I Tried Ina Garten’s Classic Mashed Potatoes

updated Aug 12, 2020
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Ina Garten’s recipes are often classic in the best way possible. She’ll take a food we all know and love and find a way to turn it into something even better — usually with the help of an ultra-practical tip or key ingredient. So when it came time to try some of the most popular Thanksgiving recipes on the internet (which we’re doing on Kitchn all month long!), I knew I had to include Ina’s take on another classic: mashed potatoes.

The first thing that stood out to me about Ina’s version was that out of the four mashed potato recipes I made (here’s Alton Brown’s, Martha Stewart’s, and Ree Drummond’s), Ina’s calls for an extra ingredient beyond the usual suspects: sour cream. Did it make a difference, though? Here’s what I found out.

How To Make Ina Garten’s Mashed Potatoes

Ina’s mashed potato recipe starts as most do — with you peeling and cubing potatoes, then adding them to a pot with salted cold water. (The instructions actually don’t specify the amount of kosher salt used, so I added a couple of tablespoons.) Water boils, potatoes simmer until tender, and milk and butter heat separately.

Ina then has you use an electric hand mixer (which I always thought was a no-no!) to break up the potatoes while slowly pouring in the warm dairy. You’ll do this until the potatoes are very creamy and then, at the very end, stir in the sour cream, salt, and pepper, and serve.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

What I Thought of the Results

These mashed potatoes were luscious and rich without going overboard, with a flavor that was super buttery and creamy — with a hint of tang from the sour cream. They were also really smooth, with a bit of a thinner texture as far as mashed potatoes go. In a word? They tasted downright fancy. To me, these are the type of mashed potatoes that Thanksgiving guests would ask you about. (And ask for seconds of!) And beyond taste, these mashed potatoes also lived up to their promise of taking less than 30 minutes to make.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

If You Make Ina Garten’s Mashed Potatoes …

  1. Salt the water when boiling potatoes: Not all recipes call for this simple step, but you should do it anyway. Salting the water with a few tablespoons of kosher salt seasons the potatoes from the inside out. I know this seems like a lot of salt, but potatoes can handle it, and a lot of it gets drained away with the water.
  2. Add sour cream: Thanks to Ina, I am officially a convert — and you should be, too. Sour cream adds an extra dimension of creaminess and a subtle tangy undertone that gives the mashed potatoes a boost of flavor. Because of this addition, I appreciate Ina’s use of whole milk, as heavy cream would be a bit much here.
  3. Feel free to use an electric hand mixer: To be honest, I was really skeptical about using an electric mixer here, and was worried it would make the potatoes gummy. But I trusted Ina. And she delivered! The potatoes weren’t gummy or gluey, and it proved faster than using a ricer or food mill.

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10

These mashed potatoes reminded me of the fancy French-style version we made in culinary school, and they tasted incredible. But if I could eat just one mashed potato recipe for the rest of my life, it would be Ina’s.

Have you tried Ina Garten’s classic mashed potatoes? What did you think of them? Or is there another famous recipe you swear by every year? Tell us everything in the comments below!