British-style bangers and mash
- with toad-in-the-hole (another British dish – sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter!)
- alongside a rich vegetarian casserole, like my mushroom bourguignon or savoury mince
- with pie and gravy
Can you reheat mashed potatoes?
Yes! Mashed potatoes can be made in advance if needed, so there’s no harm in cooking an extra big batch, and using up any leftovers another day – either as more plain mash, or in a totally different way (see below!).
To reheat mashed potatoes, you can either use the microwave (my preferred method), or place it back in a pan on the stove, stirring it constantly and only using a low heat.
Mashed potatoes can dry out a bit when they’re reheated, so it’s a good idea to add an extra dash of milk and/or some more butter when you reheat the mash, to make sure it tastes as good as new. This will also help to stop the mash from sticking if you use the stovetop method.
What to do with leftover mashed potatoes
It’s always tempting to go back for an extra dollop of mashed potato, especially when it’s this good, but if you do have any left over, it’s easy to reincarnate it into something totally different! Such as:
- add a spoonful of flour and transform the mash into homemade gnocchi!
- add some extra veg and make fried potato cakes (or stuffed potato cakes!)
- add some veggie stock and other vegetables to make potato soup
- spread it on top of a vegetarian casserole, and bake it to make a shepherd’s pie
- cook it in a waffle maker to make homemade potato waffles!
- make cheese and onion crisp bakes
- use it to make homity pie (cheesy leek and potato pie) or a cheese and onion plait
And there you have it! Everything you need to know about how to make perfect mashed potatoes. If you have any other favourite tips or tricks, let me know in the comments!
Perfect mashed potatoes
- 1 kg potatoes
- 1 vegetable stock cube (optional)
- 50 g (3 tbsp) butter
- 200 ml (~ 3/4 cup) milk
- Black pepper
- Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut them into evenly sized pieces. Place them in a large pan of water, and bring to the boil – I like to crumble in a vegetable stock cube for extra flavour.
- Cook for around 20 minutes, until the potatoes are just soft. The exact time will depend on how big you cut your potatoes, so just check them every few minutes, and when they’re soft enough that you can poke them with a sharp knife with no resistance, drain them.
- While the boiled potatoes are still hot, add the butter and milk, along with plenty of salt and pepper. Mash very thoroughly with a potato masher (or use a ricer, if you have one), until no lumps remain. You can now add more milk, butter, salt or pepper, as desired.