HomeFoodHow to make the best ever mashed potatoes

How to make the best ever mashed potatoes

People who don’t love mashed potatoes don’t love life.

It’s a great staple that can go from the everyday to the elevated as it even pops up on five-star menus these days.

But how do you make the best of it, when it all seems so simple?

Well, there are a few tricks and tips to step up your mash.

First of all, you have to buy the right potatoes. Supermarkets make this idiot-proof these days by labelling their potatoes. You’ll generally find ‘for mash’ or ‘for roasting’ or even ‘general use’ or something similar on the label somewhere.

If you want to get more specific, you need a ‘floury’ type for the best mash. These include coliban, desiree, Dutch cream, Nicola, sebago and spunta. The gold standard is Yukon gold, but they, like their namesake, are hard to find.

You could even try a purple variety such as purple Congo or Toolangi Delight. You won’t get the deep purple of your pre-mash potato, but they look visually appealing and create a great talking point if you have people over for dinner.

Hot, hot, hot

So you have your potato of choice, what next? Well, it’s boiling time.

Peel and chop your potatoes into similar sizes, about two centimetres square.

You don’t need to boil the water first, just toss them in at any temperature. Add a good teaspoon of salt, and then boil.

Don’t hover about wondering when they are ready. To find out when they should be drained, stick a sharp knife – preferably a small vegetable knife – into one of the pieces. If it slides right off, or you can’t even get it to stick into the potatoes in the first place, they are not done.

It may be a good idea to check a few different chunks. Pieces will cook at different speeds depending where they are in the pot and their size.

This should take about 20 minutes from the time they are boiling.

Drain well. I have seen a few recipes that recommend putting them back on the heat to remove all the excess water, but that seems a bit extreme.

Now it’s time to add the flavourings. You must add milk. One family I know mashes their potatoes with nothing more than water and it’s like eating mooshy cardboard. Don’t be like them.

I can no more be exact about the amount of milk than to say make sure there is a good covering in the bottom of the pan.

Start mashing. You can use an ordinary hand masher, or put them through a potato ricer for a more delicate, airy texture.

A potato ricer works on the same principle as a garlic press, only bigger. If that level of quality mash is important to you, try to pass the potatoes through two or three times for an optimum level of airiness.

Potato ricers are a lot of work, but if you are making mash for gnocchi, they are a must.

Flavour hit

When you are about halfway through mashing, adjust your flavourings. Add more milk and butter or if dairy isn’t your thing, you can replace with a light olive oil.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal recommends the equivalent of a quarter of the weight of the potatoes in butter. Stop right there Heston, we want to live to see the end of the decade.

I would recommend a three or four of tablespoons at least because I don’t want you to die, unlike Heston.

My secret sauce is garlic butter. I keep a store of my homemade stuff in the fridge and use it liberally.

You should also season with salt and pepper to taste, and you can also add any extras such as chopped chives or parsley at this stage.

Resume mashing, and mash until there are no more chunky bits. This can take longer than you expect.

And voila, you have the perfect mash.

Serve with a dab of butter, a splash of olive oil or scatter over more chives or parsley.

Do you like mashed potatoes? How do you like to make them? Why not share your hints in the comments section below?

Also read: Chicken wings with roast potatoes

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. At Coles in Western Australia, we have a choice of basically two potates white or carisma. Occasionally we see blue but its really a two potato race. There is no variety. Even the loose potatoes sre small so a stuffed potato is off the cards if you use Coles.

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