Mashed potatoes seem like the easiest dish at the holiday table. But in reality, there’s so much that can go wrong. They can easily end up gummy, bland, lumpy, dry, soupy…the ways to screw them up are practically endless. If you’re in charge of everyone’s favorite side dish this holiday, here are some tips to make your mashed potatoes the best they’ve ever had.
1. Choose the right potato. For the creamiest and fluffiest mashed potatoes, you want a starchy potato as opposed to a waxy one. Personally, I love to stick with the classic russet, but Yukon golds will work just fine as well.
2. Cook them until they’re soft. You don’t want to undercook your potatoes, but you don’t want to overcook them either. Boil them gently until they break apart when you pierce them with a fork.
3. Dry them out. This is the step most people miss. After boiling your potatoes you MUST dry them out before moving on, or else all the water in your potatoes will combine with the starch and you’ll end up with a thick, gummy paste. To do this, return your potatoes to the pot after draining them and place them over low-to-medium heat. Break the potatoes apart with a wooden spoon and continually move them over the heat for 3-4 minutes until they’re dried out.
4. Don’t just mash them. For the smoothest potatoes possible, a potato masher won’t do the trick. You’ll need to use a potato ricer or you could whip them using the attachment on your countertop electric mixer. (Note: DO NOT whip your potatoes if you didn’t dry them out.)
5. Add lots of full-fat dairy. You guys. These are not diet potatoes. They are holiday potatoes, and they deserve the best. The creamy texture is going to come from the fat you introduce – NOT from liquids. Plus, the more liquid you add the greater chance you have that your potatoes will become gummy. So for the love of all things holiday, stop putting low-fat milk in your potatoes. Instead, choose one (or several!) of the following:
- Cream or half-and-half
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Whole milk (as a last resort)
6. Season them heavily. If you taste before you season, you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s amazing what salt and pepper can do. Add in your salt and pepper and continually taste and season until it’s just right. You’ll also probably adjust your dairy during this time to get the whole dish perfect. (NOTE: Your proportions will change every time you make potatoes, which is why I’m not giving you a “real” recipe, only tips.)
What are your best tips for AMAZING mashed potatoes?
Read more of Kristina’s contributions to allmomdoes here.