I Tried Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes

updated Oct 15, 2019
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

If you’ve ever cooked a recipe from Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman), you know that she doesn’t hold back. Her recipes are usually super-comforting, indulgent, and completely beloved by her fans. So all month long, as Kitchn tests out some of the most popular Thanksgiving recipes on the internet, I knew Ree’s had to have a spot on that list. And when it comes to Thanksgiving sides, you can’t get much more comforting than mashed potatoes.

Compared to the other mashed potato recipes I tested (here’s Alton Brown’s, Ina Garten’s, and Martha Stewart’s), Ree’s was the most decadent: It’s baked into a casserole with four (!) kinds of dairy: butter, half-and-half, cream, and cream cheese. In other words, it’s bold, rich, and ranch-approved. Here’s what I thought of them.

How To Make Pioneer Woman’s Mashed Potatoes

You start by peeling, quartering, and boiling five pounds of Yukon gold or russet potatoes (I used a 50-50 mix) until they’ll tender. For me, that took about 25 minutes.

Next, you drain them and smash them with a masher, then stir in all the dairy, plus salt and pepper. Unlike the other recipes I tested, this one transfers the potatoes to a large casserole dish (the exact size is unspecified, but a trusty 9×13-inch dish does the job well). You’ll add more butter, then pop the casserole dish into the oven for 25 minutes.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

What I Thought of the Results

In a word: Whoa. These tasted so rich — hello, four kinds of dairy! The Pioneer Woman described these as creamy, and they definitely are. In fact, they might just be the creamiest and most buttery mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted. (But after a few bites, they cross into the territory of being too rich. For me, at least.)

I also found the recipe to be lacking in specifics. As I mentioned, Ree doesn’t specify the best size casserole dish to use. (A 9×13-inch — or 3-quart — baking dish is your best bet.) She also calls for the potatoes to be topped with additional butter before baking, but doesn’t specify the amount. Is it just one to two tablespoons, or the remaining half stick not used in the recipe? I went with the latter because it’s what I knew Ree would want me to do.

Overall though, the recipe was easy to follow (despite my questions), but took about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish, or 20 minutes more than what the recipe noted.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

If You Make Pioneer Woman’s Mashed Potatoes …

1. Use a mix of russets and Yukon golds.

Ree says you can use either, but I suggest a 50-50 mix. Mild-flavored russets are a high-starch potato that break down easily during cooking and soak up cream and butter like a dream, while Yukon golds are known for being more flavorful. This blend will set you up with a nice potato flavor, and a light and delicate texture.

2. Use a potato masher for rustic, chunky mashed potatoes.

If you prefer mashed potatoes with a rustic spin that err on the side of chunky over smooth and creamy, you’ll want to use a potato masher. A ricer or food mill will give you a more creamy, lump-free batch.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 10

I have an aunt who often makes ultra-decadent dishes like this for holiday dinners, and to be honest, I’m not always a fan. While delicious on first bite, these potatoes are too rich for my taste — especially when part of a full Thanksgiving spread.

Have you tried Pioneer Woman’s creamy 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!