The Ingredient Giada De Laurentiis Adds For Perfect Mashed Potatoes

You can't go wrong with plain mashed potatoes with nothing but a pat of butter and a bit of salt. The simplicity of mashed potatoes is all part of their appeal, but it's for the same reason that they're typically served as a side dish rather than a main course. If you want to make them extra special, however, there are many ways to go about preparing them. Stanley Tucci, for example, uses egg yolks and olive oil in his, Bobby Flay mixes in creme fraiche, and Rachael Ray adds hummus and shiitake mushrooms.

Giada De Laurentiis has her own take on the classic too. In a post on her blog Giadzy, the celebrity chef shared that her secret ingredient in mashed potatoes is mascarpone, a spreadable Italian cheese normally used in tiramisu. "Mascarpone gives an incredibly rich, decadent texture," De Laurentiis explained of her mashed potato recipe. In addition to mascarpone, she adds chicken broth, garlic, Parmesan, and butter to really "seal the deal" in terms of flavor.

How much mascarpone should you add to mashed potatoes?

According to Giada De Laurentiis's recipe, you'll need 1 cup of mascarpone per 4 pounds of potatoes. Her recipe also calls for 6 tablespoons of butter, so if you're planning to add mascarpone to your own version of mashed potatoes, be judicious with the fattiness of other ingredients. As The Spruce Eats shared, mascarpone is made up of heavy cream and tartaric acid and is naturally high in fat. The butterfat content depending on the brand can be as much as 75%, making it twice as fatty as cream cheese.

If you're looking for a less fatty option for your mashed potatoes, MasterClass suggests crème fraîche as a substitute. The texture is similar, although the flavor is slightly tangier since it's more acidic. Clotted cream also works because of its high fat content, and ricotta does too, aside from the fact that it has a more curdled texture. Cream cheese is also a viable substitute, but requires a spoonful of cream cheese to match the consistency. 

For the richest mashed potatoes, however, it's best to just stick to full fat mascarpone.