Foolproof mashed potatoes

Put away your peeler! My easy way for foolproof mashed potatoes: score potatoes around the center, then boil them in their skins. Leave them in the hot pot until just before you want to mash them – the peels will keep the flesh from becoming waterlogged while the potatoes sit, and the scored skins slip easily off the cooked potatoes.


  • Potatoes (I like Yukon Gold for their medium size and creamy flesh)
  • Butter (1 tablespoon per pound of potatoes)
  • Milk (I like whole milk; 1/2 cup per pound of potatoes)
  • Salt (about 3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt per pound of potatoes; or a scant 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • Ground pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon per pound of potatoes)


  1. Scrub potatoes. Using a small sharp knife, score each potato (cut lightly through the skin) in a circle around the center of each potato. Place potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them all with room to spare.
  2. Fill pot with water to cover potatoes completely. Bring to boil on high heat, then reduce to a low simmer.
  3. Cook time varies depending on the size of your potatoes – plan on at least 30 minutes. I’m pretty relaxed about overcooking whole potatoes, because the skins will protect the flesh from getting watery. Test with a fork, or you can see they’re well done when the skins are splitting from the scored center.
  4. Leave potatoes in hot covered pot until you are ready to make the mashed potatoes. They will stay hot for quite a long time in the hot water.
  5. When you are ready to make the mashed potatoes, drain the potatoes in a colander. Depending on how hot they are, you may need kitchen gloves to protect your hands as you peel the potatoes. Put the peeled potatoes back in the pot.
  6. Add butter to potatoes and mash them. I use a simple hand masher, but you can also use a potato ricer. Heat milk (because you don’t want lukewarm potatoes). Add hot milk, salt and pepper and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot.


  • Plan on 1/3 to 1/2 pound of potatoes per person.
  • For 6-8 people: 3 lbs potatoes, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 cups milk.
  • For 10-15 people: 5 lbs of potatoes; 5 tablespoons butter, 2 1/2 cups milk.

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