Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes Are a Bear Hug of a Dish

Get ready to replace your go-to mashed potato recipe.

November  5, 2018

Mashed potatoes are comfort food at its best: they're warm, creamy, buttery, and deeply savory.

In Heartburn Nora Ephron writes: "In the end, I always want potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Nothing like mashed potatoes when you’re feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a thin cold slice of butter to every forkful. The problem with mashed potatoes, though, is that they require almost as much hard work as crisp potatoes, and when you’re feeling blue the last thing you feel like is hard work."

And it's true. There's no better feel-good food than a bowl of mashed potatoes.

But then, there's the coaxing of an enormous stock pot of water to boil—please! Do it for me!—and a seemingly interminable wait until your potatoes are fork-tender. There's the draining step, which feels like you're taking a blisteringly hot ocean and trying to heave it into a teeny tiny colander. Oh, and there're all. of. the. dishes. As Ephron suggests, mashed potatoes have some room for improvement.

Photo by Ty Mecham

So one day, I found myself, potato-in-hand, thinking: Hm. Isn't there a certain kitchen tool that's making headlines for its ability to tenderize, impart flavor, and expedite even the slowest of slow-cooks?

I locked eyes with my Instant Pot. "Let's do this," I said.

"Are you yelling at your stovetop again?!" called my boyfriend from the next room.

And "do this," we did. My Instant Pot and I got right to work. Making mashed potatoes in a multi-cooker had been done before, but there were a few things I wanted to solve for to make an easier-than-breathing version:

1. No draining.

Many of the recipes out there called for using the Instant Pot's steamer basket. If you wanted to mash your potatoes right in the pot after cooking (no extra dishes allowed!!), using a steaming method of cooking first would then require you to lift out a thinly lipped bucket of scalding water and dump it out, before replacing the vessel and proceeding. I was determined to find a way to cook the potatoes with liquid that could be mashed right into them.

2. One-Pot Only, Please.

You know what's the antithesis of easy, cozy, comfort dinners? Lots and lots of dishes, awaiting your attention. No thanks. These get mashed right in the Instant Pot—ricers and immersion blenders, be gone!—and you can serve 'em straight from there.

3. All of the flexibility.

I wanted a recipe that could serve as a blueprint for the easiest-ever mashed potatoes, without locking anyone into specifics right off the bat. These are just that.

Laced with tangy buttermilk and creamy, buttery leeks, they're the ones that speak most to me at the end of a long day (or, piled up nice and high on my Thanksgiving plate). But, mashed potatoes are a personal matter, and I'm not here to stand between you and your desired mix-ins or toppings. Stick roughly to the liquid to potato ratio for this recipe, and then by all means, swap away. Here are a few ideas:

  • Not feeling leeks? Minced shallots, more garlic, a small yellow onion, or ramps would all be fantastic to sub in. Or, skip that step altogether and head straight to pressure cooking the potatoes in about a cup of liquid (broth + deglazing wine, or just broth).
  • If you'd rather skip the wine, deglaze the alliums with more broth.
  • Spice up your life (yes, that's a Spice Girls reference, and no, I don't regret it) with lots of extra cracked black pepper for cacio pepe vibes, or sprinkle in turmeric and ground ginger and drizzle with browned butter for beautifully nuanced flavor.
  • Before you get to your leeks, sauté some bacon—or guanciale, or pancetta—right in the Instant Pot, set aside once crisped, and use the rendered fat to cook your leeks. Sprinkle the crisps on top of your finished potatoes for an out-of-control (in the best way) combo.

Ephron's extra butter-garnish is, however, always strongly suggested for serving.

What's your all-time favorite comfort food? Let us know in the comments!


Nick November 17, 2018
Can I make these a day or two ahead of time for Thanksgiving?
Eric K. November 6, 2018
I want to dive headfirst into those swirly buttery spuds.
Tomahawkjack November 15, 2018