Perfect, fluffy mashed potatoes are easier than you may think. Find all the tips you need here in this easy recipe for lump-free mash every time.
Why you’ll love them
If perfectly smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes have eluded you, then worry no more. I’ve got the tips you need, no unnecessary ingredients and no fancy equipment.
- Texture: Silky smooth, melt-in-the-mouth, fluffy mashed potato is what we’re going for here. I like the consistency to be almost like a spread – it will hold it’s own weight without being dense. You can adjust and loosen the consistency by adding a touch more milk if you prefer.
- Flavour: Buttery, creamy and rich is the name of the game here. Smother them in gravy and you have the perfect side dish.
- Ease: Homemade mashed potatoes are easy when you know how. While some recipes turn to some added ingredients for fluffiness (I’m looking at you eggs, baking powder and baking soda), there is no need for any of them. Keep things simple with just 4 ingredients and the creamiest, buttery mashed potatoes ever!
Table of contents
Ingredients you’ll need
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
What are the best potatoes for mashed potato?
The best potatoes for mush are the fluffy or floury types, not the waxy kind. Fluffy potatoes cook and breakdown quicker creating the smooth and fluffy texture we’re after.
In Australia, I love Royal Blue potatoes – they’re fluffy and buttery in flavour. Nadine also works well and these are most often the ‘white potatoes’ you’ll find in major supermarkets. If you can get Nicola or Sebago, they’re good too. In the US, Russet potatoes are widely regarded as the potato for mashing and Yukon Gold Potatoes are great too. In the UK, look out for Maris Piper and King Edwards for best results.
Floury vs waxy potatoes: It’s important to note you can make mash out of just about any potato but the floury types will give you the best result. It’s all to do with starch. Floury potatoes release their starch molecules more easily than waxy types. The sturdier the starch molecules (aka waxy potatoes) the longer it takes for them to break down and become fluffy. Starch can make your mash gluey though, so be sure to rinse the chopped potatoes before boiling.
Other ingredients in mashed potato
All you need in addition to potatoes is butter, whole milk (cream or half and half work too and give a richer result) and a little salt for flavour.
For something super creamy, cream cheese will add a bucket load of richness and unique flavour too.
Tools you’ll need
A chopping board and sharp knife, colander, large saucepan or dutch oven and a handheld potato masher are all you need. While I sometimes use a potato ricer, I most often make my mashed taters without it. They certainly have their place but are not absolutely necessary if you don’t already have it.
How to make fluffy mashed potatoes
Here are all my not-so-secret steps to making the most perfect mash potato. Read this section in conjunction with the next “Tips and Tricks” section. How to is the how while tips is the why.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Prepare the potatoes: For smooth mash, you need to peel your potatoes, then cut them into 1 ½ inch pieces. Rinse them under cold running water through a colander to remove excess starch.
- Cook the potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large saucepan then cover with cold water (this again ensures they cook evenly). Bring it to a boil, then cook them for around 15 minutes or until you can easily crush one with a fork (this is beyond the fork tender you look for when roasting potatoes).
- Drain and dry the potatoes: Now drain the potatoes through the colander again. Place the potatoes back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat for 30-45 seconds, shaking often to dry them out.
- Mash a little: Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes a little (or you can use your potato ricer at this stage too).
- Add butter and milk: Now add the butter, mash and melt it in until mostly mixed through. Add half the milk and stir it through, before repeating with the rest. Keep mashing until they’re smooth and fluffy. Feel free to add a little more milk if you like a looser consistency.
- Add salt: Stir the salt in with a wooden spoon. You’re done. Serve immediately either with lashings of butter or bathed in gravy.
Tips and tricks
- Cutting the potatoes: Make sure to cut the potatoes all the same size so they cook evenly. Don’t cut them too small or they can take longer to soften (this is due to a chemical reaction that causes the starch to firm up).
- Rinse them: I find I only rinse the potatoes before they’re cooked. Some recipes suggest to rinse them after as well. The rinsing removes excess starch which is what can create gluey potatoes. I have never felt the need to do the second rinse and stick to just once.
- Place them in cold water: While you would put pasta into already boiling water, potatoes are the opposite. In boiling water, the outside cooks too quickly for the middle to be cooked through. Starting with cold water allows them to cook more evenly.
- Dry them out: Drying the potatoes out ensures you get fluffy and not soupy or sloppy mash. It’s an important step to getting fluffy mash potato.
- Warm the milk: Warming the milk first, either in the microwave or on the stove top, will keep your mash warm while you’re mixing it. If you take milk straight out of the fridge it will cool down your mash, which also causes it to stiffen up. You can absolutely turn the stove on again underneath to rewarm it if necessary though.
- Boiling mashed potatoes is the quickest method, though you can bake your potatoes and mash them.
Ricer vs masher vs food processor
- A potato ricer can produce a lighter mash, but while they’re said to create a smoother mash, I don’t necessarily find this true. The holes in them can be quite large and it’s not technically mashing it to a smooth consistency. It certainly gives a light and airy result though. It is kind of clunky to wash up too.
- A potato masher may produce a denser mash but I find you can get a smoother result more easily. It won’t necessarily be light and airy though. I often rice my potatoes, then finish off with the masher.
- A food processor will give you gluey, claggy mashed potatoes by breaking down those starch molecules so finely. In short, just don’t do it.
- For creamy mashed potatoes, you can beat them with a hand mixer or stand mixer for a short time.
What to do with leftover mashed potato
Leftover mashed potato is great for all kinds of things like;
- Croquettes, patties or fish cakes.
- Fried up into bubble and squeak
- Use it to make bread.
- It’s the classic topping for shepherd’s pie and cottage pie
- And I’m currently working on a recipe to turn it into fries too.
These homemade mashed potatoes are gluten free. Other recipes may vary and instant potatoes also may vary.
This depends on what your version of healthy is. It’s not technically unhealthy.
Potatoes are a good source of a number of vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium and vitamins B6 and C. They are high in carbs (not a bad thing unless you want a low-carb diet) and have a high glycemic index (GI) though which makes them less suitable for diabetics.
By adding butter, you’re adding saturated fat and calories and it’s best used in moderation but, on the upside, there isn’t too much in this recipe as it’s split among 4-6 serves. You can use many different versions of margarine in it’s place but they come with their own dietary effects.
Milk is a lower fat option than cream or half and half but, while I wouldn’t suggest eating mashed potato daily, it’s fine as part of a balanced diet.
Leftover mashed potato can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days. To reheat, you’ll need to add a little more butter and milk, then place in the oven at 180C / 350F or back in a saucepan over medium heat.
Leftover mashed potato can be frozen too. Use a small cup to measure out portions and freeze on a baking tray until solid. Transfer to a ziplock bag or airtight container and freeze for 2-3 months. The more butter and milk or cream in your mash, the better they will freeze and reheat.
More recipes you’ll love
- Potato fritters
- How to make crunchy roast potatoes
- Garlic butter potatoes with crispy prosciutto
- Roasted garlic parmesan potatoes
- Simple potato salad
- Potato and bacon tart
IF YOU TRY THIS fluffy mashed potatoes recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers too!
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Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
- 1.25 kg potatoes (like Royal Blue, Nadine, Russet, Maris Piper) (2 ½lb)
- ⅓ cup whole milk, warmed
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon table salt
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Large colander
- Potato masher or potato ricer
- Peel the potatoes and cut into roughly 1 ½ inch pieces.
- Rinse them through a colander to remove excess starch.
- Place potatoes in a large pot or dutch oven and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 15-18 minutes until they break apart easily when you push a fork through. Cooking time will depend on the size you’ve cut them and the type of potatoes you use.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pot over medium heat for around 30-45 seconds. Let them steam, shaking the pan quite regularly to dry them out. Remove from heat.
- Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes roughly for a minute or so.
- Add the butter and mash to melt it in. Add half the milk and mix that through, then repeat with the other half.
- Continue mashing until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy, scraping off the bottom and banging off the masher on the side of the pan from time to time.
- Add the salt and stir in with a wooden spoon.
- If it’s cooled down too much, place the saucepan back over low heat, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon until hot and fluffy.
- Taste and add salt if you like. Serve immediately.
- Please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers too!
- For lump free mash, make sure the biggest pieces of potato are cooked through by crushing with a fork. It should crush easily.
- Floury potatoes work better than waxy potatoes. Use Royal Blue, Nadines, Sebago, Nicola, Russet, Maris Piper or King Edward for best results.
- Don’t use cold milk as it will cool down your mash and stiffen it up.
- You can also add finely ground black pepper and top with herbs like chives or parsley for extra flavour.
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