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Mashed Potatoes - an Informal Survey

Mashed Potatoes:

Skin on or skin off?

(And please included your location.)

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  1. Depends on the potatoes.

    Small reds - on
    Yukon gold - either way
    Idaho Russets - off

    I'm from Oregon and that's how our house rolls.

    12 Replies
    1. re: boyzoma

      I agree 100%.

      I'm from San Francisco.

      1. re: christieCA

        +1 on Christie Ca and boyzoma, and I'm about 10 miles from Christie, over in the East Bay.

        1. re: mamachef

          Agree with boyzoma. In CA now, but same holds for when I lived on the E coast and Midwest

        2. re: christieCA

          reds - on
          gold - on
          russets - don't really use them for mashed.

          I'm from SF too....

        3. re: boyzoma

          Also "in the house" with our dear boyzoma...red skins stay on. Originally from north 'Jersey...living in SWFL since '88.

          1. re: boyzoma

            Add me in the "depends on the potato" column. Grew up in southern Massachusetts currently living in north central North Carolina.

            1. re: boyzoma

              Same. (New Englander, now living in Arizona).

              1. re: Rubee

                ...adding that my husband agrees with agoodbite below - "always off", and he is also a native Texan (El Paso). That's why, if he wants it that way, his job is to peel the potatoes ; )

              2. re: boyzoma


                Born/raised in WI; now live in Phoenix.

                1. re: boyzoma

                  Agreed. Grew up in Louisiana...now in Dallas.

                  1. re: boyzoma

                    DItto. Live in New England, raised in California, by Southern parents.

                    1. Always on. Why throw away those nutrients?

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: ratbuddy

                          Ditto. Currently MD. Not sure location matters though, I'm a Marine brat. We moved 15 times before 12th grade.

                          1. re: ratbuddy

                            Right on, Ratbuddy. I'm a Ct. Yankee transplanted to SoCal

                          2. I always have to have the skins on. I'm from Pacific Palisades, CA--a native, been in Colorado for almost five years. My mom's family were Arizona pioneers, my dad's family were French Canadians. We all like the skins in my fam except my dad, he prefers thoroughly skinned mashed taters.

                            Garlic mashed--skins must be off unless they are extremely thin skins.

                            Mashed mixes such as parsnip/potato, carrot/potato, skins must be off no matter what.

                            1. Both, depending on the meal and the potatoes. For Thanksgiving or Christmas, it's Russets, skins off, and very plain. For other times, skins on and a smoother-fleshed spud.

                              Parents are from the midwest and I grew up in Colorado.

                              I live in KY now.

                              1. In CT

                                mashed potatoes - off
                                smashed potatoes - on

                                8 Replies
                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Same here in central California. There is a marked distinction between mashed potatoes and smashed potatoes. For me, smashed potatoes don't do it. Properly prepared mashed potatoes, on the other hand, are sublime.

                                    1. re: jmnewel

                                      There is a marked distinction between mashed potatoes and smashed potatoes.....


                                      They're not smashed potatoes......unless they have chicken fat as an ingredient prepared in them from my understanding, as per the original recipe.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          you need a "recipe" for smashed potatoes?

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            I believe pikawicca is challenging the veracity of an original recipe for smashed potatoes..... which I stated contained schmaltz

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              understood, so jfood will postulate if there is no recipe, there can be no riginal recipe.

                                    2. re: jfood

                                      Chicago, same here. Usually with a sauce, I like mashed potatoes. Without a sauce, smashed with skin on.

                                    3. If I'm making mashed reds or yukons for the family, peel off cause that's what they're used to and some of them don't take change well; baked always on.. I never order mashed potatoes while dining out cause 9 out of 10 times, they're powdered...Born & raised in NY now living in NC where potatoes are the most popular "vegetable"

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                        Cherylptw, are you saying that when you were in NY you had powdered mashed potatoes at restaurants? Were these "nicer" places?

                                        I'm with NC-ers - potatoes are my desert-isle food. so many things you can do with them.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            Yes, that's what I'm saying but keep in mind, I moved from NY in the 80's and back then, things were different; not so much attention paid to fresh ingredients. The food in NY restaurants have improved (I still have family there so I go back frequently) but I never order mashed potatoes in a restaurant because of that reason and yes, that included "nicer" restaurants.

                                            I recently worked in a restaurant here in NC where we made fresh red skinned mashed that were superb but if I was a customer instead of an employee, I'd have never ordered them...just won't chance the fact that they might be powdered or what is now known as "instant"

                                            1. re: Cherylptw

                                              wow, so you are saying that even now, there is a good chance in even finer restaurants that your mashed potatoes are instant? that's terrible. is it a time thing, or a cost thing?

                                              and yes, thanks, boyzoma, i did say i was from SF earlier.....

                                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                                A waitress friend of mine was talking to me one day about the big menu changes at a local family friendly place, and I had to stop myself from laughing when she said, all astonished "We're going to use REAL potatoes! It makes me feel kinda fancy."

                                          2. Skins on, unless.....

                                            --dinner is formal or with people I don't know well
                                            --the skins are unusually dry or damaged

                                            In Washington DC, grew up in a midwestern household where skins were always peeled.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sfmiller

                                              Exactly how I decide too.

                                              I've lived in the South most of my life. My parents always peeled potatoes. They are still somewhat appalled that I mash with skins on.

                                            2. I grew up with skins off, and my parents still have them this way, more of a whipped style with gravy. Didn't matter if they were red, gold, or Russet.

                                              I, on the other hand, usually go for red or Yukon Golds with skins on, more of a "smashed" style.

                                              Born and raised in WA.

                                              1. Both. It depends on the meal and the type of potatoes. I grew up in Louisiana, lived in Texas for a while, and currently spend my time in Alabama and Tennessee.

                                                1. Russets skin off

                                                  I'm in Texas

                                                  1. My mom was strictly peeled russets (Irish roots). I do this, but also young potatoes, coarsely mashed with their skins on. I like them both. If I'm serving gravy, I prefer the peeled russets.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                      1. re: CharlieKilo

                                                        I live in Indiana, but I don't think that has anything to do with it. About 10 years ago I started seeing recipes for potatoes "smashed" with a fork, instead of mashed to a fare-thee-well. I tried it, and the family liked it.

                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          Location info is just for survey stats.

                                                    1. Growing up, it was peeled russets mashed by hand until mostly smooth but still possessing a few lumps, with milk, butter, and salt, sometimes garlic salt.

                                                      Now it's russets or yukons, skins on and pretty lumpy, with milk, butter, salt, and sometimes a handful of cheese and/or crushed garlic.

                                                      DH's family does instant whipped potatoes with milk, margarine or butter, and a chicken boullion cube.

                                                      My family is from California, DH's family is from the mid-west

                                                      1. TrishUntrapped agrees with JFood. Mashed potatoes, of any kind are skin off. Smashed potatoes are skin on, and I don't use Russets for smashed. I'm also from Conn.

                                                        1. the skin is where all the flavor is! as a kid i ate them however they were prepared, but now that i know better, it's skin on, and lumpy (i consider super-smooth "whipped" potatoes to be a separate entity).

                                                          oh, grew up in Jersey, did my time in NYC and ATL, been in SoCal for most of the past decade.

                                                          1. I peel Russets because the skin is usually too tough for mashed potatoes. Every other I leave the skin on.
                                                            I'm in Alabama.

                                                            1. Yukon Golds only. Skins off. Mashed by running them through a food mill - makes for a smoother mash.

                                                              Ottawa, Canada.

                                                              1. I love salty buttery crispy baked potato skins, and red potatoes in their "jackets" and chunked potatoes fried or roasted with the skin on. But no, no skins in mashed--I usually use a ricer to mash 'em, it would clog up. But even so, I prefer smooth mashed potatoes. Just seems right. Why mash them otherwise? I am in Utah but was a (US) Navy kid so I lived all over. It might be more useful to know that my mother was from a Pennsylvania farm.

                                                                1. Yukon Golds were unheard of in supermarkets (in New England, anyway) until about 25 years ago. I remember seeing a TV cook (Frug? Martha?) waxing eloquent about how they tasted buttery - doubtless mind over matter because of the yellow color.

                                                                  For smashed or mashed, I have never peeled a redskin potato. But I find the YG skin too hard to chew, even though it is thin. I leave it on for latkes but no other uses. I peel AP and Russets too, with the exception of baking them.

                                                                  I feel grinchy to mention this, but potato skins have a lot of pesticide residue. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?... Just saying, for those who are extra-vigilant about chemicals in food. I like nothing better than a Russet baked long enough that the flesh just under the crisp skin has caramelized a little. Tastes like fried potato skins although there's no oil at all.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. On. Doesn't matter what kind of potato, I have no variety-specific skin bias, but the smaller Yukon Golds or red potatoes cook faster so I generally go with those. But that's a decision I made as an adult, not something my family did; as others have said, the skins are good for you, and I'm also too lazy to peel the damn things.

                                                                    I've lived all over, currently in mid-state NY, but my family is all from AZ with time served in Pittsburgh.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                      i like potato skins but worry about pesticides and chemicals concentrated in skin.

                                                                      1. re: divadmas

                                                                        Potatoes are one vegetable that I always purchase organic.

                                                                    2. Always off. The skin interferes with the delicate flavor and texture of fluffy, rich and smooth mashed potatoes. Native Texan living in Austin.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: agoodbite

                                                                        Agree completely. I hate being served "mashed" potatotes with their skins on. To me they are smashed potatoes, not mashed.

                                                                      2. I agree with skins on for reds, maybe for Yukons, and probably not for russets but almost never make mashed potatoes. I live in Austin but grew up in east and west. Much prefer steamed or baked (the latter with the skins salted while they are wet).

                                                                        1. I live in Japan, and the three most popular western-type potatoes here are Danshaku (thin skins), KIta Akari (medium thin) and May Queen (average skin thickness). We leave skins on for all of them, but rarely make mashed potatoes. Mostly fresh hash browns.

                                                                          1. skins on always when I'm cooking. I'm near Chicago. When my sister makes the potatoes though, she always peels 'em. Same place. /shrug.

                                                                            1. In the old days, the potatoes were always peeled first and mashed with a ricer for small amounts(family dinner).. or with a China Cap or Chinoise, for large amounts. If the plan was for whipped potatoes or casseroles, then the skins were also always peeled first. Nowadays, unless the skins or potatoes are blemished, I rarely peel them, regardless of the type of potato used.

                                                                              Today, many commercial kitchens do not peel the potatoes, on purpose, to ward off the notion their mashed potatoes are not made from scratch.

                                                                              Northern New Jersey

                                                                              1. Russets mixed with yukon gold. Skin off. Berkeley, CA.
                                                                                I also heat and melt the butter before adding them to the potatoes.

                                                                                1. Skins off, always -- because that's how my mom made them growing up in southern Ohio. Skins on seems wrong to me, but if they are served to me that way, I eat them. It really isn't much of an issue for me. I live in DC now and have lived in a trillion places both here and abroad since growing up in Ohio.

                                                                                  Better still... potatoes cooked in another way as mashed potatoes have always bored me to death. I never get in the mood for them or feel an urge to make them myself.

                                                                                  The best... pasta instead of potatoes!

                                                                                  1. Skin on. Always mix waxy with mealy, but even the mealy (ie Russets) have skin on.

                                                                                    1. Skins on, for all potatoes except for sweet.

                                                                                      Native Texan.

                                                                                      1. Grew up in DC with an Irish mom from Pittsburgh. She always peeled potatoes or made us do it. I never peel potatoes any more.

                                                                                        1. In CT. On.

                                                                                          One exception: sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          1. Skins on, except for russets and sweet potatoes (unless I luck out and find fingerling sweets with tender skins).

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: electricfish

                                                                                              skin on....except for sweets/boniato

                                                                                              wish I worked in a kitchen where they left the skins on...I feel like I've been peeling potatoes for about 20 straight years

                                                                                            2. Re/yellow: on
                                                                                              Russets: off

                                                                                              Washington state

                                                                                              1. Skins stay on, including for Russets after an arm-tiring scrub.

                                                                                                1. I prefer skins off for mash. Brought up with King Edwards, Desiree, Maris Pipers which are the common varieties in the UK. Getting used to the American varieties and generally prefer red skinned spuds.
                                                                                                  Londoner living in Florida

                                                                                                  1. Grew up in Illinois, mashed potatoes always russets, peeled, mashed with a wire masher. I don't particularly like them in a smooth purée, and I hate them when they're overwhipped so they get all starchy; I like a smooth somewhat grainy texture and don't mind a lump or two. Very young redskins and our SoCal White Rose potatoes get smashed unpeeled with the same potato masher, but more coarsely, and the only liquid I use is plenty of butter. Garlic in there sometimes too - fab with roast chicken.

                                                                                                    1. We grew our own potatoes in WA State. Here was Mom's drill:
                                                                                                      -- mashed potatoes: always mature russets. Always peeled. Any lumps were the mark of an inept cook. Russets were what she used for baked potatoes, too.
                                                                                                      -- New potatoes: Boiled and served with butter and parsley, or creamed.
                                                                                                      -- All purpose spuds: Potato salad, hash browns, or roasted (with the skins on, usually).

                                                                                                      There was no such thing as mashed or smashed potatoes with the skins on.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                                        Ditto with your mom's drill.

                                                                                                        And skins on potato gratin too.

                                                                                                      2. Skin off every time for mash
                                                                                                        Melbourne Australia

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: 1001dinners

                                                                                                          What kind of potatoes (variety) are popular Down Under?

                                                                                                        2. Preferably skins on, no matter what type of potato it is, unless I'm going for a particular aesthetic like needing a pure white or golden puree for plating purposes.

                                                                                                          I'm in Boston.

                                                                                                          1. Skins off always. And mashed with milk and butter with a hand mixer until no lumps remain. From a long line of Philadelphia Irish Americans.

                                                                                                            Odd thing is, when I bake potatoes, I only eat the skin (butter & salt) and save the actual inside for hash browns the next morning.

                                                                                                              1. Thin skins on. Russets off. Born in NY, now live in AZ.

                                                                                                                1. Mashed Potatoes: naked

                                                                                                                  In Connecticut

                                                                                                                  1. I'm actually offended to be served mashed potatoes with skins on. Are you kidding? It looks like a big mess, it ruins the lovely texture of mashed potatoes and it makes them taste like dirt. I have always assumed that, when served skin-on, it was because of the laziness of the cook. I'll try to be more open-minded now that I realize people actually LIKE them that way!

                                                                                                                    Bay Area, CA

                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                        offended, really? i can't imagine..... i love that earthy taste that they get with the skins. Once, when preparing for a dinner party, I told my BF i was going to peel the potatoes for a change, to make them "fancier", and he said he always thought they were so much prettier with the flecks of red skin showing, which i'd never thought about. I just like the way they taste - especially buttery fingerlings, where the skins are so thin but still give you those hints of gold and impart a little texture.

                                                                                                                        Oh well, to each his own!
                                                                                                                        San Francisco (still)

                                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                          I like the super-smooth texture of peeled potatoes that have been passed through a food milk, and to which butter and milk have been added. The texture is almost voluptuous. With the skins on they are just rustic.

                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                            hmm, i guess i like rustic more. i've never used a food mill, only a ricer once, and i didn't like the taters that way, i'm sure i've had potatoes prepped with a food mill in many nicer restaurants, and i do like that kind. but at home i like them more homey, with both butter and milk, sometimes chicken broth. Someone on the WFD thread posted about adding a tbsp of mayonnaise, which I will try next, but i'm sure that still qualifies as rustic!

                                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                              I would like to someday make the legendary mashed potato of Joel Robuchon. After passing the potatoes through a food mill he adds cold butter, then hot milk, then passes them through a drum sieve. All I lack is a drum sieve.

                                                                                                                      2. re: MollyGee

                                                                                                                        See, to me -- and I'm a skins-on kinda girl -- "lazy" would be instant mashed potatoes, or buying them at the store. In my house, it's a little from column A and a little from column B. I love potato skins and, as a bonus, doing them that way is faster, so that's what I do.

                                                                                                                        I have to say though, maybe I'm paying too much attention to words here, but I can't imagine being "offended" by anything somebody cooked for me. But maybe MollyGee and souschef are talking more about restaurants than dinner parties?

                                                                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                                          Yup, I meant restaurants, not dinner parties.

                                                                                                                          1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                                            Offended: yes. Meant it. But only because I was not aware that it's an actual way that real people will actually serve real mashed potatoes and actually enjoy it.

                                                                                                                          2. re: MollyGee

                                                                                                                            Well I'm actually offended that people would just discard those delicious, nutritious skins. Why waste the best part of the potato?

                                                                                                                            1. re: ratbuddy

                                                                                                                              Although personally I like the skins, and am one of those who almost always keeps them on when making mashed, it's an old wives' tale that potato skins are particularly nutritious. They do add some roughage, and if you cook the potato with the skin on it does help keep the vitamins in, but in and of themselves they have no special nutritional value.

                                                                                                                              Reference: see the last sentence on this page (http://www.potatoes.com/nutrition.cfm), or google it for yourself.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ratbuddy

                                                                                                                                The skins may well be nutritious, but I dislike the texture in the mouth, and don't find them at all delicious.

                                                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                  De gustibus non disputandum est...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                    I was expressing my taste, not saying someone else's taste was wrong.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                      Which is exactly what I was saying. "De gustibus..." literally means "there is no disputing in matters of taste" - what you like is simply that, what YOU like. Utterly subjective.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                        I knew the quote, but misunderstood your intent. It sounds like we are in violent agreement!

                                                                                                                            2. Gimme some skin and yogurt, garlic, avocado and green chile.
                                                                                                                              New Mexico & Maine

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                That's not mashed potato! That's avocado dip ;)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                    Whatevah is right, let's just call it yum!

                                                                                                                              2. When I make mashed potatoes, I usually use russets and peel them. I'd rather peel them than wash them. Yukons have thinner skins and usually need less washing so I'll leave the peels on for those. We don't have mashed potatoes all that often.

                                                                                                                                At Thanksgiving I got mashed potato duty for our large family gathering the first year (2003) we all got together at a cousins house. Last Thanksgiving I cooked 30# on an outdoor propane cooker. I've spendt most of my life in Minnesota.

                                                                                                                                1. Don't really like mashed potatoes but on the occasion I make them skin off

                                                                                                                                  (Location: North Cheshire)

                                                                                                                                  1. Reds and golds, the skin stays.

                                                                                                                                    With russets, I will sort of sloppily peel them so about half the skin is left on.

                                                                                                                                    Always roughly mashed so there are big chunks remaining.

                                                                                                                                    I'm from Indianapolis.

                                                                                                                                    1. Skin off. Then smashed with a pastry blender with butter, salt and pepper.

                                                                                                                                      Potato skins, BLEAH! BLEAH! BLEAH! *scrubbing at tongue at the very thought*


                                                                                                                                      Except for actual potato skins. Then it's alright. Otherwise, potatoes is meant to be et nekked! (The potatoes, that is. Not necessarily the person)

                                                                                                                                      Oh yeah, and Ohio/Indiana

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. red potatoes on, anything else needs to be naked for a mash.
                                                                                                                                        Milford, Ct but grew up in So. CA

                                                                                                                                        1. Skin off for 33 years of my life

                                                                                                                                          Location: Alberta, Canada

                                                                                                                                          (but, I'll admit in the last 3 years to leaving them on, 85% of the time, after seeing one of friends from Chile leaving it on)

                                                                                                                                          1. Location is my kitchen, depending on kids or no kids. Kids, no skins, adults skins.

                                                                                                                                            I use a ricer and it eliminates a great deal of the skin, san diego, ca

                                                                                                                                            1. I currently live in SC but I grew up in traditional Irish household in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC. My grandmother, who taught me how to cook, would always say, “Leaving the skins on any mashed potato was a sign of disrespect.” However, she taught my to scrub the potatoes well, quarter them and cook them with the skins on. Long Island potatoes had a particularly thick skin. Preparing them that way actually imparted a deeper, richer flavor, especially when scraping the backs of the skins when the meat is removed. Everything else, Reds, Golds, Fingerlings, skin on.

                                                                                                                                              Laus Deo