12 ways to upgrade your mashed potatoes

Yes, they can be even better.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Mashed potatoes are a perfect food. That doesn’t mean you can’t make them better. You’re already adding butter, cream, and salt, but there’s so many more ways to make this dinner staple even more flavorful. Many pantry items can easily doctor up this starchy side, from herbs, to store-bought sauces, and condiments. In fact, one of the South’s favorite condiments is the secret to extra creamy potatoes.

If you’re bored by your mashed potatoes, here are some of our favorite ways to enhance them.

1. Use More Butter

You already know to add butter to your mashed potatoes, but more is more. Just like a steak, you can top hot mashed potatoes with compound butters. Allow the butter to melt into delicious pools of rich flavor. Browned butter can also add nuttiness and a beautiful color to your spuds.

Related: Lisa Cericola's Herbed Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

2. Extra Salt

This might also seem obvious, but potatoes need more salt than most people think. You should be salting the boiling water and the potatoes after cooking. You can also lean on seasoning salts like Tony Chacheres, for additional flavor and salt. For a fun twist, try adding a dollop of white miso to your next batch of mashed potatoes; it’s not only salty, but savory.

3. Add Alliums

Alliums are the delicious family of onion-y produce that make most recipes taste better. Folding chives or scallions into mashed potatoes is a classic technique for a reason, but roasted garlic (garlic is also an allium), caramelized onions, or even a packet of Lipton’s French Onion Dip, can all add unbeatable flavor to mashed potatoes.

4. Go Green

It’s easier to eat your greens when they’re folded into potatoes. Plus, they lend a beautiful color to the same old beige potatoes. Make your potatoes Irish-style with the addition of cabbage for a Colcannon-like dish, or add salad staples like spinach and kale to your potatoes.

5. Garnish With Herbs

Speaking of delicious green things, both woody herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme, and leafy herbs like dill can add freshness to this starchy side. A herb-based sauce like pesto swirled into mashed potatoes is another way to add vibrant flavor.

6. Fold in Mayo

Naturally, Duke’s makes mashed potatoes better. Even just a few tablespoons of it adds both a tang and extra creaminess to mashed potatoes that Hellmann’s just can’t.

7. Get Cheesy

Doesn’t matter what kind: Cheddar, goat cheese, or Gruyere, all varieties of cheese make mashed potatoes gooey and extra rich. In France, "Pommes Aligot" is a version of mashed potatoes with so much melty cheese folded in that the potatoes pull in strings like a mozzarella stick. To recreate this decadent dish, fold plenty of Swiss and Fontina cheese into your next batch of mashed potatoes.

Make It Poutine-Style: Instead of folding in cheese, top your mashed potatoes with cheese curds and gravy for a riff on the Canadian delicacy.

8. Turn Up the Heat

The richness of mashed potatoes makes them the perfect base for adding heat without the spice overwhelming the dish. Try stirring in finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo, diced Hatch chiles, or hot sauce. You can also top your mashed potatoes with a drizzle of chili crisp or harissa.

9. Fry Away

Transform mashed potatoes into delicious fried potato croquettes. Crispy on the outside from a breadcrumb coating, but still soft and fluffy on the inside, frying is a fun way to mix up the classic side if mashed potatoes are starting to feel a little monotonous.

Related: Cheesy Potato Croquettes

10. Stir in Seafood

Lumps of tender crab or lobster in mashed potatoes? Sign us up. Is this possibly the most decadent way to enjoy mashed potatoes (aside from under a pile of truffles or flaked in gold)? Yes, but for special occasions it’s a delicious way to dress up an everyday dish. Finely chopped anchovies or smoked salmon are both more affordable ways to fold flavorful fish into mashed potatoes.

11. Don’t Use Just Potatoes

Squash, other root veggies, like parsnips, and even cauliflower mash up beautifully with potatoes. Including other vegetables adds both color and flavor to plain mashed potatoes, as well as an extra dose of vitamins.

Related: Mashed Potatoes and Rutabaga with Collards

12. Add Crunch

Mashed potatoes, as delicious as they are, do have an inherently soft and mushy texture, hence why they’re the go-to food post-oral surgery. Unless you’re recovering from an extraction, try adding crunchy toppings to your potatoes. We love sprinkling bacon bits, crushed potato chips, or crispy fried onions on top.

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