Mashed potatoes is the one side dish that’s a must for the holiday dinner. These Perfect Mashed Potatoes are smooth, creamy, fluffy and sure to earn a permanent spot on your holiday menu.
No matter what holiday you are preparing for, mashed potatoes is a side dish that must always be on the table.
I like to make a different dinner menu for every holiday and different dishes every year but there is one thing that never changes and that is my homemade mashed potatoes. It’s a simple, classic, and comforting side dish that makes you feel like home.
These mashed potatoes are even more comforting made by the fact that my grandmother and my mom make these potatoes the same way. Each bite bring all the family dinner memories with it. I hope these mashed potatoes will make your family dinners just a cozy so you can make your own family memories around the dinner table.
Tips For The Best Mashed Potatoes:
When cooking potatoes, start with cold water and add potatoes to cold water.
Leaving the skin on or taking it off is a personal preference. Potato skin does have a lot of nutrients in it so leaving them on is not a bad idea.
If you leave potato skins on, make sure to wash them well. Otherwise, peel potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes so they cook faster.
Cook potatoes with seasoning and herbs so that the flavors cook into the potatoes.
Remember to take out the bay leaf when potatoes are done.
Make sure to reserve some cooking water from cooking potatoes, don’t drain it all off completely.
Mash potatoes while it’s still hot.
Add liquid a little at a time, checking the thickness while mashing potatoes. If you add all liquid at the same time, you might add too much and mashed potatoes will be too runny.
Always taste as you cook (and mash) to check if more seasoning is needed.
What Potatoes Are Best To Use?
Believe it or not, not all potatoes are created equal. There are different types of potatoes and all have different amount of starches and other enzymes that make them either on the waxy side or on the crumbly sides. Other potatoes mostly fall in the middle.
Russet potatoes is always the best choice for mashed potatoes because they are soft and fluffy and fall apart easy.
Gold potatoes would be our second choice because they are medium starch. They are soft but still stay together a little more. There is a slight sweetness to gold potatoes which will add that flavor to your side dish.
The one that I recommend less often is red potatoes. Red potatoes are on the waxy side and won’t give you as soft and fluffy results and Russet potatoes.
Try Adding Other Flavors
If you’d like to spruce up your mashed potatoes and add more flavor, you can make them with peas and caramelized onions.
I love the flavor that caramelized onions add to the mashed potatoes.
To get a nice caramelization on the onions, preheat the pan on medium-high heat with some butter or oil. Add your diced onions and saute, stirring often, until the onions get that nice golden-brown color (and smell incredible).
You can also cook the peas in the water that you saved from mashed potatoes.
Try them cheesy! Add about 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese or you can even mix several cheeses together. If you like it extra cheesy, feel free to add a whole cup. Remember, it’s best to grate cheese off the block because pre-shredded cheese is mixed with starch and separators.
Add some fresh chopped green onions or chives.
Of course, who can ever resist crispy bacon so try adding some of that!
Some More Recipes for Holiday Dinner:
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The Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- 3 lbs Idaho potatoes peeled or not
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dry dill weed
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1/4-1/2 cups cooking water from above cooking potatoes
- Salt to taste
- Start by peeling your potatoes and cutting them in about 1 inch chunks. Cutting the potatoes will make it faster to cook and easier to mash. (If you want to leave skin on, make sure to wash potatoes well.)
- Add the potatoes to the pot and pour in enough water to cover the potatoes comfortably.
- Add the bay leaf, some salt, and dill weed. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and lower the heat to medium. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are cooked all the way through and starting to fall apart.
- Drain potatoes and save at least a 1/2 cup of cooking water.
- Keep potatoes in the pot and add butter, heavy cream, sour cream, about 1/4 cup of cooking water, and salt. Start mashing potatoes.
- When potatoes are mostly mashed and combined, see if you might need to add a little more water. If you do, add another 1/4 cup or so at a time until you reach a desired consistency. Mash after each addition. (You will most likely only have to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup altogether.)
- Mash it until it's nicely smooth. Taste to see if you need to add more salt.
- When servings, you can top off mashed potatoes with a little more butter while it's still hot and let it melt. It makes a nice presentation.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on November 12, 2013. Updated October 24, 2020.