Looking for the BEST mashed potatoes but only want to make enough for two to four people? This is your mashed potato recipe! Our small batch mashed potatoes are perfect for a weeknight dinner or a small holiday gathering.
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We have been working on Fall and Winter recipes all month. And with just two people in our house, as much as we love potatoes, we needed a small side dish to go with a few things we have been trying out.
Thus our small batch mashed potato recipe was born! We enjoyed this so much we will be serving them at our Thanksgiving, which will be smaller this year. They will make a great addition alongside our herb roasted turkey breast, gluten-free gravy, and this deconstructed green bean casserole.
If you love creamy mashed potatoes that aren't too heavy, then these buttery potatoes are for you!
We are going to stick with the standard mashed potato ingredients. Well at least standard to how I make them. While I typically offer substitutions for recipes, this recipe is the perfect balance of fat to starch so I don't recommend any changes.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes- you want between 1 ½ and 2 pounds
- Bay leaf
- Kosher salt- This recipe calls for quite a bit of salt but most of it goes into the boiling water.
- Whole milk- Just regular milk. Not fat free, not heavy cream. Just plain milk.
- Unsalted butter- Unsalted is the key to avoiding over-salted potatoes.
- Garlic- This recipe is not for garlic potatoes. We use the garlic to infuse the milk and remove it before mashing. See the notes below for a roasted garlic mashed potato variation.
See the recipe card for quantities.
For skin-off mashed potatoes (i.e. Thanksgiving potatoes) Yukon gold potatoes are preferred but russet potatoes work as well.
Plan on ⅓ to ½ pound per person. It may seem like a lot but potatoes cook down small. Don't go by potato counts, as potatoes vary greatly in size. A kitchen scale comes in handy here.
|1 person||½ pound||⅓- ½ cup||1 ½ tablespoons|
|2 people||1- 1 ½ pounds||½ -1 cup||3 tablespoons|
|3-4 people||1 ½ - 2 pounds||¾ -1 cup||4 tablespoons|
|5-6 people||2- 2 ½ pounds||1- 1 ½ cups||5 tablespoons|
⏲️ How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are one of those side dishes that seem easy... yet we have all had terrible mashed potatoes. It usually comes down to two issues; salt and texture.
Our step-by-step guide will ensure the perfect consistency for your potatoes.
Step 1- Prep the Potatoes
For this recipe, we are going to peel the potatoes. I love a t skin-on mashed potato recipe, but this isn't it. Check out our creamy Boursin potato recipe for an example.
Cut the peeled potatoes into 1-inch pieces. I always cut my potatoes before boiling for two reasons.
- Potatoes vary in size so cutting them ensures even cooking.
- Cutting the potatoes speeds up cooking.
Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay leaf, 1 ½ tablespoons salt, and cover with cold water.
Yes, it is a lot of salt. Just like with pasta, the potatoes will absorb some of the salt while cooking. This will in turn lead to less salt down the road.
And yes, you have to start them in cold water to ensure even cooking.
Step 2- Boil the Potatoes
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. We don't want the boil so aggressive
Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. The potatoes are done when they fall apart when poked by a fork.
Step 2- Heat the Milk and Butter
While the potatoes are cooking, we are going to warm the milk, butter, and crushed garlic cloves in a small saucepan over low heat.
We want to melt the butter and allow time for the garlic to infuse the milk.
Do not boil the milk. We simply want the milk to be the same temperature as the potatoes when we combine them. This will allow them to smooth out quickly so we do not overbeat.
Step 3- Drain the Potatoes
Drain the potatoes into a colander. Let them sit for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the steam to escape.
You can discard the bay leaf.
Step 4- Mash the Potatoes
Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl and give them a rough mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
Begin mixing the potatoes with an electric mixer and slowly pour in about half of the milk mixture (remove garlic cloves and discard for easier pouring).
Continue mixing until the potatoes are thick and creamy with very few lumps, and slowly adding the warm milk as needed. Season with the remaining salt to taste.
Continue mixing while slowly adding the warm milk until the potatoes are thick and creamy. You may not use all the milk mixture. Save for reheating any leftovers.
Don't worry if you have a few lumps. Better to have a few small lumps rather than overworking your potatoes and having them turn out like glue.
Alternatively, you can put the potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a bowl. Add the hot milk and mix together with a spoon.
Step 4- Season the Mashed Potatoes
Season the potatoes with salt. Go light and slowly build to the right level of salt.
I like to taste test my potatoes dipped in the gravy I am serving with them. It will give you a better idea of the total level of salt of the whole meal.
💭 Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Use 1 clove of roasted garlic per person. Add to the milk and butter when warm, omitting the raw garlic. Mash the roasted garlic with a fork.
Add the garlic to the potatoes when you mash.
🥘 Expert Tips
- Don't cut potatoes smaller than 1 inch. The potatoes will absorb excess water.
- Be sure your water is very cold before filling the pot.
- Don't forget to salt the water.
- Don't rush draining the potatoes to mashing. A few minutes to steam off will prevent runny potatoes later.
💬Troubleshooting Mashed Potatoes
Add the salt (the seasoning amount, not the amount meant for the boiling water) to your milk. Warm until the salt dissolves. Then mix the milk into the potatoes. This will allow the salt to spread evenly throughout your mash.
The preferred method for fixing runny potatoes is to put them in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the liquid has evaporated.
If you overworked your potatoes spread them on a sheet pan and bake at 350 F until they lose moisture. Then stir. It won't totally fix them but it will help.
🌡️ Storage and Making Ahead
Mashed potatoes can be made ahead. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days
Mashed potatoes can be reheated:
- In the microwave- my least favorite option, the steam makes them gummy
- On the stovetop- with a little extra of the milk and butter
- In the oven uncovered- the best way to reheat mashed potatoes is to put them directly into an oven safe serving dish and pop them in the oven on a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Give them a stir and add additional warm milk if needed.
Small Batch Mashed Potatoes
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes or russet potatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt divided
- 1 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces.2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
- Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay leaf, 1 ½ tablespoons salt, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil and cook until the potatoes fall apart when poked by a fork, about 20 minutes.1 bay leaf, 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Drain the potatoes into a colander. Let them sit 2 to 3 minutes to allow moisture to escape. Remove the bay leaf.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the milk, butter, and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow the garlic to infuse the milk but do not boil!1 cups whole milk, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 cloves garlic
- Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl and give them a rough mash with a potato masher. Begin mixing the potatoes with an electric mixer and slowly pour in half the milk mixture (remove garlic cloves first for easier pouring).
- Continue mixing until the potatoes are thick and creamy with very few lumps, and adding the warm milk as needed. Season with the remaining salt to taste.
- Alternatively, you can put the potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a bowl. Add the hot milk and mix together with a spoon.
- If you get the potatoes too wet return your stockpot and simmer on low, stirring constantly until the potatoes tighten back up.
- The amount of milk and butter you need will vary based on the type of potato you use. I typically use ¾ of the mixture.