My mother made mashed potatoes with milk and often packed them into a casserole to be reheated at dinnertime with pats of butter on top. I think she probably used all-purpose potatoes. These mashed potatoes were perfectly fine, don't get me wrong.

But when I was a young cook at Al Forno restaurant in Rhode Island, I learned to make mashed potatoes to order with plenty of heavy cream and butter. (Well-salted, too!) At the restaurant, we used red potatoes, but I've found over the years that my favorite mashing potatoes are Yukon golds. Their creamy, nutty-flavored flesh makes rich and delicious mashed potatoes.

I always use a hand masher, and I'm not really worried about little bits of potato that aren't mashed up (aka a few lumps). If you want a perfectly smooth texture, a ricer would be the thing to use. But that's another recipe! This one's quick enough for weeknights, good enough for Thanksgiving. The yield here is for weeknight cooking, but you can easily double for a bigger crowd. For a change-up (and when you've got time), roast a bunch of garlic cloves and mash them up with the potatoes, too.


Serves 3 to 4


  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (more if you like)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces


1. Put the potatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt In a large saucepan and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Using the pot lid (or a strainer), strain the water off of the potatoes. Return the pan briefly to the hot burner and toss them for a few seconds to evaporate any water left in the bottom of the pan. (You're basically "drying off" the potatoes. Do this quickly and pay attention or the starchy potatoes will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.)

3. Off the heat, add all of the cream and butter. Using a hand masher, mash the potatoes, cream, and butter together. Rotate the hand masher around the edges of the pan to reach everything. Don't use a lot of force though. You don't want to turn your potatoes into glue by overmixing them. When you feel like you're mostly (but not completely) done mashing, pause and stir the mash gently with a silicone spatula to smooth it out. Then mash again to finish, and smooth again with the spatula. Now taste for salt. Begin by adding 1/2 teaspoon, stir in, and taste. Continue adding (1/4 teaspoon or so at a time) and tasting until the potatoes taste full-flavored.

4. Serve right away while still warm, or return briefly to a medium-low burner, cover, and stir frequently until steaming, a few minutes. Or if you need to hold the potatoes for awhile, put them in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. (Improvise a double-boiler, in other words). Put foil or some other kind of lid over the bowl of potatoes. They will stay warm this way for an hour or so. (Check the water level if you need to hold longer.)