Ultra-Fluffy Mashed Potatoes from ‘The Food Lab’

This week, we’re spotlighting recipes from The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.). The book is based on The Food Lab column López-Alt writes for Serious Eats.


Photograph by J. Kenji López-Alt

In The Food Lab, J. Kenji López-Alt uses science to create the ultimate versions of classic recipes, including mashed potatoes. As López-Alt explains in the book, the secret to perfectly light and fluffy mashed potatoes comes down to minimizing the starch in the recipe. Start with russet potatoes, which break down easily and release very little starch in the process. Next, to eliminate even more starch, rinse the potatoes both before and after cooking. The final step is to be as gentle as possible when mashing. Use a ricer or food mill, which won’t release as much starch as using an electric mixer or a food processor, and delivers the most wonderfully light and fluffy spuds.

By J. Kenji López-Alt

Ultra-Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6 to 8

4 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
2 cups whole milk
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pats, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into rough 1- to 2-inch chunks. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse under hot running water for 30 seconds to wash away excess starch. Set a ricer or food mill over the empty pot and pass the potatoes through. Add the milk and butter and fold gently with a rubber spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reheat as necessary, stirring constantly. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Reprinted with permission from The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.).


More Thanksgiving side dish recipes:

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds from ‘The Chef Next Door’

Cranberry-Pomegranate Chutney from Giada DeLaurentiis

Brussels Sprouts Latkes from My Name is Yeh