The Ingredient Hack For Thicker Mashed Potatoes Without Sacrificing Flavor

There is no question that real mashed potatoes are far superior to the packaged instant kind. Unfortunately, they can easily be messed up if you are not paying attention. For example, mashing and mixing for too long can make them gummy. Overboiling the potatoes can give them a funky, starchy mouthfeel and make them too runny. Adding too much liquid can also result in a too-thin texture. Luckily, there is a simple hack to fix those thin, soupy potatoes. All it takes is a bit of the packaged instant potato flakes you planned to save for an easy weeknight dinner.

First, you will want to go slow when adding potato flakes to too-thin mashed potatoes. If you dump a bunch in, you could end up with the opposite problem: Potatoes that are as thick as wet cement! Instead of pouring the instant mashed potatoes straight from the package, scoop in just one spoonful at a time. Adding such a small amount, little by little, ensures you can achieve the right consistency without going overboard.

Why adding instant potato flakes creates a thicker mash

As you probably suspect, the potato flakes will absorb and displace the excess liquid that makes your potatoes thin and soupy. Other ingredients can have this same effect, of course. For instance, you could add powdered milk, which will absorb liquid and thicken the potatoes to a certain degree. Cornstarch is another excellent thickener; flour can also be used in a pinch. That said, powdered potato flakes are decidedly superior. This ingredient not only thickens your mashed potatoes but also makes the overall flavor much more congruent. So, while other thickeners might somewhat change the flavor, the instant flakes will enhance the overall taste of your mashed potatoes.

Adding potato flakes to mashed potatoes will also up the fluffiness factor considerably. After all, if there is one characteristic instant potatoes can brag about — other than being fast to make — it's how fluffy they are. For those who crave truly cloud-like, creamy mashed potatoes, a small amount of the instant stuff makes all the difference when you need to fix a watery mess.

Can instant potato flakes thicken other foods?

Instant mashed potato flakes work incredibly well as a thickener in soups and stews. Not only do they bulk up a thin soup, but they also add a creamy texture and an extra bit of flavor. This thickening technique works so well that celebrity chef Jacques Pépin even featured the hack on his show, "More Fast Food My Way."

While a roux is the classic method for thickening soups, instant mashed potatoes can work even better. By leaning on this single ingredient, you can avoid the potential for a grainy or floury taste to show through — and potato flakes are much simpler to work with. This ingredient is also easier to use than corn starch — which can be finicky — allowing for better control over the level of thickness you impart on a dish. As you do when using this ingredient hack to fix soupy mashed potatoes, be sure to go slow and add a little bit at a time for the best results.