Mashed Red Potatoes

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Mashed red potatoes are the perfect side dish for any occasion. Just by removing excess starches and boiling until fork tender ensures a fluffy and creamy texture. Season with salt, pepper, chives and enjoy!

bowl of mashed red potatoes with a butter patty placed in the middle

Mashed red potatoes are a classic side dish, no question. It’s the ideal way to soak up sauces and homemade gravy. The trick to light and creamy mashed potatoes is paying attention to your cooking techniques.

Potatoes contain a lot of starch. Removing some before they cook and right after boiling help to reduce the gluey consistency. Folding crushed potatoes with butter before adding half-and-half coats the starches to control the sticky factor.

whole red potatoes in a white colander

How to make mashed red potatoes

  • Cut potatoes in quarters.
  • Rinse with water to remove excess starches.
  • Boil in salted water until fork-tender.
  • Drain and rinse with hot water.
  • Lightly mash potatoes.
  • Fold in butter.
  • Fold in warmed half-and-half and salt.
  • Garnish with black pepper and chives.

cut pieces of red potatoes submerged under water in stockpot

Do you need to peel red potatoes?

No, red potatoes do not need to be peeled before boiling. The skin is very thin, so it’s easy to bite and chew. Make sure to scrub and wash the outside of the potato skin before cooking to remove any excess soil or reside.

Unless a smoother texture is preferred, leave the skin on. However, the potatoes should be cut in half or fourths depending on size. This makes the pieces smaller for eating and it cooks quicker.

potato masher pressing into boiled red potatoes

What causes gluey-textured mashed potatoes?

Potatoes are a vegetable naturally high in starch which can add creaminess or turn gluey. Starches love water and expand to become sticky in the presence of hot liquids.

The excess starches can be rinsed off with cold water right after cutting, and then with hot water immediately after cooking to remove those starches that swell and thicken.

The role of butter

Adding fat like butter to potatoes before any liquid-like cream or half-and-half lessens gumminess. The fat coats the starches and reduces its ability to thicken and get a cohesive consistency.

top down view of a bowl of red mashed potatoes with a spoon inside

Serve this with

What are red potatoes good for?

Reds are a waxy type of potato that is high in moisture, sugar, and low in starch compared to starchy potatoes like Russets. They have a smooth texture when cooked, for those who like a heartier mashed potato texture. They also hold their shape very well when roasted, great for super crispy roasted red potatoes.

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Mashed Red Potatoes

Mashed red potatoes are the perfect side dish for any occasion. Removing excess starches and boiling until fork tender ensures a fluffy and creamy texture.
Pin Print Review
4.42 from 24 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


  • 8 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • black pepper, as needed for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives


  • In a large pot add 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil.
  • Cut potatoes into quarters and add to a colander. Rinse under cool water to remove the starches. The water should run clear, about two to three times. Drain and add to the boiling water.
  • Cook potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain using a colander and then rinse with hot water to remove any residual potato starches, 30 seconds.
  • Add well-drained potatoes back to the pot and use a potato masher to lightly break them down until smooth.
  • Add butter and gently fold in.
  • Microwave half-and-half for 45 seconds until warmed, about 120ºF (49ºC). 
  • Whisk together half-and-half and ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Gradually fold into potatoes in three additions, until the half-and-half is absorbed. If needed rewarm the potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  • Garnish with black pepper and chives.


Whole milk can be substituted for half-and-half for a less creamy texture.

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Nutrition Facts
Mashed Red Potatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 124 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 13mg4%
Sodium 184mg8%
Potassium 535mg15%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 150IU3%
Vitamin C 9.9mg12%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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12 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    Jessica these are my husbands favorite mashed potato. I roast them also and they do get a nice crispiness to them. Thank you for putting out consistently such wonderful recipes. xo Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Lee- Half and half is about 1/2 cream and 1/2 whole milk, but the manufacturer’s use specific ratios to hit a certain fat level.

  2. Linda C says

    Glad to know that I am doing some things right when I am doing mashed potatoes. I don’t know that anyone ever said to add the butter first and then the warmed milk/cream, whatever but now I know the science behind my doing it. I learned about drying the potatoes from an Emeril LaGasse recipe. Ever after that tip, my husband starting saying that I made THE best mashed potatoes!

    I will try this with some small red potatoes next time!

  3. Pam hurst says

    I love these mashed potatoes, I had never rinsed pots but it makes perfect sense. This gramma now makes the best mashed. Having tri tip and homemade beef gravy. Plus the roasted zucchini and broccoli from my garden….yum

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, the mashed red potatoes can be made in advance. Just reheat in the oven at 300 degrees, covered with foil, until warmed through. Make sure to stir every 10 minutes so it’s evenly warm through. You can also reheat in small batches in the microwave, cooking and stirring every minute, until warmed through. You can add some warm milk if needed to make the potatoes less thick when rewarming.

  4. Felecia Bilangino says

    This is a wonderful recipe! Easy and oh so smooth and tasty without all the extra added fats of most mashed potatoes!! I used fat free half and half (to save some more calories!) and it was a big hit. My sister who hosts Thanksgiving every year and usually makes the mashed potatoes asked me to make your recipe this year!

    Kudos to you for this and all the other wonderful recipes you give us!

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