Expert Tips For Making Mashed Potatoes

When the weather gets cold, there's nothing more comforting than a warm, creamy, carbohydrate-loaded bowl of mashed potatoes. And, nothing is worse than taking that first big bite and realizing that the potatoes are either coarse and gritty or gummy and gluey. Or bland. Believe it or not, perfectly creamy and rich, flavorful mashed potatoes (even the chunky version should have a smooth, velvety texture between the lumps) involve a lot of science. Luckily, you don't have to be a professional chef to get perfect results; you just need to know a few expert mashed potato tips.

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When potatoes are cooked, their starches start to absorb the water around them and become gel-like; this means that cut potatoes boiled in water (like those used to make mashed potatoes) have the potential to produce a lot of excess starch. For rich and creamy mashed potatoes you have to control the starch level; too much or too little and you won't achieve the ideal mashed potato texture. There are a number of different ways to control the amount of starch in your mashed potatoes (like choosing certain types of potatoes, monitoring the cook temperature of your potatoes, and mashing your potatoes with care) and knowing a few basic tips can go a long way in contributing to perfectly-creamy mashed potatoes.

And, perfect mashed potatoes aren't just creamy, they're flavorful, too. Though potatoes are delicious on their own, they are elevated by the addition of fresh herbs, dried spices, and other flavorings. Fats (like butter or cream) are natural flavor enhancers, so adding them along with any other seasonings will make creamy mashed potatoes even more extraordinary.

Whether you're looking for some basic tips to help you achieve the perfect mashed potato technique or looking for a new recipe for this classic side dish, we've got a few ideas for you.

Rinse your Potatoes

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When you're peeling and cutting potatoes, be sure to cut them into equally sized pieces (so that they'll cook evenly) and rinse them under cold running water to wash away any excess starch before you boil them.

Control the Temperature

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Most of us probably don't use a thermometer to measure the temperature of our cooking water, but if you have one, use it. Keeping your potato-cooking water at (or around) 160 degrees will help control the starchiness of the finished dish.

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Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.