Mashed potatoes are one of the highlights of Thanksgiving dinner, and this recipe won’t disappoint! These classic mashed potatoes are fluffy, creamy, and buttery, just like they should be.
When you’re making Thanksgiving dinner, it’s not the time to experiment with fancy new recipes. Oh sure, you could make mashed potatoes with turnips or use kimchi instead of butter, but Thanksgiving is neither the time nor the place! It’s the time when you make classic, old-fashioned mashed potatoes with milk, butter, salt, and pepper.
If you don’t have a go-to mashed potato recipe for Thanksgiving, I’m sharing mine with you here. It’s unfussy and easy enough to handle even when you’re trying to manage cooking 10 other dishes at the same time. It’s also one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides because these 5 simple ingredients add up to something really special. There’s a reason we call mashed potatoes comfort food!
Easy Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Although some people make their mashed potatoes a day or two ahead of time and heat them up when it’s time for Thanksgiving dinner, I think they turn out a lot better when you make them fresh. So, save a spot on the stovetop for a big pot of water to boil your potatoes! There’s not much to this recipe and most of the cooking time is hands-off; in fact, the hardest part is peeling the potatoes, but you can do that up to a day in advance and store the potatoes submerged in water in the fridge.
See the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Russet potatoes
- Whole milk or heavy whipping cream – They need to be warmed up before adding to the potatoes
- Russet potatoes – You can swap the Russet potatoes for Yukon gold potatoes.
- Pepper – White pepper can be used instead of black pepper.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
1. Boil the Potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and fill the pan with enough water to completely cover them. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain well.
2. Mash the Potatoes: Return the potatoes to the saucepan and use a potato masher to mash them a bit. Add the milk or cream and butter, and mash some more, or until the texture is light and fluffy. Stir in the salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving bowl.
Hint: You can add more salt and pepper to taste if needed.
- Dairy-Free – Use a non-dairy milk and butter substitute to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Garlicky – Warm the cream or milk in a saucepan with 6 cloves of crushed garlic; remove the garlic, then add the liquid to the potatoes as instructed.
- Cheesy – Add Parmesan cheese, cheddar, or gouda for cheesy mashed potatoes.
- Herbed – Add minced chives, rosemary, or other herbs directly to the potatoes, or for a more subtle flavor, simmer them with the milk or cream, then remove them.
No, when you’re cooking potatoes, you always put them in with the cold water and then bring it (and the potatoes) to a boil.
Milk or cream is best because they both offset the starchiness of the potatoes and give the recipe a perfectly creamy texture. Sure, using broth instead can save you some calories, but your mashed potatoes won’t taste as good!
Make sure you cut your potatoes into uniform pieces so they’re all done cooking at the same time.
More Potatoes To Try For Thanksgiving
- 6 medium russet potatoes about 2 pounds, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup warm whole milk or heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup butter cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, until easily pierced with a fork, 20-25 minutes. Drain.
- Add remaining ingredients; mash until light and fluffy.