Are You Making One Of These Common Mashed Potato Mistakes? I Know I Was

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Home cooks often underestimate the humble spud. As it turns out, getting mashed potatoes right is a deceptively difficult task. Despite its simplicity, this side dish can have a variety of problems if prepared improperly—from being gummy, sticky, or bland. 

Nevertheless, there are several methods that claim to yield the best-mashed potato recipe, resulting in creamy, delicious results. In reality, many of the common techniques for making perfect mashed potatoes are actually mistakes. Are you guilty of any of these spud faux pas?

1. Using The Wrong Type Of Spud

A sack of russet potatoes.
(Gita Kulinitch Studio/

Creating the ultimate mashed potatoes starts with the right potatoes. There are many potato varieties, but mashed potatoes are best made with russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes. 

A Yukon Gold potato has a medium starch and yields dense, creamy mashes, while a russet potato has high starch and delivers a fluffy, airy texture. By combining these two potatoes, you’ll get a perfect mash that is both sturdy and harmonious.

2. Forgetting To Wash Them Before Simmering

Washing potatoes in the skin.

Unwashed potatoes in a pot before simmering won’t make the tastiest mash, regardless of how harmless it may seem. Since potatoes are being submerged in water, you might think it’s unnecessary to wash them. But consider the fact they grow underground, making them dirty. 

In most cases, the dirt is absorbed back into the potato. It results in mashed potatoes that are less than satisfying.

3. Dropping The Potatoes In Boiling Water

Potatoes boiling in a saucepan

The secret to making mashed potatoes is not to boil them in the water right away. More harm is done than good by this. By the time the inside is edible, the exterior will have turned to mush. Rather, combine everything at once and allow it to come to the same temperature. Also, keep things at a steady simmer rather than a rapid boil.

4. Not Doing Any Better Than Butter

mashed potatoes with butter

Adding salt to the water the potatoes cook in will flavor them from the inside out. If you do add butter, don’t skimp. Many rich creamy recipes require more than a stick of butter per pound of potatoes. Having said that, don’t limit yourself to just butter.

While butter adds a rich flavor, other types of dairy, such as sour cream, heavy cream, or cheese add a luscious touch. Fresh herbs will also add a burst of flavor. Rosemary, thyme, and sage sprigs are often favorites.

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5. Using The Wrong Mashing Tool

A pile of riced potatoes

Your cooked potatoes are losing out on possible potential if you use a fork, handheld potato masher, or food processor. Forks or handheld potato mashers often produce inconsistent results, whereas food processors turn mashed potatoes into a sticky gluey mess. Unfortunately, this is true even when you start with the right potatoes. So, what is the right way to mash potatoes?

Potatoe ricers are a must-have kitchen tool for those who desire the smoothest, most uniform mash possible. With the best-selling Priority Chef ricer, you will be able to get uniform shreds of potatoes in no time!

By using the Priority Chef ricer, you can quickly and conveniently prepare creamy, heavenly mashed potatoes in seconds. Just fill the basket, and squeeze away with the potato press. And best of all, it’s dishwasher-safe! 

In addition to potato ricers, food mills are another good option if you have them. Similar to a potato ricer, a food mill breaks down potatoes, but it takes up more kitchen space and can be difficult to clean.

6. Not Saving Potato Water

Potatoes in a pot of water.

The term “liquid gold” refers to pasta water, as we’ve all heard. Pasta water works its magic in just about every kind of sauce. As with pasta water, leftover potato water also has some benefits and should not be thrown away.

Be sure to keep the potato water handy before tossing it down the drain. It could help save a sad-looking dish. When you’ve gone overboard with other ingredients, this natural stabilizer can save runny mashed potatoes. Adding a little bit at a time will help mash regain its shape. 

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But potato water is not limited to reviving just mash. Potatoes are full of starchy goodness that has several uses. You can quench your garden’s thirst with potato water as long as it doesn’t have salt. Potato water is a great nutritional snack for growing flowers and vegetables since it is packed with potassium, protein, B6 vitamins, and iron.

Potato water with salt, however, is also effective at killing weeds. Use the potato water you’ve drained on unwanted weeds right away.  

If you lack a green thumb but love to bake, leftover potato water has many uses in the kitchen. Potato water makes a terrific gluten-free thickener for dishes such as gravy, soups, and stews.

Take these tips into account the next time you make mashed potatoes, and you’ll be well on your way to some game-changing spuds. 

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