Mashed potatoes are such a simple basic, but you can customize them any way you want—choose russet potatoes, red potatoes, or gold potatoes. Go for skins on, skins off, filled with herbs and spices, or topped simply with butter. Probably the most controversial mashed potato issue is whether they should be smooth or chunky. We're here to tell you there's no wrong way to mash potatoes. These tools will help you get exactly the texture you're trying for. Simply start with perfectly boiled potatoes and get mashing!
Here's the tool most people have in their kitchens for mashing potatoes. The handheld masher is the simplest tool for mashing potatoes, and it allows you to do the mashing right in the pan you cooked in. This potato masher gives a coarser texture with a homemade look. Of course, you can keep mashing longer for creamier results (like our Perfect Mashed Potatoes).
Editor's Note: Potato mashers like this traditionally come with a wavy wire (as pictured) but are also available with a grid plate that produces a more even texture.
A handheld electric mixer is another common tool for mashing potatoes that most of us already have in the kitchen. An electric mixer should be used on peeled potatoes only (no rustic skin-on mashed potatoes here), and is especially handy when making a mashed potato recipe that calls for a good deal of liquid or added fat. Using a mixer to mash potatoes requires less muscle than a potato masher and minimizes lumps. To mash potatoes with an electric mixer, beat on low just until light and fluffy. Don't overbeat or you'll end up with that weird glue-like consistency.
Buy one: KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Mixer, $40
A potato ricer is a specialty tool probably most often found in the kitchens of those family members who are always responsible for bringing mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner. Ricing potatoes produces smooth, light, extra-fluffy potatoes. To use a potato ricer, press already-boiled potatoes through the ricer into a bowl, then gently stir in your other ingredients so you don't deflate the potato fluffiness.
Buy one: Williams Sonoma Potato Ricer, $45
A food mill is a kitchen tool maybe best described as a sieve with a hand crank. The paddle pushes cooked potatoes through the strainer plate on the bottom, which removes the skin and creates uniform-size pieces of potato. Depending on the coarseness of mashed potatoes you want, you can change out the strainer plate for one with larger or smaller holes. For ultimate ease, process potatoes directly into the bowl you'll be serving in.This potato-mashing tool is ideal for silky, totally clump-free mashed potatoes.
Bonus: A food mill strips out seeds and fibers from other foods, too, making it a helpful kitchen gadget for canning and making sauces, applesauce, and pureed soups, in addition to mashed potatoes. If you're into canning and DIY ingredients, this is the tool for you.
Buy one: OXO Food Mill, $50