Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel and The Yummy Pics Community

Mashed Potato Tips and Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel by Spicie Foodie

Up until a few years ago whenever we wanted mashed potatoes with dinner they always came out of a box. For some reason I felt too intimidated to make them from scratch. When I did try sometimes I overcooked or undercooked the potatoes, other times they either tasted bland or weren’t creamy enough. One day I had enough of powdery packages and set out to conquer my fear. Instead of getting caught up on all the mistakes I was making I started cooking mashed potatoes by feel. Looking back I can see how silly it was to not have practiced more. Homemade mashed potatoes are super simple to prepare and I know I don’t have to tell you how much better they taste.

Mashed Potato Tips and Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel by Spicie Foodie

Best Potatoes

Now when I prepare mashed potatoes I never stop to measure ingredients. Like all of my cooking and recipes I cook by feel. (For the recipes I share with you I do stop to measure ingredients.) The most important factor I learned about cooking mashed potatoes is that the results will depend on many things. The type of potato used and its starch and water content will greatly effect the results. According to The Cook’s Thesaurus website the best potatoes for mashing are those with a high starch content like russet (Idaho), Yukon gold, Caribe and purple potatoes. If in doubt you can always do what I do and consult the package labels. I always reach for the local variety who’s package states they are best for mashing.

Mashed Potato Tips and Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel by Spicie Foodie

Peeling, Sizes & Salt:

I don’t always buy organic potatoes so they usually get peeled. Peeling or no peeling is a personal choice, but some feel that leaving the skin on adds another flavour to the mash. When boiling the potatoes make sure to cut into even sized pieces so they cook at the same rate. If I’m pressed for time the pieces are smaller to achieve a quicker cooking time. But be warned that you’ll have to keep a close eye on them to prevent over cooking. Next comes the salt -a very important element. I always salt the boiling water plenty, then after cooking and draining I add a bit more salt. Taste and adjust to your taste.

Mashed Potato Tips and Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel by Spicie Foodie

Cooking Time & Salt:

Cooking time will depend on the potato variety used and of course on size. I cook until they are fork tender. In other words until I can push a fork through without resistance. If the potato crumbles then you’ve over cooked and it’s time to drain. After draining the pot I add several pieces of whole fat butter. Add a little salt then cover the pot and leave for a few minutes until the butter melts. Now you’ll need to decide how smooth or lumpy you want them. Once the butter has melted using a potato masher I begin mashing slowly.

Mashed Potato Tips and Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel by Spicie Foodie

The Liquid:

If you want creamy buttery potatoes you have to use a full fat liquid. Okay, you could use low-fat but the taste is not on the same level. I always use either whole (full fat) milk or evaporated milk. Though more caloric the results are amazing. In these mashed potatoes I used whole milk. Instead of measuring how much liquid to use I first look at the potato texture after boiling. If they appear dry then you’ll require more liquid than ones with more moisture. As I slowly start mashing I begin adding a little bit of milk then mash a little more. Repeating this until I am both happy with the texture or creaminess. Often times I prefer a lumpy mash so I end up using anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 or cup of liquid. Keep a close eye on the texture and slowly add liquid to achieve the consistency you desire. Taste if needed add a little more salt.

Mashed Potato Tips and Cooking Mashed Potatoes by Feel by Spicie Foodie

Other Ingredients:

Occasionally I like adding spices or herbs to the mash. Roasted garlic cloves are excellent in mashed potatoes. Simply roast a whole head of garlic until soft, then mash it into the potatoes. Rosemary, parsley, pepper flakes, bacon bits, smoked paprika and of course cheese are all great ingredients to mix with mashed potatoes. The possibilities are truly endless. So have fun and experiment with different flavours.



The Yummy Pics Community on Google+

The Yummy Pics Challenge Community:

Have you heard about the new Google+ “Communities” feature? It is basically a new feature to get together with people who have similar interest. I have created a community called “Yummy Pics Challenge”. It is a photography community to learn and share ways to improve our food photography. Members can only join by invitation. I have sent out invitations to many of you on Google+ so make sure you check your accounts. If you did not receive one and would like to join please make sure you follow me on Google+ or say so in the comments below.

You will have the opportunity to learn, ask and receive help and critique from fellow members –and from me too. I will also be sharing tips, and hosting giveaways there that won’t make it onto the blog. The community is growing fast and I hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend.


Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide to Better Photos, Photography eBook by Spicie Foodie



  1. says

    Great tips for mashing potatoes!! It’s a simple job but need to be done properly…I add the cooking water instead of milk (I’m trying to save calories…)! Congratulation with your new community on Google plus.

  2. says

    I am virtually eating that last bowl of mashed potatoes! There’s nothing more comforting! I’m so glad that you moved away from the box! My mother used to use potato flakes growing up, but once I got married and was living off a very tight budget, I discovered that is was cheaper to buy potatoes and, as you discovered, the difference between real potatoes and powdered potatoes is night and day! You did a fabulous job putting together a mashed potato tutorial! BTW – If you don’t have whole milk, add a little buttermilk with the 2% or 1% milk (equal parts). It allows you to cut back on the butter and still get a creamy mash, plus it takes great!

  3. says

    Gorgeous mashed potatoes, Nancy! I love what you’re doing on your G+ Community. I know we will all learn a LOT from you!!!! Thanks!

  4. says

    I love making nmash and I love eating it. I had no idea that anybody found making them hard. This is the only thing my mother could cook so I figured as a child, that if she could cook thenm they must have been easy. great tutorial in the step by step process. I always like to steam mine then absolutely no other liquid besides milk ( whole or low fat) ever penetrates them and they dont overcook as easily. Love your mash picture

  5. says

    Hi Nancy, Hope you are well. Your post is beautiful and helpful too. I grew up eating the mashed potatoes out of a box and sad to say that I didn’t even know there was another way to make them until I got married and saw someone do it,

  6. says

    I grew up with homemade mashed potatoes made with russet potatoes. I totally agree that how much butter and milk to add varies with each batch. My husband grew up with the instant kind and to this day he still prefers them.
    I once tried using yukon gold potatoes and they ended up with a gummy-like texture (used a mixer to make and not hand mash). So now my potatoes of choice are russets for a big batch and using a mixer and red potatoes for hand mashing.

  7. says

    I don’t make mashed potatoes very often, usually for family celebrated holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas but I do have my methods, after years of preparing them!!
    This year I added white truffle butter to the mashed potatoes and it was a huge hit, a little pricey but so worth it, if you would like to give that a try sometime! Your photos are gorgeous and the picture group sounds wonderful, now I just have to get myself going on Google plus-maybe you’re giving me the push to start using it;-)

  8. says

    I can do mashed potato in many ways.
    One favourite is to add in some finely grated cheddar or similar cheese then mash further until the cheese has melted.
    A little sea salt and ground black pepper every time though

  9. says

    Mashed potatoes are one of life’s great pleasures in my opinion. And I always go full fat!! If I’m eating light then potatoes are not on the menu, lol.

  10. says

    Mashed potatoes are wonderful, and homemade are the best. And, as you point out, so easy to do. We always use cream in ours, and tons of butter. And always make them by feel, too – there’s really no other way. Good post – thanks.

  11. says

    I did not have mash potatoes for ages. Specially with a butter. I love to, but if I just look at it , will bring me more pounds-))) Yours looks absolutely beautiful. You have a very sweet night!

  12. says

    I don’t think I’ve seen better looking mashed potatoes. They used to intimidate me, too, and I tend to overthink the process. After years of preparing mashed potatoes with no problems I had a near fail when I tried too hard making them for a dinner party last year. Great tips here so you can’t ever go wrong. :)

    Happy to be a part of the G+ Yummy Pics community, too. :)

  13. Julie says

    I recently started boiling my potatoes whole with skin on. WOW – it makes all the difference in flavor! When they are cooked to fork tender, I drain and peel (which is easy to do when they are cooked), and then cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Easier to do, and so tasty! The potatoes have a much stronger potato flavor, instead of tasting like milk and butter.


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