Mashed potatoes, one of the most popular side dishes during the holiday season. A great addition to any meal, the starchy carbs is simple, yet delicious. With that said, however, the simplest addition can also be the easiest to “mess up” in the kitchen. For instance, the finished product can turn out to be lumpy, grainy, or even too dry. How do we prevent these problems? What’s the easiest way to cook the perfect mashed potatoes?
Like most food dishes, there are many different versions of mashed potatoes. Depending on your preference, you can choose to flavor it with garlic, cheese, chives, bacon, or even cauliflower. With that said, the base is generally the same; in the end, it’s still just mashed potatoes. With all the options that are available though, who wouldn’t want to spice up the stable side dish (after all, plain mashed potatoes are quite tasteless)?
If you’ve ever tried to make the dish, then you’re probably aware that it’s typically cooked on the stovetop. While that method can work great, there are many other ways to prepare mashed potatoes- such as using an Instant Pot. A multi-purpose cooker, it’s capable of preparing many foods in the kitchen- mashed potatoes are no exception.
In this article, we’ll be discussing how to make the perfect mashed potatoes using the Instant Pot. If that’s something that you’re interested in, be sure to follow along!
How to Cook Mashed Potatoes in an Instant Pot
– 2.5 pounds (approx. 6 to 7 medium-sized potatoes) of potato (the red-skinned variety works great)
– 1 cup of water (low sodium chicken broth can also be used, depending on preference)
– 1/2 cup of milk (for a creamier result, use half-and-half cream)
– 2 tablespoons of unsalted, butter
– Small amounts of garlic, salt, and pepper to taste (optional)
1.) Scrub the potatoes to remove debris. Depending on your preference, you may also choose to peel the skin.
2.) Cut the potatoes into small cubes, and place it inside the Instant Pot
3.) Add garlic/cloves to the potatoes for flavor. Next, a pinch of salt.
4.)Add approximately 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot
5.) Close the lid of the pod, remember to have the vent set to the “Seal” setting
6.) Using the “Steam” setting, you want to cook the potatoes anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes.
7.) While the potatoes are cooking inside the pot, you want to prepare a milk/butter mixture. To do so, heat the milk and butter on the stovetop until the latter has melted
8.) Once the potatoes are done the cooking in the Instant Pot, release the steam immediately. Following that, you’ll want to drain the water out using a sieve or colander
9.) Remove the potato from the pot, and put it into a large bowl. Using a potato masher (if you don’t have one, a wooden spoon is also workable), mash the potatoes.
10.) Once you’ve mashed it for a couple of minutes, you can carefully add the hot milk and butter mixture into the bowl. As you do so, you want to continue mashing the potatoes- remember, you want it to be smooth and creamy!
11.) Add salt and pepper to taste (optional)
12.) Once you’re done mashing the potatoes, it can be spooned into a serving bowl. Bon appetite!
– If you want your mashed potatoes to be extra fancy, you can cover it with small amounts of butter and/or cheese on top, and put it into a hot oven.
– The kind of potato matters! For this starchy stable, russet potatoes are ideal. While others such as Yukon Gold potatoes may work, the texture can be denser
– You can easily double the recipe if you’d like to cook more- the cooking times will generally stay the same. If you’re tripling it, however, you may need to increase the timing by 1-2 minutes.
How Do You Know if Your Potatoes Have Gone Bad?
While they’re as durable as they are versatile, potatoes do go bad. In fact, they are capable of releasing toxic gases when they spoil- don’t worry though, while it does happen, you’ll generally have already thrown it away before that stage.
How do you know if a potato is still fresh? The easiest way to tell is to give it a sniff- fresh potatoes should have an obvious starchy, earthy scent. If a potato has gone bad, they generally have growths or discoloration on the skin; not to mention they’ll also get soft. If a potato has gotten wet, there’s also the chance that it can grow mold. Thus when picking out potatoes, you’ll want to discard any that exhibit mold.
Another thing to watch out for are visible signs of aging. Similar to the human skin, the potato skin shows its age through wrinkles, spots and sagging.
Green Spots and Shoots in Potatoes
Due to the way they are harvested, potatoes often develop small sprouts on the skin- these are called eyes. While this can happen with all potatoes, it is especially true for those that are organically grown, as mass-produced potatoes are typically treated with a chemical to prevent this from happening.
If a potato still smells fresh, you can use for cooking even if it has small sprouts- they’ll just need the be moved. If, however, it has sprouts as well as signs of aging, it’s probably best to just throw it away.
Before a sprout develops on a potato, green spots become visible on the skin. As these spots contain a mild toxin, it’s safest to discard the ones with large spots. If the spots are small, the potato can still be used- simply cut the bad portion away.
How to Cook Mashed Potatoes in an Instant Pot – FAQ’s
Why Are My Mashed Potatoes Lumpy?
If your mashed potatoes are lumpy, that can mean that your potatoes are undercooked. To fix this, simply cook it over a low heat with a small amount of milk until the lumps soften.
To ensure that they have no lumps the next time, it’s also important that you start to mash the potatoes immediately after they’re done cooking- you don’t want it to sit, and cool in the pot for too long.
Why Are My Mashed Potatoes Grainy?
The reason mashed potatoes can be grainy is generally due to the starch content. The greater the starch in the finished product, the more grainy it will be. To prevent this, you want to cover the potatoes with enough water in the pot during the cooking process; this is because there are greater amounts of starch in the water when there’s less water, to begin with.
Why are My Mashed Potatoes Dry?
If your finished product is dry, and “falling apart”, you probably didn’t use enough butter. To fix this, add a bit more of melted butter (or even cream) to the mixture.
Why are my Mashed Potatoes Like a Paste?
The wrong type of potato was probably used. For mashed potatoes, you generally want to use varieties that are high in starch and break down easily such as the Russet Potato.
Generally, “waxy” potatoes like purple, red, and some whites, are low in starch. As such, they are generally used in dishes where they need to retain their shape (e.g. baked potato).
Why are my Mashed Potatoes Watery?
If your finished product is watery, then you’ve most likely overcooked the potatoes (they tend to absorb a lot of water). One way to remedy this is to slowly cook it over low heat- this will allow the excess water to evaporate.
Why are my Mashed Potatoes Gummy?
If this is the case, you may have mashed the potatoes a little too much after they were cooked. Remember, for the best results, you want to mash it gently by hand with a potato masher- using a stand mixer is probably not a good option.
How to Cook Mashed Potatoes in an Instant Pot – Extra Do-Not-Do’s
– Do not add all of the butter/milk mixture to your cooked potatoes in one go. Instead, you want to so gradually, while you’re still mashing
– Do not blend your mashed potatoes in a blender or processor- all of that overworking will turn it into a starch mess. Instead, use a hand masher
– Do not add cold butter/milk mixture to your cooked potatoes- make sure they’re heated and melted well beforehand.