Classic Mashed Potatoes


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Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish recipe that stand the test of time. They’re irresistibly creamy and buttery, making it hard to stop at one serving. And while they’re easy to make, I do have a few tips so you can learn how to make homemade mashed potatoes perfectly.

A bowl of creamy mashed potatoes
Photo: Gayle McLeod

I love a good mashed veggie side dish. Whether that’s mashed sweet potato or mashed cauliflower or mashed butternut squash. But nothing beats a side of classic mashed potatoes that’s ultra creamy and perfectly salted with a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top. And that’s exactly what this recipe delivers!

Making mashed potatoes isn’t hard, but there are a few tricks to making this “the best” mashed potato you’ve ever had. So read through the post before you start cooking to make sure you don’t miss anything. And once you serve this to guests, I guarantee you’ll be on mashed potato duty for a Thanksgiving side dish from here on out.

Ingredients for mashed potatoes

Easy Mashed Potatoes Ingredients

  • Potatoes: Starchy potatoes, like Russet potatoes, are best for creamy mashed potatoes. These brown-skinned spuds are naturally buttery and fluffy when cooked. But if you’re not a fan of Russet, Yukon gold potatoes make a great alternative. They’re also naturally creamy, and not quite as waxy as new potatoes.
  • Milk: Whole milk is what makes these mashed potatoes extra creamy. The key here is to use warm milk to keep the consistency smooth and temperature of the potatoes warm. For a dairy-free option you can swap in your favorite plant-based milk (just know that it won’t be quite as creamy).
  • Butter: For this recipe, it’s best to stick to unsalted butter since we’re mixing in salt and black pepper. Plus, unsalted butter gives you more control over how salty you want your potatoes. For a dairy-free option, use a vegan butter alternative.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below

How To Make Mashed Potatoes

Peel and dice the potatoes. Peel the potatoes using a hand peeler (it’s much easier than a straight peeler) and dice them into large chunks or cubes.

Slicing potatoes on a wooden board

Boil the potatoes. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Drop the potatoes in and let them cook for about 15 minutes, until they’re fork tender.

Boiling potatoes in a pot

Warm the milk and butter. While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter and milk in a saucepan until the mixture is warm. Alternatively, you could also melt and warm this mixture in the microwave. Then, drain the potatoes in a colander, place them back into the hot pot, and pour the butter milk mixture on top.

Boiling butter milk mixture in a pot

Mix and mash. Start mashing with a hand masher until it’s fluffy and creamy. If it’s not creamy enough, just add a bit more milk as you go. Then, season it with salt and pepper. Remember to taste test to see if it needs more salt!

Mashing potatoes in a pot

Common Questions

Is it easier to mash potatoes hot or cold?

It’s best to mash the potatoes while they’re still hot, straight from the pot. It’ll result in a much creamier texture than if you were to mash them cold.

Is milk or heavy cream better for mashed potatoes?

You can use milk (at any percentage), heavy cream, or half and half. The higher the fat content the creamier and more luscious the mashed potatoes. But if you want to reduce the fat content, stick with regular milk.

What to serve with mashed potatoes?

That creamy texture and simple flavor complements just about any main dish from roast chicken and turkey, to prime rib and filet mignon. Mashed potatoes are also a great base for pot roast or short ribs (it’s delicious when oozy sauce drizzles into the mashed potatoes!).

Flavor Variations

I love to top these mashed potatoes with an extra pat of butter and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. But here are a few more delicious ideas!

  • Make it garlicky: Add freshly minced garlic into the warmed up milky butter so it infuses the mixture. You could also stir roasted garlic right in with the mashed potatoes towards the end.
  • Add bacon: Toss in crispy oven baked bacon bits, because it’s never a bad idea to add more bacon, right?
  • Add some greens: Mix in cooked leafy greens such as cabbage or kale to turn them into colcannon (an Irish favorite). You could also chop fresh herbs and stir them in for a light and herby flavor.
Creamy mashed potatoes in a bowl

Storage & Make-Ahead Tips

  • To store: Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Perfect for heating up a quick side dish along with any main throughout the week.
  • For freezing: Want to save this for the future? Freeze it in freezer-safe containers and store iti for up to 3 months!
  • To reheat: Mashed potatoes are best reheated in the microwave, just give them a stir and reheat until warmed through. And if you want to add some “fluff” back into them, add a splash of milk while you reheat.

More Potato Side Dishes

There’s no doubt you’ll be making mashed potatoes on the regular once you’ve memorized the recipe. Once you do, I’d love to hear how this turned out in the comment box below! Your review will help other readers in the community.

A big bowl of creamy mashed potatoes

Classic Mashed Potatoes

5 from 22 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 5 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


These classic mashed potatoes are irresistibly creamy, buttery, and pair perfectly with any main course for the ultimate cozy meal. Watch how I make them in the video below!



  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • ½ cup milk, or more for a creamier texture
  • ¼ cup butter
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Peel and dice the potatoes. Peel the potatoes using a hand peeler and dice them into large chunks or cubes.
    Dicing potatoes
  • Boil the potatoes. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Drop the potatoes in and let them cook for 15 minutes, or until they’re fork-tender.
    Boiling diced potatoes in a pot
  • Warm the milk and butter. While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter and milk in a saucepan until the mixture is warm. Alternatively, you could also melt and warm this mixture in the microwave. Then, drain the potatoes in a colander, place them back into the hot pot, and pour the butter milk mixture on top of the potatoes.
    Mixing butter milk mixture with potatoes
  • Mix and mash. Mash the potatoes with a hand masher until you've reached your desired consistency. You can always add more milk or butter for a creamier consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
    Making mashed potatoes in a pot
  • Garnish and serve. Scoop the mashed sweet potatoes into a bowl, add a pat of butter, sprinkle with chopped parsley (optional) and serve!
    Whipped mashed potatoes in a bowl

Lisa’s Tips

  • You can certainly make this recipe dairy-free and vegan by using a plant-based milk and butter alternative.


Calories: 228kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 759mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 285IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best mashed potatoes, classic mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted December 2019, but updated to include new information and photos.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. These potatoes were delicious! I hadn’t used my ricer in so long (not sure why) and that, combined with the warmed up milk and butter, made them so creamy!5 stars

  2. Also, it would be harder to judge how much water is needed to cover the potatoes without being too much if you put the water in the pan first to boil.

  3. Hi, I’m new to your blog and enjoy it! I’ve made mashed potatoes many times but never ever thought to melt the butter and warm the milk first before adding it, definitely trying this! I am curious as to why your video shows you adding the potatoes and then water to the pan before boiling, but the written recipe says to add the potatoes to the boiling water. I learned years ago to add vegetables that grow below ground to cold water and above ground to boiling water. Not to mention, you would need to be very careful adding the potatoes to boiling water. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve been making mashed potatoes a long time. And I have to say mine are pretty awesome. So awesome in fact I use pretty much exactly the same recipe as Lisa. But you know what I haven’t been doing that made Lisa’s even better and more awesome. I’ve never heated the milk. So simple. So stupid. But luckily we all have Lisa. So here’s to even more awesome potatoes. Some times I get a bit cheesy and bang some parmesan in there. Just for fun. But I like to keep it simple. And that’s why I love Lisa’s cooking.5 stars

  5. I have always made mashed potatoes this way except for the potatoes, will try making them with russets, I always use Yukon gold, and to mash them a ricer is the way to go makes them nice and creamy:)5 stars

  6. I’ve been making mashed potatoes for over 50 years and wondered why sometimes they’d be creamy and other times, meh. This recipe showed me my mistake – sometimes I’d add cold milk and butter. What a difference heating the milk and butter before adding to the potatoes makes!!!5 stars

  7. Delicious!!! I used vegan butter as we are both GF an d DF and they came out so good! Roasted garlic was a great suggestion. Next time I may do cameralized onions as well (like my mom used to). 5 stars

  8. Best mashed potatoes ever!  I have never actually followed a recipe for mashed potatoes because it seems like a simple dish, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s the seemingly simple things that are hardest to get just right.  I think the game changer is pouring the butter milk mixture over the potatoes and then mashing.  Perfect texture, not overly buttery or creamy, just right for me!5 stars

  9. These are soooo good and the instructions and tips are so helpful. I used half russet and half Yukon gold and this made an incredible combination. I will make these every year for thanksgiving now!5 stars

  10. I always struggle with the proportions in mashed potatoes, resulting in gummy or lumpy mashers. Not this time! These were PERFECT! Creamy and delicious! 5 stars

  11. I can’t wait to make these mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving this year! I do have a serving portion question…..we will have 9 people for dinner and your recipe says 10 servings. But, only 2 lbs of potatoes? I would think you would need at least 4-5 to serve 10? Maybe we just like double serving sizes ;)
    Thank you!!5 stars

  12. These Definitely Are the Best Mashed Potatoes I’ve ever made! SO delicious!
    Love your tips and your never-fail recipes!5 stars

  13. Hello Lisa,
    I love your recipes and every one I’ve tried has been delicious! Thank you! Just wondering which milk you usually use when you make this? If I remember right, you’re dairy free.

    1. Hi Michele – I’m so glad to hear you’re loving all the recipes so far! As for this one, I made it with macadamia nut milk (which was what I had leftover in my fridge), but you can use any non-dairy milk for this!

  14. This is almost the same as my mashed potatoes recipe. All the add ins make this even better, especially the bacon bits!5 stars

  15. I love all your tips in your mashed potato recipe, plus the options to switch things up. A bowl of mashed potatoes is comfort food at its best!

    1. Your recipes are so reliable! Just made a batch for dinner, with leftovers going in the freezer for later. Thank you for including basics, even mashed potatoes aren’t intuitive!5 stars

      1. Hi Pearl- There’s nothing ever wrong with brushing up on basic recipes such as mashed potatoes! Glad you loved it :)

  16. There is nothing better than fluffy mashed potatoes with butter. Yours look fantastic no leftovers on this one as everyone had seconds!5 stars