Better than Basic Mashed Potatoes

Kristen Denstaedt

Hi! Welcome to the start of my recipe series for better-than-basic dinner ideas. If you’re new to hosting a Christmas meal meal (or just looking to simplify,) these recipes will be simple, easy to prepare, and delicious.

I started hosting Christmas about ten years ago about twenty people, and I had to learn how to make all the traditional staple dishes on my own. I’ve developed these recipes over the years with two criteria in mind: one, what suits my family’s taste buds, and two, what keeps my food prep simple.

There’s nothing worse than an amazing Christmas meal accompanied by a side of dry-ass, flavorless mashed potatoes. As much as I love gravy (and I do love it,) I want my potatoes to be able to stand with the rest of the meal without the assistance of that savory liquid gold These potatoes should not be too dry or thin,  full of flavor, with well balanced flavor It can be hard to strike the right balance. But when I make these potatoes, everyone always comments on how good they are, and no one really knows WHY they’re so much better.

The secret is STOCK! I like the Kitchen Basics brand, but honestly, you could use any type of stock as long as it’s not low sodium (you need the salt for the texture of the potatoes, and it adds flavor, just add less salt after cooking). Here’s how I make my perfect Christmas potatoes:

Perfect Mashed Potatoes


2 quarts turkey stock

3 lbs Yukon Gold or Red potatoes quartered (peeled or not, your preference. I don’t peel.)

1 stick of butter, cut into tablespoons for faster melting

1 pint heavy cream


Pour the stock and half the cream into a large pot. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender - and if they go a little over because you’re busy enjoying a glass of wine or whiskey, don’t fret. Slightly overdone is better than slightly underdone because that can make them dry. You’ll just want to make sure they don’t become waterlogged. . Drain the liquid, reserving about a cup. Add in the butter and remaining heavy cream, and mash with a potato masher. I like mine medium smooth, but if you like potato puree, by all means, go nuts. Add in as much of the reserved cooking liquid to get the consistency you like, and salt afterwards to taste. I’m happiest when they are  soft but keep their shape when stirred. If you’re making these in the morning for an afternoon feast, throw ‘em in a Crock Pot on the “warm” setting and stir them occasionally to keep them hot.

Now, they are amazing to eat as is, but for our Christmas  dinner, I keep the recipe simple so they can be smothered in that perfect gravy.  But for a regular, non-holiday dinner, I like to add any of the following:

Freshly roasted garlic - cut the top off a head of garlic, drown in olive oil, wrap in foil, bake at 400F for 30 minutes
Cheese – any and all, 1-2 cups depending on the pungency of the cheese
Parsley – my husband’s personal favorite, and very pretty for entertaining
Sour cream and chives – halve the heavy cream and add a cup of full fat sour cream, and throw in a handful of minced chive. Goes great with steak!

Get those spuds ready for their stock bath and enjoy!