Traditional Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes Traditional Mashed Potatoes

With my favorite cranberry sauce cooked and a turkey brining in my refrigerator for tonight’s dinner, I am also making a few Thanksgiving inspired side dishes to go along with our pre-Thanksgiving turkey meal.

Even though it is not quite Thanksgiving yet, I can’t imagine eating turkey without butter topped mashed potatoes to go with it… and don’t even get me started about gravy.

Last year I posted a recipe on how to make creamy mashed potatoes using Yukon Gold potatoes and passing the potatoes through a metal mesh strainer.  But today I would  like to share with you a more traditional mashed potato recipe using Russet potatoes and a potato masher.
mashed potatoes peeled Traditional Mashed Potatoes
Making mashed potatoes is very easy and adaptable.  Many people use either milk, half and half, heavy cream, butter, cream cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, broth, or a combination of any of the mentioned items to add to boiled cubed potatoes before mashing them.  There isn’t a steadfast rule on making mashed potatoes other than to make sure the potatoes are fully cooked (preferably at a low simmer) and to avoid using a food processor or blender (and sometimes a mixer) at a high speed.  If you mix potatoes at a high speed what you’ll end up with is a potato dish with a glue-like texture. However, I do like to use a mixer at a low speed.  A couple other tools for mashing potatoes is a rice mill and a masher.
boiling potatoes Traditional Mashed Potatoes
Traditional mashed potatoes is made by mashing boiled potatoes, milk, butter, and seasoning it with salt and pepper.  These are all common ingredients found in the kitchen and makes a wonderful, delicious, and comforting side dish.  The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for traditional mashed potatoes.  However, feel free to swap out the milk and instead use half and half or cream.  Just keep in mind, the higher the fat content is in the liquid, the richer the potatoes will be.  An equally important aspect (to me) of making mashed potatoes besides not over-mixing at a high speed is making sure the ratio between the potatoes and the liquids are in proportion to the desired texture you are seeking.
strained potatoes Traditional Mashed Potatoes
My formula for a more dense mashed potato is 1 lb. of potatoes to 1/4 cup of liquid (including butter).  For a medium consistency I like this ratio: 1 lb. potatoes to 1/2 cup total liquid (including butter).  For  thin consistency I use 1 lb. potatoes to 2/3 cup of liquid (including butter).  Keep in mind you can always add more liquid but you can’t take liquid away.  So if you’re not sure about what type of consistency of mashed potatoes you would like to make, start at a 1/4 cup of total liquid for every 1 lb. of potatoes and add more until you reach your ideal mashed potato dish.
mashing potatoes Traditional Mashed Potatoes
Lastly, if you’re wondering about the difference between Yukon gold and Russet potatoes, Yukon gold has a more buttery flavor to them and has a lower starch content than Russet making it a more ideal potato to use in fancy meals. However, Russet potatoes are less expensive and work just fine.  Most people don’t notice the difference after all the butter, milk, and cream have been added.



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Traditional Mashed Potatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 4½ pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed in 2-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large pot, boil the potatoes in salted water on high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmering boil and cook the potatoes until a fork can easily poke through the potatoes - about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat and carefully strain the potatoes over a sink. Return the potatoes to the pot. In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the milk in the microwave for 90 seconds. Add the warm milk and the butter to the pot. Mash the potatoes, milk, and butter together with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.

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  1. says

    This is just how my mother taught me to make mashed potatoes. And it’s just the way her mother taught her. So good! I’m starting to wish that Canadian Thanksgiving hadn’t already passed…

  2. says

    I always wondered why sometimes they ended up with a glue-like consistency! Those must’ve been the days I was in a hurry. Why does it do that exactly? Just curious! Thanks again, Alice!

  3. says

    Can I just say I will potatoes just about any ole’ which way. Love that you are showing multiple ways to make mashed potatoes. I hope that you and your family enjoy the pre-Thanksgiving ;D

  4. says

    My dad always made the mashed potatoes for our Thanksgiving meal. Since he’s been ill and in the hospital, and since he won’t be home until the day before Thanksgiving (we hope), the duty has fallen to me. I’ve made them before, of course, but this year the pressure to get them right – to get HIS mashed potatoes right – is really on.

    Thanks for your post about them. It actually makes me feel better to review the basics. Crazy, right?

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