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The Best Stove-Top Mashed Potatoes

These classic Stove-Top Mashed Potatoes are creamy, smooth, fluffy, and flavorful. They’re the perfect side dish for everything from a simple weeknight meal to a big holiday feast!

Every home cook should know how to make awesome mashed potatoes. I’ve got the tips you need, and today I’m going to show you the way. It’s super easy!

So, as I was making a batch of these mashed potatoes to go with our dinner the other night, I realized that I hadn’t yet posted this recipe.

Admittedly, I’ve mostly been making my Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes for quite a while now. I love and highly recommend them!

But, hey, I realize that not everyone has an Instant Pot.

Or, if you do have one, there might be times when you’re using it for something else and need to cook some mashed potatoes on the stove.

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought now was a great time to show you how to make some of the best mashed potatoes ever…the old-fashioned way!

To me, perfect mashed potatoes are thick yet fluffy, smooth and creamy, and they have flavor while being kept very simple (that means just butter, milk, salt and pepper).

They shouldn’t be thin, soupy, lumpy, gummy, or gluey. And, above all else, they should never be bland…such a huge disappointment.

Mashed potatoes should be tasty enough to be enjoyed on their own (although gravy is always welcome)!

mashed potatoes in a pot with a serving spoon on the side

Ingredients You Need:

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card below.

  • Russet potatoes
  • Butter
  • Milk (I use whole milk)
  • Salt
  • Pepper (optional)

Special Equipment Needed:

  • Food mill or potato ricer (I use a food mill)*

*If you don’t have a food mill or potato ricer, that’s totally ok. Just mash them by hand with a potato masher.

Note: The above video is just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe with detailed instructions.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits:

These tips are the key to making the best stove-top mashed potatoes!

  • Potatoes: Russets are, without a doubt, best for mashed potatoes because they are starchy and more likely to come out nice and fluffy.
    • Yukon Golds would be my second choice (they’re less starchy and more creamy, but they still make a darned-good mashed potato).
    • Avoid waxy potatoes like regular white and red.
    • Peel and cut the potatoes into large 2-inch pieces (all about the same size) so they cook evenly and don’t get waterlogged.
    • Always start with cold water for even cooking.
  • Salt: Salt is, hands-down, the key to flavorful mashed potatoes. They will be bland without it.
    • Generously salt the cooking water (it makes a big difference) and then add more after cooking if needed.
    • I’m not saying you should add so much salt that the potatoes taste salty. Add enough so that they just taste really good…they should taste like potatoes, not salt.
    • Obviously, if you are watching your salt intake or can’t have salt, adjust the amount as needed.
  • Drying: After cooking, drain the potatoes, put them back in the hot pot, and let them sit for a few minutes to allow the excess moisture to evaporate off so they are dry on the outside. Wet potatoes will not make fluffy potatoes.
  • Food Mill or Potato Ricer (a real game-changer!): Pass the potatoes through a food mill or a potato ricer for an even consistency with virtually no lumps and no over-stirring (which is what causes gummy, glue-like potatoes). A few quick stirs will be all you need to incorporate the butter and milk.
    • No food mill or potato ricer? No problem. Just mash them by hand with a potato masher (and accept that you might have a few small lumps here and there).
    • Don’t use an electric mixer, food processor or blender which can all overwork the potatoes.
  • Warm Milk and Softened Butter: Warm the milk on the stove or in the microwave, and use room-temperature/softened butter. They blend into the potatoes much easier and also won’t cool them down.
    • For extra richness, you can use half-and-half or heavy cream instead of milk.
mashed potatoes in a pot with a spoon

Making Ahead, Storing Leftovers and Freezing:

Nothing beats freshly-made mashed potatoes, and I always recommend making them right before serving.

Leftover mashed potatoes are never quite the same…but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make them ahead of time or freeze them.

  • Make-Ahead: Follow the recipe and allow the potatoes to cool. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days.
    • To reheat on the stove: Place the potatoes in a pot, add a little butter and milk, cover and cook over low heat until heated through. Stir occasionally so they don’t scorch or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more milk (warmed) if needed.
    • To reheat in the oven: Place the potatoes in a casserole dish, spread out into an even layer, and add a little butter and milk. Bake, covered, at 325°F just until heated through; stir before serving. Add more milk (warmed) if needed.
  • Storing Leftovers: Allow leftovers to cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. If you made the potatoes ahead of time, be sure to take that time into consideration.
  • Freezing: Place cooled mashed potatoes in a freezer bag or airtight freezer container; remove as much air as possible and freeze. You could also freeze individual portions on a large tray or baking sheet covered with wax paper and then transfer them to a freezer bag or container.
    • For best results, use within 1 to 2 months. Thaw and reheat as directed above (they may be a little watery after thawing, so you may not need to add as much milk; start with a splash and then see what the consistency is after they start heating up).
mashed potatoes in a white bowl with a spoon and salt and pepper shakers in the background

The best thing about mashed potatoes (besides being so yummy)? They go with just about anything, and you can always rely on them when you need a side dish that everyone will love!

I hope you try this recipe for The Best Stove-Top Mashed Potatoes and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Potato Recipes You Might Like…

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

a bowl of mashed potatoes with a spoonful being lifted out

The Best Stove-Top Mashed Potatoes

These classic Stove-Top Mashed Potatoes are creamy, smooth, fluffy, and flavorful. They're the perfect side dish for everything from a simple weeknight meal to a big holiday feast!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Estimated Calories: 228

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature/softened
  • ¼ cup warmed milk, or more, if needed, to reach the desired consistency (I use whole milk)
  • salt, to taste (I use kosher salt)
  • black pepper, to taste (optional)

Special Equipment

  • food mill or potato ricer (if you don't have either of these, use a hand-held potato masher)

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a pot (I use a 3-quart pot) and cover with cold water by about one inch. Add salt to taste (I use a heaping ½ tablespoon).
    Starting with cold water helps ensure that the potatoes cook evenly.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling just until the potatoes are fork-tender but not falling apart (about 10 to 15 minutes from when the water starts to boil).
    I don't cover the pot, as it can very easily boil over with the lid on.
  • Drain the potatoes and immediately return them to the hot pot. Allow them to sit for a few minutes (the heat on the stove should be off) until the excess moisture evaporates and the potatoes are dry on the outside.
    Wet potatoes will not be fluffy potatoes!
  • Pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer back into the pot.
    If you don't have a food mill or potato ricer, use a hand-held potato masher and mash the potatoes right in the pot until they are mostly smooth (with this method, you may end up with a few lumps here and there and that's ok; just be careful not to over-work them, as they could become gummy). Don't use an electric mixer, food processor or blender, all of which can very easily over-work the potatoes.
  • Add the butter and milk; stir just until combined. If needed, add more milk to reach your desired consistency.
  • Taste and add more salt, if needed, and black pepper to taste, if desired.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Starchy Russet potatoes are the best for mashed potatoes. Yukon Golds can also be used (they’re less starchy and more creamy). Don’t use waxy potatoes. 
  • Salt is the key to flavorful mashed potatoes. Be sure to generously salt the cooking water (it makes a big difference) and then add more after cooking if needed.
    • Don’t add so much salt that the potatoes taste salty. Add enough so that they just taste really good…like potatoes.
    • Obviously, if you are watching your salt intake or can’t have salt, adjust the amount of salt as needed.
  • Warmed milk and room-temperature butter incorporate into the potatoes much more easily and won’t cool them down. 
  • For a richer flavor, you can use half-and-half or heavy cream instead of milk.
  • Allow leftovers to cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
    • To reheat on the stove: Place the potatoes in a pot, add a little butter and milk, cover and cook over low heat until heated through. Stir occasionally so they don’t scorch or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more milk (warmed), if needed, to reach your desired consistency.
    • To reheat in the oven: Place the potatoes in a casserole dish, spread out into an even layer, and add a little butter and milk. Bake, covered, at 325°F just until heated through; stir before serving. Add more milk (warmed), if needed, to reach your desired consistency.
  • Estimated calories of 228 is based on 4 generous servings; for 6 smaller servings, estimated calories per serving is 152.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

Recipe was updated on 9/24/23 to increase the amount of potatoes to 2 pounds for a larger serving size.

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