Fast Food Mashed Potatoes Ranked Worst To Best

An instantly soul-soothing dish, mashed potatoes rank high in the ether of classic comfort foods. Deliciously creamy, buttery, and drizzled in gravy, it's easy to see why — for many of us — a heaping scoop of these spuds overrides the main course. This side dish is definitely associated with Thanksgiving, but thankfully, fast-food chains now dish out this treat every day of the year. You don't need a holiday to fork up mashed potatoes when there are restaurant franchises serving them with classic fried chicken and green beans!

You might be asking yourself what distinguishes a bowl of mashed potatoes from any drive-thru joint. Don't they all tend to be ultra-smooth and salty, stored in those dinky plastic containers that let out all the heat? At worst, we've encountered a glue-like sludge that gets passed off as brown gravy or flaky and watery mashed potatoes at chain restaurants. The simplicity of mashed potatoes makes them so easy to get right — and likewise, an inedible disappointment when done wrong. Fast-food mashed potatoes range wildly in quality, authenticity, and overall flavor. To give fast-food mashed potatoes a fair shake, we decided to rank the best ones. These 12 chains do a good job showcasing the spectrum of this side. Let's dig into the best and worst dishes!


Considering these spuds are made from scratch, we had a lot of hope for Culver's Mashed Potatoes & Gravy. That was a mistake. The mash is thicker than usual chains, but this creates a gummy, stodgy texture you'll struggle to eat. Gravy usually softens potatoes, but in this case, it's just as gluey as the potatoes! It has a pudding-like appearance — almost like congealed soup stock. 

Yes, generally speaking, mashed potatoes aren't the most exciting dish to order. But when cooked the right way, mashed potatoes have a peppery kick. Maddeningly enough, Culver's offers none of those things. Without proper seasoning, all you're left with is a beige bowl of blah. Over-salting can definitely be an issue with mashed potatoes, but what's the point of eating them if there's nothing you can actually taste? Starch is the dominating flavor here, and the blandness overrides any comfort or warmth. 

Maybe the problem was expecting a burger joint to make decent mashed potatoes. Unless you're in the throes of a throbbing toothache, avoid these spuds.

Pollo Tropical

The mashed potatoes coming out of Pollo Tropical, a Latin-inspired chicken joint, flop hard. At first, we were drawn in by the restaurant's use of Yukon Golds — since that variety of potato normally leads to savory mashed potatoes. But next to other add-ons on the menu like sweet plantains, the side dish is fairly drab. No wonder people find them boring! 

The Florida-based chain goes heavy-handed on the spices with its main menu, so mashed potatoes make sense as a side dish. Still, they're plain to the point that nothing stands out when you take a bite. Also, it's worth noting that a regular serving contains well over 800 milligrams of sodium, so it's not as though the chain neglected to season them. 

As cafeteria-grade mashed potatoes go, they will do in a pinch — like most of the chains we've ranked here — but they won't blow your tastebuds away. Moral of the story: stick to the Caribbean-style fare Pollo Tropical is known for and get your fill of mashed potatoes elsewhere.


Bojangles' Mashed Potatoes & Gravy features fluffier, pureed potatoes with a dollop of garden variety gravy. Admittedly, we expect mashed potatoes to be soft, but these almost taste like baby food. Give us some of those lumps and bumps that hint at an actual root vegetable hiding in there! Worse, it's not uncommon to encounter a watery batch pooled on your plate. 

While one of our complaints with mashed potatoes is under-seasoning, over-salting is equally disastrous. Bojangles doesn't quite get there, but they come close. Spooning them up as a snack, let alone with the Southern-style fried chicken and biscuits, will dry out your mouth to a parched wasteland. 

These mashed potatoes do exactly what they should do, which is fill out your drumstick dinner and your belly. But if you're looking for anything other than sustenance, there are other chains doing the comfort staple much better. We love a classic fried chicken meal as much as anyone, but the spuds need to pack more buttery and flavorful goodness to reach the top spot. Sadly, we're just not tasting that from Bojangles. 

Pollo Campero

From the first mouthful, Pollo Campero's Mashed Potatoes taste unmistakably artificial. The Guatemalan chain drizzles beef gravy on its mashed potatoes. While it gets bumped up for embracing a protein other than chicken, the gravy doesn't save the dish's grainy consistency. Many suspect the creamed spuds to be the stovetop variety. Don't get us wrong! Instant potato flakes can be great to have on hand in your pantry. But when it's a fast-food spot doing it that way, it has you questioning placing an order in the first place.  

What we'd hoped for in these mashed potatoes was a richly pleasing comfort dish, but the end result was less than impressive. Very so-so in taste and appearance, the starchy clump resembles something scooped onto a hospital food tray. This is disappointing, given the uniqueness of this fast-casual spot. The Latin American joint claims to prepare its poultry and salads on-site from the bottom up, but the taters don't taste that way. Pollo Campero is fairly ordinary when it comes to fast-food mashed potatoes. They're there to fill out your meal, nothing more. 


Many fast-food restaurants in other countries have riffed off the success of KFC's fried chicken. In the Philippines, this restaurant is Jollibee. Adding a side of mashed potatoes to your ChickenJoy meal is a classic move at this fast-food establishment. For the most part, the side dish is decent. There's a creaminess that comes from the inclusion of dairy, with a buttery feel that's smooth on the palate. This consistency is ideal, especially when paired with a juicy piece of poultry. 

Personally, we prefer our gravy on the spicier side. Jollibee's is kind of sugary. Some people don't have a problem with this, but in our opinion, the sweetness comes through a tad much and there's a hefty amount of salt. The side dish is surprisingly thick, too. As a result, you're getting some rich mashed potatoes. While we're not opposed to that, the indulgent combination of oozing gravy on a heaping scoop of spuds overpowers everything else on your plate. Spending $2.19 for a small size also seems steeper compared to drive-thrus on our list offering the same portion. Still, we wouldn't mind digging our fork into some. 

El Pollo Loco

Who knew a Mexican chain would be dishing out some solid-ish spuds? El Pollo Loco makes a reliable plate of mashed potatoes. The gravy is believed to be made from chicken, so the sauce is a lot lighter and glaze-like on the potatoes. If healthy eating is a priority for you, the dish is quite low in the sodium and calorie department – long as you order it without gravy. Customers can grab a small cup as a snack, or feed the entire family with one of El Pollo Loco's 16-ounce tubs. 

While other fast-food chains' mashed potatoes rank higher than El Pollo Loco, that doesn't make these mashed potatoes a bland bore. The generous seasoning cranks up a plain base and the potatoes aren't mealy or gritty. Some chains are gung-ho on showering the gravy with spices, but for the purpose of El Pollo Loco's classic salt and pepper maintains the taste well. Even if they're the processed variety, you'll probably prefer a cup of El Pollo Loco's mashed potatoes rather than troubling yourself with making a version at home.   


Any mashed potato show-down in fast-food has to include KFC. The notion of grabbing a Thanksgiving staple from a drive-thru window wouldn't exist without the red-and-white titan. We're always reminded of a homestyle potluck when we scoop up a bite of these dreamily soft potatoes, doused in just enough brown gravy to stir up memories of our grandma's kitchen. 

Frankly, it's the chain's gravy that kicks this mash up a notch. It's a basic gravy made out of part beef and part chicken and infused with a good shake of black pepper. The sharp savoriness masks the good — albeit basic — flavor of the mashed potatoes. Although they're sodium-packed (like anything from a fried food joint), the taste of these taters falls a little on the flatter side. When it comes to judging the best mashed potatoes and gravy, both components of the side dish need to be the complete package to capture our attention. KFC's mashed potatoes might be the most famous of fast-food offerings on this list, but not for long! The creamy food staple has seen some improvement over the years at other joints. Still, it's a solid offering. 


Jack's Family Restaurant shows passable mashed potatoes no longer need to take up precious space on your meal tray. This side dish is a breath of fresh air — or, more accurately, a whiff of steamy and buttery richness. For starters, the gravy is strong and peppery.  The potatoes are creamy, seasoned, and boiled well. The potatoes are soft, but with a little give that clings to your silverware. You can plunge your spoon right in and have no trouble with sauce dribbling while you take a bite. We think the taste is much more "real" in terms of the mash doled out at mom-and-pop restaurants, and what do you know? That's what a lot of customers like about it too! 

The fast-food restaurant has served fresher-than-average diner staples to generations of Southerners, and these spuds are no exception. The simplicity is inviting, and the classic recipe shines through — especially on a platter of the chain's chicken fingers and green beans.  Admittedly, millions of restaurants deliver the same creamed spuds, so Jack's isn't exactly doing anything new in the grand scheme of things. Still, they're a mouthwatering choice that clearly does it better — and much more authentically — than regular fast-food chains in the U.S.

Nando's Peri-Peri

Sometimes, an indulgent twist is needed to shake up the taste of mashed potatoes. The Red Skin Mashed Potatoes at Nando's Peri-Peri is a thick, skins-in style that uses red potatoes instead of the usual Russet variety. There are visible chunks spun throughout, and the South African establishment skips the gravy in favor of minced garlic and butter.

From the get-go, Nando's stands out from the beige-colored, Southern-inspired dishes we've seen repeated over and over at fast-casual restaurants. The mash is lesser here — creating a rustic texture that brings out the hearty nature of the dish's seasonings. You can taste the quality! Even though there's no gravy, the melted butter takes its place and pools into all of the crevices. We also appreciate seeing different ingredients used to whip up the traditional side. We're fans of chunkier mashed potatoes. However, we understand a chunky consistency isn't beloved by all mashed potato fans. Also, garlic and butter as a topping can taste too rich quickly. But that's what gives this dish the pizazz to stand out from other plain-jane varieties on this list.

Church's Chicken

Since 1952, soul food has been Church's Chicken's M.O. Of course, it's no surprise you'll find classic and melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes here. For a fast food chain, it's quite authentic. But what makes the homestyle staple irresistible? Church Chicken's M.O. delivers what many expect from this side dish. Does it have a potato flavor that's flavorful? Check. Hearty seasoning? Check. Brown gravy so delicious you'd be a fool not to scoop up every drop? Check! Plus, at 110 calories for a standard size, it packs a lighter load than fries, spicy rice, or coleslaw. 

One can assume major drive-thrus like Church's Chicken are not peeling and mashing the potatoes by hand. Still, that doesn't change how tasty and true-to-form the side dish is. Put this version side-by-side with a grandmother's family recipe, and we don't think we'd be able to tell the difference. Besides remaining an excellent choice to go with a plate of its fried chicken, we would wolf down a cup of it as an afternoon pick-me-up any day of the week. This is the perfect third-place pick for fast-food mashed potatoes. 


In our second place, we have Popeyes. Yes, our mouths water incessantly for the Louisiana Kitchen's side items. But you'd be hard-pressed to choose extra-cheesy mac and cheese – famously adored by Anthony Bourdain – over the restaurant's fan-favorite mashed potatoes with cajun gravy. This dish isn't your middle-of-the-road potatoes with lukewarm gravy. Its fluffy mouthfeel and out-of-this-world good sauce sing and dance on the tongue.

Of course, a traditional and savory style of gravy has a place in our hearts. But Popeyes' spicy spin puts other brown sauces to shame. The gravy contains Popeyes' signature Creole-inspired seasoning blend of cayenne, paprika, pepper, and flecks of chopped meat (most likely chicken) that blend deliciously with the well-creamed base. Another mouthwatering feature of this dish is its luscious pool of gravy. Getting a wallop of spice out of your fast-food gravy is a rare occurrence. Thankfully, it's not too strong for the heat-averse either. Our only complaint is how quickly it vanishes — guess that's what the family size is for!

Boston Market

The restaurant that wins the competition for fast food mashed potatoes is Boston Market. Immaculately blended, doused with salt, pepper, and butter, and finished off with gravy, they're the stuff of comfort food dreams. This dish is a snack you can depend on and it won't serve you straight-up powdered starch. The franchise is transparent about preparing dishes from scratch. Honestly, there's no need to go to a fancy Southern kitchen when the Massachusetts-based eatery is out here slinging freshly-hashed spuds all the time! 

Compared to other mashed potatoes on this list, Boston Market makes the quintessential dish. How so? Picture any bowl you've been served at the Thanksgiving table in years past, and then look at Boston Market's: They're just as homemade and velvety soft. Given that the restaurant dishes up the holiday-themed dinner every day, there's no doubt they've mastered the mixture.

For under $3, Boston Market delivers rustic, family-style mashed potatoes that burst with a yumminess you won't believe a drive-thru was capable of producing. Over half the country resides near a location too, making it worth the drive every time.