Food Hacks

Six mistakes you’re probably making with your mashed potatoes

May 24th, 2021

Mashed potatoes. One of the most basic but also one the most iconic side dishes for Thanksgiving. At its core, it’s just boiled potatoes mashed together to create a creamy yet filling companion to your roasts, barbecues, and grills.

While this dish is mainly composed of potatoes, butter, and cream, there are a lot of ways to mess it up.

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YouTube-Chowhound Source: YouTube-Chowhound

And that could mean the difference between having the best meal and an unsatisfying dinner.

You don’t have to bring out that emergency instant mashed potato mix because you’ll be making the perfect mashers from here on. Here are 6 mistakes you’re probably making with your mashed potatoes and how you can avoid them.

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Unsplash- Peter Schad Source: Unsplash- Peter Schad

Mistake #1 – Selecting the wrong potatoes for the job

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United Soybean Board via Flickr Source: United Soybean Board via Flickr

Even if it says potatoes on the label, not every potato is perfect for the job. If it’s available, always grab Yukon Gold. They are the densest and the most uniform of all varieties and they even have an inherent buttery flavor. When cooked, this specific breed doesn’t turn grainy, watery, or mushy, and all of those things can ruin your mashed potatoes instantly.

Mistake #2 – Cutting them too small

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Stacy Spensley via Flickr Source: Stacy Spensley via Flickr

Okay, it’s mashed potatoes, so you’ll obviously be tempted to cut them up into super small pieces to make it easier for you to pound them. But if you cut them too small, the potatoes might absorb too much water during the cooking process and can prevent them from soaking up all the butter and cream. According to Sunset magazine food editor, Margo True it’s best if they’re “even chunks” so they “cook at the same rate.” Your best bet: 1 ½ inch chunks.

Mistake #3 – You’re not salting your water

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Artem Beliakin via Pexels Source: Artem Beliakin via Pexels

Much like in pasta, there’s a reason why people liberally salt their boiling water. When the starch in potatoes begins cooking, it will open up and absorb wherever they’re boiling in. These cells close off after cooking so not salting your water is actually missing a seasoning opportunity. It’s a tablespoon of salt for every pound of taters, people! Also, go easy on the post-cooking salt.

Mistake #4 – You’re adding them into already boiling water

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Ivan Radic via Flickr Source: Ivan Radic via Flickr

No, it’s not as counterintuitive at all. Sometimes, to hasten the process, we tend to add the potatoes into the already boiling pot. But doing that will lead to a not-so-ideal texture. Being dunked suddenly into hot water will cook the outside, leaving the inside uncooked. Just add all your potatoes to a pot, fill it with water just over the top of the spuds, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until tender, then drain.

Mistake #5 – Using the wrong tool for the job

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Othree via Flickr Source: Othree via Flickr

Fork or a masher? Nope. It can get an inconsistent texture. Unless that’s what you’re aiming for. Food processor? Nope. It’s fast but the rigorous mixing process can leave with gluey potatoes. According to True, a ricer or a food mill is your best friend for this task. Pressing and mashing them into holes gives that uniform consistency.

Mistake #6 – Using cold butter and cream

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Gail via Flickr Source: Gail via Flickr

Cold butter and cream are not only hard to absorb, but they also bring down the overall temperature of your dish. Bring the butter to room temperature first and gently warm the milk or cream before adding your potatoes in. You can do this while waiting for your potatoes to boil, hitting three birds in one go.

Simple tricks that will definitely make this deceptively simple dish. Keep this list close, it might just save your Thanksgiving. Do you have other mashed potato secrets too?

Watch the video below to see how Margot True avoids these mistakes for the perfect mash!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family and make their dinners perfect too!

Source: Chowhound, Food Network, Bon Appetit, All Recipes, Flickr

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