Mashed potatoes make any meal a little better. And let's be honest — it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them. Sadly, I come from a long line of mashed potato forgetters. A familiar cry heard each Thanksgiving was, "The mashed potatoes!" This could mean one of three things: Either someone forgot to start them, someone forgot they were cooking (so the potatoes turned to a watery-potato mush), or someone forgot them in the kitchen and the mashed potatoes were cold by the time they hit the table.
This always bummed me out. I mean, we're talking mashed potatoes here. Miracle mashed potatoes. So I set out to change my family's mashed potato legacy. Thankfully, it was pretty easy.
My secret to great mashed potatoes? The electric pressure cooker. (And a holiday "to do" list that includes "start the potatoes" written in red with a circle around it.) Now, the only cries heard about mashed potatoes around my table are about how good they turned out.
And these mashed potatoes are seriously good. This isn't a holiday shortcut just for the sake of taking a shortcut. Mashed potatoes made in a pressure cooker come out smooth and flavorful each time. Plus, thanks to the "keep warm" setting, I never worry about serving cold mashed potatoes. It's a win all around.
Other than using a pressure cooker, there's no secret to my mashed potatoes. You simply peel a good amount of potatoes, pile them into the pressure cooker, add some water, and press a few buttons. You don't even need to dice the potatoes.
After cooking under high pressure for a few minutes, the potatoes are tender and read to mash. (And if they aren't tender, it's easy to return the lid to the cooker and add a few minutes of cooking time.)
My favorite way to "mash" potatoes is to use a handheld mixer. So, technically, I make whipped potatoes, not mashed. If you prefer dense mashed potatoes, grab a potato masher, food mill, or electric mixer.
Just be sure to skip the immersion blender or food processor, as the fast action of both of these tools breaks down the starch in the potatoes. The starch mixes with the liquid in the potatoes and turns into a gummy mess, which makes for a fun science experiment and a terrible side dish.
After mashing the potatoes, wash the pressure cooker insert. This removes the starch that clings to the pot from cooking the potatoes. Generously butter the bottom and sides of the pot, add a splash of heavy cream to the bottom of the pot, place the mashed potatoes into the pot, and turn on the "keep warm" setting. Stir the potatoes occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you have a glass lid for your pressure cooker, this is a good time to use it. If not, be sure the valve on the lid remains in the venting position.
When ready to serve, transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and top with a pat of butter and some chopped chives. Then get ready to hear your friends and family "ooh and aah" over your perfect mashed potatoes. The secret to how easy they were to make is safe with me.
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
1 1/2 cups water
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk, warm
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
To keep warm:
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoon half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (optional)
2 tablespoons cold butter (optional)
Set a wire rack into the bottom of a 6-quart electric pressure cooker. Add the water. Place the potatoes on the rack. Close and lock the lid. Set the cook time for 20 minutes at high pressure.
When the cooking time ends, do not vent the pressure cooker. Allow the pressure to release naturally; this can take about 15 minutes. Once the pressure valve drops, open the lid and transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.
Add the half-and-half or milk and butter. Mash with a potato masher, food mill, or ricer. (Or whip the potatoes with a stand or handheld mixer on low speed with the paddle attachment. Do not use an immersion blender or food processor.) Add the salt, season with pepper if desired, and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
To keep the mashed potatoes warm, wash the insert of the pressure cooker to remove cooking starch. Return the insert to the pressure cooker and coat the bottom and sides of the insert with the butter. Add the half-and-half or milk. Spoon in the warm mashed potatoes but don't stir. Cover with a glass lid or pressure cooker lid. If using the pressure cooker lid, be sure to turn the sealing valve to open. Turn on the "keep warm" setting. Gently stir the potatoes every 20 to 30 minutes to prevent them from sticking to the pot.
When ready to serve, spoon into a serving dish and top with chopped chives and a few pats of butter.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat leftovers with this method.