The Basics: How to Make Mashed Potatoes

From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of measurements and complicated techniques. It's a method you'll remember and whip out whenever you like. It is the most basic way to make the thing you're making—like perfect mashed potatoes.

You'll need:

  • a vegetable peeler
  • a large pot
  • a colander
  • a potato masher
  • 4 pounds of russet potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • a stick of unsalted butter
  • a cup of cream
  • Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut them into large chunks and place them in the pot (alternately, you can peel and leave the potatoes whole).

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    Cover the potatoes with cold water by an inch or two and add a generous amount of salt. (You want the water to taste like the ocean.) Place the pot on the stove over high heat.

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    Once the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes (longer if you've left the potatoes whole).

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    Chowhound

    Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them rest in the sink while you prepare the butter and cream.

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    Combine the butter and cream in the pot you cooked the potatoes in. Cook over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted and the cream is hot.

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    Turn off the heat and add the drained potatoes to the hot butter-cream mixture. Mash the potatoes until they are fluffy and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

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    Chowhound

    Ready for actual recipes? Check out our Basic Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Red Potatoes, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

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