How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

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These Perfect Mashed Potatoes really do turn out rather perfect… and they’re a great make-ahead recipe since they warm up well too.

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I’m starting to freak out a little bit about Thanksgiving. My in-laws are coming into town, my mother will be visiting too, and I’m hosting! In my new house! I know that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but I don’t usually host a big, important, scary meal like Thanksgiving.  I can host dinner parties for 20 people, but for some reason Thanksgiving gives me GREAT anxiety!

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I mean… I have to roast a TURKEY!  A great, big giant turkey!  Is that scary to anyone out there besides me?

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I guess I find it frightening since it is, in fact, the star of the meal.  If the turkey doesn’t turn out… if it’s under-done or worst-0f-all OVER done and dry and horrible, then that pretty much ruins the entire meal, right?

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I’m thankful that I’ll have my Mother with me this year- since she has made a million turkeys and it doesn’t seem to faze her in the least.  I might do some investigating to see if using my convection settings are a good idea or not.

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Well, at least I can feel totally comfortable about the side dishes I’m choosing to serve.  I’ll share some of those this week.

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First side dish to share is these Perfect Mashed Potatoes.  I boil them with a generous dose of kosher salt (flavor!)

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Then I drain them…

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…and then I roast them briefly to dry them out.  I want to use butter and milk to make my mashed potatoes tender- not water!

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Mash, mash, mash.  If you use one of these handheld mashers, your potatoes will likely be somewhat lumpy since it’s kinda impossible to get out all of the lumps with a hand masher.  I have a Potato Ricer that I like to use when I really want them to come out nice and smooth.

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Then I add some butter and warm milk and mash all of it together.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and that’s it.

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They are perfect!  If you want to make these ahead for the big day, just wrap them well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Warm them in the slow cooker on the day of serving, adding more butter and milk as needed to keep them deliciously fluffy and tender.

How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 6 servings (double or triple to serve more!)

Prep Time:30 min

Cook Time:25 min


2 pounds Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup milk, warmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
additional salt, to taste


1. Prepare the potatoes: Heat your oven to 250° F. Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover. Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender- (about 12 to 15 minutes). Drain the potatoes, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the oven until thoroughly dried out – 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Making them mashed: Mash the potatoes until smooth, taking care not to overwork them. Add the butter and milk a little at a time, mashing them into the potatoes. Stir in the pepper. Add additional salt, if desired.


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  • Maegan @ The BakerMama wrote:

    These tators look simply perfect, indeed! I know your Thanksgiving will be fabulous! Your family is so lucky to have you as their host!

  • Barbara @ Barbara Bakes wrote:

    Turkey’s easy. You’ll do great. I cooked turkey dinner on vacation at a condo a couple of years ago and they had a gorgeous Wolfe oven with convection and it was the best turkey ever. I like to use the dry brine recipe from the LA Times.

    Nice tip about drying out the potatoes in the oven.

  • Sandra | Sandra’s Easy Cooking wrote:

    Perfect indeed! Got to try your method!

  • Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen wrote:

    How on earth I have never heard of a potato ricer- I do not know!! Must pick one of those up! Love the option to make it the day before 🙂

  • Buck Weber wrote:

    Many times when we have leftover mashed or baked potatoes we will freeze some to add later as a thickener to potato soup.

  • Vanessa Linda wrote:

    What a great idea to bake the already boiled potatoes! Definitely worth a try with my next batch of mashed potatoes!

  • Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking wrote:

    These look so good, Lori! There’s nothing more comforting than a big heap of fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes alongside any meal. Love this!

  • Stacey wrote:

    Hey 🙂 Dare I say, the meal will NOT be ruined, even if the turkey IS 😉 The side dishes have always been my faves at Thanksgiving…mashed taters, sweet potatoes, gravy, green beans, stuffing/dressing, not to mention all the great desserts! I DO understand the anxiety tho bc when I invite people over, I want it to be good, too…you’ll do fine! 🙂

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      You’re right- turkey isn’t even my favorite part of the meal! Thanks!

  • April was in CT now CA wrote:

    Nothing better than mashed potatoes and gravy!! I make mine similar to this, except I mash them in the same pot I cooked them over heat to help evaporate the water instead of putting them in the oven before adding my milk and butter. I also like a little sprinkle of seasoned salt and when I’m feeling extra bad I add a little cream cheese. Thanksgiving can’t get here soon enough! I’m sure your turkey will turn out fabulous, hope you have a wonderful day with your family.

  • Karen wrote:


  • Debbie wrote:

    I wonder if a salad spinner would work to get the water off of the potatoes? Hmmm. I may try that.

  • Auntiepatch wrote:

    Ask your butcher to cut your turkey into pieces (like a chicken). Put the pieces into a roasting pan and they will all cook at the same temp, come out tender and falling off the bone, and make a wonderful gravy at the same time. And, best of all, NO BASTING every 2 hours! After all, who sets an uncarved turkey on the table? It’s usually cut up in the kitchen by the cook. So, do yourself a favor and cook it all cut up; you’ll never to back!

  • Shelby wrote:

    Hosting Thanksgiving for a small group is so much fun! Your table can look beautiful, you can use your “good stuff” and the menu is already mostly pre-planned. Turkeys are not difficult-just give it plenty of butter/oil and plenty of salt for flavor, put herbs under the skin and fill the cavity with a nice big onion. Not kidding about salt. When you think you have plenty-salt it again. This always works for me. Of course, the most important thing is to take the time to truly enjoy the people at your table.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thank you so much- I love your advice!

  • Sarah S wrote:

    Hi Lori, thanks for the recipe. Which type of potatoes do you prefer? Idaho or Yukon Gold? I find Yukon Gold sometimes doesn’t get as smooth as Idaho, but I like the flavor the Yukon better. I was just wondering which type you normally use when making this recipe?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I do like to use Yukon Gold bc I feel like they have better flavor. For this recipe I used Idaho potatoes since I wasn’t able to find Yukons.

  • Liz @ Virtually Homemade wrote:

    I never thought of drying the potatoes out in the oven! Brilliant! And yes Thanksgiving can be scary. I am a guest this year and excited for the break.

  • Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) wrote:

    Oh yeah, there is nothing I love more on my Thanksgiving table than mashed potatoes! And these look mighty perfect indeed.

  • patsy wrote:

    We solved the dilemma of roasting the perfect turkey last year… we did this by purchasing a turkey fryer! The turkey came out perfect in 45 minutes! Of course, you have to make 2 smaller birds (the fryer is best for about a 10-12 pound turkey)… but, it’s a guarantee that there will be leftovers! Best turkey I’ve ever had… and, it freed up my oven for the side dishes!

  • La Torontoise wrote:

    Lori, what a beautiful picture of mashed potatoes! It’s almost a case study in food photography!

    Love this recipe.I’m very conscious about calories and would replace the butter with olive oil. My child will love it: -)

    Have a great week.
    P.S. I’m frpom Toronto, and I love Yukon potatoes, this is something I am really missing while living in Europe…

  • leslie wrote:

    Looks delish Lori. It’s amazing how many different ways people use to prepare such a simple side 🙂

  • Marie @ Little Kitchie wrote:

    These really do look perfect, and I LOVE that you can make them ahead! Such a lifesaver for busy Thanksgiving day!