The Secrets to Making the Best Mashed Potatoes

Say what you will about turkey or ham—in our hearts, the star of any holiday feast is mashed potatoes! Check out these tips for making the fluffiest pototoes, chopping potatoes quickly, and cooking mashed potatoes without milk. 

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
2-minute read
The Quick And Dirty

If you want your mashed potatoes to be the talk of your holiday meal, try these tips and tricks:

  • Use an apple slicer to chop faster
  • Mash, don't stir, the potatoes to prevent a gluey texture
  • Use hot milk for a richer taste
  • If you want to use less milk and butter, replace it with the cooking water from the potatoes
  • Use baking powder for super fluffy potatoes
  • Mash the potatoes in the morning and put them in a slow-cooking to avoid last minute potato panic 

The Quickest Way to Chop Potatoes

Chopping potatoes for mashed potatoes can be a time-sucking chore. Thanks to this clever tip, however, you can slice up those yummy potatoes in one quick step: Just use an apple slicer! Cut one potato in half and use the slicer on each half.

Prevent Gooey Mashed Potatoes

If your mashed potatoes sometimes end up a little gluey, it may be because you overmixed them. When potatoes are mashed, their cell walls rupture, releasing an excess of starch and resulting in the gluey texture. Potatoes should be mashed with a vertical motion, not stirred, to minimize the damage that occurs by crushing the cells on the side of the bowl.  

Use Hot Milk

Never pour cold milk into cooked potatoes. It will change the taste of the starch, giving it an unpleasant flavor, not unlike cardboard. The milk should be warmed in a pan (try adding a small amount of garlic, scallions, or chives for flavor!) before being added.

Choose Your Fat

If you’re watching your weight but love mashed potatoes, cut out the milk and the butter (or just some of it). Instead, save some of the cooking water from the potatoes and use that instead. Season with freshly ground black pepper and a bit of lemon juice for a no-added-fat mash that is flavorful and goes fantastically well with chicken or turkey. Making mashed potatoes for the holidays and don’t care how much fat is in them? Opt for real butter and whole milk, or even cream or half & half. Some people also swear by adding sour cream or cream cheese!

For Super-Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Want super-fluffy mashed potatoes? Add a pinch or two of baking powder, powdered milk, or even instant potatoes for extra fluff. (Never put baking soda in potatoes! It will turn them black.)

Holiday Mashed Potatoes Tip

Skip the last-minute panic on major holidays and mash the potatoes first thing in the morning. Transfer them to a slow cooker while you move onto the stuffing and string beans and let them cool, wiping off condensation on the lid with a dishtowel. Two hours before you’re ready to serve the meal, turn on the slow cooker. You won’t have to give the potatoes another thought until the guests are seated and it’s time to serve the meal.

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Image by Shutterstock.

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.