Perfect Mashed Potatoes are the best you’ll ever have, they come out flavorful and creamy every time!  Learn how to easily make mashed potatoes from scratch!

mashed potatoes

This recipe is the best for Thanksgiving! BUT, it’s truly the perfect batch of potatoes for any holiday or to go with any meal, we make these at least twice per month!  We’ve already posted our Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and our Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.  Now, it’s high time that we give you all the tips and tricks to make perfect, classic, potatoes right on the stovetop!  We’ve all had really good mashed potatoes, and probably some that were very gluey, or runny, or just tasteless.  These come out so creamy every single time, and will have you and your guests coming back for more!  If you’re looking for more Thanksgiving try our Best Roast Turkey Recipe and Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole.

What is the Trick to Good Mashed Potatoes?

What is the Best Potato for Mashing?

For the creamiest and fluffiest mash, you’re going to want a higher starch potato.  I always use Russet potatoes, but, Yukon Gold are another great option!  Either of these have amazing flavor and texture.  The potatoes you DON’T want to use here are waxy potatoes such as red potatoes or new potatoes.  They won’t give you that light texture that you’re looking for.

Rinsing Your Potatoes:

A seriously simple trick is to rinse your potatoes, not once, but twice!  Once they are peeled, rinse them under cold water.  Then, after they are done cooking, place them in a colander and rinse them gently under cold water once again.  It only takes a minute to do this, and it ensures you are removing all of the excess starch, so that you don’t end up with gluey or pasty potatoes.

Cutting the Potatoes:

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend time cubing potatoes before cooking them!  Once you’ve peeled and rinsed, lay your potatoes on a cutting board and simply cut each one in half.  Keeping them larger actually ensures that your potatoes won’t disintegrate, or take on too much water during boiling.

cutting board with potatoes

Start With Cold Water:

Place your potatoes in a large stock pot or dutch oven and cover them completely with COLD water!  One of the most important steps!  If you use hot or warm water to cover your potatoes, they will most likely fall apart during cooking.  They will cook unevenly, and could end up way too starchy.

Draining Your Potatoes:

Like I said above, we’re going to rinse twice.  Thoroughly drain all of the hot water from the potatoes until there is none left.  Then, rinse as directed, and make sure that you allow all of the cold water to drain from the potatoes.  This ensures that your potatoes are not going to turn out watery when you go to mash them.

sliced potatoes in a pot

More Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes:

  • Use room temperature butter, and warmed milk for best texture.  You’ll want your butter to come to room temp for a good 45-60 minutes.  If you don’t have that kind of time, you can pop it in the microwave in a bowl for 5 second intervals until soft.  Same with the milk.  Warm in a measuring cup in the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the stove.  Doing this also keeps your potatoes nice and hot until ready to serve.
  • Don’t make mashed potatoes ahead of time!  Unfortunately, mashed potatoes are just not something that reheat and still taste the same.  If you want to make them a little bit ahead you can prepare as directed, then keep them in a 6 quart slow cooker on low for up to 2 hours.  If keeping them warm in the slow cooker, give them a stir every once in a while.
  • Mash them with a hand mixer for the smoothest potatoes.  You don’t want to overwork your potatoes too much.  You can mash them with a hand masher if preferred.  I like to start mashing them with my hand mixer, while slowly pouring in the milk.  Then, on low speed beat in the butter, sour cream, and seasonings just until smooth which should only take 1-2 minutes.
  • Don’t be afraid of seasonings!  My suggestions are a starting point.  You can, and should taste your mashed potatoes and then add more salt/pepper and garlic powder to your own taste.

mashed potatoes in a bowl



5 from 10 votes

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Perfect Mashed Potatoes are the best you'll ever have, they come out flavorful and creamy every time!  Learn how to easily make mashed potatoes from scratch!
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 30 minutes
Servings 10


  • 5 Pounds Russet Potatoes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Sticks Butter (1 Cup) Softened
  • 1/3 Cup Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1-2 teaspoons Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Fresh Chopped Chives or Parsley for serving optional


  • Rinse the potatoes thoroughly under warm water and place on a layer of paper towels, pat dry.
  • Peel the potatoes until no skin remains and place them into a large colander and rinse under cold water.
  • Place the potatoes on a cutting board and slice in half. Transfer to a large stock pot or dutch oven and cover with COLD water.
  • Place the pot on the stove and bring the potatoes to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until fork tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat the milk in the microwave or on a small saucepan on the stove just until warm.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and drain the water from the potatoes. Rinse the potatoes under cold gently running water, drain, then return them to the pot.
  • Use a potato masher (or hand or stand mixer) to start breaking up the potatoes.
  • If using a hand (or stand) mixer, turn it on low speed and mix while slowly pouring in the warm milk.
  • Add in both sticks of butter, the sour cream, and seasonings and continue mashing or mixing on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  • Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.



NOTE ON MAKING AHEAD:  I don't recommend making these more than 2 hours in advance.  Prepare as directed, then pour into a 6 quart or larger slow cooker and keep on low, for 1-2 hours at most.


Serving: 0.5Cup, Calories: 250kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night, but scaled it down to 2 russets. It was absolutely delicious. I am excited to try the Salisbury Steak as well as the alfredo sauce recipes.

  2. 5 stars
    thanks for the tips! i cook for 1 or 2 now so i’m always looking for new tips and tricks. they turned out fabulous! i put garlic in the potato cooking water and they came out so amazing! my man loves garlic. rising them in cold water was a great tip. always worried about gluey sticky potatoes. thanks again!

  3. 5 stars
    Sounds Good! I haven’t tried this exact recipe yet but it’s very close to how my family taught me. Starting with the potatoes in cold water is key for them cooking evenly.
    Sometimes my mashed isn’t as good as last time… now you helped me see maybe why that is. I can be a bit OCD so sometimes the foam floating and sticking on the pot grosses me out and I rinse it. That could be when they are turning out better because I unwittingly got rid of the ‘glue’. Eureeka! Thank you very much and happy holidays.