These are truly the best homemade mashed potatoes, and I promise you that with a few easy tricks, they will turn out perfectly every time. They’re lighter than many mashed potato recipes yet have a rich, buttery flavor that pairs perfectly with roasted meats, vegetables, braises and stews. They can even be made a couple of hours in advance!

Creamy mashed potatoes in a serving bowl with a serving spoon alongside.

The best homemade mashed potatoes recipe

While mashed potatoes are quite possibly one of the simplest items on the holiday table, much can go wrong, resulting in a gummy, lumpy or heavy texture. Don’t worry, friends—with this technique in your back pocket, you’ll get light, creamy mashed potatoes every single time! This potato puree is not only super smooth, but it has a clear potato flavor that’s enhanced rather than suppressed by butter and milk.

Spoon scooping homemade mashed potatoes from a serving bowl.

How do you make mashed potatoes without lumps?

Here’s the secret: a potato ricer. You might be thinking, “not another tool for my kitchen!” but trust me here. I’m as anti-gadget as they come, but a potato ricer is a revered tool in my kitchen. It breaks down cooked potatoes into little rice-sized squiggles, which, once stirred, turn instantly smooth without the need for pounds of butter or cream. It’s cheap, it doesn’t take up much space (mine is stuffed in the back of one of my cabinets), and, if you like playing with playdough (come on, I know you do!), you’re going to have a BLAST with this tool (James and the girls beg to take over the task of squeezing out the potato squiggles, which is reason enough for me to revere this tool).

Potato ricer on a countertop.

What are the best potatoes for mashing?

So go get (or order) a potato ricer if you don’t already have one. The only other critical element in this recipe is the potatoes. For the best flavor and texture, you want to go with Yukon golds. Russets have low moisture and high starch, with a dry texture that requires a ton of butter and milk or cream to turn smooth, whereas red potatoes have high moisture with less starch so tend to get gummy. Yukon golds are the Goldilocks of the potato world. They have medium moisture with golden, buttery-tasting flesh.

Close up of the best homemade mashed potatoes in a serving bowl with melted butter on top.

How do you make creamy mashed potatoes?

Boil the peeled and chunked potatoes in salted water until tender—they should crack open when you spear them with a fork). Drain them well, them pass them through the potato ricer back into the pot. Now for the fun part. Add a few pats of butter, followed by half-and-half and/or milk (I usually do a mix of both, but you could do one or the other, or even use heavy cream). Since the potato ricer is going to ensure a lump free mixture, there’s no need to heat up the liquid before adding it to the potatoes (that being said, sometimes I’ll bring the milk/cream to a simmer first with a sprig or two of rosemary, or a tablespoon or two of roasted garlic puree, to infuse it with flavor). Stir the potatoes until smooth and creamy, adding enough milk or half-and-half to get the consistency you like.

Spoon in a bowl of buttery mashed potatoes.

Garlic mashed potatoes recipe

To give these homemade mashed potatoes an optional garlic flavor, add a couple cloves of garlic to the cooking water. Pass the cloves through the ricer right along with the potatoes. The potatoes will have a subtle yet irresistible aroma of garlic.

Can you make the mashed potatoes ahead?

You can serve the potatoes straightaway, or you can make them up to 2 hours in advance! Scrape the potatoes into a heatproof bowl, drizzle some milk over top, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl on a pot of barely simmering water (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water), and let it sit while you go about your business or finish up the rest of the meal. Have no fear, the best part of dinner is already done.

Other Thanksgiving recipes to try:

The Best Homemade Mashed Potatoes

These foolproof homemade mashed potatoes are light and silky, and yet rich and comforting. Luckily, they’re a cinch to make! The trick is to use a potato ricer to achieve a silky texture, and to use Yukon Gold potatoes, which have medium moisture with a buttery flavor. Adding a couple cloves of garlic to the cooking water lends the potatoes a subtle garlic aroma, but it's optional. The mashed potatoes make for a perfect base or side dish for cold weather braises, stews and roasts. Feel free to add in other flavorings, such as roasted garlic, parmesan cheese, bacon, sour cream, or chives. The recipe feeds 4-6 people, but feel free to double it if you're feeding a crowd.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword best mashed potatoes recipe, creamy mashed potatoes, homemade mashed potatoes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup half-and-half or whole milk, or a mix of both, plus more as needed
  • Optional add-ins: fresh thyme, grated Parmigiano cheese, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, bacon, chives, sour cream

Instructions

  1. Place the potatoes and garlic (if using) in a medium saucepan and cover by 1 inch with cold water. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil. Cook at a gentle boil until the potatoes are very tender when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.

  2. Drain the potatoes and garlic, shaking out any excess water. Immediately pass the potatoes and garlic through a ricer (in batches) back into the pot. Add the butter, and stir until mostly melted. Stir in the half-and-half and/or milk until incorporated. If desired, add more half-and-half or milk until you reach a desired consistency. Season with salt to taste (be generous—it makes all the difference!). Fold in any add-ins, if using. Cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are hot. Serve warm, topped with another pat of butter, if you wish.

Recipe Notes

Do Ahead: The mashed potatoes can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Transfer them to a heatproof bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it over a pot of barely simmering water. By storing the potatoes this way, they will retain their lovely texture without becoming hardened and gluey, as they would in the refrigerator.

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