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
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.
The Tool for The Best Mashed Potatoes: The Ricer
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).
The Best Mashed Potatoes: Golds or Russets?
I've used both russet and golds. These days I prefer russet potatoes for their dry starchy fluffy result. Gold potatoes (medium starch) provide a creamier 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 (but not falling apart) so they are easier to push through the ricer.
Mashed Potatoes Ingredients
When planning how much to make figure a 6-8 ounces of potatoes per person. For the liquid portion I use whole milk or half and half. Sour cream adds a little tang and creaminess. Sometimes I add finely chopped chives for color and nice visual appeal or some horseradish for a kick of heat and extra flavor.
For your shopping list:
- Potatoes: golds or russets
- Whole milk or half and half
- Salt and white pepper
Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes
For vegan mashed potatoes, use almond, rice milk or oat milk and 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, use your favorite plant-based butter substitute. I like Miyoko's.
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.
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 2-3 tablespoons good quality unsalted butter melted or room temp
- ⅓ 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.