Mashed potatoes are my hands-down absolute most favorite cannot have Thanksgiving without them side dish. The creamy, buttery, potato-loaded goodness that is mashed potatoes could be my last supper. So when it came to adding some vegan side dishes to our Thanksgiving table this year, mastering vegan mashed potatoes was essential to my Turkey Day happiness.
I truly don't want to understate just how good these mashed potatoes are. Honestly, their vegan-ness is just a bonus (and I actually mean that — this isn't one of those, "this vegan, gluten-free, flavor-free cauliflower-crust pizza tastes just like the real deal!" situations). These garlicky potatoes are so creamy, tender, and lush without a single drop of dairy — and they're just four ingredients to boot. I'd dare say these are the best mashed potatoes I've ever made! Here's how to make the best vegan mashed potatoes that everyone will love.
My Quest for the Very Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes
As part of my mission to make the easiest, creamiest, dreamiest vegan mashed potatoes, I tried a handful of popular recipes from some of the most trusted vegan resources. While none of them directly led to my ultimate vegan mashed potato destination, they quickly showed me what worked well (and what didn't work at all) when it comes to vegan mashed potatoes.
Out of all the recipes I tested, these three taught me the most about making vegan mashed potatoes that everyone will love.
- Minimalist Baker's Best Damn Vegan Mashed Potatoes: Dana is the reigning queen of easy vegan recipes. Her emphasis is on flavor, and the garlic and chives really do add a lot. But, save for those add-ins and a bit of vegan butter, her recipe is very literally just mashed-up potatoes, and so the resulting dish was too thick for my liking.
- Martha Stewart's Vegan Mashed Potatoes: I learned the most from this single recipe. The biggest takeaway? I'm not a fan of olive oil in mashed potatoes — a common dairy substitute in vegan mashed potato recipes. And while I love making traditional mashed potatoes with Russets, I learned from this recipe that they really only work when there's a lot of cream and butter to coat them. However, the ingenious trick we use in our recipe is actually inspired by this one: Martha reserves some of the potato cooking water for mashing the potatoes.
- Vegan Roasted-Garlic Mashed Potatoes: It was from this Food Network recipe that I learned no non-dairy milk was going to be able to replace cream for my mashed potatoes. I tried these with almond milk, pea-protein milk, and oat milk (oat was the closest) but couldn't get past an overt sweetness in every batch.
3 Smart Secrets to the Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Twenty-something pounds of potatoes and a few cursed recipes later, a few commonalities began to surface. Delicious vegan mashed potatoes are always made with Yukon gold potatoes, have a bold punch of flavor, and a little bit of vegan butter.
- Yukon gold potatoes: These smaller, waxier potatoes have less starch than Russets, which makes the finished potatoes creamier and fluffy without the added fat and moisture of dairy.
- A punch of flavor: Brown a little garlic in your vegan butter and top your mashed potatoes with fresh herbs, and I pinkie promise that no one will actually care (or know) they are vegan. The savory combo of the two looks as good as it tastes.
- Vegan butter: I really tried to like olive oil or coconut oil in my mashed potatoes, because vegan butters have a long ingredient list. My friend Jenn, who is a professional vegan, recommended Earth Balance to me (it's what many of the recipes I tested called for, too) and it tastes just like the real thing.
An Ingenious Hack for Super-Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Here's the most important thing you need to know about making vegan mashed potatoes: Even if you decide to vegan-ize your favorite recipe, skip all the non-dairy milks. Don't run around town looking for oat milk (it always seems to be sold out anyways), don't be disappointed by pea-protein milk, or overwhelmed by the flavor of coconut milk. Instead, reserve a few cups of the cooking water used for the potatoes before draining them. Then, when you go to mash, add a little bit of cooking water to give the finished mashed potatoes their creamy texture. Keep adding until you reach your desired consistency.
Make-Ahead Vegan Mashed Potatoes
These vegan mashed potatoes reheat incredibly — no gumminess or over-mixing to worry about. Feel free to make them a day in advance and reheat over medium heat with a little extra vegan butter. And if you hide the vegan butter container, I bet no one will realize they aren't the classic Thanksgiving side.
Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Serves 8 to 10
Prep time: 45 minutes ; cooking time: 25 minutes to 10 minutes
What You Need
Yukon gold potatoes, well-scrubbed
kosher salt, divided
salted vegan butter (1/2 cup), such as Earth Balance, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
finely chopped chives, or 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
Ricer or potato masher
Spatula or wooden spoon
Boil the potatoes. Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Place in a large pot or Dutch oven, and cover the potatoes by 1 inch with cool water. Cover, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, add 1 teaspoon of the salt, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender and a paring knife slides easily through the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
Reserve some of the cooking water and drain the potatoes. Transfer 3 cups of the cooking liquid into a heat-safe measuring cup. Drain the potatoes in a colander.
Warm the butter, salt, and garlic. Place the vegan butter, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in the now-empty pot. The heat from the pot and the still-warm, but off, burner should be enough to melt the butter. If needed, turn the heat to low, melt the butter, and then remove the pan from the heat.
Rice or mash the potatoes into the garlic butter. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash or rice them directly in the pot. Once the potatoes are mostly mashed, add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid and mash to desired consistency.
Taste, season, and garnish. Taste the potatoes and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with the chives or scallions and more vegan butter just before serving.
Make ahead: These potatoes can be made up to 2 hours ahead and kept covered off the stove. Reheat over low heat before serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.