Ina Garten Just Taught Me the Easiest Way to Mash Potatoes

published Nov 20, 2023
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Cream cheese mashed potatoes in bowl with butter and chives.
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe | Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe

No Thanksgiving is complete without a heaping bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes. It’s a simple classic that’s a staple on tables throughout the holiday season. Up until a few years ago, I swore that using a ricer (or a food mill) was the key to delivering perfectly fluffy potatoes that were neither gummy nor gluey. That was until I attended my first Thanksgiving at my husband’s childhood home. 

While there, my mother-in-law was hard at work in the kitchen, cooking the turkey, preparing macaroni and cheese — and mashing potatoes with an electric hand mixer! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I held my tongue and helped however I could in the kitchen. When it was time to eat, lo and behold, those mashed potatoes were the smoothest, creamiest potatoes I’ve ever had. 

Turns out, it was a technique that my mother-in-law picked up from the cooking queen herself, Ina Garten. Her recipe for classic mashed potatoes calls for breaking up the hot cooked potatoes with a hand mixer while slowly pouring in a warm mixture of milk and melted butter. My mother-in-law trusts Ina, and I do too. We’re believers, and once you give this technique a try, you will be too. 

Credit: Kelli Foster

Why You Should Use a Hand Mixer to Mash Potatoes

I completely understand if you may be skeptical (I was too), but hear me out. To ensure that your mashed potatoes don’t turn out gummy or gluey, it’s important to keep the hand mixer on low speed as you slowly pour in the warmed butter-milk mixture. As soon as the potatoes are creamy, turn off the mixer and set it aside. Add in any other seasonings like salt, pepper, or even sour cream. Then, use a whisk or spatula to stir those in, that’s it! 

The ease and convenience of using the hand mixer can’t be beat. It’s faster than using a ricer or food mill, and it’s a no-mess method with minimal clean-up. In my book, that’s a win-win — especially on Thanksgiving. 

If You’re Mashing Potatoes with a Hand Mixer, a Few Tips

  • Keep the mixer on low speed. To avoid gummy and gluey potatoes, keep the mixer on low speed the entire time you’re breaking up the potatoes. This prevents them from becoming overworked. 
  • Have your seasonings ready to go. Because these mashed potatoes will come together super quickly, it’s important to have everything ready to go from your melted butter and warmed milk to your salt and pepper.