Mashed potatoes are one of the easiest no-recipe dishes we know. It's the simplest thing in the world to make up a batch for just one person, or two, or three. And if you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner for just two, you can easily whip up mashed potatoes without making a Thanksgiving-sized pot-full. This method here also requires no masher, no ricer, and a bare minimum of equipment in general.
Why Make Mashed Potatoes for Just Two People?
We actually received a question on this from reader Karen. She writes:
Since it's just my husband and me, most recipes or mixes for mashed potatoes are just way too much. How can I make mashed potatoes out of one large Russet or the equivalent? Should I just adjust the ingredients down, or do I need to modify technique in any way?
Well Karen, you're in luck. Making mashed potatoes for two is even easier than making a big batch for a crowd. Here's how I do it. Take a look and add your own tips and suggestions for fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes.
For Your Information
- This recipe calls for 1 1/2 pound of Yukon Gold potatoes to serve two generously.
- Choose whole milk or heavy cream for mashing, and make sure you have butter on hand for serving.
- This recipe takes about 30 minutes in total, including some hands-off cooking time.
Mashing Potatoes Without a Masher
Thanks to a smaller yield, it's hard to over-work these potatoes and that means you can, mush, mash, and bash these with almost any utensil you have — not just a potato masher. A large wooden spoon helps to break up the larger pieces of potato just off the boil, but for a finer, smoother texture reach for a sturdy whisk.
Serving Mashed Potatoes for Just Two People
Mashed potatoes often get pushed to the side of the plate, but with this small-batch recipe I'd encourage you to think of potatoes as blank canvas for topping with other dinner fare. Line a bowl or two with potatoes and top with meatballs and red sauce, or roasted sausages with peppers and onions. Having breakfast for dinner? Consider these mashed potatoes as a wonderful base for a breakfast bowl or simple top them with a fried egg for an easy, hearty, and comforting weeknight dinner.
How To Make Mashed Potatoes for Two
What You Need
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more as needed
1 ounce cream cheese or sour cream, at room temperature (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
3-quart or larger saucepan
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Fill medium saucepan with water and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prep the potatoes.
- Peel, chop, and boil the potatoes. Peel the potatoes. Cut them in half, then in quarters, lengthwise. Then cut the quarters into thin strips. You can chop them finer, if you feel like it; the finer they are going into the water, the easier they will be to mash later. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and simmer until they are falling-apart tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Warm milk or cheese. While the potatoes boil, choose and warm your dairy. Now, this is decision time. For modest weeknight mashed potatoes, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup of milk will be plenty of dairy. It will help the potatoes be creamy and smooth, and bind everything together. But if you want a more decadent experience, then by all means, dial it up! Switch out the milk for cream, and add an ounce of cream cheese or even a dollop of sour cream. It's up to you. The more fat, the creamier they will be. But whatever you choose, warm it first before adding to the potatoes. Warm the milk or cream in the microwave, and let any cream cheese or sour cream come to room temperature.
- Drain and mash the potatoes with the butter. When the potatoes are quite soft, drain them completely and return them to the pan over medium heat. Add the butter and cook for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring the potatoes rapidly and vigorously to help any residual water evaporate. You also want to break the potatoes up and smash them with the spoon. You can employ a fork to help, if you like, but you shouldn't need a ricer or a masher unless you want ultra-smooth potatoes. Just cook, stir, and smash.
- Add the dairy and season to taste. When any remaining water has evaporated, and the potatoes are quite smashed up and smooth, it's time to add the warm milk or cream, as well as any other dairy you'd like to throw in. Pour the milk in slowly, stirring constantly. Keep stirring and cooking until the potatoes are quite hot, creamy, and smooth. Turn off the heat, season to taste with pepper and salt, and dish them up! (You can also keep them warm in the top half of a double boiler.)
- For smoother potatoes: Once all the milk is incorporated, you can use a heavy whisk, if you like, to break up the last chunks of potato.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This post has been updated — originally published November 2010.