The Best Kind Of Potato For Every Texture Of Mashed Potatoes

Depending on whether you like them thick and creamy or light and fluffy, make sure you're buying the right variety.
Illustration:Jianan Liu/HuffPost

We all know mashed potatoes are possibly one of the most comforting side dishes known to humankind. And while they’re good any day of the week, they especially shine during the holiday season ― because what table is complete without a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes?

Mashed potatoes are simple enough to prepare, but it helps to know which potatoes to use. There are no wrong potatoes, but the type you choose will decide the kind of mashed potatoes you produce. To help you make the most rocking bowl of mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving (or the next time you need some carby comfort), we spoke with a few chefs to get their expert insights.

Whether you seek a fluffy bowl of mashed potatoes or something rustic and dense, here’s what you need to know when it comes to the most mashable potatoes.

Red bliss potato skin is so thin that it doesn't need to be peeled before mashing.
wsmahar via Getty Images
Red bliss potato skin is so thin that it doesn't need to be peeled before mashing.

Red bliss: Best if you hate peeling potatoes

At South City Kitchen’s multiple locations in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, the fried chicken comes with a side of red bliss mashed potatoes. “We’re going for a more homey, rustic mashed potato,” said Chip Ulbrich, the culinary director of SCK.

One of the benefits of using red bliss potatoes is that they can be boiled in their skins. This means no extra step of peeling, and “makes for a better texture for a rustic mashed potato,” Ulbrich added.

When making mashed potatoes with these red tubers, Ulbrich advises boiling them whole in salted water. Then, save some of the boiled, salted water to use when mashing the potatoes with butter and cream. How much butter and cream, exactly? Ulbrich suggests about 3/4 of a pound of butter and half a quart of cream per five pounds of potatoes.

A blend of Yukon gold and russet: Best for mashed potatoes that aren’t too thick or too runny

Trevor Stockton, the executive chef of the RT Lodge in Maryville, Tennessee, likes to use a two-to-one ratio of Yukon gold and russet potatoes. Yukon golds are rich, but have a higher water content and can end up being runny. “The russet [potatoes] give it a little more structure because of the lower water content in them,” Stockton told HuffPost. “It gives you something that keeps it all together so it’s not just really thin.”

To use this combo, peel the potatoes and boil them in cold water. You can cook them all together, cut into one-inch chunks, until they’re tender. Then, Stockton will place the cooked potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer along with cubed, room-temperature butter and a liquid poured in while mixing. “I like to use buttermilk because I think that that little bit of cream helps because you have this really rich dish, and a little bit of acidity helps,” Stockton said. Sour cream would also work if you want a little bit of tang.

Yukon gold: Best for thick and creamy mashed potatoes

For Dionna Mash Garcia, a personal chef in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s all about Yukon gold potatoes when it comes to a thick and creamy batch of mashed potatoes. “They’re just a little more buttery, naturally, in flavor. Then, when you add butter to the dish, it just enhances that flavor even more,” Mash Garcia said.

When she uses Yukon golds, she prefers to bake them instead of boiling them. This helps prevent the potatoes from getting water-logged and ensures a creamy texture, said Mash Garcia. To roast them, leave them whole and unpeeled — you’ll remove the skin after they come out of the oven and cool a bit.

Once it’s time to mash the potatoes, Mash Garcia likes to incorporate cream cheese or sour cream for a little bit of tang.

Russet potatoes will yield a result that's light and fluffy.
skhoward via Getty Images
Russet potatoes will yield a result that's light and fluffy.

Russet potatoes: Best for light and fluffy mashed potatoes

On the other hand, if you want mashed potatoes that are light, Mash Garcia suggested using russet potatoes. Russets are high in starch, which results in fluffier mashed potatoes.

To make the most of your russets, peel them and then boil the potatoes before draining them off. “You really want to get as much water out of there as possible,” Mash Garcia said. Then place the stock pot back on the burner (it can be low, or you can use the residual heat), and shake the stock pot to help any remaining water evaporate. “Because you don’t really want the water once you start making your mashed potato base,” she added.

Incorporate whatever ingredients you’d like ― cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, up to you! ― and mash. The key here is not to over-mash the potatoes, Mash Garcia warned. “[Pretend] you’re making muffins, or something that you just don’t want to overmix, because it’s going to give you the worst texture and become more gluey,” Mash Garcia said.

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