Upgrade Instant Mashed Potatoes With A Major Umami Flavor Infusion

Keeping a box of instant mashed potatoes in your pantry is a must. Delivering the comfort of wonderfully creamy spuds without the hassle of peeling, boiling, and mashing, boxed is best — at least, it is when you're short on time. Yet, while it can offer convenience, sometimes instant mashed potatoes fall short on flavor. Often this can easily be remedied by stirring in ingredients like a dollop of crème fraîche, a drizzle of sriracha, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs. However, if you really want to give the instant mix a makeover then focus on driving home umami with two savory additions. 

Of the many ingredients full of umami, miso proves to be one of our favorites. In addition to adding a touch of salt, the paste imparts an earthy funk that makes everything taste more mouthwatering. A dollop can definitely do the trick to jazz up boxed spuds, but there's no reason to limit yourself. Amplify savoriness by pairing miso paste with equally zesty garlic. Together, the two punchy ingredients bring an outrageous amount of flavor and depth to instant mashed potatoes. 

A successful miso and garlic mash lies in the details

When you don't have the luxury of making your mash from scratch, selecting high-quality add-ins is essential. In the case of miso, you have options. However, we recommend avoiding overly funky red paste, in favor of a mellow and honeyed white miso or a tangier yellow miso. As for the garlic, raw minced cloves can overwhelm the paste, whereas powdered versions can be one-dimensional. Instead, to balance the salty and acidic profile of miso, opt for sweet and nutty cloves of roasted garlic.

Since miso is fairly thick and garlic cloves are relatively solid, these ingredients require some attention before being added to your mash. Start by following the recipe on the back of the box, heating the usual combination of water, butter, and salt in a saucepan. At this point, a spoonful or two of miso can be whisked in, along with a few ultra-tender garlic cloves that have been mashed. Once fully combined, continue following box instructions, removing from heat and stirring in milk and potato flakes until you achieve a velvety mix. 

Finally, serve the wonderfully aromatic potatoes with any main dish that you please, and get ready to bask in the triumph of a deliciously executed dinner. In fact, miso and garlic mash might be so well received that you might need to stock up on more boxes of instant potatoes.