Perfect Mashed Potatoes

I fully admit to being a carbaholic, and the holidays feed right into my weakness. Sure there’s a turkey at Thanksgiving, but I typically only eat a small piece and then load up on mashed potatoes, some type of sweet potatoes, stuffing, and no less than two dinner rolls. And at Christmas and Easter? Give me a small piece of ham, or better yet, throw that small piece of ham on a roll for a sandwich and then put the pan of scalloped potatoes right next to me. Given my love of side dishes and carbs, it goes without saying that perfect mashed potatoes are an absolute must for me. The best part is that they are incredibly easy to make and don’t require a ton of ingredients.

I have found that Yukon gold potatoes make for the creamiest mashed potatoes (it’s an added bonus that they have a gorgeous golden hue). Aside from that the real secret I’ve found is to have the butter and milk melted together and warm before adding them to the boiled potatoes and doing your mashing. This seriously makes all the difference; I couldn’t believe it the first time I did it. So much smoother and creamier.

Note: If you like chunkier “smashed” potatoes (that’s me!) then use a potato masher as directed below, but if you prefer them really smooth, then either a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer (low speed) will work. I can’t wait to dive into a big pile of these on Thanksgiving! 🙂

One year ago: Classic Bread Stuffing Recipe

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
¾ cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.

2. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are very tender.

3. Meanwhile, heat the butter and half-and-half in a small saucepan over low heat.

4. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Mash up the potatoes a little with a potato masher. Add the melted butter mixture a little at a time and use the potato masher to combine. Once it has all been added, use a wooden spoon or spatula to give it a few stirs to combine completely. Serve immediately.


42 Responses to “Perfect Mashed Potatoes”

  1. Kristen on November 22, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I hadn’t thought to mix the butter and milk together first. I think I’m going to try this when I make my potatoes on Thursday. Thanks for the tip!


  2. Jennifer on November 22, 2011 at 1:57 am

    I’m the same way! I love my carbs.. Do you usually make plain mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? What are your favorite add-ons?


    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I do love just regular, mashed potatoes! My favorite variety though is roasted garlic.


  3. J.A.M. on November 22, 2011 at 4:16 am

    I always do it that way ( so I have learned from my grandmother ).
    But with some freshly grated nutmeg through it .
    And to get it very airy ( fluffy we call it, hahaha ) ,you can also beating an egg through it. (Only if you use the mixer).

    And …. yes, my favorite food is mashed potatoes ;-D

    XXX, J.A.M.


  4. Blog is the New Black on November 22, 2011 at 4:52 am

    These DO look perfect!


  5. Melanie Heavenly on November 22, 2011 at 5:24 am

    The best tip I ever got about mashed potatoes was not to use milk but to retain about a cup of the liquid the potatoes have cooked in and add this with butter. Silky smooth potatoes every time. The starch [and the flavour] which comes out when boiled goes back into the mash. Life changing 😉


    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      Oooh what a great tip, I am definitely going to try this!


  6. Katrina on November 22, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Mmm mashed potatoes are my favorite! Love them with tons of gravy.


  7. Paula on November 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I love mashed potatoes, the fluffier the better. Always use milk (or half and half) and butter and then a sprinkling of chives. (J.A.M.’s addition of nutmeg sounds great too)


  8. sue on November 22, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I love mashed potatoes, I just hate the work, so only on the holidays.


  9. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on November 22, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Simple and classic! I love it! I like the Yukon Gold Potatoes too!


  10. rosa parks on November 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    This is almost the way I make mine but I use can milk it gives it a richer taste I’ll have to try your’s and see how they taste. O love mash potaties You sound like me. I could make a meal on mash and corn on the cob


  11. Jackie on November 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I absolutely agree with your menu choices – the potatoes, sweet and otherwise – are the best part of the meal. I am going to give your warm milk and butter a try with my Yukon Gold potatoes. I guess I will have to peel them this year….sigh. Someone needs to make a machine for that.


  12. Jen on November 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and rolls, you say? Are you coming to my house for Turkey Day, ‘cuz that is exactly my menu…with a chicken (since there’s just 3 of us) and your cranberry sauce recipe. 🙂 This is pretty similar to how I do mashed potatoes, except I don’t mix the butter and milk/half and half together first before adding to the potatoes (I just dump the butter in, mash it around till melted, then pour milk in till I get the consistency I want.) I wonder what kind of difference it makes? I would try it on Thursday, but I think I’ll have enough going on without getting out another saucepan. But next time I make mashed potatoes I’ll give it a try. 🙂


  13. CouponClippingCook on November 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you for that tip about warming the milk and butter…I’m going try that! These look so delicious and the color of the Yukon Gold potatoes look so pretty.


  14. Coleen Overholt on November 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I too absolutely love mashed potatoes, but even more since I bought a potato ricer. Boil the potatoes in chunks, drain, then smash them thru the ricer into a bowl. I never tried to heat up my fatfree half & half with the butter but I will on Thursday (and i will try a little Greek yogurt for a change)!!! You also use less liquid with this method and they don’t come out all sticky like they do with a hand mixer. They are the lightest, fluffiest mashed potatoes you have ever had.


    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      I have heard this, I am going to have to try it!


  15. Ambel on November 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    mmmm, mashed potatoes are my favorite, but I like to add cheese and sour cream too. I’ll have to try this, thanks!


  16. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven on November 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    These look gorgeous! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!!!


  17. Jim Rath on November 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Two more things to try:
    1. Try adding some cream cheese along with the butter to the potatoes. You will get a creamy and tangy flavor that is delicious.
    2. For super fluffy potatoes, add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda after all the other indredients have been mixed in. Whip them one more time with the baking soda. You will be amazed how fluffy they become. It doesn’t take much either!


  18. Linda on November 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I always heat the milk for mashed potatoes in my microwave in a glass measuring cup; only takes a couple minutes and don’t have to watch another pot on the stove. Also add some sour cream along with the butter while mashing. Yummy!


  19. Deveny on November 22, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I love mashed potatoes. Have you tried the Pioneer Woman’s recipe with cream cheese? So yummy! Changed my life!


  20. Oma Tabby on November 22, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Add this to my list of yummies I am making from your site here. I am doing the sweet potatoes gratin, the cranberry upside down cake, these potatoes smashed style and I am quite certain I will be using your stuffing recipe as well. Thanks for the fun recipes!


  21. Amy on November 23, 2011 at 12:04 am

    This is a great recipe for Thanksgiving to have on the table but I need to have some cut up garlic in my mashed potatoes with a little basil.


  22. Ann on November 23, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Delicious! I like to make them with a ricer and then all you have to do is stir in the hot butter and milk! These look absolutely amazing! Happy Thanksgiving!


  23. Amy on November 23, 2011 at 12:32 am

    These taste amazing! They are so creamy. Thanks for sharing this recipe!


  24. A Moore on November 24, 2011 at 7:39 am

    It helps to really boil your potatoes until very soft. For some reason makes them tastier. And after mashing or whipping, put a big glob of butter on top and heat in microwave for a quick minute to offset the cooling that has occurred.


  25. Janani on November 25, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Hey Michelle,

    What exactly is half and half? I’m not sure I’ve heard of it here in India..


    • Michelle on November 26th, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Hi Janani – It is literally half whole milk, half heavy cream. If you don’t have it where you live, you can easily substitute a 50/50 mix of whole milk and heavy cream.


  26. Jenn on November 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    can i use UHT milk instead of half and half? it probably won’t taste exactly the same but it wld be somewhere there right?


    • Michelle on November 27th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      Hi Jenn, I am unfamiliar with UHT milk, but in general you could substitute milk for half & half.


  27. Laura B. on November 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Delish. Pure and simple.

    I’m passionate about my potatoes, and a few previous recipes I’ve used left me disappointed. I followed this recipe to-the-letter, and it was amazing. The perfect consistency and the perfect flavor.

    I will definitely be making this again on Christmas!


  28. cole on November 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Have been making my mashed potatoes in the microwave for a few months and will never go back. These look good, but I’m shocked at all these “fluffy” lovers. I’ll take mine with a few chunks, thank you!


  29. Mary C on November 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    That is my kind of mashed potatoes. I don’t think they need all of the extras that people are putting in them now. My mother always took them from the stove, drained them, sprinkled with salt, mash and then add the butter and mash until smooth and then add 2% milk, and they were as good as anyone’s mashed potatoes. She always saved every calorie that she could!


  30. Kate on October 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    For Thanksgiving this year, try slow cooker mashed potatoes … they are heated through and through so you don’t have the problem of them cooling down before they’re even served … and most of the work is done hours ahead of time. I used a recipe found on the internet that cooks cubed potatoes in chicken broth for a few hours (with a little butter on top) … and then adds sour cream, cream cheese, etc. before serving.


  31. Michele B on November 24, 2013 at 11:36 am

    For years, my favorite mashed potatoes have been Rachel Rays version. Boil potatoes as normal. In a side pot add butter, milk (half n half, cream, stock, potato water…whatever you use) cream cheese, and a small finely diced onion. Season with salt and a pinch of pepper. They are so delish! I was always a mashed potato purist before these. I love them!!


  32. Michelle on June 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Made these for dinner tonight (with your Shepherd’s Pie recipe). My husband says these are appropriately named. 🙂 Thanks!


  33. Trena on November 10, 2014 at 7:35 am

    For the “fluffy” people, a ricer is the way to go. You can buy a cheap, plastic one.


  34. Pat S on November 18, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    LIke you, i heat up my milk and butter just to simmer and I used to use milk in it until I tried my sister-in-law’s potatos and they were even better. The difference is that she used evaporated milk and now that’s the only way I make them now. They are often reqeusted when i offer to take a covered dish to food gatherings. i make them really milked down and creamy & save any leftover milk butter mixture for thinning them to warm themup.


  35. Linda on April 8, 2015 at 10:22 am

    My mashed potatoes (and I like them a little bit chunky) are also very simple but also a nice version…maybe you would like to try it:
    * potatoes with a high starch content (here in Germany I always use the ones named after me – Linda 🙂
    * heavy cream
    * butter
    * nutmeg
    * salt

    Soooo good 🙂


  36. Deena on November 19, 2015 at 7:11 am

    I’m definitely trying your recipe this year. It’s very close to my own recipe, but I have one question . . . have you ever made them in advance, and had success in keeping them warm? I hate standing over the stove babysitting the potatoes when I’m trying to get everything else on the table. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving! Deea


    • Michelle on November 21st, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Hi Deena, Yes! Last year I made them in the morning, then transferred them to my crock pot to keep warm until dinnertime. SO much easier than trying to time the boiling/mashing/etc with everything else finishing up. I just added a thin layer of cream to the bottom of my crock pot, put the mashed potatoes in, poured a little cream on top and put it on warm. It worked perfectly!


Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)