The Absolute Best Toppings For Mashed Potatoes

On their own, mashed potatoes are a beloved comfort food, typically, scooped on the side of our plates with a pad of butter and without a second thought. Mashed potatoes probably don't always get the recognition they deserve, but that's all about to change.

Mashed potatoes make a favorite side dish and can easily transform into a hearty meal. Whether you're looking for bright and flavorful or vegetarian and comforting, we know our topping suggestions are sure to hit the spot. Mashed potatoes will no longer be the understudy of the dinner plate but rather the starring act. It doesn't matter if you like your mashed potatoes smooth or lumpy. Skins on or skins off. Russet or Yukon Gold. We're going to challenge you to elevate your mashed potato game with the addition of simple, unique, and flavorful toppings that will deliciously change your mashed potatoes forever.

The best part, most of these toppings come from leftovers, can be bought at the grocery store, are already in your kitchen, or can be easily made. We're not food snobs and neither are your mashed potatoes. So, however you source your toppings, we know they'll be delicious. Take a look: We know there is something here for everyone.

Beef short ribs

Not to be confused with other types of ribs like baby back or spare, short ribs are named for their size, which is typically two to three inches in length, whereas traditional ribs are 4 to 5 inches in length. But enough butcher shop talk, let's get to the real reason you're here. A short ribs recipe pairs beautifully with mashed potatoes because its typically made with a delicious sauce. Imagine shredding your moist short rib meat over a scoop of your favorite mashed potatoes and blanketing it all in that glorious sauce. Not one bite will be missed, and we bet you'll go back for seconds.

Braised chicken thighs

It used to be, the health conscious chose white meat over dark meat from chicken. In the culinary world, it's all about the chicken thighs, and we'd take the culinary world any day of the week. Moist, tender, and crispy-skinned chicken thighs are where it's at. Braised chicken thighs are a one-pan dish that can easily be made with a handful of ingredients like olives, lemons, and garlic, just to name a few.

Chicken thighs are so moist and tender that they can easily be shredded and cradled on top of your mashed potatoes. Don't forget the crispy skin; it's not just for decoration. The skin holds a lot of the seasoning and will only add more flavor to your mashed potatoes.


What does chili make you think of? How about winter, the Super Bowl, nachos, or Wendy's? For us, it's all of the above. Known for its heartiness, chili is the perfect topping for mashed potatoes. Whether your chili recipe is made like mom's chili, firehouse chili or vegetarian chili, it belongs poured over your mashed potatoes.

Chili is perfect with your favorite brew on game day or as a hearty meal on a snowy night. Chili topped on your mashed potatoes will also keep you cozy while you snuggle up by the heater — cheese and chopped onions are always welcome.


Pink and flaky salmon is known as the powerhouse of fish due to its healthy Omega fatty acids. When cooked to perfection the texture of salmon has been compared to butter because it should melt in your mouth. Salmon fillets will also flake apart in layers simply by pressing it with a fork, which is perfect to lay across a bed of mashed potatoes.

If you have extra sauce in the pan, even simple lemon and butter, you can drizzle it over your mashed potatoes. The starch-rich foundation is just craving to soak up any flavor you can throw at it.


It's hard to mess with a classic. Meatballs pair with pasta like peanut butter pairs with jelly. However, we don't think it will take too much convincing to steer you towards replacing your pasta with mashed potatoes. Imagine, in one bite, your favorite meatball and creamy mashed potatoes slathered in grandma's pasta sauce.

Maybe grandma's meatballs are not your thing. Then, by all means, try your mashed potatoes with a smoky, sweet, southern touch like barbecue meatballs or a sticky variation of sweet and sour meatballs. No matter the style, your mashed potatoes will be glad you brought them.

Scrambled eggs

How do you like your scrambled eggs prepared? Maybe the classic way, as in light and fluffy? Or, perhaps, you like the loose-and-creamy French style? However you like your eggs scrambled, we know they'll be even better once on top of a dish of hot mashed potatoes. 

Scrambled eggs on their own are great. But, once partnered with some leftover mashed potatoes, you have a complete meal filled with protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates to keep you energized for whatever your day brings. We think this will be your new favorite breakfast combo and, possibly, your new favorite easy weeknight dinner.

Applesauce and onions

At first glance, applesauce, onions, and potatoes may seem strange, but, let us explain. We love potato pancakes — see where we're going, yet? Like you, we don't always have time to make them and wait for each batch to fry. With a little creativity, you can still have your potato pancakes and eat them, too.

We're going to suggest a deconstructed potato pancake. It's as easy as topping your mashed potatoes with warm applesauce and a sprinkling of green onions. With these simple toppings on your mashed potatoes, you have now created (almost) all the flavors of the fried version. Enjoy!

Caramelized onions

Have you ever wondered what strands of glistening, deliciousness look like? Look no further than caramelized onions. Golden, buttery and a little sweet, caramelized onions aren't just for burgers. Cooked down until their natural sugars caramelize, the onions become an all-in-one topping and sauce. This combination of texture and flavor translates into perfection on top of mashed potatoes.

Know that making caramelized onions only takes a few ingredients but a little bit of patience, nonetheless. To do it right, you can anticipate cooking the onions for 30 to 35 minutes. The goal is to reach a soft and transparent onion.

Buffalo cauliflower

Imagine this: It's Friday night, and you want a saucy-and-spicy something that will wash down well with an ice-cold beer. Sounds great so far, so, what's the catch? It has to be vegetarian. Don't worry, we got your back.

Chicken wings can't have all the fun. Vegetarians love to sauce it up, too, and that's why buffalo cauliflower is a great pick on top of mashed potatoes. Buffalo sauce is a hot, spicy, all-American favorite that can easily upgrade cauliflower and pairs well with sprinkled blue cheese. The best part is that mashed potatoes will soak up every bit of that spicy sauce so nothing goes to waste.


Loaded can be anything you want it to be: cheesy, melty, creamy, crunchy, comforting, smoky, sweet, salty, or, all of the above. You have our permission to tower topping upon topping onto your mashed potatoes, we won't judge. 

There is no right or wrong here and in case you aren't sure where to start, let us make a few combo suggestions. Ham, broccoli and cheddar cheese is a great way to get the kiddos to eat their veggies (and adults love it, too). Crumbled spicy sausage, a bit of sautéed kale, and a grating of parmesan cheese offers a bit of kick. Does this remind anyone else of a famous soup at Olive Garden?

Butter chicken

Don't be fooled by its simple title. This butter chicken recipe might not carry a fancy name, but it's a rich, insanely flavorful and comforting dish. We wonder: Was butter chicken first made by a culinary genius or a loving mom who wanted to transfer her feelings into food? We may never know, but we are blessed to know its warmth. 

Creamy, a little spicy, and oh, so buttery. It only makes sense to put this satisfying dish on another favorite comfort food, mashed potatoes. Together its a hug in a bowl, and who doesn't need a hug?

Bratwurst and sauerkraut

We can give Germany a round of applause for the popularity of bratwurst and sauerkraut. Traditionally served on a bun together, bratwurst and sauerkraut are a delicious and filling way to elevate your mashed potatoes. Sauerkraut is known for its shaved, strands of cabbage that carry a briny pop of flavor. When paired with a pork sausage that is smoked, you gain a one-two punch of flavor — no bun necessary.

We suggest cutting your cooked bratwurst into rounds, and heating it together with the sauerkraut, so the flavors can combine. Serve on top of mashed potatoes with a little squeeze of grainy mustard.


It's impossible to hear the word gumbo and not think of Louisiana, known for its creole cooking, jazz, and New Orleans French Quarter. We can almost hear the trumpets now. Gumbo is a hearty, aromatic, meal-like stew that is on the spicy side. Gumbo takes flavors from American Indian, African and European cooking to make this masterpiece, and seafood like shrimp is usually the meat of choice.

Mashed potatoes are a great balancer to the spicy side of gumbo. We know a ladle full of this spicy, flavorful, stew would be heavenly on top.


This Italian appetizer, which is typically pronounced, brü-ˈshe-tə, translates into grilled Italian bread topped with olive oil, garlic, fresh tomatoes, herbs, and parmesan cheese.

Replace the bread with mashed potatoes, and you now have a light and bright way to lighten up and add a pop of fresh flavor. Tomatoes bring bright acidity, basil adds a hint of freshness, garlic is the savory, and parmesan adds the salty. Together they play like a well-tuned band ready to make your taste buds sing. If you feel like hitting a high note, go for that drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Spinach and feta

Does spinach make you think of the classic Popeye cartoon? The animated sailor relied on his spinach to give him strength all day long. We love spinach, too, but, we like ours mixed with feta.

Spinach and feta will take your mashed potatoes on a trip to the Mediterranean with each bite. Feta melts when in contact with heat, and its flavor is enhanced. It will add a delicious and complex, salty appeal to your potatoes. The spinach will then add a touch of freshness to balance the richness. Together, these three will have you going all day, just like Popeye.

Chickpea curry

Creamy, warm, and savory is how we would describe chickpea curry topped over mashed potatoes. This is one of those toppings that will take your potatoes from a side dish to a meal in no time. This easy chicken curry recipe is a wonderful choice for meatless Mondays. Chickpea curry is also filling and perfectly flavored. With spices like turmeric, garlic, chili, and curry powder all bathing in a coconut milk bath, what's not to love? Your mashed potatoes can't wait to soak up all these wonderful flavors.

Pulled pork

Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned southern pulled pork? Shredded and ready to go, pulled pork can easily and deliciously be stacked on mashed potatoes for a taste of the south.

Done right, pulled pork is smoky and sweet with a little heat. Since the pork is pulled into shreds — hence the name — no knife is necessary, just scoop and enjoy. But, don't stop there, if you have extra drippings in the pan or a favorite barbecue sauce, slather it on. Your mashed potatoes are craving all you can throw at them.

Fried onions

We love them in a basket, on a burger, with our fish sticks, and now on our mashed potatoes. Crunchy, sweet with mellow heat, those golden rings of heaven are leveling up our mashed potato game to the next level.

Fried onions are the perfect pop of savory flavor. You can certainly fry your own onions, but if this sounds intimidating, no worries, we got your back. Try baking onions rings in the oven. Don't forget the fried onions in a can, they're pretty darn tasty and have graced the tops of many green bean casseroles over the years.

Roasted garlic

Roasted garlic moved onto the food scene as the next fad in flavor and never left, earning its permanent place in the hearts of foodies everywhere. Everything from roasted garlic shrimp, potato chips, and popcorn seasoning to flavored dips. It's only fitting that we would top our mashed potatoes with it.

"Why roast garlic?", you might be asking. Roasting garlic makes it creamy for spreading and also softens the bite of eating it raw. If raw garlic is rough on your stomach, roasted garlic may be the answer because it's more mellow. Roasted garlic will blend into your mashed potatoes like butter and give them that "special something" mashed potatoes need.

Bacon crumbles

Now we have your attention. Bacon is smoky, crispy, and oh, so melt-in-your-mouth good. It's no wonder bacon crumbles pull at our heartstrings as our go-to choice to crown our mashed potatoes.

How do you like your bacon? Apple or hickory smoked, maple or brown sugared? Maybe you'd rather buy your bacon crumbles from the store. No matter the way, mashed potatoes are equal opportunity and there's never a wrong choice when it comes to bacon. Take your pick and get crumbling.

Taco meat

Taco meat on mashed potatoes? Is this to hide the fact we're out of taco shells, or is it the best thing that ever happened to Taco Tuesday? We think it's the latter.

Taco Tuesday won't know what hit it thanks to spicy crumbles of seasoned beef that are easily eaten with a spoon without the cracking, crumbling, hard shells. Mashed potatoes are a great choice to handle your taco needs. Just be sure to dress your taco meat as you would otherwise: Bring on the cheese, salsa, and jalapeños.

Browned butter

We see browned butter as traditional butters' older sister. You know, the older sister who gets all the attention without even trying. The one who effortlessly makes friends wherever she goes. As much as traditional butter wants to hate her older sister, she just can't because, well, they're family.

If browned butter is good enough for banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, then it's good enough for mashed potatoes. With only a little effort, browning butter will take potatoes from wallflower to center stage. The process of browning butter changes the flavor from a neutral to complex, adding nuttiness. When poured over your mashed potatoes, browned butter will make them the hit of the party.

Nacho cheese

Who says nacho cheese is just for nachos? Melty, gooey, and a little spicy, makes nacho cheese an all-around winner on your mashed potatoes. Don't get nacho cheese confused with plain melted cheese though. Nacho cheese has a kick to it. 

This is from the addition of finely diced peppers like jalapeños and green chilis. Classic mashed potatoes will feel that little spicy kick and so will your tastebuds. Whether you making nacho cheese on your own or buying a jar already made, this topping is a winner for your mashed potatoes.


For a fresh-tasting yet spicy kick, we suggest a spoonful of kimchi. Korea's version of sauerkraut has its very own unique flavor, but kimchi is traditionally a side dish or condiment. Mashed potatoes won't know what hit them, in a good way.

To make kimchi, Napa cabbage or radishes are fermented in gochujang, ginger, and garlic. Fish sauce or anchovies are added for that pungent, savory flavor. All that wonderful spicy, savory, sweet, and sour flavoring is perfect on mashed potatoes. Not only will it make your mashed potatoes pop but will calm the richness of kimchi. It's a perfect marriage of balance.


Is it an onion, garlic, herb, or weed? It may take over your garden like a weed but it's anything but. Chives are part of the amaryllis family, the same family that gives us onion and garlic. Chives have a light flavor similar to an onion but without the bite.

Not to be underestimated, chives are a great topping on mashed potatoes, especially for purists who like their mashed potatoes with melty butter. With a sprinkle of raw, chopped chives your potatoes will be livened up but still keep everything you love about a traditional mash.


So, who's the lucky one here, the mashed potatoes or the lobster? We'll let you be the judge. Whether you're a lobster purist preferring crustaceans straight from the pan or are all about soaking the pieces in dripping butter, your mashed potatoes can't wait to take whatever you give them. 

Chunks of sweet, succulent lobster meat are just what a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes need. If going the purist route, try a little, extra sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning. If it's all about the butter for you, bring it on. Lobster mashed potatoes love butter as much as we do.