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Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe: 10 Easy Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."

Andean Potatoes

Andean Potatoes

Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Ideas for Leftovers

Who doesn't love potatoes? Fried, baked, boiled or roasted, they're enjoyed all over the world. Delicious and versatile, they're an inexpensive choice when cooking for a crowd.

Mashed potatoes are an especially family-friendly dish. Armed with a potato peeler, children under adult supervision can safely help out. And what about leftovers? Shepherd's pie is a tasty option for using leftover mashed potatoes, as are a number of casseroles and batter fried mashed potatoes.

Did you know that potatoes were cultivated over 4,000 years ago in the Andes mountains? Peru boasts over 2,800 varieties of potatoes! Experimenting with different potatoes has taught me a valuable lesson: not every potato makes a perfect mash. Even with the best intentions mashed potatoes sometimes turn out gummy, gluey, sticky or soupy.

Is there a foolproof method for creamy mashed potatoes? Beginning with potato selection and ending with mashing method, these 10 easy steps yield perfectly creamy mashed potatoes every time. Stick around to the end for a hearty breakfast recipe using mashed potatoes and a fun quiz. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

  • Tips for Creamy Mashed Potatoes

  • 10 Steps for the Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

  • Yummy Variations

  • What to do With Leftover Mashed Potatoes

  • Recipe: Savory Potato Cakes

  • Fun Quiz: The Humble Potato

More Delicious Recipes:


  • Baking potatoes, which contain more starch and less water, yield the creamiest and fluffiest mashed potatoes. Try Russet, Goldrush or Nadine potatoes. Yukon Gold also works well.
  • Rinsing starch from the potatoes actually yields fluffier potatoes.
  • Cut potatoes into 2 inch chunks so they cook evenly.
  • Using an electric mixer or blender on a large batch of mashed potatoes puts you at risk for over-beating. The result will be gooey, gummy potatoes.
  • For larger batches, you'll get fluffier potatoes when mashing by hand. Try a ricer or hand masher for best results.
  • A potato ricer yields denser mashed potatoes. After ricing, whisk or whip potatoes briefly to incorporate air if you like a fluffier mash.
  • Always start the boiling process with cold water so the potatoes can cook more evenly.
  • Cook potatoes at a gentle simmer, not a rolling boil.
  • Potatoes are more nutritious with the peeling left intact.
  • Undercooked potatoes make a lumpy mash. Cook potatoes until they crumble when pierced with a fork, but don't overcook them so much that they fall apart on their own.
  • More fat makes potatoes creamier, so increase cream and butter if you're not concerned about calories.
  • For lower fat potatoes, use fat free evaporated milk or skim milk. Reduce butter by half.
  • For those who are lactose intolerant, replace milk with chicken broth, rice milk or soy milk.
  • Be careful not to add too much liquid to avoid soupy potatoes.
  • Adding a pinch of baking powder to the potatoes while mashing them yields even fluffier mashed potatoes.

mashed potatoes & pot roast

mashed potatoes & pot roast

The Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

20 min

30 min

8-10 servings


  • 4 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 2-2 1/2 cups whole milk, half-n-half or light evaporated (canned) milk, hot
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • salt & pepper
I peel half of the potatoes

I peel half of the potatoes

10 Steps for the Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

  1. If peeling, peel potatoes. Cut them into 1-2 inch chunks and plop them into a pot of cold water, allowing them to soak as you peel and chop the rest of the potatoes.
  2. Pour off the starchy water from potato chunks. Fill pot again with cold water to cover. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt to the water.
  3. Gently simmer potatoes for 20-30 minutes, until they are tender and pass the fork test (see tips section). Be careful not to undercook or overcook the potatoes.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander.
  5. Give cooked potatoes a quick rinse with hot water.
  6. Return potatoes to the cooking pot.
  7. Use a ricer or if hand mashing, return the pot to the stove. Mashing over low heat will help dry the potatoes further, but be careful not to burn them.
  8. Add melted butter, hot milk, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of baking powder to the potatoes as you continue to mash, stirring now and then. Use a light touch, incorporating air into the potatoes if you want them to be fluffy.
  9. Scoop potatoes into serving bowl and serve as quickly as possible, keeping them warm for up to 30 minutes.
  10. To serve, top potatoes with a pat of butter or sprinkle with chives, shallots of grated cheese.



Yummy Variations:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

  • Use one head of garlic per pound of potatoes.
  • Peel outer skin from head of garlic.
  • Cut off the tip of each garlic clove, leaving the head intact.
  • Roast in oven for 45 minutes.
  • Once the garlic has cooled, squeeze the paste out into a bowl.
  • Incorporate garlic paste into boiled potatoes before mashing.
Scroll to Continue


  • You'll need one pound of cabbage or kale for each pound of potatoes
  • Chop, salt and boil cabbage.
  • After you've mashed the potatoes, add hot cabbage to the pot.
  • Stir cabbage and potatoes until well combined and pale green in color.

Cheesy Potatoes:

  • Grate 8 ounces of cheddar cheese or soften 8 ounces of cream cheese.
  • Add cheese and 1-2 cups of hot milk to potatoes as you mash.

Sour Potatoes:

  • Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sour cream to potatoes while mashing them.

What to Do With Leftover Mashed Potatoes

potato cakes with bacon and eggs

potato cakes with bacon and eggs

Savory Potato Cakes

My husband's favorite breakfast: layers of potato cake, bacon and fried egg.


  • 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • flour for dredging


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, medium-high heat.
  2. Combine ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Using hands, mix well. (Kids love to help with this step.)
  4. Form patties. You'll use about 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes per cake.
  5. Roll in flour.
  6. Place patties in hot skillet.
  7. Fry cakes on both sides until golden brown.
  8. Layer with bacon and eggs for a hearty breakfast.

Yield: 4 potato cakes

Fun Quiz -- The Humble Potato

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who began to cultivate potatoes over 4,000 years ago?
    • peasants on the coast of Ireland
    • natives of the Andes of Peru
    • poor class in the Ukraine
  2. How many countries cultivate potatoes?
    • 50 countries
    • 85 countries
    • 125 countries
  3. How many deaths were caused by the "Irish Potato Famine" of 1845 and 1846?
    • 2,500 deaths
    • 1,500 deaths
    • no one will ever know
  4. How much did the largest potato on record weigh?
    • 14 pounds, 8 ounces
    • 18 pounds, 4 ounces
    • 24 pounds, 2 ounces
  5. Where is it best to store potatoes?
    • in the freezer
    • in the refrigerator
    • in a dry, dark place
  6. How many varieties of edible potatoes are there in the world?
    • over 25 varieties
    • over 50 varieties
    • over 100 varieties
  7. On average, how many potatoes do Americans eat each year?
    • over 125 pounds
    • over 75 pounds
    • over 50 pounds
  8. Which country produces the most potatoes?
    • China
    • the United States
    • India
  9. How many calories are in an 8 ounce (227 gram) baked potato?
    • 100 calories
    • 150 calories
    • 200 calories

Answer Key

  1. natives of the Andes of Peru
  2. 125 countries
  3. no one will ever know
  4. 18 pounds, 4 ounces
  5. in a dry, dark place
  6. over 100 varieties
  7. over 125 pounds
  8. China
  9. 100 calories


Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 15, 2012:

CyberShelley, the potato varieties can be dizzying at times! I have some in the kitchen right now I'm not sure what to do with. They were a gift and are very starchy, so it will be interesting to see if they make creamy mashed potatoes. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share.

Shelley Watson on September 15, 2012:

Thank you for tips vespawoolf! These will be great with the beef pot roast as you said. I cannot believe you have so many varieties of potatoes. Voted up, interesting and useful

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 28, 2012:

Well, that's something we have in common. Garlic is also one of my favorite ingredients and garlic mashed potatoes, of course, are a favorite treat. Thanks for reading and voting.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on July 28, 2012:

As much as I enjoy the main recipe, the garlic version is what attracted me most since garlic is my favorite spice/food. Voting this Up and Useful.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 11, 2012:

Mama Kim 8, I'm with you! There's nothing homemade potatoes, and I agree that ricers make the creamiest potatoes. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Aloe Kim on July 11, 2012:

Great tips for potatoes. I love using a ricer for mine. My family always wonders why I always insist on making my own mashed potatoes and never the boxed stuff... I say it's just better!!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 07, 2012:

Viking305, thanks so much for the vote and share! Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. I hope you enjoy the variations.

L M Reid from Ireland on July 07, 2012:

I do love my mashed potatoes and cook them in many different ways. You have created a few new ideas for me to try out here though. The cheese and sour cream is new to me so will be trying those out.

A very interesting hub on recipes for mashed potatoes.

Voted up and given 5 stars. and shared on Twitter.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 05, 2012:

KoffeeKlatch Gals, thanks so much for your feedback. It sounds like you already have a handle on creamy mashed potatoes! Enjoy the potato pancakes.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on July 05, 2012:

I use a ricer when mashing potatoes. They do turn out super creamy. Great tips. I begin rinsing my potatoes too. Thanks for the great potato pancake recipe - I love potato pancakes.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 29, 2012:

Simone Smith, so nice of you to stop by! Yes, these potatoes are exceptionally creamy. Enjoy and thanks for taking the time to comment.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 29, 2012:

It has been AGES since I've last had potatoes, and I don't think I've ever had mashed potatoes that looks as creamy as they do in your mouthwatering photos. Thanks for the fabulous tips!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 28, 2012:

Crystal Tatum, mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food and so easy to digest, as well. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on June 28, 2012:

Aaagh, potatoes are my absolute favorite food, and mashed potatoes have always been at the top of my list a far as ways to prepare them. I can eat mashed potatoes even when I feel ill and can't stand to eat anything else. Voted up.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 27, 2012:

Peggy W, thanks so much for your vote, share and comment. I learned a lot researching for the much I didn't know about potatoes!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 27, 2012:

Lisas-thoughts101, thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and share. I'm glad the tips and recipe will be of some use! I like mashed potatoes any old way; such a great comfort food.

Lisas-thoughts101 from Northeast Texas on June 27, 2012:

Those extra little secrets make all the difference with really great mashed potatoes. Thank you. I am going to refer back to these. I have made mashed potatoes with both cream cheese and sour cream in the same batch and my kids LOVED them. They say it is their favorite comfort food. But I only use about 4 oz of each. But then I probably don't make as big a batch as you, either. I make potato pancakes but they are always hit and miss because I didn't have a recipe. I am going to use yours and your breakfast stack. Looks great.... and I love potato pancakes. Voted up, useful and I'm sharing and following!


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2012:

Oh dear, I only scored 66% on the quiz. Now I need to learn all the correct answers.

I had no idea that a bit of baking powder would make for fluffier mashed potatoes. Thanks for that tip and all of your recipe variations. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2012:

Academicviews, that can be the good/bad thing about food hubs! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Barry Wood from Scotland on June 24, 2012:

I always get really peckish when I reads Hubs about food. What a great hub full of great ideas and tips. thanks .

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2012:

DeborahNeyens, thanks for paying me a visit. If it makes you feel any better, I learned a lot researching for the quiz. Who would've thought China produces the most potatoes??

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on June 24, 2012:

Great hub! I love potatoes, as you probably know from some of my own hubs. So I did surprising poorly on your quiz (66%). Love the tips (baking powder - who knew?) and variations. I make colcannon every St. Partick's Day. Thanks for linking to my shepherd's pie hub. I will link it back to this one.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2012:

p10kabhijita, thanks so much for your vote and for sharing!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2012:

b. Malin, thanks for our vote and for sharing!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2012:

Unknown spy, thanks for your vote!

Abhijit Aswath from India on June 23, 2012:

Amazing stuff. Loved it thoroughly. Marked useful and shared it :)

b. Malin on June 23, 2012:

I LOVE Potatoes, be it Mashed, or Baked, and French Fries, (if they are made right). So naturally my Mouth began to water when I read your Hub, and the many uses for Potatoes. I will share with Family and Friends... My Votes of UP & Interesting go to YOU, Vespawoolf.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on June 23, 2012:

Wow very delicious! I love mashed potatoes with gravy... 5 stars and all the votes for this delicious creamy recipe!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2012:

Mhatter99, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub! It's nice to hear from you again.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on June 22, 2012:

Thank you for this article on one of my favorite subjects. It took a lot of glue to get me to fluffy mashed potatoes

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

I'm glad you can take away a point to use on your next batch of mashed potatoes, Giselle Maine. Thanks for commenting!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Yougotme, I love your enthusiasm. Enjoy the recipe!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Daisydayz, thanks for commenting! It's nice to meet a fellow mash lover. : )

Giselle Maine on June 22, 2012:

Fantastic tips here, thanks for sharing these! I had no idea about starting them in cold water not boiling water - so I will be incorporating this thanks to you.

Renz Kristofer Cheng from Manila on June 22, 2012:

And by the way, cool quiz - it contains interesting trivia! It was fun answering it!

Renz Kristofer Cheng from Manila on June 22, 2012:

I must show this to my mom or my sister. All of your recipes sounds great! And the photos are really appetizing. Great hub vespawoolf!

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on June 22, 2012:

Yum! Great tips and great recipes I love a good bit of mash! - voted up!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

My goodness, moonlake, you live in potato paradise! We live in Southern Peru now, but when we lived in the Andes there was an unbelievable variety of potatoes as well: blue, orange, purple and even little speckled potatoes. I do miss all the variety, but we still have a few available here. I respect your taste for soupy potatoes, by the way. : ) Thank you for taking the time to comment.

moonlake from America on June 22, 2012:

Recipes look good. I like soupy potatoes but never have them because no else likes them. My husband works at a seed potato farm. They grow russet, gold rush, yukon gold, mega chips, snowdons, dark red northerns, russet norkotah and many more. We have lots of potatoes and give lots away. Voted Up and Linked your hub.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Anglnwu, thanks so much for coming by. Enjoy the creamy potatoes!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Victoria Lynn, that's a good point...reheated and dressed up mashed potatoes are also delicious. I may have to edit my hub and add that little tidbit. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Sgbrown, red and new potatoes are waxy and although they have a delicious flavor, aren't starchy enough for creamy potatoes. Some say rinsing takes away some of the potato flavor, but it does make them fluffier which is important to me. Thanks for voting and taking the time to read!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Colcannon is sooo yummy. 7/9 is good! I don't think I would've done that well...I learned so much from researching for that quiz. Thanks for your vote and continued support, molometer.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

JustAskSusan, thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Be sure and try baking powder, not baking soda, for fluffy potatoes. I'm afraid the soda might give them an off flavor!

anglnwu on June 22, 2012:

You just know how to tempt me with food. Your pictures of food are so fabulous. I enjoyed the tips and will be incorporating these tricks the next time I make mashed potato. Awesome!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on June 22, 2012:

I need to try that baking powder trick! My mom always made potato cakes with leftover mashed potatoes. I have a few times, but I also loved mashed potatoes so much that I'll put the leftovers back on the stove and heat them up with extra milk and maybe butter to make them good again! Great hub!Yum!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on June 22, 2012:

Good tips for great mashed potatoes. I have found that new or red potatoes do NOT make good mashed potatoes. I haven't been rinsing my potatoes after boiling them, I am going to try that! Thanks for sharing your information, voted up and useful!

Micheal from United Kingdom on June 22, 2012:

Well done on a great hub. The Colcannon recipe was most welcome as I would like to give it a try.

I liked the quiz too 7/9, so not to bad for a paddy lol.

Voted up useful interesting and sharing.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 22, 2012:

Great tips for mashed potatoes. I'd never heard of using baking soda to make the fluffier but will have to try that. I never peel my potatoes unless I absolutely have to.

Voted and shared.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2012:

Kelleyward, thank your for your vote and continued support. I wonder where your son heard of potato cakes? What a funny coincidence. I hope you both enjoy the recipe!

kelleyward on June 22, 2012:

my son just asked me what potato cakes were when we were at the grocery store earlier today. What a great idea for a hub! Voted up and shared! Kelley

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