Mashed Potatoes Recipe

I ate a lot of mashed potatoes as a kid. Not unusual, I am sure. But one thing that was maybe unusual in these Modern Tymes was actually growing the potatoes ourselves. The funnest part was harvesting them. It’s like finding pirate’s booty that you can eat! Working my little fingers into warm earth and pulling up handfuls of dirty potatoes and then taking them indoors and turning them into mashed potatoes was one of the best things ever. It was hot out there in the potato patch and a wooden swing hung from a HUGE cottonwood tree so that we could swing out over the garden. That was pretty bad ass. And kind of scary because the swing was really crooked and had splinters in it and if you weren’t careful you could smash into the tree.

But anyway, though, back to mashed potatoes. As you can imagine with such a quintessential dish, there are a hundred million jillion mashed potato recipes. It’s like everybody’s got an opinion! Sheesh. This is how I make them. I like to use starchy potatoes like Russets, but I know there are those who prefer waxy varieties like red potatoes. It depends on what texture you like for yer mashers.

Russets are easier to mash completely smooth, if you’re into that. If you like some chunky business, you would probably like to try red potatoes. Peeling is optional. While I leave the skins on potatoes for things like homefries and hashbrowns, I peel them for mashing. And I know there’s more nutrients and stuff in the skins and they’re better for you and all that, but I like mashed potatoes to be unencumbered by weird bits of peel all in ’em. If you’re using red potatoes, though, not only is peeling a pain in the ass because they’re typically smaller than Russets, it’s also not so necessary because their soft skins are less intrusive than the coarse Russet skins. So I don’t bother peeling if I’m using red potatoes.

And there’s more! Mashed potatoes are best if served right away. You could rig a double boiler to keep them warm for 20 minutes or so if you must. What I’ll do, though, if I need to postpone dinner is to boil the potatoes and then just leave them in the hot water until I’m ready. (If it’s going to be more than 30 minutes, turn the heat off before they are completely tender so they don’t overcook and dissolve in the water like so much tissue paper.) Then drain and mash as usual.

AND, if you have any leftover potatoes you can make potato cakes by mixing in one egg for every cup of potatoes and frying that in butter, to make about four little patties. Or you can use them to top a shepherd’s pie. Or you can use them to thicken a creamy soup. Or… I should just get to the point.


Mashed Potatoes

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Classic mashed potato recipe

  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 36 tablespoons of butter (I go for the lower end of that, but it depends on how creamy you like them)
  • 1/31/2 cup of half-and-half, milk, or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black or white pepper (I like LOTS, like a teaspoon or more)


  1. Peel the potatoes (or don’t). Cut them so that they are all approximately the same size. Drop into a pot of cold water along with the garlic cloves, cover, and turn the heat to high
  2. Bring to a boil and then crack the lid so it doesn’t boil over and make a mess in your friend’s kitchen. Boil 10-30 minutes until a fork or skewer stuck in the middle gives almost no resistance. The time depends on the type and size of your potatoes.
  3. While they cook, heat the butter and half-and-half together until the butter melts.
  4. Drain the potatoes carefully and return them to the pot.
  5. Add the butter/half-and-half and the salt and pepper. Mash them with a potato masher until they’re as smooth as you want. Alternatively you can use an electric mixer for super-smooth and fluffy potatoes.
  6. Serve ASAP! With more butter or some gravy

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This’ll do for 4-6 people. If you have some left over, add them to potato soup!

Photo by VirtualErn.


  1. Great Stone Face on May 24, 2011 at 9:11 am

    For the leftover potato cakes, I dust the flat surfaces with a little flour or cornstarch so I get a nice brown crust.

    • Hilah on May 24, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Yes! Brilliant! I love nice brown crusts.

  2. Steve Singler on May 24, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Hilah, You are absolutely friggin’ BEAUTIFUL!

    • Hilah on May 24, 2011 at 9:52 am

      But, Stee-eeve! What about the POTATOES?! 🙂

      • Steve Singler on May 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm

        They LOOK just like my grandma used to make….yummy.

        • Hilah on May 25, 2011 at 8:18 am

          That’s all I needed to hear. THANK YOU. 😉

  3. Anna on May 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

    ok seriously, hilah! stop being 1) so cute (gonna steal your dress AND BELT) and 2) so real and funny. just stoppppppp it.

    • Hilah on May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Well, seriously, Anna, it would serve me right if you DID steal my belt since I “borrowed” it from someone else. I’ll give it back…some day.
      P.S. I will not STOPPPP!!!!!!! 🙂

      • Laurel on June 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm

        That’s my belt! You can have it! Happy Birthday!!!!XOXOXOX

        • Hilah on June 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

          I love that belt! I always think of YOU! XOXOXOXO

  4. Part-time Veggie on May 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    The website looks a tad different…snazzier 🙂 Me likey…the site and the creamy yummy mashed potatoes!

    • Hilah on May 25, 2011 at 8:17 am

      Yay! Thanks for noticing! It’s a little … fancified. 🙂

  5. Great Stone Face on May 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I usually make this for potluck Thanksgiving, etc. One more tip for holding mashed potatoes for later, say for taking to a potluck–
    Use a pastry brush to paint on or just cover the top with a film of cream or half & half. It’ll keep the mashed potatoes from drying out on top. Stir it in before serving.

    I like your idea of throwing in a couple of peeled cloves of garlic. That’s simple & will give a mild garlic taste. I’ve also mashed in sone roasted garlic cloves, but roasting the garlic heads takes an hour.

    • Hilah on May 25, 2011 at 8:16 am

      Oh that is an AWESOME suggestion, GSF! Thank you!

      And, yeah, roasted garlic is delicious, but hardly worth the time and thermal energy to make it unless you’ve already got the oven on for something else, of course.

  6. Jack on May 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    AHA! I have discovered something that even I have only a small chance of screwing up. But I already had my own secret mashed potato recipe than my Moms taught me back in the Day. I won’t divulge the family recipe but let me just say this: it involves mashing and potatoes.

    Garlic is a pretty good idea – I don’t know why I never thought of it. That’s why I love you Hilah. Well, that and your dress and belt.

    • Hilah on May 25, 2011 at 8:15 am

      Well. So much for share and share alike, huh, Jack? THIS IS THE LAST SECRET RECIPE YOU GET FROM ME. Just kidding. I don’t have secrets.
      And…if I had to say why I love YOU, I think it would be how you always pretend you can’t cook anything. It’s sweet of you. It lets me feel superior. Thank you. 😉

  7. Chris Clement on May 26, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I am both hungry and in love at the same time.

    • Hilah on May 26, 2011 at 7:00 am

      Ooh, Chris, sounds like a wicked combination. 😉

  8. darislav on June 1, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Greetings, Hilah!

    I am really amazed of your work, it’s very important today to teach girls a real women’s happiness — cook for your loved ones.

    But i have a question for you.
    I’ve watched your newest (?) episode about cooking stakes, and there is a one thing that really bothering me — in some episodes you were talking about taking care of your health for your future babies so you prefer to avoid vegetables in cans and staff like that and that is really good, BUT in the same time you are drinking A LOT of alcohol in your show…

    I can say clearly that one bottle of beer or a cup of wine makes MUCH MORE damage to your health than tons of can-food. And you not only drinking yourself, you’re doing it on camera so, whether you realize it or not, but you teach your fans to do the same thing, you know?

    Please tell me what you think about that, if that is your goal than it’s totally fine i’m not judging you, but most likely i wouldn’t recommend your show to my friends.

    Also, i am vegetarian, and i’m from russia so please sorry for my bad english.

    Anyway, i’m wishing you a Good Luck and Thank You for the great results of your Love to everyone!

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Darislav!

      Thanks for writing. I appreciate your perspective and I’m happy to give you mine.

      One thing I have to say is that this show is not targeted towards women (or girls) specifically. I feel very strongly that cooking ability should know no gender boundaries. And from our statistics, there is a very equal balance of male and female viewers, so I guess we’re achieving that goal!

      As far as my avoidance of canned foods, the reason behind it is the chemical Bisphenol A which is prevalent in canned foods and has also been shown to directly interfere with the reproductive system by disrupting hormones and causing fibroids, uterine damage, and infertility. To me that is WAY WAY worse than the small amount of damage one or two beers does to your liver, which is actually the only organ capable of regrowth.

      I see your point about being a role model to some extent but, while I know there are a couple of teenagers that watch, most people that watch this show are well above the legal drinking age here and I feel confident that they can make their own decisions about drinking and not be swayed by watching me drink a Coors Light while I make a steak.

      Does that answer your question?

      Again, thank you for writing and for your well wishes. Take care!

      • darislav on June 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm

        Thank You for answering me, Hiah.

        I believe that men are watching your show mostly not for learning recipes but for entertaining — you’re a Very Beautiful Woman, you speak so funny and all is so simple to understand with you.
        So, no matter of the statistics, the main teaching goal of ur show is for the girls, at least it should be so. No men can cook as good as loved wife, and this is totally true with ur guests, i saw 2 males in ur show and they are just don’t fit to cooking, especially that crazy hairy man with glasses, wearing leather ;D

        But mine first point, Hilah, is that you seems to know the truth about alcohol not that good as about can-foods.
        Alcohol damages ALL parts of our organism not just the leaver. It damages brain that’s why we feel “kief” condition, cuz alcohol causes blood clotting and brain cells doesn’t take enough oxygen and so they dies — that’s why drinkers don’t remember what happened yesterday in the crapulence morning.

        This is not the worst part, cuz our organism is refreshing and renewing itself, BUT that is not true for women’s ovum (i hope it’s a right word for women’s reproductive system cells that will grow to a child when it’s got fertilize).
        As you know, amount of ovum is the same from woman’s birth to her death, so every damaged by alcohol ovum cell can later become a baby, this damaged cells can become a сhild with congenital disease.

        Here in russia we even have a science about this called “sobriologija” (sober–logos). As you might know, russian people knows a lot about alcohol, cuz we actually having a genocide here with alcohol, just like native americans were fractured with “fire water” as they’ve called an alcohol.

        Sorry, Hilah, i don’t want to make a lecture here, i’m sure you’re a smart person so you can study it for yourself. My goal is just to point this problem to you, whether considering it or not — is totally your choice and a choice of you’re future babies.

        I wish you a Best of Luck, Dear Hilah, and i wish you to find your True Love from whom you’ll want to give a birth to the smart and healthy kids ;D

        • Jack on June 6, 2011 at 1:35 am

          Speaking as a man…I watch the show because I love to cook, because Hilah is entertaining, and because I learn things. Plus, since I am an unmarried man, I am unable to come up with cooking ideas on my own. The alcohol content really doesn’t influence me one way or another.

          I’ll tell you a secret though, I didn’t even know Hilah was a woman until you mentioned it. Just kidding Hilah; I don’t have secrets.

          • Hilah on June 6, 2011 at 7:02 am

            That’s okay, Jack. I hide my womanliness well. It’s one of my special secret talents.

        • Hilah on June 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

          Thank you for your concern!

  9. Part-time Veggie on June 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Very well articulated, to use a big fancy word lol


  10. Jessie on June 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    hilah last night I drank half a bottle of whiskey. On an unrelated note: this morning I woke up and started puking. My mom came in and asked how she could help. I was all “bitch, you can make me some smashed potatoes”. She used this recipe and the starch from the potatoes soaked up the remaining alcohol.

  11. Graham on July 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Decided to make steak & mashed potatoes for dinner tonight, being as I am a manly man chock full o’ manly manliness. But for me, mashed potatoes come out of a box, and that would just be wrong. Knew if I came here I would find the right way to do it though, and right was I again! Thanks Hilah – you rock out, and I’m digging the new cookbook!

  12. Great Stone Face on July 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Graham, roll up the sleeves of your t-shirt and let your woman watch you use the potato masher. Then, ask her to pass you the butter. Take it from there.

  13. Graham on July 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm


    Awesome. Put the spuds through a potato ricer intead of mashing them (because I have a ricer but I don’t havea masher – go figure) and cut up a bunch of chives to mix into the spuds. I am fat and content.

    You’re a lifesaver Hilah, or at leat, you’re a meal maker – same thing, really. If you ever come up to T-Dot for North X Northwest,y’all come over for supper, y’hear!

    • Hilah on July 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

      YUMMY!!! I’m glad that I could help you make man-food for your man-face. Chives are a great addition. How the hell’d you end up with a ricer?! That’s a weird thing for such a manly man to own. 😉

      I want to come over for dinner. Where is T-dot?

      • Graham on July 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

        Actually, the ricer makes perfect sense if you think about it in a manly man way: its a somewhat pricey specialized tool that performs only one function. Clearly something a manly man would need!

        T-dot is Toronto Canada – no, I don’t know why we call it that either. I’ll leave a light on for ya!

        • Hilah on July 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

          In Texas, T-dot means Texas Department of Transportation and that’s why I was confused. I was all “You live in that ugly building where all those mean ladies work??? How SAD.”
          Toronto is waaay cooler than the TxDOT offices. I will totally come there!
          P.S. I’ll give you a dollar (rather, think nicely of you) if you can tell me why you have a ricer. And another (nice thought) if it’s a good story (like, you found it in a kitchen you used to work in).

          • Graham on July 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm

            Oh honey. If there had ever been a “kitchen I used to work in,” I wouldn’t have had to buy your Learn To Cook Book now, would I?!

            No Hilah, the truth is darker and more mysterious. Much, much darker …

            It all began of a winters evening, when I was fixing myself a toasted Thomas’ English muffin. Suddenly all the kitchen cabinets burst open, and immediately I was surrounded by a group of tiny dark-clad figures, each of them wielding various kitchen implements.

            Oh shit. Kitchen Ninjas!

            And there I was, cornered against the countertop completely hemmed in and facing this array of culinary gadgetry – spatulas; garlic press; turkey baster (the hell?!!?!!?). And each one of them in the hands of highly-trained experts completely focused and totally committed to wreaking abolute mayhem and destruction upon me.

            Fortunately, at that very moment the toaster popped. Thinking quickly, I grabbed the two deeply toasted muffin halves (ow! Hot! Hot!) and flung them like throwing stars at the two nearest Kitchen Ninjas. Stunned as they were by the crispy outer crust, I was able to disarm them and take possession of their weapons: one of which was a potato ricer. (The other was a fondue fork, if you’re wondering. But the handle broke off it pretty much right away.)

            Enraged at the loss of my English muffin (and, let’s face it, the rest of the evening was going to be pretty much shot at this point) I waded in amongst the remaining Kitchen Ninjas waving the potato ricer like a Viking Berserker of old. And with each blow of the potato ricer, another ninja fell and went to his reward, until only I was left standing amongst the ruin.

            Then I got a broom and a dust pan and swept up the wreckage.

            And that is how I, a manly man even amongst manly men, came to have a potato ricer.

            It’s also why to this very day I NEVER buy the store brand English muffins: I put my trust and faith in the nooks and crannies brought to you each day by the Thomas’ English Muffin Company. Because you just never know…

            And you owe me a dollar. Which you can give to me when you come up to Toronto: it’s a long drive so bring your jammies, or I can lend you a hockey jersey to wear, which is one of our colourful folk traditions you might not have been aware of.

          • Hilah on July 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

            Wow. That is quite a story. I’ll send you a dollar, but given the exchange rate it’s not really a whole dollar for you, I guess. But that was the deal.

            On the other hand, I too am a loyal consumer of Thomas’ English muffins. They have a GD patent on those nooks and crannies, by golly. A PATENT.

            Also, what is this “hockey jersey” you speak of?

  14. Graham on July 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    What’s a hockey jersey?!?!!? Seriously?!!?! Don’t you know about the Dallas Stars National Hockey League franchise ?!!!?!

    HAHAHAHAHA!!! What am I saying – of course you don’t! That’s why they will soon be the Saskatoon Stars. Only a matter of time, heh heh heh ….

    Simply put, a hockey jersey is like a football jersey but longer and with long sleeves. We offer them to our girls when they sleep over so they don’t feel like they are totally naked, even though they pretty much are. One of Canada’s rich cultural traditions that Lonely Planet seems to have missed.

    You should totally get one, but don’t get a Dallas Stars one: the team blows and its a pretty ugly jersey. BUT … I can see you would totally rock a Detroit Red Wings home jersey!

    Just sayin’

    • Hilah on July 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      That is quite the trick y’all are playing on the ladies up North. 😉

  15. Graham on July 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Oh Hilah – you have to know that the ladies are not fooled by that one bit at all?!!? They know better than anyone that this is all just part of The Dance, and they play along and entice us poor weak men in accordingly …

    It’s great.

    Let me know when you wanna come up to TO – I’ve got a beef tenderloin in the freezer and a L.A. Kings road jersey in the cupboard, all just for you ;o)

    • Hilah on July 25, 2011 at 9:17 am

      Awesome. Sounds much like the way male birds offer potential mates bits of twig and hair as “gifts” when everyone knows they just found that junk on the ground.
      Man, I gotta get my ass up to Canada and PRONTO!!!

  16. Grant on July 20, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Hilah> ummm i love you

  17. eawlf84 on February 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Hi I just discovered you on youtube and am now a huge fan!!! I am learning to cook and couldn’t be more excited to try some of your recipes out 🙂 I was just wondering if you could maybe do a mushroom stroganoff type dealy…..thing. Thanks again a keep up the awesomeness!!

    • Hilah on February 19, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Thank you! I love stroganoff. It’s been on the list for a while. 🙂

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