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What ratios do you use for your mashed potatoes?

I need to make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I have not made them in years. Back when I did, I had figured a good recipe for the amount of potatoes respective to the milk and butter. Of course, I can no longer find this.

I cook the potatoes and then run through the food mill. I think that I melted the butter into the milk and then mixed in the hot liquid mixture to the potatoes.

I am trying to figure out the best amount of milk and butter for x pounds (probably 5 or 10) of potatoes. Any suggestions or your own tried and true recipe amounts are appreciated!

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  1. Mashed- 4 tablespoons of cream 4 tablespoons butter to every pound of potatos

    French potatos- 1 cup milk to 2 pounds potatos

    1. 10 pounds of potatoes? how many people are you feeding?

      as for milk and butter, it totally depends on the texture you want to achieve.

      1. Lotsa buttah! Gradually add milk/cream until desired consistency.

        1. I heat the cream, butter, salt, pepper and a bit of mustard powder. To the boiling Yukon Golds I add several cloves of garlic and rice together. Subtle garlic flavour. Often I add roasted garlic but that is a different flavour profile.

          1. Here is how to make perfect mashed potatoes from my web site
            1 1/3 pounds (4 medium) Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes washed, peeled, and cut into uniform 2-inch chunks*
            1 teaspoon salt, divided
            2 tablespoons warm butter
            1/2 to 2/3 cup hot milk, half & half, or cream**

            * Do not cut the potatoes into smaller chunks as too much water will be absorbed by the potatoes. After cutting the potatoes, immediately place in cold water to prevent discoloration of the potatoes.

            ** Buttermilk may be substituted.


            In large saucepan, add cut-up potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and just enough cold water until potatoes are covered; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and let simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Potatoes are done when the internal temperature registers approximately 200 degrees F. on your cooking thermometer.

            While potatoes are cooking, either in another saucepan or microwave, heat butter. Also heat hot milk or cream to a simmer (do not boil) separately from the butter in another saucepan or microwave. NOTE: Do not add cold butter or cold milk/cream when making mashed potatoes.

            When the potatoes are cooked, remove from heat and immediately drain potatoes thoroughly in a colander. Return to saucepan; heat over medium-low heat approximately 1 to 2 minutes to dry potatoes, stirring occasionally. NOTE: Boiled potatoes left in water will start to jellify and may even increase in volume, becoming swollen and watery. That is why it is important to let the potatoes drain for a couple of minutes in a colander immediately after they are cooked.

            In the same saucepan that the potatoes have been heated in, mash potatoes with a potato masher, potato ricer (do not use your electric mixer) until there are no lumps. Stir in warm butter, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Add additional milk, a little at a time, if necessary, for desired consistency.

            Note: Gluey or gooey mashed potatoes are caused by vigorous over mashing, as anyone who has tried to make the side dish in a food processor can attest. When potatoes are boiled, their starch granules swell. If those granules are broken too vigorously, the cells release copious quantities of starch, resulting in a potatoes with the consistency of wallpaper paste. I personally use a potato ricer when making mashed potatoes. Using a potato ricer, you can make velvety smooth mashed potatoes right at home because potatoes come out fluffy without being gummy. Once you use the potato rice, you will never go back to the old traditional potato masher. If you don't have one and would like to purchase a potato ricer, just click on the green links.

            Season to taste with additional salt, if desired.

            Serve immediately

            Makes 4 servings.

            More info and variations can be found at the source


            1. I'm amazed that anyone actually knows the answer to that question. I've never known anyone who doesn't just eyeball mashed potatoes.

              But whatever ratio you end up using be sure to save the water you boil your potatoes in for your gravy. Seriously.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rainey

                I've never heard of this! Interesting, must try it.

                1. re: Aravisea

                  or use it in your next bread recipe.....makes for a soft bread

                2. re: rainey

                  Seconding both points. I always eyeball mashed potatoes. The crucial matters are to integrate the fat (butter) first, then make sure not to overdo the cream/milk.

                  About saving the water: cannot say I always do so, but then I seldom make mashed potatoes, but I do know that it's great for bread making and sauces/gravies.

                3. This is less of a recipe than a basic technique. But I'm going to be a bit of a contrarian here (big surprise) and tell you the opposite of what some have said.

                  Don't use Yukon Golds.
                  Don't Peel or cut up your Potatoes.
                  Don't boil them, either.
                  Don't use milk or buttermilk.
                  Don't use a masher or a food mill.
                  Don't heat your dairy or melt your butter.

                  To me the whole point of mashed potatoes is seeing how much stuff you can get them to absorb. So you want them as dry as possible when you "mash" them. To that end, you want to use nothing but Idaho Russets -- Yukon Golds are too waxy and don't add that much in the way of flavor, certainly not enough to counteract what you give up in the way of Butter Absorption Potential (BAP).

                  You will steam your potatoes whole, about one medium to large potato for every two people (or one person if you are eating at my house). Only you really know your guests. Leaving them whole with the skins on means they will cook without absorbing any moisture to conflict with the butter and dairy. It'll take about 45 minutes to one hour.

                  For each potato, allow about a quarter cup butter (salted or unsalted, your choice) and a quarter cup sour cream (or, ugh, yogurt if you are a fat-phobe). Do not melt the butter -- keeping it whole but soft means you will avoid the greasy oil slick of melted butter common to cheap buffets.

                  When cooked, quickly remove the potatoes from the pot, drain the water from the bottom of the pot (removing the steam basket or platform) and grab your potato ricer. Did I mention you need a ricer? You need a ricer.

                  Quickly cut each potato in half and, without peeling it, place it cut side down in the ricer. If you have a really big ricer you can put three to four halves in the basket. Plunge down and watch the little potato squiggles eject into the hot pot. If you meet any resistance at all the potatoes are undercooked. The skins will stick to the plunger and you can easily remove them whole.

                  Quickly add the dairy and about 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. white pepper per potato to the mix and whip gently with a rubber spatula. Don't overbeat or you'll develop the gluten (okay, it's not really real gluten) and turn them gummy.

                  Taste and adjust seasonings.

                  Here's a video that shows it all:


                  7 Replies
                  1. re: acgold7

                    Interesting method, but 1/4 cup of butter per potato? That's insane! I'm a potatophile, and easily eat 2 servings of mashed potatoes on T day. I'm also not really a fat-phobe, but jesus, I'd cut that butter amount by at least half.

                    I second the rec for sour cream though, that's how my mom always made them and they are so wonderful. She did them with JUST sour cream--no butter or milk. They've been a favorite at potlucks and family gatherings for decades.

                    1. re: nothingswrong

                      Obviously you know what's best for you. But here we're talking about a quarter to a half large (about a pound or so) potato as a serving. So yeah it's a lot but only four tablespoons, or 2 oz., or about 360 cals of butter if that's a problem for you. Compared to what else you'll be eating at that one meal, it's not much, and it isn't even the worst part.

                      It's about a one to four ratio dairy to potato by weight. You'll note others go up to one-to-one.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        Yeah, right after I wrote that, I scrolled down and read below about the one-to-one or one-to-two (butter/potato) ratios and wanted to retract my statement!

                        I realize I'm in the minority here... My mother is Greek and we never had butter in the house growing up. It was always olive oil.

                        It's not a matter of calories! Just what my palate is accustomed to.

                        When I went off to boarding school at 16, I was horrified at how much butter the other kids ate in their dinners. Had a real "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" moment, realizing I was the freak.

                        Today, I bake daily and use plenty of butter in sweets, but the olive oil thing has stuck with me. I guess even now I find it so foreign to put entire sticks of butter in savory dishes but I guess that's the way of most of the world. I'm sure it's delicious, just seems excessive to me.

                        1. re: nothingswrong

                          Nothingswrong, do you ever use olive oil in your mashed potatoes? I have a problem with dairy (it doesn't like me very much), so I sometimes substitute olive oil for the butter. And I have the same trouble with milk, so I'll sometimes substitute coconut milk. It's actually quite nice -- although traditionalists would probably freak out. Oh, and garlic is part of my mash mixture too.

                          1. re: Cilantra

                            Yes, I occasionally make olive oil mashed potatoes.

                            They're especially good with roasted garlic and I actually noticed a lot of "lightened up Thanksgiving" recipes calling for that this year versus the traditional mashed 'taters with cream/milk and butter.

                    2. re: acgold7

                      I totally disagree with most of your rules. Yukon Gold are by far the best potatoes for mashing or baking because of their smooth texture unlike dry and granual russets. Because they already have a nice texture you don't have to add nearly as much fat to make them fluffy. I agree with keeping the potatoes whole though, that keeps all the goodness from leaking out into the water.

                      1. re: DomSchu

                        hiss! boo! Yukons are entirely too waxy. I've had reds that made decent mashed potatoes, but yukons just aren't Right.

                    3. Years and years ago, when Michel Richard still had Citrus in Los Angeles, I asked him why his potato puree was so good. His secret? Butter. Tons of it. He told me it was equal parts butter and potato. I've never had the nerve to go that far, but I do add a shocking amount of butter to my mashed potatoes and they're pretty amazing. And no milk or cream. Just butter.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: LAClemens


                        I very very rarely make mash for a crowd, but when I do, I add enough butter that it's not exactly but very close to a 1:1 ratio.

                        This is not a standard weeknight staple recipe. Miserably unhealthy. But if I'm having the kind of dinner party that calls for excess, nobody's counting calories or minding their cholesterol; in it goes.

                        1. re: LAClemens

                          Yeah, I only make them once a year (I don't care for them myself), but my husband goes INSANE for them, and the secret is butter. It gets measured in sticks, if not pounds. I do add some liquid dairy as well, though - sour cream or creme fraiche if I have it, or heavy cream. I use Yukon golds - I feel russets are too grainy.

                          1. re: biondanonima

                            I like to add sour cream instead of milk

                          2. re: LAClemens

                            Totally the answer, loads of butter. My former BIL made the best mashed potaotes ever and they had unconscionable amounts of butter. Mine are not quite as good because I cannot bring myself to use quite as much although I do use a lot. Really a lot. Also I am of the school of thought that the butter needs to be fully incorporated before you add any other dairy. I think I got that from Cooks Illustrated.

                            1. re: LAClemens

                              Yup. Roubuchon potatoes.

                              You read that right.
                              Two lbs potatoes
                              One lb butter. Use the good stuff.

                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                Wow. I mean, I use LOTS of butter (or so I thought) but I have cooked five pounds of potatoes before and I for sure didn't use five pounds of butter!

                                I probably used two pounds, but wow.

                                I'm intrigued, but would probably start very small!

                                1. re: Violatp

                                  No, it would be 5lbs potatoes with 2.5lbs butter

                                2. re: Ttrockwood

                                  OMG! You verified what I was about to post. I was going to say that I'd seen him make mashed on TV, and it looked like about 50% butter. More than you would ever think to put. And they look fabulous!

                                  1. re: arashall

                                    Its the recipe that essentially earned him his first michelin star. The serving size is/should be quite modest

                                3. re: LAClemens

                                  I watched an episode of Ramsay's "The F Word" and he was making mashed potatoes - also used the 1:1 potato to butter ratio. While watching, I thought that couldn't possibly be right, and imagined the mouth feel would be that of eating nearly straight butter.

                                  However, I had to try it to be certain it was really as awful as I expected! I made them... and both my husband and I thought they were the best mashed potatoes we've ever had. I made them again for a work potluck; and the vote there was LOUDLY and unanimously in support of the 1:1 potatoes. :)

                                  Like biggreenmatt posts here also; it's not something we make routinely (typically just Thanksgiving and New Years, and maybe a third time in a year if my husband's lucky). But every time I make them, we can't stop talking about how sinfully delicious they are.

                                4. Yeah, I pretty much eyeball a whole lot of butter. Then I add a splash of cream if I want to affect the texture.

                                  So, add butter. Then add some more. What the hell, you have a stick left; chuck that in there, too.

                                  1. No one uses sour cream? I use about half butter/half sour cream + buttermilk.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: rainey

                                      Yes, we do, as noted above, about an ounce or two of each per serving.

                                      1. re: acgold7

                                        There you go!

                                        I tried it once on a lark. …about 30 years ago. Never went back to mashed potatoes without it.

                                        1. re: rainey

                                          Do you have a preferred ratio? I usually add to by sight and taste but if you've been doing it 30 years maybe I could learn something.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            The only way I've ever known was to eyeball it. You start with what you think you'll need and keep adding 'til you're happy with the consistency. I don't like them too wet or too smooth. How about you?

                                            Gram did it that way and I bet her Gram did too. ;>

                                            Whatever your method don't forget to save the water you boil your potatoes in. It's tasty and it will enhance your gravy. Just remember you'll salt a whole lot less since the water is starting out salty.

                                        2. I mash about 20 HUGE potatoes, ad a cube of butter (1/2 cup), about one cup of milk, salt & pepper to taste. After stirring well I taste it, look at it and decide if it needs more.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: FoodWacky

                                            1/2 stick of butter for 20 potatoes? 4 tablespoons? that's it?

                                              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                right. sorry. still. 8 T for 20 HUGE taters? seems pretty skimpy.

                                                potatoes are simply vehicles for carrying delicious fatty things like butter.

                                          2. Is heavy cream preferred? Or do some like half and half or regular milk?

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Combination of whole and evaporated. :)

                                              2. I eyeball it, depending on the size of the potatoes and what fat % milk I'm using.

                                                This video is helpful:


                                                1. I use just butter, and lots of it.

                                                  According to the Science of Mashed Potatoes, "The classic Robuchon mashed potatoes, as is served at the L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon uses a ratio of potatoes:butter = 2:1. However in Robuchon's book written by Patricia Wells which was targeted for American audiences, the ratio is given as 4:1."


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                    I don't think I've ever gone 2:1, but I probably do 3:1, especially if you count the other dairy element (sour cream, heavy cream or creme fraiche) in mine. It really is amazing how much butter potatoes can absorb and still taste like potatoes.

                                                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                      i worked for a chef who also served those and honestly the ratio is more like 1:1. they are drop dead delicious.

                                                    2. I just eyeball it, too.

                                                      I also mash with a masher. I mash the butter into the potatoes rather than fuss with heating up the butter.

                                                      1. For 2 pounds of potatoes (cube,cook, drain, mash) stir in

                                                        1/2 C. milk
                                                        1/2 C. sour cream
                                                        1 T. butter

                                                        Better Homes & Gardens 1990 had a "Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes" recipe that also calls for 3 oz. cream cheese with this, plus 1 tsp onion salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.

                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                By 2:1, are you saying that for 10 lbs of spuds, you'd use 5 lbs of butter???? I don't use any liquid. Last batch was 5 lbs Yukons and 2 sticks butter.

                                                                1. re: chrisndan0202

                                                                  By 2:1 I am saying that for 10 pounds of potato, one uses 5 pounds of butter.

                                                            1. I bake the potatoes. I rice them. Sometimes I do sour cream, sometimes I do whipping cream.

                                                              1. I LOVE mashed potatoes. I use yukon golds and boil them. I rice them back into the pot they cooked in, and let the steam escape. As per Cooks Illustrated, I add in the melted butter and some salt and pepper. Only then do I add in the warmed half and half.

                                                                Here's my ratio:

                                                                1 pound potatoes
                                                                1/4 pound butter (1 stick in the USA)
                                                                half and half to desired consistency

                                                                If I am making these in advance of the day I'm serving them I will skimp on the amount of half and half. I'll put them in a bowl, cover the top with half and half so that nothing gets dried out and top with saran wrap. Then the day of, I reheat at 50% power in the microwave. I stir it all up, and awesome mashed potatoes.

                                                                But in my book, there is no such thing as BAD mashed potatoes! All these other ideas look good too!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                                                                  I use Yukon gold, the large ones, peeled, cut in half, steamed. I melt two sticks of butter (1/2 pound) to 3 pounds of potatoes. I dry the potatoes when they are just done by shaking them in a warm frying pan. I actually use my potato masher to incorporate the butter right in that frying pan, followed by up to 1/2 cup half and half, warmed, and 4 tablespoons sour cream. I watch what the potatoes are absorbing and sometimes they need a little more liquid, sometimes a little less. I keep that frying pan on "warm" as I do this. Salt of course. Done.

                                                                2. i just eyeball everything until it looks right

                                                                  1. 2 - 2 1/2 lbs wax potatoes
                                                                    1 head of garlic
                                                                    1 pint of heavy cream
                                                                    1 stick of butter
                                                                    1 cup freshly gerated parmesan

                                                                    Roast the head of garlic, then add the cloves to the cream and let steep over low heat for 20 - 30 minutes.

                                                                    Boil the potaotes whole. Drain, add the cream and mash. Add the butter a pat at a time and whip in. Whip in the cheese. Check the seasoning and serve.

                                                                    These will probably make you're arteries creak, but they are good.

                                                                    1. To get even more milk into the potatoes, you can pressure cook (or steam) them and then add hot milk (or milk/butter) to the hot mashed potatoes (everything should be piping hot for best results). That being the case, I get about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of milk per pound of potatoes, and I decrease 1 tablespoon of milk for every tablespoon of butter I use.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                                        Working with the potatos hot is a great trick I use a lot. It's particulary good with potato salads. You can almost hear them slurping up the dressing when you mix it in.

                                                                        1. re: mike0989

                                                                          oh, absolutely. If nothing else, I at least give hot, cubed, potatoes a vinegar spritz (or some pickle brine) before I'm ready to finish the salad.

                                                                      2. Wow! So many variations!

                                                                        I have seen the Robuchon recipe, I am intrigued, but it also has me scared. Not sure if I am willing to try this experiment for Thanksgiving dinner.

                                                                        I think before I melted the butter with the milk (I use whole milk. I think I tried cream once, but didn't like the flavor as much).

                                                                        I guess what I should do it put in the melted butter and then more eyeball the hot milk?

                                                                        I also just don't feel like hearing for the next century about how bad my potatoes were (even though the ones my MIL makes are often kinda gummy).

                                                                        Also to adding garlic (which I love) or parm or anything else - the in laws fancy themselves "plain" folk, and would turn up their "plain" noses at such fancy-schmancy stuff. Yeah, I know, but it is what it is. So I am just trying to make a basic recipe.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: lalajane

                                                                            I'm a definite believer in not casting pearls before figurative swine, if you think your in laws will turn up their nose at Robuchon potatoes or fancy variations, by all means, give them the basics. Then after they're gone, when you've still got turkey leftovers, you're free to experiment all you want with your own family. Its less risky, its cheaper, and it allows you to perfect your method before going public with it.

                                                                            1. re: lalajane

                                                                              Garlic isn't fancy, it's the sine qua non of the allium world.

                                                                              1. re: lalajane

                                                                                Here's a tip: After you peel and slice, dice, however you cut them, rinse them very well in cold water. This will wash out the extra starch without losing any flavor and no mure gummy mess.

                                                                              2. 50:50.m always hot liquid, a lot of patience and as little agitation as possible

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: pecandanish

                                                                                  my mom frequently made whipped potatoes with the hand mixer. tons of butter. i LOVED them.

                                                                                2. I hand mash right in the pot after draining off water, but carry on with the food mill or ricer!
                                                                                  You can expect a stick of butter to about 5 lbs of spuds, then gradually add the milk (I use evap full calorie milk)~ about 1/2 can. You will know when you have reached the proper consistency by your eye and taste buds!
                                                                                  I do this with the heat on so that all milk and butter is warm as I continue mashing.
                                                                                  Season with salt, pepper, minced garlic from the jar (powdered is fine) and onion powder as well as dried basil or Italian herbs. You can always set some aside for the inlaws prior to seasoning!
                                                                                  Please just use your taste buds to tell you when you have reached Nirvana! You may want to let it stand a few min and taste again. Just cover to keep warm and transfer to a warmed bowl just before serving.
                                                                                  Caution~ I once tried to keep mine warm in a crock pot and it kept cooking them so that they turned into a gummy paste! It was horrible! Use only if it has a warming setting!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Awwshucks

                                                                                    My Crockpot has no "warming" setting, but does go to "warm" when finished. Sooo....I heat up some water in it for an hour and then when it switches over, dump the water and put stuffing in one, mashed in the other......works like a charm

                                                                                  2. I don't have a recipe but I have great mashed potatoes. For 5 lbs of potatoes, about 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 1 cup milk. Sometimes I tweak it to give it more or less tang. Tons of salt and pepper. Edit to add- I make mine kind of thin, then let them stay on the heat while I'm cooking. They don't dry out this way.

                                                                                    1. I don't have a recipe but I have great mashed potatoes. For 5 lbs of potatoes, about 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 1 cup milk. Sometimes I tweak it to give it more or less tang. Tons of salt and pepper.