This Unexpected Dairy Aisle Find Makes Mashed Potatoes Unbelievably Good

published Nov 21, 2023
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Mashed potatoes in a bowl.
Credit: Sarah Beling

Mashed potatoes — a festive side dish for the ages that is also surprisingly difficult to nail. Despite its place as a consistent fan-favorite on the Thanksgiving table, mashed potatoes can…vary in quality. Whether it’s a lack of salt (or too much salt!), soupy, baby-food-texture ‘taters or sticky, dry spuds, sometimes it feels like making a great mashed potato requires too much trial and error.

Quick Overview

Does adding crema enhance your mashed potatoes?

Yes. The high-fat, heavy cream and buttermilk in Mexican crema is a tangy add-on that helps smooth the texture and improve the flavor of your mashed potatoes. Add a small amount of Mexican crema at the end of your mashed potato process and adjust to taste.

But what if I told you that thanks to a tip from creator Brit’s Cookin’, we now know there is a one-step, dairy aisle ingredient — Mexican crema — that both adds tangy flavor and guarantees the perfect creamy texture in your mashed potatoes? Intrigued by the possibility of a secret mashed potato saver, I tested out her recommendation to find out if adding crema is the answer to my many mashed potato quandaries. 

What is Mexican Crema?

Mexican crema, also referred to as crema fresca, is made from a mixture of high-fat heavy cream and buttermilk. It has a similar tang to sour cream but a higher fat content, salty taste, and a thinner, more liquid consistency — making it a pliable, pourable ingredient that doesn’t curdle easily. Crema is commonly used as a topping for foods like Chicken Flautas, Steak Tacos , and Enchiladas Suizas

How to Incorporate Mexican Crema into Your Mashed Potatoes

Credit: Sarah Beling

Brit doesn’t include a formal mashed potato recipe in her technique video, but she does outline the basics of potato preparation — here’s how she makes a mashed potato using Mexican crema:

  1. Prepare potatoes: Peel and chop your potatoes of choice into small chunks.  I used Yukon Gold, a popular mashed potato base with a buttery flavor profile. For the purpose of this review, I used 3 medium-sized potatoes to adhere as closely as I could to Brit’s 2 large potatoes. 
  2. Boil potatoes: Fill a stockpot about halfway with water. Add potato chunks and bring water to a boil. When your water comes to a rolling boil, add salt and chicken bouillon (I used one bouillon cube) into the mix and cook until your potato chunks can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes, return to stockpot, and set aside. 
  3. Melt butter and milk:  Melt one stick of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Brit recommends adding “a little bit” of milk — I ended up adding about ¼ of a cup. Mix to combine until milk is heated through but does not curdle. 
  4. Add butter/milk mixture to potatoes: Pour about half of your butter/milk mixture into the stockpot with your boiled potatoes. 
  5. Mash potatoes:  Using a potato masher or a large fork, mash your potatoes until they reach your personal desired consistency. Take breaks to add additional butter/milk mixture if needed. 
  6. Fold in crema:  Add approximately ⅓ cup of crema (I used the Tropical brand) and mix thoroughly into potatoes. Add more crema, salt, and black pepper to taste. Top with more pepper and a few chopped chives, and enjoy! 

My Review 

Not only did adding Mexican crema add a subtle, tangy kick to my potatoes, it also helped smooth the consistency of my mashed mix without thinning them too much. I have previously tried adding sour cream to my mashed potatoes and found that crema’s higher fat content makes for a better emulsifier with a very similar flavor profile. I’ll be using this dairy aisle staple in my mashed potatoes from now on! 

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