Recipes · Side Dishes

Mashed Potatoes Like Grandma Made ’em

This recipe is really, really easy! I know you’ve heard that mashed potatoes from scratch, with the peeling and the boiling and the mashing is hard and takes forever. Probably the source of this wacky rumor was the instant potato industry ;-). Truth is mashed potatoes are super easy and pretty fail safe. That’s why they were a staple on Grandma’s table. They have the bonus of being nutritious, filling and very affordable. And they are sure to please!

Grandma’s Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 Potatoes
  • 6 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Milk or Cream
  • Salt (to Taste)
  1. Peel and wash your potatoes first. You can skip the peeling part if you like for country mashed potatoes.
  2. Cut them into slices about an inch or so thick. This way they cook a lot faster.
  3. Put them in the pan and cover with water. Put on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat a bit when it boils to keep it from bubbling over.
  4. Wait about 20 minutes and then check the potatoes with a fork. If they fall apart easily they are ready. If not, check again in about 5 minutes.
  5. When the potatoes are ready, drain the water.
  6. Use the masher to break up the potatoes. Add the butter and let it melt. Mash until all the potato bits are broken up. Don’t worry too much about lumps … they just prove that you made them from scratch ;-).
  7. Add about half the milk and continue mashing and mixing with the masher. Add the rest of the milk till the consistency looks right. Remember the potatoes will absorb a lot of the liquid so if you over pour by accident just keep stirring. Most likely it will absorb right in.
  8. Add the salt and mix it in.

20 thoughts on “Mashed Potatoes Like Grandma Made ’em

  1. Mmm, who doesn’t love massed potatoes! My Czech grandmother used to boil the potatoes whole in their skins and then peel them hot and mash them. I wish I had asked her why she did it that way.
    (visiting from TALU) πŸ™‚

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  2. Mashed potatoes aren’t labor intensive at all. Of course, I have six kids to do all the peeling. Those six kids are kind of labor intensive. So never mind.
    Thanks for linking up with the TALU!

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    1. With 6 kids there’s lots of peeling to do! With all those extra potatoes to fill the extra tummies … here I peel maybe 3-4. Sometimes I don’t even do that and we have them country style with the peels on.

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  3. My mom always used an electric handheld mixer to get all the lumps out. I actually like the lumps and the skins too. But hey, potatoes are fantastic no matter which way. Never met a potato I didn’t like!

    My granny had a wooden potato masher. Sure wish I had that old thing now, for tamping down the kraut. πŸ˜€

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  4. I tend to skin my while potatoes but leave red potatoes skin-on for some reason. I guess actually, when I do red, it’s more “smashed” than mashed, so the skins look more rustic. I think a lot of people who complain about their mashed potatoes being gummy, etc. add too much butter/milk right away. I always pour out the water, put the pot back on the burner (off) to let the residual heat steam out the remaining liquid. I kind of move the potatoes over to one side and add some milk/butter on the empty side to warm up for a minute before mashing. I keep reading about people making mashed potatoes with broth instead of milk, but I haven’t tried that yet. [#TALU]

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  5. finally a place to ask my age old question!!!! πŸ™‚ in hopes some one here will know an answer;

    i have always made my own mashed potatoes , with less milk i think (and more butter, or i have used half and half already) but what no one has explained to me yet is why in this country every one cooks their potatoes in so much water (and then drains all the good stuff off when pouring off the water?) even when i grew up i never saw my mother cover potatoes in a lot of water; minimal on low heat once they cocked and it has worked well for me so far; but even on cooking shows they use more water than potatoes and no one ever explains why :
    i am a curious pesty thing i know πŸ™‚
    i hope some body knows!!!!!

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    1. Gudrun, you may have the answer to an age old mystery for me :-). My husband remembers something different about his mother and her best friends mashed potatoes. Just so happens both women grew up in Germany. Maybe they didn’t cook their potatoes in a lot of water and then drain the water? He asked her friend once and got a perplexed look as the answer. As to why we make’em with lots of water I can only say that my mother did it and her mother did it. Like the story about the woman who always cut the end of her hams. When asked why she said her mother did it. Ask her mother, she says her mother did it. Ask her and she says, “oh, I had a little pan so I always had to cut the end off to make it fit”! My Mom thought it was necessary to cook the potatoes thru, but a lid and low heat would work just as well. Is that how you do it?

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      1. Kathy, i was afraid there might be no “answer” – i just always want one πŸ™‚
        my middle daughter once responded to her dad answering her question with “because” with “cause no reason” – must be taking after me πŸ™‚
        i make mashed potatoes by peeling if older skins, if the skins are thin and young i just wash the potatoes (some thing my mother did not dare: eat potato skins – may be after a war when they lived on scrap things it was not a desired option?) cut them in 8ths and place just enough water on the bottom of my pot to make enough steam; i guess a quarter cup for 2-4 potatoes; put potato pieces in, lid on and med heat til i see steam, then turn heat down (or they will burn) or set on flame diffuser on low heat and keep them there til soft πŸ™‚ i am such a terrible measurer! time or weight or what ever, all by feel (that i got from my mother!) but the steam will cook them, so open lid very little πŸ™‚

        i find it so interesting to now figure out what is behind some of the old ways of doing things, and be it just cutting the end off – it is just fascinating to learn, especially when it comes to our health!

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      2. I love to speculate on stuff like this too … I wonder if the ‘water to the top’ method started in a nation of immigrants and pioneers because people had to leave things behind. Maybe one of the things left as people moved west was lids :-). With cast iron cookware the weight might have been enough to consider leaving them behind for travel and there wouldn’t be money or opportunity to replace them for a long while. Immigrants would have arrived without cookware most likely … maybe you had to pay extra for lids?

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      3. Kathy that is actually a very good point!
        on the other hand i have to wonder now, since you brought that up, how many pots and pans did they actually own? i doubt as many as we do today πŸ™‚

        wishing you and your family a wonderful blessed Christmas!!!

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  6. I cook my potatoes in a pressure cooker. For mine, that’s 4-6 medium-large potatoes, cut into chunks, and just a cup of water or so. 6 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. I drain them and add butter and half-n-half (or milk, or cream…it just depends on what I have on hand). S&P to taste. I can get them from peeling to serving in about 20 minutes.

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  7. My grandmother and grandfather used to eat mashed potatoes every single day of the week, no matter how hot it was outside. My (dreaded) job was to peel the potatoes. This is exactly how my grandmother used to make mashed potatoes, including using a traditional masher until well into her 80’s. My grandmother was fantastic at this; I wish I could mash as well as she did (no lumps!). We used to joke that it was the only time of day my usually mild-mannered grandmother could get out her frustrations! These days, I don’t make mashed potatoes often, as I live alone, but when I do, I prefer the flavor of buttermilk in them, as opposed to butter and milk separately.

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  8. You nailed it girl, Just the basic receipe confirmatiom we need to create the real mashed potatoes the baby boomers love. Thank You, Laurie

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