Light, fluffy, and oh, so creamy! These are the mashed potatoes everyone craves for Thanksgiving dinner, ready to christen with gravy or golden butter. With a few simple tricks, you’ll be serving sublime creamy mashed potatoes everyone will swoon over—and want seconds of.
Start by knowing your potatoes. Select the right variety because different types of potatoes have different flavors and textures. For light, fluffy, slightly mealy mashed potatoes, use a high-starch variety such as russet (Idaho baking potato). For smooth and creamy mashed potatoes, use a high-moisture variety such as Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold.
Next, cut the potatoes into cubes about 3/4 inch (2 cm) square. Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and add the potatoes. Keep the water at a heavy simmer, not a rolling boil, and begin checking for doneness after 15 minutes. Undercooked potatoes will be lumpy and pasty when you mash them, and overcooked potatoes will be gluey, so watch carefully. Drain the potatoes as soon as a fork easily pierces a piece all the way through.
Always mash potatoes while they are still warm. Use a potato masher, or for extra-smooth texture, a potato ricer or a food mill. A ricer or food mill will ensure the potato grains are even-sized and yield a smooth, uniform texture. Beware of using a food processor, which will over-mash the potatoes. Over-mashing breaks the swollen starch cells in the potatoes and makes the potatoes gluey. Stir in butter, milk, cream, seasonings, and any other ingredients; it’s best to have these items warm or at room temperature to avoid cooling down the potatoes. Add fluffiness if desired, by briefly whipping the potatoes with a mixer on its lowest speed. Do not over-mix.
Some of our favorite mashed potato recipes are below: