The Best Techniques for Perfect Mashed Potatoes
We discovered the perfect method for silky and creamy mashed potatoes. Our trick? Ricing before mashing. Follow these step-by-step instructions for the perfect family-style mashed potatoes everyone will love. Be inspired with these mashed potatoes recipes by using this technique. For Thanksgiving, our tried and true Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes are the way to go.
Step 1: Soak Potato Pieces
1. Soak the baking potatoes for just a few minutes in cold water to release some of their starch so the cooked spuds don't get gluey. A combination of starchy bakers and more waxy, buttery Yukon Golds creates an ideal creamy-yet-fluffy final texture in the mash.
Step 2: Ricing Potatoes
2. Rice the potatoes to gently break them down into small pieces (the size of rice grains). Very little stirring is needed to incorporate other ingredients—key for a fluffy mash. Use the same saucepan from boiling to keep the mash warm.
Step 3: Stir Until Silky Smooth
3. Stir room temperature buttermilk into the riced potatoes so it won't clump or cool the mixture. Add the liquid all at once, then fold gently until just incorporated.
If you don't have a ricer, use a potato masher, being careful not to overwork the potatoes. You can buy a good potato ricer for $20-30. We like Williams-Sonoma's Angled Potato Ricer ($30, williams-sonoma.com).
How Many Potatoes You Need
You can plan that one medium to large potato will feed two dinner guests. If you have more than just two or three side dishes, you may not need as many potatoes for your mashed potatoes. Guests will take scoops from every plate you serve, but they won't take as much if you have more than usual at your buffet.
How Long to Boil Potatoes
Overcooked potato pieces may be gluey and sad, so keep a close eye on your pot of potatoes once they're boiling. Pieces of potato that are cut to be about 1 inch will typically be fork-tender in about 10-12 minutes in the boiling hot water. Use a fork to gently pierce several pieces of potato while they're still in the water. If your fork meets any resistance, the potatoes aren't ready. Let the pieces sit for 2-3 more minutes. When the fork slides right through, the potatoes are ready to be riced.
Plating Mashed Potatoes
When your spuds are riced and the milk and butter have been added, transfer the mashed potatoes into a large serving vessel, such as a bowl or round casserole dish. Add a small pat of butter and a hefty sprinkling of the herb of your choice. Chives are especially great with mashed potatoes, but thyme would be a great option, too. Better yet, leave the potatoes simple, and let guests pour on a great pan sauce or homemade gravy.
Freezing Mashed Potatoes
The simple answer: Don't do it. Mashed potatoes do not hold up well in the freezer. If you have leftovers and need a creative idea for using them, try our Crisp Mashed Potato Cakes, or stir them into a Loaded Mashed Potato Soup. Get creative with your mashed potato leftovers, and you'll get to enjoy the special side again and again.