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Is there a best instant mashed potatoes?

chowser May 23, 2013 08:37 AM

I'm going to make a meatloaf layer cake for a birthday party. I don't make this often but every time, no matter how careful I am w/ the mashed potatoes, there are some lumps and it gets caught in the pastry bag tip. It's a pain because you have to take it apart, hot potatoes in the bag, and remove it, continue. It's messy and time consuming. Recipes I see online use instant. It seems like it would be much easier. I vaguely remember having samples at Costco that weren't bad at some point but can't remember the brand. I thought it was just potatoes, salt. Is there a good one? If not, I'll go back to making my own. Thanks!

  1. f
    ferret May 23, 2013 09:50 AM

    I picked up a pack of Excel recently at GFS and was surprised at how good a product it was. Comes in "pearl" form (little beads of dehydrated potato. Pretty darn good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ferret
      coll May 23, 2013 09:54 AM

      Excel is the best I have found too. In addition, Idahoan in general is very dependable.

      1. re: coll
        mucho gordo May 23, 2013 12:45 PM

        I've found that Idahoan artificial flavors have a metallic, chemical taste.

        1. re: mucho gordo
          coll May 23, 2013 03:01 PM

          Dunno. I use the plain, for thickening as much as for hubby's perverted tastes. Doesn't have an Irish bone in his body, sad to say.

          1. re: mucho gordo
            Kajikit May 25, 2013 04:11 PM

            Some of the Idahoan potatoes are just nasty... but the baby reds, Yukon golds and garlic potatoes are good - or at least they were a few years ago. Since we had to cut carbs I don't buy them any more...

        2. re: ferret
          chowser May 23, 2013 12:58 PM

          Thanks! I've never heard of it. I'll keep an eye out at the store. I wonder if I can get it at a conventional grocery store.

        3. q
          Querencia May 23, 2013 02:07 PM

          There is currently a related thread on Home Cooking that compares brands of the pre-made refrigerated mashed potatoes, if that's helpful to you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Querencia
            chowser May 24, 2013 10:27 AM

            Yeah, only I'm far too cheap to spend what it would cost to frost a cake.:-) I was at the store today, was waiting for the butcher and looked at that section. I'm amazed at how large it is, the varieties, plus the other foods there (mac and cheese, pulled pork, barbecues, etc.) that I've never noticed before.

          2. JMF May 23, 2013 03:23 PM

            Do you use a potato ricer to make your mashed potatoes? I do and have never had a lump.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JMF
              chowser May 24, 2013 10:26 AM

              I thought about that but I normally like lumpy potatoes and I very rarely ever make this meatloaf cake. I'm doing it this time as a joke.

            2. The Professor May 23, 2013 04:04 PM

              They're all similar. Just stay away from the flavored ones (even the "butter" flavored. Nasty.)

              I always used to keep some Pillsbury Instant Mashed Potatoes in the cupboard for emergencies
              (or for 'adjusting' my freshly made mash if I accidentally overdid the milk...shhhhh!); they were granules rather than the common flakes and even stood up pretty well to fresh mash on their own in emergencies if butter and cream were used.
              I wish they were still available...when Gold Medal bought out Pillsbury, a lot of products disappeared. The instant potatoes were one of them.

              1. chowser May 25, 2013 11:11 AM

                Thanks, everyone. I couldn't find Excel mashed potatoes and as I looked at the shelf full of instant, I couldn't bring myself to buy any. I don't want to go through all that trouble only to have it not taste good. It occurred to me that all I had to do was buy a bigger scroll tip. Duh.

                1. sunshine842 May 25, 2013 02:28 PM

                  FWIW, the Idahoan "Buttery Homestyle" are the only brand I'll use -- I've tried them against homemade and they hold up pretty well -- they'll never be as good, but when you're tired, hungry, short on time, and plum out of giveadamn, they're a good option.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842
                    Perilagu Khan May 26, 2013 06:15 AM

                    "Plum outta giveadam'."

                    You're talkin' my language.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan
                      sunshine842 May 26, 2013 08:08 AM

                      and only the Buttery Homestyle -- the other varieties of plain mash (as opposed to garlic, cheese, etc.) are just vile.

                      1. re: sunshine842
                        ItalGreyHound May 28, 2013 02:46 PM

                        I too love the "plum outta giveadam" description - it happens to the best of us! I love cooking/baking and spending time in the kitchen as much as most of us here, but sometimes when you're out of steam, quick and easy fits the bill.

                        +1 on having success with the Idahoan buttery homestyle as well...

                  2. iluvcookies May 26, 2013 07:07 AM

                    Trader Joe's sells frozen mashed potatoes that are quite good, and in the 10 or so bags I've consumed, no lumps. They're about $2.49 or so for a 1 lb bag in my neck of the woods. They have potatoes, salt, a little dairy.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: iluvcookies
                      Atomic76 May 26, 2013 07:54 PM

                      I was just about to suggest these as well. The only thing to be careful with is to not overcook them, as they can quickly become gummy and chewy.

                      1. re: Atomic76
                        Will Owen May 28, 2013 02:29 PM

                        They get gummiest if you stir them at all briskly between bouts of microwaving. I usually stir in some butter at that point and I've found that a gentle fold-over with a silicone paddle is best.

                    2. mucho gordo May 26, 2013 09:52 AM

                      Country Crock original and garlic are the best, by far. No adding water/milk to powders, no lumps; they're already prepared. Just heat and eat. You'll find them in the refrigerated section of your market.

                      1. Caroline1 May 26, 2013 01:55 PM

                        Back in the 50s I used French's instant mashed potatoes that were a fine powder, but it beat peeling potatoes! Today I use the Idahoan brand pictured that I pick up at Sam's Club. It's a commercial size, and it already contains milk. However my favorite way to prepare it is with organic fat6 free milk instead of water and about a teaspoon of teal powdered wasabi (wasabia japonica). GOOOOOOD stuff! If you go with this brand be careful not to add too much potato to liquid! When you mix it right, you think, "This is way too thin!" but it thickens up in time and is light and fluffy and delicious! Oh, and I add a tad of clarified butter with the wasabi. I never have left overs!

                        1. ipsedixit May 26, 2013 08:20 PM

                          Costco does sell large trays of frozen mashed potatoes (with gravy on the side in a pouch).

                          Never tried, but they can't be any worse than the best instant ones.

                          1. c
                            ChervilGeorge May 27, 2013 04:35 PM

                            I agree that you can't compare instant to "normal" mashers BUT Idahoan brand really is not bad at all if you're short on time. I've served them to foodie friends who weren't in the know and got complements on them. Ha! I only get the plain, red potato version. The others have strange chemical flavors.

                            For what you're making, I think no one would be the wiser.

                            1. C. Hamster May 27, 2013 05:50 PM

                              No. I'm sorry but they are pretty gross.

                              1. j
                                jfprieur May 28, 2013 02:31 PM

                                Costco up here in Canada (no idea about the US) has these which we use once in a while in a pinch. Decent but no substitute for the real thing of course!


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jfprieur
                                  chowser May 28, 2013 02:37 PM

                                  Up above, I said Costco used to have a mashed potatoes that was just potatoes, butter and salt. I remembered trying some at the store and thinking it was pretty good, especially for instant. This was about 10 years ago in California. I wonder if it's the same one.

                                2. pikawicca May 28, 2013 02:48 PM

                                  Rice the potatoes and use a wider tip. Instant are all dreadful.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: pikawicca
                                    chowser May 29, 2013 05:30 AM

                                    I've thought about getting a ricer, on the occasion I feel like smooth mashed potatoes but it would be a rare unitasker for me since I normally like lumpy potatoes. I might try Robuchon's mashed potatoes for the extra creamy. I'm going to solve the problem by never making this "cake" again. It was more of a joke that I tend to plan everything around dessert.

                                  2. e
                                    ePressureCooker Jun 3, 2013 09:33 AM

                                    I've always found that steaming potato chunks (as opposed to boiling whole potatoes) not only ensures that the potatoes will be done a lot sooner, but they'll be more evenly cooked, and they'll be nice and tender (no lumps). I use a potato masher, but a potato ricer makes it even better.

                                    1. s
                                      Sharuf Jun 3, 2013 09:51 AM

                                      Came across this funky idea: A TV superstar chef takes fish filets and uses dehydrated mashed potato flakes to coat them for pan frying. I tried this and it actually works nicely!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Sharuf
                                        mucho gordo Jun 3, 2013 02:23 PM

                                        The flakes work very well. I coat my chicken with potato flakes mixed with grated parmesan then bake them.

                                        1. re: mucho gordo
                                          JMF Jun 4, 2013 07:00 AM

                                          Just don't use them instead of breadcrumbs in meatballs. I was at my moms once and tried to eat one of her meatballs and it was a dense and tasteless hockey puck. I asked her what she did and she said she used potato flakes instead of breadcrumbs because of my nephews allergies. (He was allergic to nuts...)

                                      2. l
                                        laliz Jun 3, 2013 10:07 AM

                                        a few years ago I asked this question here ~~ my daughter was in Honduras in the jungle(or was it the year she was in Bolivia?) and it was Thanksgiving and I wanted to mail "lightweight" food to her. Chowsers recommended Idahoan, the buttery homestyle, and they were excellent.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: laliz
                                          cwdonald Jun 3, 2013 11:09 AM

                                          It may all depend on where you are, and the circumstances. After having my jaw wired shut for eight weeks to heal a broken jaw, my first meal (in the hospital) included instant mashed potatoes. Needless to say they tasted good.. even if it was institutional hospital food.

                                        2. r
                                          ratbuddy Jun 4, 2013 07:04 AM

                                          Potato Buds used to be the best, but they switched to flakes which aren't near as good. Now, the only game in town is Idaho Spuds, and make sure to get the 'bits,' not the flake variety.

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