How to Make the Best Killer Mashed Potatoes From Scratch
Mashed potatoes are a great side dish for just about any type of meat and are quick and easy to make with just a few simple steps. Many of us have turned to the boxed, flaked variety—or what I like to call "the fake potato"—for convenience and saving time. The problem with that is that the boxed/instant mashed potatoes are high in salt, can have preservatives and chemicals added to them, and honestly just don't taste as good as the real thing.
Time-wise, you will spend about 10 more minutes making mashed potatoes from scratch. The key is in the preparation of the potato when you go to boil them. Dice them smaller and they cook quicker, leaving you with a great-tasting side dish that is actually more nutritious and less harmful to your body than what you get out of a box or bag.
You can use any type of potato for this recipe. Sweet potatoes are fantastic mashed with a little cinnamon and brown sugar. Red potatoes end up being creamy and flavorful. Yukon Gold potatoes have more of a buttery flavor to them. You can even create a more flavorful dish by using turnips or cauliflower in place of some of the potatoes to make the most interesting mashed potato side dish ever.
- 1 pound potatoes
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- About a 1/2 stick butter, as much or little as needed
- About 1/4 cup milk, as much or little as needed
Step 1: Boil and Prepare the Potatoes
- Wash the potatoes in cold water to get rid of any lingering dirt.
- Peel each potato.
- Dice the peeled potatoes into small, cube-like pieces. It doesn't have to be perfect, but a smaller dice will mean less time to cook.
- Put the diced potatoes in a sauce pan (do NOT use a Teflon-coated pan for this) and fill the pan with water until it is about 3/4" to 1" above the potatoes.
- Put the pan on the stove burner and turn the burner onto high.
- Once the water starts to boil, you'll want to keep an eye on the potatoes. They are done with the edges have a more transparent like look to them and they slide off of a fork when you "stab" them.
- Drain the water off of the potatoes in a colander over the sink, then put the potatoes back into the pan.
- Now you are ready to mash 'em! Start by adding about half the butter, salt and pepper to the potatoes and give them a bit of a stir to start the process. You can mash your potatoes in a few different ways that will all produce different results.
Step 2: Mash the Potatoes
Option 1: Mixer
This method can produce the creamiest, most lump-free mashed potatoes ever. The key is not adding too much milk or butter to this process and keeping the sides of the bowl scraped down as you go.
You'll add the milk very slowly as you are beating the potatoes. It's important to remember that you can always add more if you need it, but you can't take any out if you put in too much! You want to keep going until you see a creamy texture with no lumps. The potatoes should be like whipped topping, being able to form stiff peaks easily.
Option 2: Hand Potato Masher
What if you don't have a mixer or you like your mashed potatoes a bit lumpy? That's easy, use a hand potato masher. You'll still add the milk slowly when mashing your taters by hand. This process goes faster than using the mixer. Once the potatoes have reached the consistency and lumpiness that you like, it's time to stop.
Option 3: Dinner Fork
For those of us that like rustic, old timey feeling food, there is the method of mashing your potatoes with a dinner fork. Some people may view this method as a bit silly, but I'm telling you, if you like hunky, lumpy mashed potatoes, this method delivers!
You'll still add the milk slowly and this method doesn't use as much milk (just a smidgen) as the other two because we aren't looking to cream the taters up here. We are just looking for something that is mashed but still has some original shape to it. You'll just push the fork down into the cooked potato bits until it reaches the perfect pulverization stage for you. You can even mash a leftover baked potato with a fork!
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Potatoes Types Grown in the US
Did you know there are seven major types of potatoes grown in the United States?
- Blue or purple
- Long white
- Round white