Tips & How-to

5 of the best potatoes for mashing

What makes Yukon Gold the best potatoes for mash? Let’s find out!
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Ah, the humble potato; a starchy vegetable that can easily be turned into a variety of comfort foods. Hot chips with ketchup, rosemary roasted wedges, steaming hot baked potatoes, Hasselback potatoes with cheese and bacon, latkes, croquettes, dauphinoise potatoes – the list could go on forever! But no potato dish is quite as ubiquitous and comforting as potato mash

Mash is a dish that’s easy enough to prepare for a casual meat and veggies meal, but it’s also special enough to be a staple at dinner parties. But not all potatoes are made the same, which begs the question: What potatoes are best for mashing? Well, the short answer is Yukon Gold potatoes

So what makes Yukon Gold one of the best potatoes for mash? And are there other options for when the shop’s all out of these precious spuds? Let’s find out.

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What makes Yukon Gold the best potato for mashing?

The perfect mash is made up of a few key ingredients: butter, milk, salt and pepper, and starchy potatoes. Now, why starchy potatoes specifically? Because between a waxy and starchy spud, it’s the latter that becomes fluffy and light when mashed. 

Yukon Gold is, well, the gold standard for mashed potatoes. They’re in between waxy and starchy, so they’re in that sweet spot where they’re creamy but they don’t absorb too much water. According to Bon Appetit, this is because they “have the densest and most uniform flesh of the potato varieties. When cooked, they aren’t grainy, watery, or mushy, which all happen to be qualities that ruin mashed potatoes instantly. And as an added bonus, Yukon Golds already have an inherent buttery flavour to them”.

An elderly man in a green sweater holding four Yukon Gold potatoes
(Credit: Getty)

What other types of potatoes are good for mashing?

Russet potatoes are usually the second option for mash. However, russets are higher in starch than Yukon Gold potatoes, and thus absorb water more easily. If you don’t let boiled russets dry properly before mashing, you’ll end up with soggy, bland mash – and nobody wants that! 

Aside from russets, you can also use Dutch cream potatoes which are, as the name suggests, creamy and buttery. Another option is the Australian Toolangi Delight, a purple-skinned potato that can be used for mashing and frying. Though slightly waxy, Desiree potatoes are creamy enough to be used in mash.

Sliced potatoes on a wooden chopping board
(Credit: Getty)

The best potatoes for boiling

For boiling, you’ll want spuds that are on the waxier side. These don’t suck up too much water and they don’t flake or break down into grainy bits when boiled.

Sebago potatoes are white on the inside and dirt-brown on the outside and are good for baking, roasting, mash, and boiling. Other potatoes ideal for boiling are the white, oval-shaped Savanna potatoes and the long, yellow Kipfler potatoes.

What potatoes shouldn’t you use for mashing?

Avoid mashing waxy potatoes and red potatoes like Red Bliss, Rose Gold, and Purple Viking.

What about sweet potatoes?

Though similar in size and appearance – save for the bright orange colour – sweet potatoes are different from regular potatoes in a few ways. They’re said to have a lower glycemic index and regular spuds, which means they’re better for diabetics. Additionally, UHN says that orange sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, while purple sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory powers. This is why most health-conscious people prefer sweet potatoes for making mash.

Taste-wise, they are sweeter than regular potatoes. If you’re not a fan of sweet side dishes, you’ll have to season you’re mashed sweet potatoes with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices.

How to make mashed potatoes

This basic mash potato recipe comes with a tiny twist – horseradish. The spice will give your mash a bit of a kick.

Ingredients

  • 4 large Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 tbsps Horseradish
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Boil the potatoes for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remember to sprinkle a bit of salt into the water to season the potatoes. 
  2. Drain the potatoes and let them dry for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. With a stainless steel potato masher, mash the potatoes until you have a creamy and even mash. 
  4. Melt the butter and milk in a saucepan. 
  5. Once it’s all heated up and the butter has properly melted, pour the sauce over the mash and mix.
  6. Add the sour cream, horseradish, and salt and pepper. 
  7. Let cool and enjoy!

Common mistakes made when making mash

Here’s what not to do when you’re whipping up a batch of mashed potatoes.

1. Skipping the salt

While the purpose of boiling potatoes is to soften them up for mashing, there’s another reason for throwing spuds into a pot of hot water. If you add salt, the starch in the potatoes will absorb it as they boil. This gives you more flavourful potatoes for mashing.

2. Mashing damp potatoes

After boiling potatoes, you need to drain them of all water. Let them dry up for a bit before you get to work – otherwise, you might end up accidentally making potato soup instead!

3. Using the wrong tools

Sure, you can mash potatoes with a fork, but nothing beats a good old steel potato masher. You’ll get better results, and you won’t have to put in too much elbow grease. And please, don’t ever toss potatoes into a blender, a food processor, or electric mixer. Again, you’re not trying to make soup!

4. Tossing in cold ingredients

Before you add butter and milk to your mashed potatoes, let the butter melt a bit and allow the milk to get to room temperature. This will make it easier for the potatoes to absorb them.

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