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Best Instant Mashed Potatoes?

I needed instant mashed potatoes and used "Potato Buds", which I thought I'd used (and liked) in the past, but didn't like them at all. Have they changed their formulation, is there a better brand?

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    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Oh 'Lordy be' I had no idea. Well, the 'proof is in the pudding', as it were they are indeed horrible!

      Barbara's used to be good, has anyone tried them recently?

      1. re: Funwithfood

        actually, the proof of the pudding is in the *tasting* but that's a discussion for another thread :)

        sadly, Barbara's were discontinued a couple of years ago. that was my go-to brand for gluten-free coating/breading. grrr.

        if you want them for making actual mashed potatoes, maybe you should look into some of the newer frozen brands...?

    2. The only way I would even consider using instant mashed potatoes is for some kind of coating--I understand it goes well on salmon. But otherwise, why would you ever need to make instant mashed potatoes?

      13 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        Escondido---I use instant mashed potato to thicken a milk-based soup. a) With dietary restrictions, it is possible to make seafood chowders using skim or 1% milk and then thickening to taste with a little instant mashed potato. b) An emergency corn chowder can be made with a can of cream-style corn, a can or more of milk, odds and ends of leftover fried onions, bacon, ham, or sausage, and a bit of thickening as above. However I do recall also using IMP many years ago when I had a young child who insisted on mashed potatoes at every meal.

        1. re: Querencia

          However I do recall also using IMP many years ago when I had a young child who insisted on mashed potatoes at every meal.
          when i was little, Mom would occasionally make them for me when i was sick. she was never into cooking, and it was comfort food and one of the only things i would eat when i wasn't well. add to that the fact that my sister was a handful and a half - particularly when i was getting any attention - and those instant potatoes were a godsend for Mom! of course, once i got a taste of the BEST lumpy, homemade mashed potatoes at a friend's house, the boxed stuff didn't do it for me anymore.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            My grandmother is from the era of convenience foods and almost always made instant. The grandkids could make birthday requests for meals, and my cousin always asked for "lumpy" mashed potatoes with hers. We assumed this was a sneaky way of ensuring homemade mashed.

            1. re: LisaPA

              We assumed this was a sneaky way of ensuring homemade mashed.
              clever in theory...but i had a college roommate who actually managed to make the instant ones lumpy. ick!

          2. re: Querencia

            You can do the same thing by grating a real potato into the soup. I find the flavor of instant mashed potatoes so institutional I just don't think it adds anything to a dish.

            1. re: Querencia

              I thicken potato based soups the same way.

            2. re: escondido123

              Obviously anyone CAN make mashed potatoes. But a good brand can taste extremely close to the real thing, so why wouldn't someone use them?

              1. re: Funwithfood

                Because they aren't the real thing, they may be close but they don't have the same taste as the real thing, and they will always have that super smooth texture that tells you they aren't the real thing. I would rather skip mashed potatoes than eat instant, but if none of those things bother one enough, then go for the instant. Or, if it's like my feeling for Kraft Dinner and the taste, no matter how artificial, reminds you of good childhood moments, then go for it of course.

                1. re: escondido123


                  When hubby and I were dating, I made fried chicken and mashed potatoes from scratch - some of his favorites.

                  He complimented me on the mashed potatoes and asked what brand they were -- and didn't believe when I told him that I'd made them, as he thought they were far too smooth and fluffy to be homemade. I went into the kitchen and came back with a handful of potato peel and dropped them on his now-empty plate...he finally believed me.

                  So there's a case of super smooth mashed potatoes that ARE the real thing.

                  And when I'm short on time, energy, or give-a-damn, the Idahoan Homestyle are a more than acceptable substitute...they really DO taste like the real thing, and this is coming from somebody who makes *everything* from scratch.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    There are dishes where i prefer the smoothness, not to mention the quickness. Sometimes I add fresh herbs to the boiling liquid, very tasty. The ones I had the other night tasted like wallpaper paste, disgusting.

                  2. re: Funwithfood

                    They are a godsend to people who do their grocery shopping on foot, have conditions that limit physical strength, have limited pantry space, and in wintry weather when you'd rather limit the number of bulky or heavy bags you are carrying through ice/snow from your car. My mother did not drive, and instant mashed made her life easier.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      And that is a perfectly fine reason to use instant mashed potatoes. I'm sure my day will come and I'll be buying instant....sigh.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I had the Idahoan ones at a relative's house recently and was amazed at how good they actually were. I'd certainly use them on top of shepherd's pie myself. Must get a box!
                        They're also very good in bread.

                  3. Idahoan's Homestyle -- and it HAS to be the brown package that says Homestyle -- are the best ones I've found -- nobody minds them, and most people actually think they're homemade (I've done an evil switcheroo just to see). They have milk and butter already mixed in with the flakes, so you add just hot water. Not sure what's different, but there isn't that horribly dried taste that the rest of the brands (even Idahoan's) have. It's just about the only food (other than Reese cups) that I stuff in my suitcase when I visit the States.

                    The rest of the market is nasty...I'd rather never eat mashed potatoes again if I couldn't make my own.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sunshine842

                      GoodHousekeeping agrees with you.

                      "Winner: Our tasters would serve these "silky smooth" Idahoan Original Mashed Potatoes ($5.29 for 34 servings) to a crowd with pleasure, thanks to their "fresh potato taste" — especially impressive because it's a dehydrated variety.

                    2. Personally, I lean towards Idahoan's when I'm too lazy to peel and boil.
                      However, it seems that no matter what the brand, some of the "flavored" varieties have a lot of salt - I've learned to first check the label and adjust accordingly when I do these when I need a quick potato pancake fix.............


                      1. Idahoan are pretty good, but the best I know of are Basic American Potato Pearls.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: coll

                          Are the later readily available?

                          1. re: Funwithfood

                            Not sure, I've only seen them foodservice although they do make smallish sizes. Figured I'd throw it out there since so many people here seem to like Restaurant Depot and the like.

                        2. I cannot recall using dried instant mashed potatoes in the last 20 years, but I can say that I've found one prepared product to be quite acceptable. These are packed by the Indiana company Yoder and are available in midwest supermarkets. They're fully prepared mashed potatoes (whipped or homestyle) sealed in a plastic bag and displayed in the meats case. Maybe something like it is available in LA?


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            Yoder's are not instant. A different product, more expensive. Some of the instant mashed, like Honest Earth Idahoan, come out as good as Yoder's, at 1/4 the price.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              Interesting to hear from you and some others that there is such a thing as worthy instant dried mashed potatoes.

                              Of course, i understand that the Yoder's item is not dried flakes. I was thinking of "instant" in the "I need potatoes fast" sense.

                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                Under that looser definition, then, I *do* use a product here in Europe that I've never found in the US (not that it doesn't exist, only that I never saw it)

                                A bag of ready-made mashed potatoes, but basically run through a giant pastry bag and frozen in "nuggets"...you throw them in a saucepan or in a bowl in the micro, add some butter and S&P, and 5 minutes later you have pretty good mashed potatoes.

                                (Bizarrely, still not as good as homemade or the Idahoan Homestyle, but good enough on a night short on time/energy/health)

                          2. I can't compare to other brands but I like Costco's mashed made w/ potatoes and salt. My kids love meatloaf cake and it's the only way I can get mashed potatoes smooth enough to frost and look like frosting. Regular potatoes taste a little gummy if it's thin enough to pipe in a pastry bag.

                            1. Trader's Joes has some frozen mash potatoes made with potatoes, whole milk, butter, water, salt, malodextrin, spice, & dihydrogen pyrophosphate. 2 chem not too bad and only 2 grams of fat. I find the frozen potatoes better than dehydrated.

                              1. The simply mashed potatoes in the refrigerator section taste fairly close to homemade. That being said i always make homemade. I can't imagine any reason to use instant potatoes but that's just me.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Edward Tyson

                                  Mashed potatoes are rarely on the menu at our house, and I've always used yukon golds. But last month meandering around Trader Joe's on a snow day, an end display had boxes of roasted garlic instant mashed. We've gone through three boxes since! Surprisingly good (and easy-and less stuff to clean), and quick. However, this is the only instant we've ever tasted, so can't really compare using other brands as a gauge.

                                2. Idahoan instant potatoes are nasty! So many brands taste like saw dust. The best that I have found are "Betty Crocker Creamy Butter." I mix in sour cream, pepper, and more butter. Pretty good for a quick lunch. Sometimes I grind up deli turkey or ham and mix in too.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: KookyCook

                                    Wow that is so weird, this Betty Crocker list of ingredients sounds so much nastier
                                    But then again I can't imagine adding deli meat to it either.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      All prepacked foods are full of preservatives and really are not healthy for anyone. So many have MSG in them too. I stay clear of that. Coll, have you ever had Shepherd's pie with the mashed potatoes and ground beef, cheese ? I have swallowing difficulties and have to puree most of my foods, so adding meat to the potatoes helps add some protein.

                                      1. re: KookyCook

                                        My husband just had a stroke, so that is good information to me. He always preferred the Potato Pearls over real mashed, so hopefully the transition when he can eat again will be somewhat easier if I can add them to everything. Haven't even started thinking about that aspect. The pureed stuffed shells they served him last night didn't go over too well (him being used to home made Italian). One step at a time. Luckily Kozy Shack with every meal so he won't starve.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          Coll, I am sorry to hear of your husband's stroke and hope that he makes a full recovery. One thing that you can do to 'change up' the potato flavor if he has to eat a lot of it, is to make them with broth rather than water or milk.

                                          1. re: KookyCook

                                            Thanks I just got back and there were mashed potatoes on his lunch plate (despite being listed as mac and cheese, weird choice to me as far as healthy) he refused to eat them at all even though they almost tasted home made. Yeah I did eat some, I was starving! Anything's possible...anyway once things settle down I'll start a new thread, because I need lots of advice on this subject.

                                            1. re: coll

                                              If they are telling you everything needs to be thickened, grill them on that subject. Both my parents had dementia, they insisted things had to be thickened but I put my foot down because thickening may lessen coughing and such but it increase dehydration and lack of eating.....sorry to get off subject on this so please post what's up and I'll be happy to give you my long-term experience. Best.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                Thank you so much for that info, I had just gotten off the phone trying to get dietary because he only ate the shake and applesauce yesterday when I was there, unfortunately he' s too used to homemade delights. I had just made some split pea soup before this happened and it was his favorite, gee it looks just like what they're feeding him. I wouldn't even dare ask about that, but they didn't bring any Kozy Shack which he's been loving, and never came back after I asked, so I went and bought some myself but don't want to sneak it in.

                                                Before I leave today, I will start a new post, you guys are so great to be telling me these things. This is going to be a rough road for a couple of 'hounds like us. Mental and medical advice abounds, but food....not so important to everyone. It could be one of the keys to bringing him back though.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Finally got around to it, sorry it's probably me but the paste function doesn't seem to work right now. I'll add later

                                    2. re: KookyCook

                                      Purchased a box of Idahoan's today. Don't use them often, but will report back when I do.

                                      1. re: KookyCook

                                        there's a HUGE difference across the Idahoan brand -- on a recent trip back to the States, my hubby brought back "Traditional" -- and they are disgusting. They've been relegated to the soup-thickening pile (or added to broth to add some substance when somebody's got the flu).

                                        The *Homestyle* are the only ones that are realy good...the four cheese aren't bad, but still have a hint of that "dried potato" taste, and the other flavors we've tried end up in the garbage with a mental note to never buy THOSE again.

                                          1. re: Funwithfood

                                            If it doesn't say Homestyle, it's not the good one.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              "crapple apple" as I say to my kids!

                                              So I have another box of wallpaper paste?!

                                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                                if you doctor it with some cream and butter and S&P, they aren't as bad. But yeah, they're not so great. Sorry.

                                      2. The Idahoan Fully Loaded & Four Cheese packettes were on sale for a dollar, so I gave them a try. They were a delicious accompaniment to my barbeque tri-tip dinner.

                                        1. I'm so sad. I actually like them. They remind me of my childhood. I like them in that sad pathetic way I like Ding a Dongs. But never eat them.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: SharynT

                                            If you like it, that's not pathetic! Maybe you should have one sometime.

                                            My husband likes instant mashed too, he's not big on real. I'm sure his Mom never would have served anything fake like that though, so maybe it is a "forbidden fruit" to him. On the other hand, my Mom made instant all the time, although she also made real mashed when she had the time, which was a good thing because I couldn't stand her instant...I think she made them way too thin.

                                            Still, I keep instant flakes around for thickening soup, and occasionally for my husband too! There was a type named Excell Potato Pearls and he was especially nuts for them. Not sure they sell them in the store though, I got it through restaurant supply. I know they sell them at Sams Club too. They taste better than real, I swear!