Four simple ingredients and our easy-to-follow tips turn out deliciously perfect, creamy mashed potatoes every time.

Mashed potatoes topped with melted butter in a serving bowl with whole potatoes and a stick of butter in the background

Mashed potatoes are iconic comfort food and an essential side dish for many a holiday feast. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to make sure yours turn out creamy and delicious every time.

How to make the best creamy mashed potatoes

  • 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 use a potato ricer

If you’re not familiar, a potato ricer is more or less like a giant garlic press. They make silky, lump-free potatoes that are never gluey from being overmixed.

Potato ricers are easy to use. You simply add the cooked potatoes to the hopper, squeeze the handles together and the press forces them through a perforated disc.

All that being said, if you don’t have a potato ricer, don’t worry. We included alternate instructions in the printable recipe below.

Instant Pot mashed potatoes

If you have an Instant Pot you can use it to make creamy mashed potatoes with very few adjustments to our basic recipe.

The process only takes about twenty minutes from start to finish, so making mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot will save you some time. You can find the detailed instructions in the printable recipe below.

Six easy mashed potato recipe variations

Here are some easy and delicious ways to add extra flavor to this recipe for creamy mashed potatoes.

  1. Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes: Simply follow the recipe here and substitute 2 ounces of cream cheese for the sour cream.
  2. Garlic Mashed Potatoes: 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.
  3. Lobster Mashed Potatoes: Remove the meat from 2 five-ounce lobster tails and chop 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.
  4. Chive Mashed Potatoes: Chop 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh chives and stir them into the mashed potatoes before serving.
  5. Caramelized Shallot and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes: Replace the sour cream in the recipe 3 ounces of goat cheese (chevre). Sauté 2 thinly-sliced shallots in a tablespoon of butter and stir in before serving.
  6. Wasabi Mashed Potatoes: Stir 2-1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste into the potatoes along with the melted butter, sour cream, and cream. Taste and add more wasabi if desired.

Make-ahead mashed potatoes

Here are some tips for making mashed potatoes in advance.

Same day make-ahead tips:

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.

The day before make-ahead tips:

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 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.

More potato recipes

Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

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Four simple ingredients and our easy-to-follow tips turn out deliciously perfect, creamy mashed potatoes every time.


  • 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


Stovetop Method:

  • 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 ricer (see alternative in notes), 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.

Tips for Making This Recipe

If you don’t have a potato ricer:

You can simply transfer the cooked potatoes to a large mixing bowl and mash gently with a fork or potato masher to eliminate lumps.
Follow the instructions in Step 4 above, then add the butter mixture to your potatoes and combine, adding a little extra warm cream if needed.
If you’d like a smoother consistency, you can also use an electric mixer as follows.
Mash the potatoes gently with a fork, then add the warm butter mixture. Beat at medium-low speed until the potatoes are creamy and smooth.
Try not to overmix or your mashed potatoes could develop a gluey texture.
Calories: 309kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Sodium: 164mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g
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