Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

By Sally Cameron on November 06, 2009

Basics and how-to, Holiday Dishes, Side Dishes, Thanksgiving, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Some subjects in the world of cooking that elicit firm convictions about how they should be made, like mashed potatoes.Russet potatoes or gold, and what about tools? A hand masher, ricer, or hand mixer? Skin on or off? Chunky or smooth? Milk, half and half, with dairy or without for vegan style? These are serious matters for mashed potato lovers. Here is my recipe for sour cream mashed potatoes.

sour cream mashed potatoes |

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Mom used an electric hand mixer to whip up mashed potatoes. Many cooks consider a hand mixer heresy and insist that you will get gummy mashed potatoes. Mom’s were always perfect, light and fluffy. She also used only russet potatoes, valued for their high starch content and hence fluffy mashed potato result. As I began cooking on my own I tried new tools and experimented with other potatoes.

Today, I use a tool called a ricer. A ricer pushes softly cooked spuds through a hopper with holes to yield fluffy grains of potatoes ready to be stirred with butter, dairy of choice, and whatever else you like to include (sour cream, horseradish, chives, herbs or nothing at all).

Riced Potatoes|

The Ingredients

When planning how much to make figure a 6-8 ounces of potatoes per person. For the liquid portion I use milk or half and half (for the holidays). Other additions are sour cream, butter, salt and white pepper. Sometimes I add finely chopped chives for color and nice visual appeal or some horseradish for a kick of heat and extra flavor.

Dairy-Free Version

For vegan mashed potatoes, use almond or rice milk and use vegan sour cream.  Add enough to get to the texture you desire. I use the brand Follow Your Heart. It has a nice tang like dairy sour cream. For the butter, I substitute Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. You’d never guess this version is dairy free.

Golds or Russets?

I prefer medium-starch, Yukon Gold potatoes for their creamy texture. Don’t use red potatoes (low starch) or other thin white skinned potatoes that have a more waxy consistency. They are best for roasting and dishes where the potatoes need to hold together like potato salad. When cooking your potatoes, cook them until they are very soft so they are easier to push through the ricer. No gold potatoes? Russet work fine (in fact I’m backing to preferring them).

Potato Ricer|

To Make Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time

You can make mashed potatoes an hour or two head of time. Keep them warm in a slow cooker if you are making a big quantity for a crowd or place mashed potatoes in a metal bowl atop a pan with simmering water. Cover the bowl with plastic film then a kitchen towel.

If potatoes have stiffened up while siting, whip in a little hot milk, or a hot milk and melted butter combination. You can also make them a day ahead and heat them back up in a large pan while whisking in more hot milk and butter until they reach the consistency you prefer.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

For light, creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes, use a ricer. If you want them to be over-the-top delicious for a special occasion or holiday, use white truffle butter. If you need to make a really big batch, make them an hour or so ahead of time and keep warm in a slow-cooker or in a bowl seated atop a water bath. For a dairy-free version, use vegan sour cream and vegan “butter”. See the brands I use in the post above.
Servings 6
Calories 173kcal


  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons good quality unsalted butter melted or room temp
  • 1/3 cup whole milk or half and half add more if needed
  • sea salt and white pepper, to taste


  • Peel potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, then into halves or quarters depending on the size of the potatoes to start with. Your goal is to have the pieces the same relative size so that they cook at the same time.
  • Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and make sure you have enough cold water to cover by an inch or so. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt to the pan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to just under a boil; turn heat down to a simmer. If you boil the potatoes they will fall apart. Cooking gently in simmering water will allow them to stay intact.
  • Simmer potatoes until you can easily pierce them with a paring knife. They should be totally tender but not falling apart for easy ricing.
  • Drain potatoes through a strainer or colander and return the potatoes to the hot pan. Place the pan back on the warm burner (turned off) and cover with a mixing bowl. Allow the potatoes to dry a bit in the warm pan before continuing, about 15-20 minutes.
  • After the potatoes have steamed dry, put the potatoes in the bowl, place the ricer over the pan and rice the potatoes. Add the butter, sour cream and enough milk to loosen things up, stirring as you go with a spoon. Stir until potatoes are smooth as you prefer. Add more butter, milk or sour cream as desired. Taste and season with additional salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.
  • To hold for dinner, place mashed potatoes in a stainless steel bowl over the pan you cooked the potatoes in with a few inches of barely simmering water. Your pan should not touch the water. Cover with plastic film and a folded kitchen towel. Potatoes can be kept warm this way for about 2 hours. If cooking potatoes for a crowd you can even keep them warm in a crock pot on low heat which frees up cooktop space if you have a small cook top or range.


Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 666mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 191IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg
  1. Ann Foster - November 16th, 2010

    Hi Sally~~I really enjoy reading your recipes. I’ve printed out some that I will try for Thanksgiving.(green beans) I like the Ukon Gold Pots mixed with others & I rice them & whip them. I like to use fresh Cranberries & add whatever I think the family will like. Our group will be small this year. Carol went back to flying & will finish training in a couple of days & we expect her to be working on Thanksgiving. Nancy, Mike & kids. are going to Fla. So that leaves Allan, Laura,Kyle, & Paul & I. You all have a wonderful day. Love ya, Aunt Ann

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  4. Tonya Holcomb - October 14th, 2013

    My 5 year old daughter went with me to the Farmer’s Market. While I was picking out other produce, she put “white potatoes” in a bag, handed them to the farmer to buy. She asked everyday to make Mashed Potatoes. Tonight, we both made Mashed Potatoes for the first time. Thank you for the recipe!

  5. Sally - October 14th, 2013

    Hi Tonya. Wonderful that you took your daughter to the farmers market with you. Great lesson and experience for her, and I am sure fun for you too! Mashed potatoes are a made only on occasion at our house, but my husband asks for them like your daughter. They are so darn good. If you can choose, I use gold potatoes, like Yukons. I think they make the best mashed potatoes if you are going to make them. I plan to post my white truffle version in November.

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