Mashed Potato Secrets – What are you missing?

Oct 22, 2018 | Cooking Tips

Over the weekend I was hired by this very nice family to do a dinner party for nine people. One of the side dishes on the menu was garlic mashed potatoes. I boiled the potatoes with a couple cloves of garlic and then mashed them with cream and butter. After they were mashed I passed the potatoes through a fine sieve to make them extra smooth and creamy. I seasoned the mashed potatoes with salt and pepper and served them.

After dinner, one of the guests came to me and said that they didn’t really like mashed potatoes. Growing up, their mother, who was there, would just boil potatoes, mash them and that would be the end up it. No one in the family really liked mashed potatoes. But, they loved the potatoes I served them. The mother actually had two helpings.

This got me thinking about how a small amount of effort and thought can take something so boring like straight mashed boiled potatoes, and make it something truly delicious. And so today’s post is dedicated to mashed potatoes and how you can them the star of any meal.

Mashed Potatoes

There are four main components to a great bowl of mashed potatoes. The potato itself, fat, the liquid you use, and the seasoning. I’m going to break down all four of these categories and give you some examples of different ingredients you can use to make your mashed potatoes pop.

The Potato

I don’t want to make you over think this. More than likely, whatever potato you have been using to make mashed potatoes is absolutely fine. There are some things that you should keep in mind though. When making mashed potatoes I prefer to use a mealy potato over a waxy potato. You end up with a much nicer texture and flavour. So use russets or a white potato over yellow waxy varieties. That’s all I’m going to say about choosing potatoes. Again, I don’t want you to over think this.

The Fat

Okay, this is where the fun begins.

More often than not butter is the go-to fat for mashed potatoes and there is a reason for that; It is absolutely delicious. But, there are other fats that can be used to achieve different flavours from your potatoes. There are four fats other than butter that I am going to suggest and they are as follows:

  1. Bacon Fat – Save that rendered bacon fat, strain it through a coffee filter, and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Add a tablespoon or two to a pot of mashed potatoes instead of butter. Your taste buds will thank you.
  2. Duck Fat – Duck fat is kind of hard to get a hold of, but if you can get some, and you want the creme de la creme of mashed potatoes, whip it in just like bacon fat or butter.
  3. Chicken Fat – Say what? Yup chicken fat, or schmaltz for my Jewish friends. Same thing as the other two examples,
  4. Olive Oil – Olive oil makes a great addition to mashed potatoes when combined with lemon rather than dairy as the liquid. It’s not going to be like your traditional mashed potatoes, but it will be delicious none the less.


Typically the liquid added to mashed potatoes is milk. It’s what’s in the fridge, so it’s what you use, and it’s perfectly fine. There are of course some other liquids that can be added to potatoes to make them decadent. No matter what liquid you are adding to your potatoes, heat it up first. A lot of people out there have a tendency to add cold liquids to their potatoes. This cools the potatoes down and makes them harder to mash.

In terms of how much liquid to add, it’s hard to say. I like really creamy potatoes, so I add quite a lot of liquid – but it’s really up to you. Just keep adding and mashing until you get the potato texture you are looking for.

  1. Cream – A very simple and delicious substitution for milk is heavy cream. Yeah, it’s fatty. Yes, it’s rich. But, god damn is it delicious.
  2. Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds a really nice “fresh” acidity to potatoes. If you have never tried buttermilk mashed potatoes you seriously don’t know what you’re missing.
  3. Chicken Stock –  Chicken stock makes a great addition to mashed. It’s lighter and more flavourful than dairy, but you do miss out on some of the richness. Delicious none the less.
  4. Lemon Juice – Lemon juice is a very specific addition. When paired with olive oil, this combination makes a Greek mashed potato called Skordalia. It’s absolutely delicious.


Seasoning encompasses a lot of different things. The most basic seasoning is salt and pepper which should always be used. I’m serious, season your mashed potatoes before they go to the table. Season them with salt and pepper, taste, season again. Proper seasoning with salt and pepper alone can create mashed potatoes to die for. What else can you use to season your mashed potatoes?

  1. Bacon – Yup, add some chopped up cooked bacon. You can never go wrong with bacon. Just remember that bacon is salty, so season with salt and pepper after the bacon has been added so you know the true flavour.
  2. Cheese – It could be cheddar, blue, curds, parmesan, swiss, it doesn’t matter. If you want potatoes you can’t stop eating, add some mother flippin’ cheese.
  3. Sour Cream – A few tablespoons of sour cream never hurt anyone.
  4. Chives – A bit a fresh chive combined with bacon and sour cream mixed into your buttery, creamy potatoes… oh my god that sounds so good.
  5. Carmelized onions – You will be blown away at how good mashed potatoes are when you mix in some caramelized onions. It doesn’t even seem fair.
  6. Nutmeg – A little tiny bit of nutmeg will is a great way to add a little “je ne sais quoi” to your mashed.


Obviously, this is not a complete list of things you can add to your potatoes. It’s just a short list to get you thinking of the possibilities. What I hope you take away from this is that there is no excuse or reason for your mashed potatoes to be bland or boring. When given a little bit of TLC, mashed potatoes can be the absolute star of any meal.


  1. Valerie Warmington

    Please, sir,may I have mashed potatoes for dessert? I have finished my breakfast. 😉

  2. Brian Willson

    When using white potatoes, I always cook and mash them with the skins. I also like unflavored Greek youngest and cream cheese, seasoning salt, diced onion and cottage cheese as possible additions

  3. Peady @ Tempered with Kindness

    Nutmeg is the magic in so many random things. It’s true!

    I love that while you are feeding the people you are enlightening the people.

    Great job!

    Mashed potatoes can be the ultimate in simple comfort food. There are so many nice little things you can do to make your nice little Things love you forever and mashed potatoes (garlic or otherwise) cooked, mashed and seasoned to perfection are definitely on my list of parenting secrets. Ha! Yummy!


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