When I first tried to make mashed potatoes, I did not know which potatoes to buy. Supermarkets often have unlabelled big brown potatoes, medium yellow potatoes, small yellow potatoes, and red potatoes.
For the fluffiest mashed potatoes, you should get starchy potatoes, such as russet or Yukon gold, instead of waxy potatoes. Here is a more detailed guide on the difference between starchy and waxy potatoes.
Get the big brown russet potatoes, the medium yellow Yukon gold potatoes, or both. I prefer russet potatoes because they cost less and cannot be confused with any type of waxy potato. Some prefer Yukon gold for their natural buttery flavor. Do not use waxy red potatoes.
For the sake of photography, I garnished the mashed potatoes with a light sprinkling of parsley. Parsley has a mildly bitter leafy taste that I do not like with buttery mashed potatoes, so I ended up removing the parsley before eating.
If you want to garnish mashed potatoes with herbs, I would suggest chives or green onions. Other common garnishes include sour cream, bacon, cheese, or more butter.
- 1 pound of potatoes (3-4 medium)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
- Peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
- Put the peeled and cut potatoes in a medium pot, and cover with water. Add the salt.
- Cover the pot with a lid, and heat the pot over medium-heat.
- Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft and can be easily stabbed with a fork. Make sure all of your potatoes are soft.
- Drain the water, and return the potatoes to the pot.
- Add butter and pepper and mash thoroughly with a fork or potato masher.
- Potatoes: Required for mashed potatoes. One pound of potatoes is about 3-4 potatoes, and the exact quantity does not matter much. Quantities for other ingredients are based off using one pound of potatoes.
- You can add one other fruit/vegetable for nutrition or just for funsies.
- Cauliflower: Add 1/2 a head of cauliflower. If you cook the cauliflower separately and blend the cauliflower, the cauliflower mashed potatoes will taste exactly like regular mashed potatoes though a little thinner. If you cook the cauliflower along with the potatoes and mash both together, you will have small cauliflower pieces.
- Turnip: I have not actually tried this, but you can add 1 turnip.
- Apple: Add 1 small apple. I cook the apple along with the potatoes and mash both together. The apple makes the mashed potatoes sweeter and more interesting.
- Parsnip: You can add 1 parsnip. I tried this, and the parsnip taste overwhelmed everything. Only try this if you really like parsnips.
- Butter: Adds creamy richness. Use up to 2 tablespoons of butter. Can substitute olive oil for a vegan option. You could also add up to 2 tablespoons of sour cream or up to 1 ounce of cream cheese for additional richness. I don't because I never have sour cream or cream cheese.
- Salt: Seasons the potatoes. I season the cooking water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt so that the potatoes absorb more flavor. If you forget to season the cooking water and you have to season the potatoes directly, you may want to use less salt.
- Seasonings: Add flavor. I use 1/4 teaspoon of pepper for standard mashed potatoes. You can also add up to 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon of sage. For garlic mashed potatoes, cook the garlic with the potatoes, and add up to 4 cloves.
- Liquid: Optional. Makes mashed potatoes thinner and creamier. Use up to 1/2 cup of broth, cream, half and half, or milk. If using, heat up the liquid so that it will be better incorporated into the potatoes - you can use the microwave for this. I do not add liquid because once I added too much milk, and I got milky potato soup.
Microwave Cooking Instructions
If you only want to make mashed potatoes with one potato, you can use the microwave to cook the potato. If you're mashing more than one potato, it would be faster and more convenient to use the stovetop.
To cook a potato in the microwave, wash the potato. Stab the potato with a knife to create slits.These openings let steam escape form the potato as it cooks. Put the potato on a microwave-safe dish, and microwave for 8-10 minutes until soft.
Step by Step Photos
Start with 1 pound of potatoes. I used 3 russet potatoes. Peel the potatoes, and rinse off any residual dirt.
Dice the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. I cut the potato length wise and then diced the potato into smaller pieces as shown above. You should make sure the pieces are about the same size so they cook at the same rate.
Add the potatoes to a pot, and add water until the potatoes are submerged. You should start the potatoes in unheated water so the potatoes cook more evenly.
Season the potatoes now, so the potatoes will better absorb the flavor. I add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the pot. You can use more salt than usual because some of the salt gets poured out with the cooking water.
Cover the pot with a lid, and heat over medium-heat. I can't find any lids anymore, so I inverted a pan to use as a lid.
Here is a picture of the potatoes as they are cooking. The water is cloudy because the potatoes release starch.
Stir occasionally if you'd like. If you add enough water, I don't think it's really necessary, but stirring potatoes is pretty fun.
Cook the potatoes for 15-20 minutes. Make sure that all of the potatoes are done. You should be able to easily stab cooked potatoes with a fork. You can also eat a few pieces for quality control.
Drain the potatoes. I would suggest pouring the potatoes into a colander and then transferring them back to the pot. If you do not have a colander, you can very very carefully tilt the pot and pour out water. It helps if you have someone else hold a lid as you pour so that no potatoes fall out.
Add seasonings and butter. I used 1 tablespoon of butter and about 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. If using liquid, make sure the liquid is heated, and add the liquid now.
Do not use a blender or a food processor or else you will over-mash your potatoes and they will turn out gluey and overly starchy. If this happens, cover the potatoes with butter and cheese and bake. If anyone asks, say you made "potato gratin," which sounds nice and fancy.
Refrigerate any leftover mashed potatoes for up to a week. I've had no problems just microwaving leftovers. If you're picky, you can bake the mashed potatoes.