Radically Upgrade Instant Mashed Potatoes With Some Garlic And Miso

There is no need to feel guilty when making instant mashed potatoes — they're quick, they're easy, and they're a delicious blank canvas. The possibilities to jazz 'em up are endless, though there is one combo we have found that makes these packaged spuds seem straight out of a restaurant: roasted garlic and miso. Oof. This savory combo is rich in umami goodness from the miso, and is there anything a bit of garlic can't elevate?


For starters, instant mashed potatoes aren't all that bad as far as ingredients are concerned. Real potatoes are boiled, mashed, and dehydrated to form the snowy bits found in the packets. They need to be rehydrated with a warm liquid (usually water or stock) and a fat like butter, milk, or cream to bring them back to life. But we're going for more than life; we're going for a fully thriving, glow-up for mashed potatoes you can't get enough of.

Why miso and mashed potatoes?

Fried, baked, or in this case, mashed, potatoes become richer when introduced to a savory component. They hold on to flavor — that is why fries are dunked in condiments, and your mash will improve tenfold when you whip miso in it. But selecting the right miso for potatoes is important.


At the grocery store, you'll find three different kinds of miso: white, yellow, and red. Sometimes you can find black miso as well, if your grocery store is fancy. The thick paste is made from fermented soybeans and koji, an ingredient derived from fermented rice, barley, and other grains. It is a staple in Japanese cuisine, though incorporating miso in everyday cooking imparts a rich earthiness and an umami layer of flavor.

The lighter in color the miso, the lighter flavor it will impart. White miso is a staple ingredient in miso soup, a savory additive to homemade condiments and salad dressings. Yellow miso has more fermented barley, so it will have a richer flavor. Either will add a beautiful savory flavor to your mash. Red miso is a great ingredient for meaty stews, glazes, and earthy lentil soups, but it will be too strong for something delicate like mashed potatoes so stick to yellow and white miso varieties for this recipe upgrade. 


But remember: A little miso goes a long way because of its savory flavor. Start with just a tablespoon and whisk it with a tablespoon of water to loosen up the paste before adding it to recipes.

Don't forget the garlic

Miso, check. But we're cranking things up a notch with roasted garlic in the mix. This is a proper instant mashed potato glow-up, after all.

Roasting a bulb of garlic will give you a mushy flavor bomb. Just a few cloves whipped into mashed potatoes will make them irresistible. You can also confit garlic by slow-cooking peeled cloves submerged in olive oil over low heat. The garlic and olive oil will add richness and creaminess to your mash, a combo perfect with the savory depth of miso. It's also ideal for upgrading instant potatoes, which can be a bit one-dimensional.


There are many other ways to play up your instant mash. Whatever additions or swaps you make, remember: The idea is to add more flavor, fat, and richness to the potatoes that may seem bland and flat if made simply using the box instructions. So replace water with broth, and milk with heavy cream in the recipe. You can also garnish with fried onions, thinly sliced scallions, or sauteed mushrooms to really give the potatoes the va-va-voom. 

And when your guests beg for your recipe while licking their plates clean, you don't have to reveal your potatoes came from a box; your secret's safe with us.