Tricks To Upgrade Your Mashed Potatoes From Ordinary To Extraordinary

Potatoes love other ingredients, so it's time to give your mashed potatoes an upgrade. You can easily transform this classic side dish from ordinary to extraordinary with a little creativity, even with ingredients you already have. Just think of all the flavors of potato chips and all the ingredients we load on our French fries and baked potatoes, and you'll realize how much you've probably been neglecting your mashed potatoes.

Whether you're growing bored of ordinary meat and potato meals or are looking for an idea for a special occasion, these upgrades are sure to take this common side to the next level. While you can try just one add-in, many of the best recipes combine several of these ideas together. Many flavors harmonize well with the carby goodness of potatoes and help make them even more flavorful or creamy. If you're ready to make mashed potatoes that leave a lasting impression, these mashed potato tricks are just what you need.

Add cheese

There's something about carby foods and cheese that just work well together. There are so many different types of cheese that you could experiment with a different one every time until you find your favorite. What you end up liking depends on whether you want the cheese to provide more creaminess or more of a kick.

If you're looking for creaminess, you will want to try soft cheeses to make ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, or mascarpone mashed potatoes. You'll still add butter and milk as usual while adding about a cup of soft cheese.

Grated cheeses of all sorts work well as an add-in, too. Just add a half cup to a cup and a half of whatever cheese pleases you to your regular recipe. Cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar are just fine. However, you might also try cheeses like gruyère, raclette, and gouda (even the smoked kind).

Consider adding richer dairy products than milk

There's absolutely nothing wrong with just using milk to help moisten your mashed potatoes. However, there are much richer dairy products you could be using to amp up the flavor and give it a creamier mouth feel.

Heavy cream isn't just for making whipped cream; you can also use it to add depth to your potatoes. In the case of heavy cream, you'll want to swap it out 1:1 for the normal amount of milk you add.

Potatoes also taste great when you add a hint of tartness to it. Just think about how great sour cream and onion potato chips taste. Some dairy products that can add a touch of crave-worthy sourness include plain yogurt and sour cream. Adding about a half cup of either to your regular recipe can give it extra bite. Buttermilk is also great for adding tartness. Since it's a liquid, you'll need to use it to replace the normal amount of milk you would use.

Infuse them with garlic

Garlic and potatoes are a match made in heaven. This allium brings out an incredible depth of flavor and provides a pleasant pungency to the dish. If you haven't tried adding garlic before, you'll find that it's a great way to add a subtle change that elevates the dish beyond the ordinary.

How much garlic you use is entirely up to how much you love garlic — and perhaps how concerned you might be about your breath. Three cloves of garlic for four large potatoes is a starter amount for simple garlic mashed potatoes, but you can add more if you're a big garlic lover. Guy Fieri roasts a whole head of garlic for his.

Roasting is just one option for pre-cooking the garlic. Another option is cooking the garlic while heating the butter and milk instead of boiling it with the potatoes to retain maximum flavor. After all, you don't want to pour the flavor down the drain when you drain them. If you don't have any fresh garlic, you can always sprinkle a little garlic powder in your dish to taste.

Make them oniony

There are several alliums besides garlic you can use to add a stronger, more savory flavor to your potatoes. Regular onions, green onions, chives, and leeks are all great candidates for adding more intensity to your dish. Sour cream and garlic both tend to pair well with oniony potatoes if you're considering other add-ins.

When it comes to leeks and regular onions, you'll likely want to cook them first before using them as an add-in. While you could boil your leeks or onions with the potatoes, less flavor gets lost in the water if you cook them separately. If you are looking for an extremely rich flavor, try adding caramelized onions to make French onion mashed potatoes.

If you add green onions or chives, these are great to sprinkle in raw at the last minute. They make especially nice additions with other add-ins like sour cream or cheese, providing a fresh punch of flavor.

Add other vegetables

If you're a veggie lover and haven't tried adding extra veggies to your mashed potatoes, you're missing out. It's not an odd concept if you think about how often you eat potatoes together with other veggies, like in chicken pot pie or vegetable soup. You can add similar textures to the dish with root veggies or even try adding green veggies. There are several tried and true options to explore if this idea appeals to you.

Ireland has a famous veggie-infused potato dish called colcannon. It involves mashing the potatoes together with cooked cabbage and green onions. You can make a twist on this dish with greens other than cabbage, like cooked kale.

Another idea is to boil them together with other root veggies and mash them together. There are several options, like mashed potatoes and parsnips and mashed potatoes and carrots. You can even mash all three together. Why stop at root veggies, though? You can add steamed broccoli to the mix or even cooked peas.

Boil the potatoes in something other than water

Since you're going to boil your potatoes in liquid anyway, why aren't you cooking them in something that can add to the overall flavor and texture of the dish? We have two options for you to choose from: either flavorful broth or dairy products.

The nice thing about boiling them in broth or stock is that you can match them with the type of meat you plan to serve alongside the dish. So, if you're having it with beef and plan to serve it with beef gravy, then why not boil it in beef broth and have the dish super-infused with the flavor? As an added bonus, cooking in broth makes the end product creamier than boiling in water. And if you're using freshly-made stock or broth with bits of meat floating in it, your mashed potatoes will get bonus meat mixed in with it.

Food Network chef Tyler Lawrence told Popsugar, "[W]hen you cook potatoes in water and you pour that water down the drain, you've extracted all the flavor of the potato." He suggests using cream and melted butter as the liquid for boiling the potatoes rather than adding them at the end. That way, there's no flavor loss, and you save yourself a step. This method reminds us of the viral trick for making creamy mac and cheese by boiling the noodles in milk and butter.

Make them sous vide style

Whether you're seeking to make the earthy, rich flavor of potatoes the star or just like experimenting with sous vide, we highly recommend trying mashed potatoes sous vide style. The results are both creamy and flavorful.

While the cooking time is about an hour to an hour and a half, it's a dish that allows you to cook all the ingredients together. So, the simplicity of the process is as much of a draw for this method as the end flavor. You'll mix sliced potatoes, hot milk and cream, melted butter, and flavoring agents into the same bag to cook. Using hot milk is extremely important so that it doesn't curdle during the cooking process. You'll also want to keep the temperature at exactly 194 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

So, all you have to do when the veggies are soft is mix everything together and add any last-minute toppings. You could even skip the mixed or potato masher and just mash everything together with your hands while it's still in the bag.

Add potato chip dip or dip mixes

When thinking about how you enjoy other forms of potatoes, dips and sauces likely come to mind. Whatever you dip your chips and fries in is likely something you'd like to add to your mashed potatoes. We're not necessarily advocating adding ketchup to them, but we won't stop you. Instead, we're thinking about creamy dips you like to dip chips in, like onion dip, or creamy sauces that are yummy with fries, like ranch dressing.

Adding French onion dip to your mashed potatoes combines sour cream and French onions, providing punch and bite. Make your dish as usual, and then either add half a cup of dip from a pre-made container or make your own with sour cream and caramelized onions or onion soup mix.

While you could stir in a half cup of pre-made ranch dressing to your potatoes, you'll get a bigger flavor bomb by adding half a cup of sour cream and a tablespoon and a half of ranch dressing mix. If you like the idea of adding fresh herbs, you can also top it with fresh chives and dill.

Add brown butter instead of regular butter

Let's face it; we love adding creamy fat to dishes because it tastes good. Duke University psychologist Susan Schiffman, Ph.D., told Psychology Today, "Genetically, we find fat sensations pleasant ... It has survival value — lots of calories compared with protein or carbs." While we're not out hunting and gathering to survive, our base sentiments about it remain. Adding butter to mashed potatoes is ordinary enough and features in most recipes. However, you can kick the flavor up a notch by adding rich, nutty brown butter. When you allow butter to brown, it undergoes the Maillard reaction, which is the same thing that happens to bread and other foods when they get hot enough to brown. The sugars in the butter react with its amino acids, which ultimately change the butter's color and flavor. Adding brown butter adds both fat and an unexpected complexity to the dish.

While you can buy brown butter, it only takes six to eight minutes to make it from scratch, so it's not that time-consuming to create an ingredient that can provide an extra flavor layer to an otherwise ordinary dish. Just add the brown butter where you would normally add regular butter to your favorite recipe. It tastes great as the main star, but you can always make it richer by using more decadent dairy products than just milk or adding other ingredients like garlic and cheese.

Add real mayo

Most of us turn to dairy products to add richness to our mashed potatoes. However, an option you might not have considered is adding mayonnaise instead. Before you "nope" out of this option, we want you to think about the role mayonnaise plays in potato salads. Now, imagine that creaminess permeating fluffy mashed potatoes. If you like mayo in potato salad, you'll probably like it in mashed potatoes, too.

We're talking about real mayonnaise here — not the fake type like Miracle Whip that turns oily when it gets hot. Rich custard types like Duke's mayonnaise can turn your ordinary mashed potatoes extraordinary. We've found that it not only adds lip-smacking flavor but all that fat also improves the texture, making the dish delightfully creamy.

It turns out that rapper Snoop Dogg is a big fan of mayo mashed potatoes. He subs in heavy cream for milk and adds half a cup of mayo in his version.

Use olive oil instead of butter

Dairy and mayo aren't the only way to add the creaminess and pleasure of fat to your mashed potatoes. Using olive oil can be a great heart-healthy option and provides an alternative for people who don't eat dairy or who don't like mayo. You've likely used olive oil when roasting potatoes in the oven, so it's not that big of a stretch to imagine how it would taste whipped in instead of drizzled on top. If you have fancier olive oil that you use for dipping and drizzling rather than cooking, this is a great place to use it.

The easiest way to use olive oil is to follow your normal recipe and then substitute olive oil where you would have typically used butter. However, some people use both butter and olive oil simultaneously. When actor Stanley Tucci makes mashed potatoes with his wife, he not only whips in half a cup of olive oil but also adds two sticks of butter, two egg yolks, and fresh sage. So, essentially, he's adding the ingredients for mayo plus butter.

Go beyond salt and pepper for seasoning

Sometimes, all it takes to make a dish better or just distinctive is to add a different seasoning than usual. Garlic is fine, but it's not the only seasoning that works well with potatoes. You can take inspiration from the other flavors of your meal, trying some of the seasonings you're adding to other dishes in your meal, like your meat.

Food blogger Ree Drummond likes to add Lawry's Seasoned Salt and black pepper to hers. Old Bay mashed potatoes are also good. Experiment with whatever seasoning mix you have in your spice cabinet and see what works. One of our favorite seasoned versions is curry mashed potatoes. Adding curry powder gives it Indian flair, but you can serve it on a night when you're not eating Indian food. You can even add fresh cilantro to the curry version for added flavor.

Fresh or dried herbs are also an excellent option. Parsley, oregano, chives, dill, sage, and basil all work nicely.

Make them fiery

Once you get a taste for spicy food, you seek heat everywhere. So, why not make spicy mashed potatoes? You can either do it by adding spicy ingredients to the dish itself or by topping it with spicy gravy.

Adding heat can be as easy as adding two or three tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce, like sriracha. To add smokiness and spice, add a tablespoon or two of chipotles in adobo. However, chili peppers aren't the only way to add heat. The secret ingredient Guy Fieri uses in his mashed potatoes is sure to clear your sinuses. Besides a whole head of roasted garlic, he adds four teaspoons of wasabi powder.

Another option is to add the heat to your gravy. For example, you can make Cajun gravy by adding a teaspoon and a half of hot sauce and a half teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to a light gravy like chicken or turkey gravy.

Serve them loaded

We've talked plenty about what to put in mashed potatoes, but what about ingredients to put on top of them? For inspiration, we urge you to look to your favorite toppings for baked potatoes and French fries. Anything you like to eat on one form of potato will likely make you happy on another form.

The first thing that comes to mind for topping mashed potatoes is usually gravy. However, you can elevate them with a few more ingredients. If you keep the gravy and add cheese curds, you've essentially created poutine mashed potatoes. Taking inspiration from chili cheese fries, you could try loading them up with chili and cheese to make chili cheese mashed potatoes.

Using the toppings for loaded baked potatoes for inspiration, you can make loaded mashed potatoes by adding sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles, and slices of fresh green onions on top. Anything you'd like to see on a baked potato bar will work.