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Homemade Mashed Potatoes 3 Ways: Stovetop, Instant Pot, and Slow Cooker

With so many ways to make mashed potatoes (stovetop, pressure cooker, slow cooker), I can’t believe there was ever a time in my life when I preferred the boxed version.

To my parents’ credit, I remember nothing of eating the boxed flakes as a child. Rather, it was my high school cafeteria’s semi-regular Turkey Day that sent me running, nay, sprinting down the hall to wait in line for a scoop of pasty starch covered in a supple slick of vivid yellow gravy.

Nothing about this meal screamed authentic, but it was a salt lick in a bowl and as someone who also ate entire bags of Doritos in one sitting and brought turkey bacon (no bread, no mayo, just bacon) as her lunch at this point in time, it’s no shock to see why this was right up my alley.

But in the same way my youthful love for microwaved Stove Top has morphed into my need to bake casserole dishes’ worth of Thanksgiving stuffing—even in the middle of July—as a somewhat functioning adult, I’m fully committed to making homemade mashed potatoes whenever I need a fix.

mashed potatoes made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker - via goodfoodstories.com
Photo: Casey Barber

Also as a somewhat OCD kitchen professional, I have some specific needs for how my potatoes are prepared.

My preferred method of torture for mashing potatoes is a food mill—one of those semi-unitaskers that takes up way too much space in the cabinet and comes in handy only a few times a year.

But because it’s dishwasher-safe, can handle a large quantity of potatoes, and gives the tender spuds a super-silky texture, a food mill gets the nod over a hand masher or a small hand-held potato ricer.

mashed potatoes made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker - via goodfoodstories.com
Photo: Casey Barber

As for the potatoes themselves, if I have my druthers, I’m reaching straight for the bag of Yukon Golds. Why them and not Russets or reds? I love a thick and creamy mashed potato, and the sweet, buttery, starchiness of golden Yukons are the Goldilocks of the bunch—not too mealy or waxy, with just the right amount of fluffiness when you mash ’em.

And for that signature tanginess that makes a scoopful of mashed potatoes sing, I love to use authentic buttermilk. Some cooks like sour cream or creme fraiche, others use cream cheese, but buttermilk is the key to my ideal mashed potato consistency.

Plus, when pairing buttermilk with those already-creamy Yukons, you won’t need to stir in as much cream or butter to get that rich consistency we all crave. This means you’re free to top it with more butter or gravy, obviously.

mashed potatoes made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker - via goodfoodstories.com
Photo: Casey Barber

As kitchen technology has advanced, electric pressure cookers (AKA the Instant Pot) and slow cookers have made it possible to cook your potatoes without touching a stove burner. This comes in especially handy on Thanksgiving morning, when stove and oven space is at a premium.

If I’m being completely honest, I still prefer the stovetop method over any other, but you’ll still get great results from both pressure cooker and slow cooker methods if you’re pressed for either time or space.

Watch the video and get the recipe below to learn how to make homemade mashed potatoes any way you want. Stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker, it’s up to you!

mashed potatoes made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker - via goodfoodstories.com

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Stovetop Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Here's how to make mashed potatoes on the stovetop, in a pressure cooker, or a slow cooker. Whichever method you choose, they'll be creamy and comforting.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup half and half or whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, plus more for serving

Instructions

Stovetop Method

  1. Place the potatoes in a medium (4-6 quart) stockpot and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt to the pot.
  3. Cover and heat over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil, about 10-12 minutes. Set a timer or stay close to the stove, as the starch leaching from the potatoes into the water will make the pot boil over if left unattended.
  4. Uncover and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through, about 10 minutes more. Easy test method: hold a potato with a pair of tongs and stab it with a paring knife or cake tester!
  5. Drain the potatoes well in a colander.
  6. Mash the potatoes with your preferred tool (ahem, food mill) in/over a large bowl. 
  7. Stir the buttermilk and milk into the mashed potatoes, then stir in the butter and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  8. Taste and add more salt as desired. 
  9. Serve warm with additional butter on the side.

Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Method

  1. Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 cup water to the bowl of a 6-quart electric pressure cooker.
  2. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and set the valve to Sealing.
  3. Set for 9 minutes on HIGH.
  4. When the cooking cycle is complete, turn the pressure cooker off and let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes.
  5. Drain, mash, and season as noted in the stovetop method above. 

Slow Cooker Method

  1. Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 cups water to the bowl of a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook for 5 hours on HIGH (or 8 hours on LOW).
  3. Drain, mash, and season as noted in the stovetop method above. 

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6 Comments

  1. Great details. I too get tied up in a knot when people complain that cooking dishes like this are “too time consuming” or difficult. Really?

    I have to say that working at W-S has made me a potato ricer or food mill convert for mashed potatoes. I love how fluffy they are and they really don’t need as much cream or butter.

    If I want chunks and skin, I make “smashed potatoes” and use a masher or fork, but any method used is head and shoulders above those flakes called potatoes that I had to go to friend’s houses for the experience. I grew up in a no boxes (except for Uncle Ben’s converted rice — not instant) in the pantry house and am so happy for that.

  2. Did you see the recipe from Dorie Greenspan in the NY Times a week or two ago? Crackery Potato Bugnes, using Hungry Jack potato flakes! They look fantastic.

    1. I was a tad worried too when the instant version was better than expected. After the surprise boxed brownie upset, I guess I should be prepared for anything.

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