Whether you’re planning a Sunday dinner with the family or are gearing up for a holiday gathering, creamy mashed potatoes are a perfect side dish that never fails to please.
This versatile, foolproof recipe for creamy mashed potatoes is the only one you’ll ever need. It includes two different preparation methods (stovetop and Instant Pot) that deliver outstanding results, as well as make-ahead instructions, tips for success, and notes on using a potato ricer. We’ve also included six variations on the basic recipe using tasty mix-ins to inspire your creativity.
What You’ll Find In This Post
- Recipe Insights
- How to Make Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Tips for Success
- Why You Should Use a Potato Ricer
- Make-Ahead Instructions
- Six Easy Mashed Potato Variations
How to Make Creamy Mashed Potatoes
This is an overview of how this dish is made. Detailed measurements, ingredients, instructions, and times are available in the printable version of the recipe below.
Peel the potatoes, cut them into cubes and place them in a large saucepan. Add salt and cover them with cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook them until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain thoroughly and return the potatoes to the stove for a minute or so to allow all the excess moisture to evaporate, then, working with a few chunks at a time, spoon the potatoes into a potato ricer, and rice them into a large mixing bowl.
Add butter, sour cream, and cream to the pan you cooked the potatoes in. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is liquified (you can also do this in the microwave). Add the butter mixture to the potatoes and mix in gently with a spatula. If you find the potatoes aren’t creamy enough, add warm cream in small increments until you get the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Instant Pot Method
Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Add water and salt to the Instant Pot, then add your potatoes. Lock the cover and use the “manual” function to set it to cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Once the timer counts down, leave the Instant Pot on the “keep warm” setting and release the pressure manually. Remove the lid and drain the potatoes in a colander.
Return the potatoes to the pot for a minute to evaporate any extra water, then transfer back to the colander while you warm the butter mixture. Add the butter, cream, and sour cream to the Instant Pot and once the butter melts, stir to combine. Rice or mash the potatoes directly into the warm butter mixture, combine well, season to taste, and transfer to a casserole or serving dish.
Tips for Success
- Choose the right type of potato: In our experience, Yukon Golds make the best creamy mashed potatoes because of their inherently smooth texture and natural buttery flavor.
- Don’t overcook the potatoes: Be careful not to cook your potatoes for so long that they start to fall apart because it will affect the final consistency.
- Dry the potatoes: Once you’ve drained your cooked potatoes, add them back to the pan and return them to the stove for a minute to evaporate any remaining moisture.
- Use the right tools: A potato ricer is a very handy kitchen tool to have and it really does make the creamiest mashed potatoes (more info below).
- Work with warm ingredients: For lighter, fluffier mashed potatoes always heat your butter, cream, sour cream, or cream cheese before combining them with the potatoes.
- Go easy with the salt: You should have cooked your potatoes in salted water, so go slow when adding more salt. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and work up to suit your taste.
Why You Should Use a Potato Ricer
If you’re not familiar, a potato ricer is more or less like a giant garlic press and it makes silky, lump-free potatoes that are never gluey from being overmixed. Potato ricers are easy to use too. Simply spoon chunks of cooked potatoes into the hopper, squeeze the handles together and the press forces them through a perforated disc. But, if you don’t have a potato ricer, don’t worry. Alternate instructions are included in the printable recipe below.
Whether you’re entertaining for the holidays or making Sunday dinner for the family, preparing your mashed potatoes ahead of time definitely makes pulling a meal together easier.
If you want to have your mashed potatoes finished while you work on other elements of your meal, you can make them an hour or two in advance and keep them warm until ready to serve. Just transfer them to a casserole that’s been coated with nonstick spray, cover tightly so they don’t dry out, and place them in a 200°F oven or warming drawer.
When you’re making mashed potatoes as part of a holiday feast, you can prepare them the day before. We recommend adding a little extra cream so the consistency is a bit looser. The potatoes will firm up in the refrigerator overnight and be just perfect the following day. Bring them to room temperature before reheating them in the microwave. Time will depend on the wattage of your microwave (we recommend 80% power). Be sure to keep them covered while reheating and give them a stir every 3 to 4 minutes.
Six Easy Mashed Potato Variations
Here are some easy and delicious ways to add extra flavor to this classic recipe for mashed potatoes.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
For this most popular mashed potato variation, peel 8 to 12 cloves of garlic and cut them in half lengthwise. Cook them along with your potatoes and rice or mash them right in with the butter, cream, and sour cream.
Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes
This rich and creamy variation is very simple, just replace the sour cream we call for in our basic recipe with cream cheese. Feel free to add a little more than the 1/4 cup if you like, but we don’t suggest going beyond 1/2 cup as it will change the consistency.
Lobster Mashed Potatoes
This is our favorite special occasion version of mashed potatoes and we reserve it to be served with main dishes like pan-seared filet mignon or duck breasts. Remove the meat from two raw five-ounce lobster tails and chop it into small pieces. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and sauté the lobster until opaque, 1 minute. Stir into the mashed potatoes just before serving.
Chive Mashed Potatoes
This variation is just a simple add-in. Chop 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh chives and stir them into the mashed potatoes just before serving. Sprinkle a few extra on top as garnish.
Sautéed Shallot and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
This is a really tasty mashed potato variation that goes well with simple entrées like roast chicken or pork. Replace the sour cream in the recipe with 3 ounces of goat cheese (chevre). Sauté 2 thinly sliced shallots in a tablespoon of butter and stir in before serving.
Wasabi Mashed Potatoes
We like to serve this one with sesame-glazed salmon. Stir 2-1/2 teaspoons of wasabi paste into the potatoes along with the melted butter, sour cream, and cream. Taste and add more wasabi if desired.
More Mashed Potato Recipes
For a slightly different take on mashed potatoes, try our recipe for Rustic Mashed Potatoes. They’re made with Yukon Golds too, smashed together with butter and cream, and flavored with shallots and fresh herbs. We also have a recipe for Colcannon, our version of an Irish classic made with sautéed onions and chopped kale.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- 2-1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup sour cream, see notes
- 1/3 cup cream or half-and-half, plus more if needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-1/2 inch cubes.
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, add 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and cover with cold water.
- Bring the potatoes to a boil and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
- Drain thoroughly and return the potatoes to the heat for about 1 minute to allow all the excess moisture to evaporate. Spoon the potatoes into a potato ricer (for alternate method see recipe notes below), a few chunks at a time and rice them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the butter, sour cream and 1/4 cup of cream to the pan you cooked the potatoes in. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is liquified (you can also do this in a microwave-safe bowl).
- Add the butter mixture to the potatoes and mix in gently with a spatula. If you find the potatoes aren’t creamy enough, add warm cream in 2 tablespoon increments until you get the desired consistency.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Instant Pot Method:
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-1/2 inch cubes.
- Add 2 cups of water and 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt to the Instant Pot and add your potatoes.
- Lock the cover onto the Instant Pot and use the “manual” function to set it to cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
- Once the timer counts down, leave the Instant Pot on the “keep warm” setting and release the pressure manually.
- Remove the lid and drain the potatoes in a colander.
- Return the potatoes to the pot for a minute to evaporate any extra water, then transfer back to the colander while you warm the butter mixture.
- Add the butter, cream, and sour cream to the Instant Pot and once the butter melts, stir to combine.
- Rice or mash the potatoes directly into the warm butter mixture, combine well, season to taste, and transfer to a casserole or serving dish.