The Real Reason You Should Use Infused Dairy For Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are the superstar side of many an American feast. With the help of some dairy, and usually a topping of gravy, the humble spud is transformed into a crowd-pleasing favorite. Everyone, including Bobby Flay, seems to have their own secret ingredient, and it might feel tempting to change things up with something new at the next family gathering. However, incorrectly adding a new ingredient to mashed potatoes might spoil the familiar, smooth texture. As Epicurious notes, biting into a whole garlic clove, for example, easily ruins a good mashed potato dish.

The next time you want to change things up or sneak a special ingredient into your mashed potatoes, you can use this easy hack. A dairy infusion will let you pack in extra flavor without giving away your secret, or ruining that perfectly creamy texture. An infusion might sound complicated, if not outright scientific, but it's actually as simple as making a cup of tea.

How to make a dairy infusion

According to Fine Cooking, a liquid infusion is when you pull the flavor of an ingredient into a liquid using heat. It's really as easy as throwing cinnamon, lavender, or any other flavoring into a pot of boiling water. As Kitchn notes, infusing dairy is a great way to add to any recipe that already calls for milk or cream. Dairy has a knack for absorbing extra flavors, and it opens the doors up for near-endless experimentation. 

Kitchn says that all it takes is to simply add whole ingredients to cream or milk in a pot and bring it to a simmer on the stovetop. Once bubbles start appearing, you can take it off the heat, and let it come to room temperature. Once it's cooled, you can give it a taste. If it's not strong enough, you can always add more of the fresh ingredient, and bring it back up to a simmer. Just remember to strain out the infused ingredient before adding the dairy into the recipe. This hack only adds a teeny-tiny extra step to your mashed potato prep since you should warm your dairy to at least room temperature before adding it to mashed potatoes anyway.

Once the technique has been mastered, it opens up the door to tons of possibilities. Add lavender, vanilla, or cardamom to any dessert. Or elevate mashed potatoes with nutmeg, garlic, or any other spice in the pantry.