Author’s note: It’s been a busy week. It’s that time of year plus we’ve been in Salt Lake welcoming a really cute little baby granddaughter into the world. So we pulled this article out of one of our e-cookbooks, Holiday Dinners. If you would like, get this free e-cookbook and three other holiday books here:

Free! The Holiday Dinner Collection.

 

For Thanksgiving and other traditional events at our house, we whip up a big pot of mashed potatoes. Often we load them with butter and cream cheese, add a little milk, and whip them into a light and fluffy mass.

There are three ways to make mashed potatoes: You can mash then by hand with a hand potato masher, whip them with an electric mixer, and rice them with a potato ricer. What’s the best way?

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We love the texture created by a potato ricer or a food mill. They both work on the same principle: they force mashed potatoes through a metal plate with small holes. A hand potato masher leaves a bit of texture to the potatoes with an occasional lump. The quickest way to mash potatoes is with an electric mixer. An electric mixer whips potatoes into a smooth, light, fluffy consistency.

The rap on using an electric mixer is that it makes for gooey, gluey, mashed potatoes. Entraining air into mashed potatoes does make them a little gooey but we don’t find them offensive even though we prefer riced potatoes. We often resort to the electric mixer because it is the quickest way to process a tub full of boiled potatoes.

How to Mash Potatoes

Making basic mashed potatoes is simple. Start with good quality potatoes, potatoes that are fresh and free from bruises. Choose a heavy pot that will disperse heat well and that is large enough to hold your potatoes with ample water so that it will not boil over. Your potatoes will cook quicker if you place a lid on the pot. Unless you are making skin-on mashed potatoes with red potatoes, peel your potatoes, cut them into chunks, and place them in the pot of water. If you leave your potatoes exposed to air, they will change color. Add salt to the water, about one teaspoon per gallon of water and potatoes.

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Boil your potatoes until they are tender when poked with a fork. Two pounds of potatoes boiled on medium-high heat will take about 15 minutes after boiling starts, to cook but will vary depending on the pot, the quantity of water, size of the cut potatoes, and the stove. Drain the potatoes, then put them back into the pot over VERY low heat to evaporate any excess liquid. This will dry the potatoes.

Mash your potatoes immediately. You can use a hand masher, a hand-held electric mixer, your stand-type mixer, or a potato ricer. For creamy mashed potatoes, add milk as you beat or use one of the recipes below. A good rule of thumb is to use about 2/3 cup milk for every 2 to 3 pounds of potatoes. You can use a mixture of cream and milk, if desired. Add butter or margarine to the hot, dry potatoes, keeping them over very low heat. Mash with your preferred method—by hand, with an electric mixer, or with a ricer– until the butter is melted and the potatoes are very smooth.

Many recipes call for heating the milk and melting the butter before adding to the potatoes. You can easily do so in the microwave and it will help to keep your potatoes hot. We usually don’t bother if we are beating the potatoes immediately after cooking. Place your mashed potatoes in a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve. The plastic wrap will keep them warm. After dinner, immediately refrigerate your potatoes. They will keep covered in the refrigerator for three to five days.

A Guide to 15 Different Kinds of Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes don’t have to be bland, something to pile gravy on. They can be adventuresome—anything from garlic mashed potatoes to cream cheese mashed potatoes. Here we will give you three recipes plus directions to make twelve other kinds of mashed potatoes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

Wash potatoes and boil until tender and soft. Mash them using the method that you prefer adding the butter, cheese, oregano, and garlic as you mash. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Sunday Dinner Potatoes

1/2 c. chopped onions
2 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper

Cook the chopped onions in the microwave until they are translucent and tender. Set aside. Wash potatoes and boil until tender and soft. Mash them using the method that you prefer adding the butter, cheese, and sour cream as you mash. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bacon and Cheese Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
5 slices of bacon
1/2 cup milk or cream

Fry bacon slices or cook them in the microwave. Use kitchen shears to snip the bacon into 1/4-inch bits. Wash potatoes and boil until tender and soft. Mash them using the method that you prefer adding the butter, cheese, and milk as you mash. Salt and pepper to taste. If you like, you can sprinkle additional shredded cheese over the top of the potatoes in the serving dish.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Beat in 4 ounces of cream cheese, two tablespoons butter, and 1/4 cup milk for each two pounds of potatoes or to taste.

Garlic and Cheddar Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Beat in two cloves garlic, sautéed or roasted plus ½ cup milk, 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese, and 2 tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes.

Skins-on Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above but use thin-skinned red potatoes. Beat in two cloves garlic, sautéed or roasted plus 1/2 cup milk and 3 tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes with Horseradish

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Beat in 1/4 cup horseradish and 3/4 cup cream for every two pounds of potatoes or to taste. This ratio of horseradish to potatoes will provide some “kick”. Our son, Nathan, worked at an upscale restaurant and he brought this recipe home.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

We like the tang of buttermilk in our potatoes married with fresh creamery butter. Use about 3/4 cup buttermilk and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes or to taste. You will need a balance of butter to buttermilk in this recipe.

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Mashed Potatoes with Shallots

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Thinly slice shallots and sauté the onion in butter. Add two small shallots, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes.

Onion Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Finely chop a sweet onion such as Vandalia. Sauté the onion in butter in a skillet or microwave it until tender. Add about one-half of a medium onion, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes with Chives

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or two tablespoons dried chives, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes.

French Onion Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Add 1/2 cup French onion dip, 1/2 cup milk or cream, and 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese for each two pounds of potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes with Green Onions

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Add 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes.

Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Add 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, two tablespoons butter, and 1/2 cup milk or cream for each two pounds of potatoes. If you like, you can sprinkle additional shredded cheese over the top of the potatoes in the serving dish.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above. Beat in 3/4 cup sour cream and two tablespoons butter for each two pounds of raw potatoes or to taste.

 

 

About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.

Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.