How to Make The Best Mashed Potatoes. Creamy, Fluffy, and Easy

thanksgiving best mashed potatoes

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


  • 5 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, well-scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • Additional pat of butter (optional)


  • Large pot
  • Colander
  • Food mill, ricer, or potato masher
  • Two smaller pans for heating butter and half-and-half
  • Spatula or wooden spoon

The Best Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes

Choose potatoes like Russets or Yukon Golds for the fluffiest, smoothest, and most flavor-packed mash. Russet varieties mash up light and fluffy, while yellow-fleshed potatoes like Yukon Gold have a naturally buttery flavor and creamy, dense consistency.

Making the Mashed Potatoes

  1. Boil the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Stir in 2 tablespoons of salt. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and reduce the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until knife tender, testing for doneness at 30 minutes. A sharp knife should easily go through the potato. Larger potatoes may take longer, up to 45 or 50 minutes total.
  2. Heat the butter and half-and-half and add salt. About 20 minutes into the potato cooking time, melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Heat the half-and-half and 1 tablespoon salt over low heat in another small saucepan. Keep both warm.
  3. Drain the potatoes. When the potatoes are ready, drain them in a colander. (We like this one from RSVP International.) Turn off the heat on the butter and half-and-half.
  4. Mash the potatoes. If using a potato masher or ricer, peel the potatoes — you can pick each one up with a potholder and peel with a paring knife. Check out this video to see the easiest way to peel boiled potatoes. If using a food mill, don’t peel the potatoes. In either case, mash, rice, or process the potatoes back into the pot they were cooked in. This will cut down on extra dishes and help the potatoes stay warm from the pot’s residual heat.
  5. Add the dairy. Add the hot butter to the potatoes, gently stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate. When all the butter is absorbed, add the hot half-and-half. It will seem soupy at first, but the potatoes will gradually absorb the liquid and turn into a creamy mixture.
  6. Taste, garnish, and serve. Taste and season with more salt as needed. This is also a good time to add pepper if using. Spoon into your serving dish and top with optional garnishes, such as a pat of butter or some chopped chives.
best mashed potatoes
Put a smile on everyone’s face with the best mashed potatoes

Why Are My Mashed Potatoes Not Fluffy?

The short answer: Overworking potatoes releases too much starch.

A more detailed explanation: Gummy mashed potatoes happen with the break down of a potato’s starch granules. The more you work the potatoes, the more starch gets released. This can happen with a food processor and it can even happen if you get carried away with a masher.

Solution: Limit the amount you work with the potatoes. If you want to serve the fluffiest, smoothest mashed potatoes, we highly recommended using a potato ricer.

Mashed Potatoes Recipes

With so many ways to enjoy mashed potatoes, it’s hard to go wrong with just about any recipe. Check out the links below and find your next blissful dish!

Garlic Butter Mashed Potatoes

Colcannon – If you’re interested in the history of this traditionally Irish dish, check out this great article from ManyEats, ‘The History of Colcannon – From Fortune Telling to St. Patrick’s Day

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potato Pancake

Lobster Mashed Potatoes

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes