So how many of you have a “Deserted Island” food? I almost said, “dessert island” that would be even better, huh? So a Deserted Island food is a food you would pick if you had to live on a deserted island but the catch is It can be only one food. Mine is potatoes. Specifically mashed potatoes and if I could bring my Instant Pot along, it would be these Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
I don’t think I could live without my Instant Pot anymore! But just in case you haven’t jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon, I’ll give you the cooking instructions to make these mashed potatoes on the stove-top, too. Besides, it’s after the potatoes are cooked when the true magic happens. It’s just faster and easier to cook the potatoes in the Instant Pot.
About Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes:
First of all, a big shout out to my son’s girlfriend, Tweety! She’s a budding cook and did the majority of the work on the Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes and the dishes that went with. (The Apple & Cider Pork Chops shown below will be coming soon. are on this post!) Also on the plate is my Simple Steamed Broccoli. Tweety also did the cleanup while I was taking pics. She’s just the greatest!
But on to these potatoes: These are the absolute definitive potatoes in my book. They’re simple, which means without a lot of other flavors in the works, each item has to be perfectly balanced. There are only potatoes, butter (real of course) and milk (with a little cream if you really want to be fancy, especially if company is involved) and a touch of salt. And of course, I can’t resist a sprinkle of chive and/or parsley, optional.
Making Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes:
I like to keep the skin on the potatoes like I did with these Simple Rustic Mashed Potatoes when I make any mash, because a.) most of the nutrients are just below the skin and b.) it’s faster & easier. Today, I didn’t just because I wanted to show you guys a more “company” version of my Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
When I make any mashed potatoes, by hand, with a ricer or a mixer, I either mash or beat the potatoes before I add anything. Once they’re broken down, the salt & butter goes in and once that’s all melted and mixed in, the milk. There’s some science behind that. The butter (according to Cook’s Illustrated) coats the starch; the potatoes will be less gooey and the milk will mix in more easily. Putting in the butter first also lets you judge, as you add the milk, how thick or thin the potatoes will be. I like mine to be more substantial rather than airy and light, so I use the lesser amount of milk in the recipe. And for company Iike to add a bit of cream in place of part of the milk.
I also think a better mashed potato is one with less water, so I don’t cut my potatoes in small pieces. I cut them in half if they’re small and in roughly thirds if they’re larger. In the Instant Pot, I put a rack in and add the potatoes, so the potatoes are above the liquid. I followed a recipe for our Thanksgiving potatoes (we were all SO bummed) that cooked the potatoes in the bottom of the pot. They were just too wet to even turn into mashed potatoes. Like baby food. Super fail!! So don’t do that! When making your potatoes either in the Instant Pot or in a pot on the stove, drain them well while they’re piping hot and add the potatoes back into the Instant Pot liner or the pot so the excess steam evaporates in the still hot pot. A dry potato will mash, rice or whip up so much better and are so much more flavorful. And whatever you do, don’t over mash or whip.
About 4 larger potatoes (not the big bakers) makes 2 1/2 pounds
About 6 smallish potatoes makes 2 1/2 pounds
Saving Money on Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes:
I’ve talked a lot about bringing home butter at a great price. Watch the sales, particularly Holiday sales, and especially watch Holidays that are big on baking or brunch. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day. Buy in bulk and freeze. Stock up on Cream, too, during Holiday sales. And if you can’t buy during a holiday, check Aldi and Sam’s or Costco.
So let’s talk about potatoes. Yukon Golds are almost always more expensive than Russets. My favorite way to buy potatoes is either at Aldi (their bags are five pounds and are a mixture of sizes) or buy at the grocery store in 10-pound bags, preferably when they’re on sale. What I’m looking for is the best price per pound. It’s a funny thing, but in my area, the 5-pound bags are generally filled with potatoes that are rather uniform in size. The 10-pound bags are usually a little “rustic” with a mix of sizes.
What I like to do is pick through the bag and pick out some of the larger, nicer potatoes for either baking, hasselback or twice baked potatoes. Then I generally make the Twice Baked Potatoes for the Freezer and freeze them, especially if I know I might have difficulty getting through the bag of potatoes in time. The rest get used in things like hash browns, soups, stews and mashed potatoes since size doesn’t matter. (Those twice baked are super handy to have in the fridge to fancy up any quickie meal or as a snack for kids.)
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, cut in half if small, in thirds if larger
1/2 stick (4 ounces) butter
3/4 to one cup whole milk or a mix of milk & cream or 1/2 and 1/2
1 teaspoon salt
Additional pat of butter & a little melted butter (optional)
herbs, chopped parsley and/or chives, optional
In an Instant Pot:
Place 1 cup water in the bottom of the Instant Pot Liner. Add rack to Instant Pot then potatoes on top. Seal and set pressure to High Pressure, 8 minutes. Quick Release pressure and test for doneness. A sharp knife should easily pierce the potato.
In a pot on the stove:
Place your peeled or well-scrubbed potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to an inch above the potatoes. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Test for doneness at 20 to 25 minutes. A sharp knife should easily pierce the potato.
For Both Methods:
Immediately drain potatoes and return back to the hot Instant Pot liner or the Cooking Pot. Shake around so the excess steam and moisture evaporate. Mash, Rice or Whip the dry potatoes. Add salt and butter and continue to mash or beat (if using a ricer, just fold in butter.) Add milk to achieve your desired texture, mashing or beating. (Or folding if a ricer was used.)
Taste potatoes and adjust seasoning if desired. Place in serving bowl and serve immediately.
If desired, drizzle with melted butter and/or add a pat of butter to the top. Sprinkle with herbs if using.
To Make Ahead:
If needed soon, set up a double boiler (a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water) add potatoes to bowl, cover and simmer very gently until time to serve. Garnish with butter or herbs just before serving.
If potatoes have been refrigerated, mix in a little more dairy and heat in a 300-degree F. oven, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes.