The Last Step You Need To Actually Pull Vegan Mashed Potatoes Together

News flash: You can achieve the buttery creaminess that earned mashed potatoes their rightful championship belt in the realm of comfort food ... without the butter or cream. That's right — we're talking about a good old-fashioned (or, in fact, a rather new) vegan mash. Luckily for plant-based eaters, it's fairly easy to retain all that signature mashed potato richness by simply swapping out dairy and replacing it with vegan butter and soy milk. But, while the texture may translate well with these vegan ingredient substitutions, what about the rich flavor?

The secret ingredient to pulling off the tastiest vegan mashed potatoes is roasted garlic. Renowned chef Anthony Bourdain was outspoken about many culinary topics, his devoted love of garlic among them. "Try roasting garlic," wrote the culinary iconoclast. "It gets mellower and sweeter if you roast it whole, still on the clove, to be squeezed out later when it's soft and brown." We share his enthusiasm; in a Tasting Table experiment, we tried basically every method of roasting garlic. Our point is, a little garlic (especially roasted garlic) can make a big difference in a dish and makes for a vegan mash so flavorful that you won't even miss the dairy. Here's how to do it.

The stinking rose knows

To elevate your vegan mashed potatoes, roast whole garlic in the oven or simply add a pat of vegan butter to a saucepan and, over low heat, lightly brown a few cloves. Sautéing brings out the garlic's natural savoriness. From there, you could incorporate those tender cloves into your mash for a garlicky flavor boost. Alternatively (or additionally), you could top your mashed potatoes with a few roasted garlic cloves as a flavor-packed garnish.

In his garlic mashed potatoes recipe, Alton Brown lightly sautés garlic in half-and-half rather than butter. You could also use this method by roasting garlic in non-dairy milk over low heat until tender and fragrant. Just be sure to keep an eye on the pan as it simmers, and take care to not let the heat get too high. As baristas know all too well, plant-based milk alternatives have a tendency to scorch. To that point, whatever roasting method you decide to use, make sure those tender bulbs don't burn. You'll have to scrap the batch completely and start over. To once again reference the wisdom of the great Anthony Bourdain, "Nothing will permeate your food more irrevocably and irreparably than burnt or rancid garlic."

To serve, garnish with fresh herbs for an impressive finish. We recommend a sprig of thyme or rosemary, either of which will provide an earthy complement. If you prefer a more savory bite than an herbaceous one, try using fresh dill.