The Cozy Cook

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Homemade Mashed Potatoes are the best side dish idea for any night of the week! The steps are easy to follow and have basic ingredients like butter and sour cream with optional additions like garlic and Parmesan cheese! Plus, learn my make-ahead method and instructions for freezing and reheating!

Be sure to serve these with my Brown Gravy, Mushroom Gravy, or Chicken Gravy!

For more potato side dish ideas, check out my homemade french fries, potato wedges, and twice baked potato casserole!

Swirls of mashed potatoes in a serving dish topped with melted butter and green onions.

There are few things better than perfect, creamy, homemade mashed potatoes.

There are a ton of different ways to make mashed potatoes. From the type of potato you use, whether or not you cut them before boiling, how long you boil them, and even how you mash them!

In my recipe, we’ll be using Yukon Gold potatoes as those have an ideal consistency for mashing, but you can also use Russet potatoes or a combination of both.

Let’s go over everything else you need to know to make the smoothest, creamiest potatoes every time!

How to Make the Best Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Use a Starchy Potato:

  • Yukon Golds or Russets are perfect for mashing. You can also use a combination of both!
  • Using waxy potatoes such as red or new potatoes can cause your mashed potatoes to have a gluey consistency as opposed to being nice and creamy.

Cut the potatoes into 3 pieces of equal size:

  • This allows them to cook evenly. Some say to boil the potatoes whole to prevent them from absorbing too much water, but they cook unevenly this way.
  • You can choose to leave the skins on or off, or you can leave some of them on. Just be sure to scrub them thoroughly.

Use COLD Water, slowly bring to a gentle boil:

  • This ensures that the potatoes cook evenly. Otherwise the middle will be hard and the outside will be soft.

Salt the water once it’s reached a boil:

  • This is the best way to evenly season the potatoes all the way through, you can always add more salt at the end. You’ll use about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of potatoes.

Let the Steam Rise after Draining:

  • Once you’ve drained the potatoes, return them to the warm pot and let them steam for 5 minutes, this will allow excess moisture that the potatoes absorbed to steam off.

Don’t Add Cold Ingredients to Warm Potatoes:

  • Make sure the half and half, sour cream, and butter are all room temperature. This ensures the potatoes are able to fully absorb them which makes them extra creamy.

Add Butter Before the Half and Half/Sour Cream:

  • The butter helps to coat the starch and gives you a silkier consistency.

Don’t Over-Mash:

  • Potatoes release starch every time they’re handled/mashed. Too much starch leads to a gluey, gummy consistency.
  • A potato masher with small holes works well for this. Avoid any type of electric mixer as they will go from creamy to gluey very quickly.

A pot of sliced russet potatoes in water next to a pot of cooked potatoes with butter.

Half and half and Sour Cream being added to cooked potatoes before being mashed.

How Many Potatoes Per Person

  • While 1/2 lb. of potatoes is enough to prepare per person, I like to use .85 pounds per person to ensure that there is plenty to go around.
  • Any leftover mashed potatoes can be used to make my Baked Potato Soup or Mashed Potato Casserole.

Can You Peel Potatoes Ahead of Time

Yes, this is a great shortcut when you’re entertaining. Place peeled and sliced potatoes in a pot and submerge them in cold water. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Make-Ahead Method

If you prefer to boil and mash your potatoes ahead of time so that you only need to reheat them:

  • Add an extra  1-2 Tablespoons butter.
  • Stir in 2-3 additional Tablespoons warmed half and half, (preferably whole), at the end of cooking. Cover the pot and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
  • Let it sit out for 1 hour prior to reheating.

How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes

Stirring occasionally is ideal of all methods below. Add a little warm half and half if the potatoes appear too thick.

  • Slow Cooker: Low heat for 1-2 hours. Reduce to warm until ready to serve.
  • Microwave: 50% power in 1-minute intervals, covered, until heated through. Stir in between.
  • Oven: Cover and cook at 350° for 30 minutes.
  • Stove: Medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, covered.

Freezing Leftovers

If you plan on freezing leftovers, be extra generous with the half and half and butter. Per The Kitchn, this helps them freeze and reheat well.

Freezing the whole batch:

  • Place all of your cooled leftover potatoes into a freezer bag, remove air, seal tightly, and freeze.

Freezing Portion Sizes:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Use a measuring cup to scoop 1-cup portion sizes onto the sheet.
  • Flash freeze for 1 hour.
  • Transfer to a freezer Ziploc bag. Best if used within 3 months.

Reheating Frozen Potatoes:

Let the potatoes thaw in the fridge overnight or defrost in the microwave. Then refer to reheating instructions above.

What to Serve with Homemade Mashed Potatoes

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A wooden spoon holding a scoop of smooth and creamy homemade mashed potatoes with melted butter on top.

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

5 from 6 ratings
This Homemade Mashed Potato Recipe is easy to make with basic ingredients like butter and sour cream with optional additions such as garlic and Parmesan cheese!


Note: See recipe notes section for optional ingredient additions

  • 3.5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes*, about 4 large potatoes, each about .85 lbs.
  • 3.5 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste at the end
  • 6 Tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup half & half
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • Add the half and half and sour cream to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set it aside and allow it to come to room temperature. It shouldn't be cold when added to the potatoes.
  • Peel each potato and give them a quick rinse to remove any dirt/residue from the peel. Cut into 3 even slices and place in a large pot. Add cold water until they're all submerged.
  • Slowly bring to a gentle boil, do not boil rapidly. This ensures the potatoes cook evenly and prevents them from falling apart. Once a soft boil is reached, add 3.5 teaspoons salt.
  • Cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are very fork tender, don't undercook or they'll be lumpy when mashed. Turn heat off.
  • Drain all of the water. Let the potatoes sit in the warm pot for 5 minutes to allow most of the steam to escape.
  • Add the butter to the potatoes and allow it to gradually melt.
  • Drizzle ¾ of the half & half/sour cream over the mashed potatoes. Mash with a potato masher (not an elective mixer), until soft and creamy. Don’t over mash or the consistency will become gluey. Add remaining dairy only if a slightly creamier texture is desired.
  • Taste the potatoes and add more salt/pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving dish and serve!


*Russet potatoes or a combination of both can also be used.

Optional Ingredient Additions

  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, add with the sour cream/half & half.
  • 4-5 cloves fresh garlic, minced. Heat with a little olive oil in a small saucepan for 1 minute.
  • ¾  teaspoon chicken better than bouillon, stir in at the end, use unsalted butter if you plan on adding this.
  • Bacon & Cheddar Cheese
  • Green onions, to garnish
  • A side of my 10 minute Brown Gravy!
**Cream cheese may also be used instead of sour cream. 1/2 cup = 4 oz.

This recipe makes approximately 6.5 cups of mashed potatoes which is plenty for 4 people. When it comes to potatoes, I don't like to risk not making enough. My baked potato soup is a great way to make use of any leftover mashed potatoes!


Calories: 591kcal, Carbohydrates: 73g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Cholesterol: 82mg, Sodium: 1094mg, Potassium: 1790mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 918IU, Vitamin C: 79mg, Calcium: 148mg, Iron: 3mg

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14 comments on “Homemade Mashed Potatoes”

  1. Awesome Blog post. I’ve been making mashed potatoes for 45 years and never knew the tips you have above. Crazy.. Now I know why sometimes my mashed potatoes don’t come out right. I generally use russet potatoes, or plain white potatoes. Now I know why the red potatoes didn’t come out so well. And as for steaming them? Who knew?!? Thanks so much for the tips. I’m saving your page to refer back to.

    • Hey Laura! I’m so happy to hear that you found the information helpful, I was amazed myself when I learned this info, and definitely spent years of my life making some classic mistakes! 🙂 Thank you for your comment and I look forward to you checking out more of my recipes! Take care! -Stephanie

  2. These are the BEST mashed potatoes ever! My entire family is floored!

    • I’m so happy to hear that!😃 My family loves this one too! Sometimes we each grab a spoon and just stand over the pot and eat. Thanks so much for the review!

  3. Made this last night with yellow potatoes. Really yummy and creamy. Only needed the 3/4 portion of the milk-sour cream mixture. Made a double batch and freezing a portion for another day. 

    • I’m so happy you like the mashed potatoes Alice! I take a lot of pride in my mashed potatoes since it’s my favorite side dish!😃 Thanks so much for the review!❤️

  4. Best mashed potatoes ever! So creamy and smooth! Never use a box agsin.  ❤️

  5. Mashed potatoes are one of my favorite side dishes. BUT, they MUST be good. Buttery, smooth and creamy potatoes. However, I’m not good at making them.
    The recipe says half and half, but in the blog it says preferably whole. Please clarify.

    • Hey! I’m excited for you to try this recipe, you’ll be able to nail them with this one! I’d love to know how it goes for you, you’ll want to use half and half. Enjoy!!

  6. These were super good, definitely my new go-to recipe for mashed potatoes. Thank you. -Cassidy

  7. These are the BEST mashed potatoes I’ve ever made. I could never understand why my potatoes would sometimes end up gluey, other times lumpy, other times dry…I had no idea about the tips you shared, now it all makes sense! This is definitely my new go-to mashed potato recipe.

    • Hey Samantha, that’s so great to hear! I spent a lot of time in my early days of cooking making some of those classic mistakes so I’m so glad I could help you out!

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