Home Food Creamy Mashed Potatoes – Brown Eyed Baker

Creamy Mashed Potatoes – Brown Eyed Baker

Say hello to the most wonderfully creamy mashed potatoes, aka the future star of every single holiday dinner for the rest of your life. A combination of the right potatoes and a super simple technique makes all the difference – get perfect homemade mashed potatoes each and every time (plus countless requests for the recipe any time you make them!).

Overhead photo of pink rustic bowl full of mashed potatoes sprinkled with chopped chives and a wooden spoon nestled inside.

What are you MOST excited to eat on Thanksgiving?

I typically gloss over the turkey, accepting a small piece of dark meat, and load up on all of those side dishes, but the one that gets me starry-eyed every time is the mashed potatoes.

It took some time to nail down the technique for truly magnificent potatoes, but once I uncovered it, I’ve never made mashed potatoes another way! These are incredibly easy and require only a few ingredients, meaning there is absolutely no reason to leave them off of your menu, whether it’s a holiday or a weeknight dinner.

I love that these are super creamy but still retain a good bit of texture and some chunkiness – the best of both worlds when it comes to mashed potatoes.

The Best Potatoes to Use

These mashed potatoes rely upon Yukon gold potatoes to give them the creamiest, dreamiest texture!

Yukon gold potatoes are the very best of both worlds: they aren’t considered full-on waxy potatoes like red potatoes, which means they break down a little bit easier (important for mashing and creaming!), and they also aren’t considered full-on starchy potatoes like russet potatoes, which means they aren’t as fluffy and light (important for a creamy and dense texture!).

The semi-waxy and semi-starchy Yukon gold potatoes are basically what mashed potato dreams are made of!

Key Ingredients and Techniques

Mashed potatoes are pretty basic, right? Boil the potatoes, mash or beat in some liquid, season them, and voila! Potatoes! Except… sometimes they’re not very good, right? Sometimes they turn out gummy or dry or bland and gosh, isn’t that the worst?! Here’s how to make the best-ever mashed potatoes recipe:

  • Yukon Gold potatoes – As mentioned above, the type of potato is key to the final consistency.
  • Half-and-Half – I know this is not readily available in all areas. You can substitute equal amounts of heavy cream and whole milk for the half-and-half in this recipe.
  • Warm butter and half and half – In the past, I’ve stirred in softened butter and milk from the fridge, or some variation thereof. Instead, here we are warming the butter and half and half on the stove and mashing them into the potatoes, a little at a time. Adding them warm allows them to more easily absorb into the potatoes, making for much smoother and creamier mashed potatoes.
  • Liberal Seasoning – Season more than you think you should! Seriously, is there anything worse than bland mashed potatoes? You may think that the amount of salt and pepper in this recipe is a lot, but I promise you that the potatoes taste AMAZING and this is not an area you want to skimp!
Butter and half-and-half melted together in a small black saucepan.

Many people swear by using hand mixer to make their mashed potatoes, but I have always found a manual masher to produce a better final product. I think it’s too easy to overbeat potatoes with an electric mixer, which can lead to gummy mashed potatoes.

How to Make Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The preparation doesn’t take long at all and you’ll be rewarded with the most fantastic mashed potatoes! Here we go:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into even 1-inch dice. 
  2. Place in a large saucepan or stockpot and cover with water, ensuring that there is an extra inch or so of water above the potatoes. Set them on high to boil.
  3. Meanwhile, place the half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan over low heat to warm and melt.
  4. Boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender and drain them in a large colander (I love this over-the-sink colander!).
  5. Return them to the original pot and give them a quick mash with your favorite potato masher (I don’t recommend using a ricer; while potato ricers can create fluffy and light mashed potatoes, I like the creamier, thicker texture achieved with a traditional masher).
  6. Add the warmed butter mixture a ladleful at a time, mashing the liquid into the potatoes until it is incorporated before adding more. 
  7. Give it one more good final stir, then mix in the salt and pepper! Serve them up with your favorite dinner and a drizzle of gravy if you have it!
Side by side photos of potatoes in a large pot and then being mashed up in the pot with a potato masher.
Side by side photos - on left, melted butter and cream stirred into coarsely mashed potatoes; on right, creamy mashed potatoes being stirred with wooden spoon.

Flavor Variations

I very much prefer a pile of creamy mashed potatoes that are simply seasoned with salt and pepper, however you can create a million different flavor profiles with this simple base. If you’d like to add some extra flavors, below are some ideas:

  • Garlic – For a mellower flavor that isn’t too overwhelming, try going the roasted-garlic route.
  • Tang – To get a little bit of a tang, try stirring in a dollop or two of cream cheese or sour cream.
  • Onions – They can impart great flavor; I would suggest caramelized onions or shallots for a mild flavor.
  • Fresh Herbs – Depending on what you’re serving, you might want to garnish with a bit of fresh rosemary or thyme; chives would be pretty neutral and a great garnishment no matter what else you’re serving.
  • Bacon – Feel free to stir in some cooked, chopped bacon!
  • Dairy-Free – While the taste will differ, you can substitute margarine or vegan butter in this recipe.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Years ago, as a new mom of two-under-two, I grew tired of trying to time my potatoes with the turkey being done and carved on Thanksgiving, so I started making them early in the day and keeping them in the slow cooker on warm. It worked like a charm!

Now I make them in the morning before anyone gets here and they’re piping hot when we sit down to eat.

How-To: Simply make the potatoes as directed, then splash a little heavy cream into the bottom of a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker and transfer the finished mashed potatoes into the slow cooker. Drizzle a little heavy cream on top, cover, and set to warm. Stir every 30 minutes or so and add a splash more cream if the potatoes seem dry at any point. Serve when ready!

Close up photo of mashed potatoes in a serving bowl, sprinkled with minced chives, and a wooden spoon resting in the bowl.

What To Serve with Mashed Potatoes

Watch the Recipe Video

If you make these mashed potatoes and love them, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! 

A close-up photo of mashed potatoes swirled in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

A super simple technique makes all the difference – get wonderfully creamy mashed potatoes each and every time.

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.

  • Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are very tender.

  • Meanwhile, heat the butter and half-and-half in a small saucepan over low heat.

  • Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Mash up the potatoes a little with a potato masher. Add the melted butter mixture a little at a time and use the potato masher to combine. Once it has all been added, use a wooden spoon or spatula to give it a few stirs to combine completely. Stir in the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

  • Equipment: Potato Masher
  • Half-and-Half: I know this is not readily available in all areas. You can substitute equal amounts of heavy cream and whole milk for the half-and-half in this recipe.
  • Seasoning: These are very well seasoned (there’s nothing worse than bland mashed potatoes!); if you’re watching your salt intake, you may want to cut back on the salt to start and then add more to taste.
  • Flavor Variations: Create different flavors from this base recipe by adding things like roasted garlic, caramelized onions or shallots, fresh herbs, bacon, cream cheese, or sour cream.
  • Dairy-Free – While the taste will differ, you can substitute margarine or vegan butter in this recipe.
  • Make-Ahead: You can keep these mashed potatoes warm in a slow cooker if making them for a holiday dinner. Splash some cream on the bottom of the slow cooker, add the mashed potatoes, and then a splash of heavy cream on top. Keep the slow cooker on warm and stir occasionally. If the potatoes seem dry at any point, then just stir in some additional cream.
  • Storage: Keep leftover mashed potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutritional values are based on one serving

Calories: 394kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 1207mg, Potassium: 995mg, Fiber: 5g, Vitamin A: 870IU, Vitamin C: 26.2mg, Calcium: 123mg, Iron: 7.3mg

This recipe was originally published in November 2011.

Photography by Ari of Well Seasoned