21 Ingredients That Will Seriously Upgrade Your Mashed Potatoes

It's hard to imagine a holiday gathering without mashed potatoes. Alongside ham and turkey, it's a pretty classic side dish, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't like mashed potatoes. In fact, according to YouGov, mashed potatoes are the third most popular food in America behind french fries and hamburgers.

And it's no wonder: Mashed potatoes are served at nearly every holiday celebration, cafeteria, and restaurant in the country. But even this classic favorite could use some dressing up every once in a while. It turns out that there is plenty you can do to give that traditional mix of potatoes, cream, and butter a little extra life. In fact, with some meat additions, you can even turn this staple side into a real showstopper.

When it's all said and done, your mom's mashed potatoes may still be a favorite, but there's certainly no harm in giving a few seriously awesome upgrades a try.

Use a combination of different potatoes

First, take a look at the potatoes you use. While different types of potatoes change the flavor and consistency of mashed potatoes, mixing a variety of potatoes has a similar effect. So, to make excellent mashed potatoes, try a combo of different potatoes.

The most delicious mashed potatoes will use a mixture of starchy, waxy, and all-purpose potatoes. Starchy potatoes are often a great choice because they create a fluffy potato mash and have easily peelable skin (via Webstaurant Store). Waxy potatoes do nicely when baked, and all-purpose potatoes have a balance of all aspects you'd want in a potato. Paired together, the potatoes perform different jobs and create an exciting potato mash.

Consider, for example, using russet potatoes paired with Yukon Golds. While the russet potatoes create a fluffy mash, the Yukons help balance the dish by ensuring that your mashed potatoes don't become too runny. You get the best of both worlds with buttery and fluffy potatoes.

Don't forget to salt that water

When it comes to adding ingredients to your mashed potatoes, this one is pretty basic but absolutely essential. Salt is the star here. To avoid creating lifeless, bland potatoes, you should always salt the water you use to cook potatoes.

The idea here is similar to when you cook pasta because salt preseasons your potatoes. Like pasta, when you drain the potatoes, most of that salt will be washed away, so make sure you add plenty. A cup should be enough for the average pot of potatoes. While this may seem like too much, your potatoes won't actually take in as much as you may think. Plus, once you add the other ingredients, any potential over-seasoning will be muted with butter and milk.

Baking powder makes fluffy potatoes

Like baking soda, baking powder is a rising agent. While baking soda needs an acid like lemon juice, buttermilk, or yogurt within the recipe to work, baking powder is baking soda and cream of tartar mixed together (via Medical News Today). So, baking powder is ready to go and the perfect option for your mashed potatoes. No baking powder? You could add a small pinch of baking soda and buttermilk instead.

Typically, these ingredients go in baked goods like cakes, cookies, and bread that need some rise. However, this poof can help take your mashed potatoes to the next level. So, while you're adding your milk, butter, and any other next-level ingredients, add a pinch of baking powder to create incredibly fluffy mashed potatoes. Of course, you'll have everyone wondering about your secret.

French onion isn't just for chips

French onion dip with potato chips creates just about a perfect snack. It's savory and creamy with the perfect amount of nip. When you want extra flavor, why not pair french onion dip with the comfort of mashed potatoes?

While mashed potatoes are sometimes the ingredient in a much larger dish, they are also the perfect side dish. In situations where the mashed potatoes play a supporting role in your meal, you can still help them steal the show. After cooking, and as you are mixing in the ingredients to finish your potatoes, consider adding in some french onion dip. One-quarter cup for each pound of potatoes should be plenty to take those mashed potatoes to the next level.

Get cheesy with pommes aligot

While there are many methods of making mashed potatoes, some are a little more unique than others. Pommes aligot, for example, involves a whole lot of cheese, and, honestly, potatoes and cheese should go down as one of the classic duos.

Pommes aligot is a French dish that translates to roughly "cheesy potato dish." You'll begin by cooking your mashed potatoes as you usually would. Then, you'll drain and mash them with a ricer or food mill. After adding them back to your warm pot, stir in your finishing touches: butter, cream, and cheese. Try to add your cheese in two halves, taking care that the first half melts before adding the rest. You'll want to keep stirring that cheesy, delicious goodness until it seems to pull like mozzarella. Finish off to your liking with salt and pepper.

Whip up a traditional Irish recipe

Colcannon potatoes are a traditional Irish mashed potato dish that mixes mashed potatoes with cabbage. However, you can replace cabbage with other leafy greens. This addition is not only delicious, but it is also a way to offer your family more healthy green veggies.

For a spin on the classic colcannon dish, consider kale. This leafy green is a nutritious, delicious, and beautiful choice for your mashed potatoes. First, prepare your mashed potatoes as you usually would, and sauté kale with green onions and butter in a separate pan. Then, add the greens once your potatoes are mashed up, and stir well. To change up this recipe, try spinach. You can also up the creaminess and use full cream.

Don't be afraid to add more butter

Typical mashed potatoes use butter as one of the primary ingredients. However, there's a good chance you could add even more to your recipe. Chef Jöel Robuchon's mashed potato recipe is best remembered for this reason. The decadent, creamy dish has a seemingly ludicrous amount of butter, but one spoonful of these potatoes will convince you that it's the way to go.

To recreate Chef Robuchon's buttery mashed potatoes, add one-half pound of butter for each pound of potatoes. This ratio will create potatoes that are so creamy and delicious that you won't even need gravy to complement the potatoes. These mashed potatoes at the chef's restaurant are called "purée de pomme" (via Michelin Guide), but in your house, they'll become the new favorite mashed potato recipe.

Make it into a meal with beef short ribs

Mashed potatoes don't need to be just a side dish. A great way to take your mashed potatoes to the next level is to add short ribs to your mash. The richness of the ribs will add another level of flavor that pairs well with the creaminess of the buttery mashed potatoes.

To make short ribs, season your ribs with salt and paper, and then dredge them in flour. Next, sear the sides of the ribs in olive oil using a Dutch oven. Once all have been seared, add the ribs back into the Dutch oven with your veggies and broth. You'll cook these for several hours, let them rest for several minutes, and then add the meat to your mashed potatoes.

Top it with some chili

Chili comes in all shapes and sizes, and it makes a delicious addition to mashed potatoes. While some of these mashed potato additions work great as mix-ins, these chili recipes would probably be best suited as a topping for mashed potatoes.

The flavor profile will change significantly depending on the type of chili you choose. White chicken chili, for example, is a little less traditional and may make the addition of mashed potatoes feel a little like a chicken shepherd's pie. On the other hand, vegan three-bean chili offers something entirely different. Considering that many mashed potato recipes include butter, be sure to use vegan butter in your mashed potatoes if you're aiming to keep this one free of animal products.

Play with a classic meal

Meatballs always go perfectly well with pasta as a favorite dinner option. However, meatballs also pair with mashed potatoes. By simply swapping out your pasta for mashed potatoes, you'll be playing with this classic meal, and no one will complain.

Since there are so many meatball recipes, you can choose the best one to suit your craving. BBQ meatballs, for example, are perfectly savory and sure to complement your delicious bed of mashed potatoes. If you'd prefer not to use gravy or sauce on top of these mashed potatoes and meatballs, be sure that you use plenty of butter so the potatoes remain moist and delicious. Swedish meatballs are another great option to put atop mashed potatoes if you're looking for something even more interesting. Be sure to add lingonberries on the side for a real treat.

Top leftover mashed potatoes with scrambled eggs

After you enjoy a big banquet meal with your family, there's a good chance you'll have leftovers. Since mashed potatoes are such a favorite dish to pass, in all likelihood, you'll be storing a few leftover containers in the fridge. Don't let those leftovers go to waste; use them in your upcoming meals.

Put those mashed potatoes to work the following morning to accompany your scrambled eggs. First, reheat your leftover mashed potatoes on the stovetop, in the oven, microwave, or instant pot. Then, prepare your scrambled eggs and place them on top of your warmed mashed potatoes. The blend of eggs and buttery mashed potatoes makes for a delicious combination that may just become your new favorite breakfast.

Spice it up with gumbo

Gumbo is a Cajun dish with a whole lot going on. It's spicy and chunky and contains a host of different flavors. While most people enjoy gumbo as a soup, it also goes great on top of your mashed potatoes.

This is another excellent way to use mashed potatoes because they offer a comforting base for gumbo. Or, if you find gumbo a little spicy, the mashed potatoes should help mellow that flavor a bit. For this reason, mashed potatoes make a great accompaniment to a gumbo bar because your guests can add mashed potatoes if they want them. On the flip side, if you want to bring a little spice to those mashed potatoes, stir in some gumbo for a whole new meal experience.

Add this Indian cuisine favorite

Butter chicken is a tomato-based curry and a favorite in many Indian restaurants. Since butter chicken is often served on top of rice, mashed potatoes are a great, savory substitute that adds a twist to this already delicious chicken dish. You can enjoy this one mixed in with your potatoes or as a topping.

Butter chicken is relatively easy to prepare. You'll begin by cutting your chicken into bite-size pieces, then marinate it in Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and several delicious spices. Be sure your chicken marinates for at least 30 minutes, though longer is even better. You'll also sauté garlic and onions, then add tomato sauce before combining it with your marinated chicken. After the chicken cooks through, serve your butter chicken, either mixed in with the potatoes or on top.

Sweeten it up with caramelized onions

Caramelized onions are delicious because they take a pungent vegetable that brings people to tears and turns them into softened, delicious, and sweet delicacies. These onions are a delightful stir-in for mashed potatoes because they add just a little sweetness to the savory mash.

Be wary, however, when caramelizing your onions. Too many cooks do not take the time they should and try to speed things up. When this happens, the onions get too hot and burn or do not caramelize the way you hope they will. To caramelize onions properly, they'll need to go through color stages. First, they'll become translucent, which should take about ten minutes. Then, they'll become dark walnut, which can take up to 40 minutes. Whatever you do, don't rush the process.

Add mayo for improved texture

You may not immediately imagine mayo as the perfect addition to your mashed potatoes, but it adds a delicious creaminess that might really surprise you. Mayo is quite the kitchen multi-tool, but the condiment shines best when pulling ingredients in a recipe together. Delicious in many different types of salad, it also adds moisture and flavor. It even helps the various elements in a recipe adhere to one another.

When adding mayo to your mashed potatoes, add a tablespoon at a time and stir between each addition. You'll notice the texture changing as the emulsifying aspect of mayo does its job (via Food Insight). As a special bonus, you'll also enjoy more flavorful, interesting mashed potatoes with a bit of sweetness that balances the savory notes.

Treat yourself to some roasted garlic

Almost everyone can acknowledge that garlic improves nearly any dish, mashed potatoes included. When roasted, garlic has an entirely different texture and flavor profile than sautéed or raw garlic.

To roast your garlic, take a whole garlic bulb, cut off the top, drizzle olive oil over it, wrap it in foil, and roast it in the oven. Avoid a common mistake when roasting garlic; the temperature shouldn't be too hot, so set your oven to 375 F and let your garlic bulb roast for at least 45 minutes. You'll know the garlic is ready to go when you can squeeze the cloves, and the garlic comes out in a paste similar in texture to toothpaste. Stir this roasted garlic right into your mashed potatoes to give that mash some extra zing.

Switch up your butter

Browned butter is deliciously fragrant butter that's cooked until it has a brown hue. Though it is darker than typical butter, browned butter is not burnt butter, and the best part is that it is incredibly versatile. You can include it in nearly anything that could use an extra kick.

Consider giving browned butter a try in your mashed potatoes. You'll love that it is a simple upgrade to achieve because you can brown butter in your microwave. To do this, cut your butter into smaller pieces and pop it in the microwave for 10 minutes. Be sure to check on your butter every few minutes or so. When you smell that nutty aroma and see that brownish color, you'll have successfully browned butter using one of the easiest methods out there. Browned butter in hand, use it in place of your usual mashed potato additions or drizzle it on top for something extra special.

Class up your mashed potatoes with lobster

There's honestly nothing better than lobster, well, anything. It's great in pasta, with mac and cheese, and even an excellent pairing with mashed potatoes. To make lobster mashed potatoes, consider whipping up a fresh batch of mashed potatoes rather than using leftovers because the potatoes and lobster can be cooked at the same time to help meld flavors.

You'll begin by removing the lobster meat from the shells and then adding both the shells and potatoes to boiling water. While that's coming together like magic, sauté the lobster meat with garlic and butter. Discard the lobster shells once the potatoes are all cooked, mash your potatoes and add everything together in a big bowl of deliciousness. Be warned: This may become a family favorite, and you may never have regular mashed potatoes again.

Change things up with aioli mashed potatoes

Even though delicious, mashed potatoes can sometimes become a little boring or overdressed. If you're looking for something different from the typical mash that isn't too overwhelming, consider giving aioli mashed potatoes a try.

Begin by making your aioli with egg yolks, garlic, water, and salt. You'll whisk that very well while drizzling in olive oil until the mixture emulsifies and thickens. If you're worried about being on a time crunch, go ahead and make this beforehand. It would happily sit in your refrigerator for a day, but be sure to bring it back to room temperature before making the dish. Then, add the aioli to your mashed and cooked potatoes. You can even reserve some to top your potatoes.

Brighten up your mashed potatoes with chives

Chives add beautiful green color to any dish, and as a relative to garlic, they also bring in a whole lot of flavor. Plus, chives are easy to add on top of your regularly scheduled mashed potatoes recipe.

First, prepare your mashed potatoes as you normally would. Then, use an easy trick to mince chives quickly — you already did all that work for the potatoes, so there's no need to sweat this part. Begin by soaking a paper towel in water and squeezing out the extra liquid. Lay out and fold your towel twice, put your chives on the paper towel, and roll it up with an inch of chives sticking out. Then, slice the chives with a sharp knife, moving the paper towel as you go to expose more chives. You'll have perfectly sliced chives in no time.

Add spice and warmth with nutmeg

The scent of nutmeg probably brings pies and pumpkin spice flavors to mind, but this warm spice can also add incredible flavor to your mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes make a great side dish. They're creamy, smooth, and the absolute perfect comfort food, though they can also be a little bland with too much dairy or starch. Liven up your favorite mashed potato recipe with a bit of nutmeg. While mixing in your other finish ingredients like butter, milk, and maybe even cheese, throw in a pinch of nutmeg. You'll add some spice and warmth that will surely complement the already delicious meal you're serving. However, be careful not to add too much. No need to make those potatoes taste like your favorite fall beverage.