British Mashed Potatoes or “mash,” as it is usually called in Britain, is different from the US version or the French version. But it is just as delicious and the perfect side dish when you are serving gravy or stew.
The buttery potato soaks up the flavorful sauces; it is a sponge for extra flavor! This classic British Mash, makes a wonderful side dish for so many meals or your holiday table.
What Kind of Potatoes Should I Use?
You want a medium-starch potato, like a Yukon Gold, Dutch Cream, Desiree, or Maris Piper.
Why? (If you want to understand your potatoes a little more) – For mashed potato, you want a potato that is high in starch as this makes it easier to smash, and the quicker and easier a potato mashes, the fluffier the finished mash will be. But go too high in starch, and the potato takes on water when cooking, resulting in loss of flavor in the finished dish and a denser non-fluffy, watery texture.
Then as you go down to the low starch varieties (the waxy salad potatoes), they need far more effort to be mashed, and you find that the texture can go gluey and almost sticky.
- Cut the potato into large chunks – Smaller chunks will soak up more water, and this will result in a less fluffy mash.
- Start with cold water. – This ensures that the potatoes cook evenly and don’t end up with overcooked outsides and undercooked insides.
- Really salt the cooking water – This adds flavor to the potatoes while they are cooking.
- Cook the potatoes until they are tender. They should be soft enough that you can easily insert a knife or a fork all the way through- If you undercook them, your mash will have hard lumps in it, and if you overcook them, your mash will be watery.
- Always drain the potatoes thoroughly – Once the potatoes are drained, leave them in the sieve or colander for several minutes to really steam dry.
- British mash is made with a masher, not a mixer – Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a ricer. Don’t use an electric mixer, this will turn your potatoes gummy and gluey.
- Mash while hot – if you try to mash cold potatoes, they go gluey.
- Add butter and salt – Butter adds flavor. British butter is much saltier than American butter, so we want to add extra salt now.
- Heat the milk in the microwave – Warm milk combines more easily with the potatoes.
Butter – Although it wouldn’t be British mash, you can change the butter for olive oil for a more Mediterranean inspired mashed potato.
Milk – You can use heavy cream, double cream, single cream, or half and half. They will give you a creamier, richer mash. In Britain, mashed potatoes with cream are reserved for special occasions or dinner parties (think Downton Abby dinners)
Potatoes – you can use this recipe with sweet potatoes as well. Or check out my savory sweet potato mash recipe.
Once you have the classic British mash, there are plenty of things you can add to it:
Herbs – Go classically English with some finely chopped sage, rosemary, or thyme. (1 tbsp)
Mustard – A touch of hot English mustard adds a beautiful tang to the mash. Or go across the English channel and add some dijon for a milder french twist. (1-2 tbsp)
Prepared Horseradish – Add another English classic to your mashed potatoes. The creamy prepared horseradish mash is terrific with roast beef. (1-2 tbsp)
Onions – Cooking some finely chopped onions in with the potatoes adds a nice savory note. It makes it a little harder to use a potato ricer but works well with a masher. (1/2 small onion)
Cheese – Once the mash is finished, stir through a cup of sharp English cheddar for a beautiful cheesy mashed potato. (1 cup of grated cheese)
Prepare the potatoes upto step 7 (mashing the plain potatoes). Don’t add the butter or milk, let the mashed potatoes cool completely, then place in a non-metal dish, cover, and store in the fridge for up to three days.
Microwave the mash for 2 minutes.
Place the butter and milk in a pan and heat until almost simmering. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and add the warmed mashed potato, stir the mash, and the hot milk mixture together until your mash is smooth and lump-free.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to two days or frozen for up to two months.
To Reheat leftovers
You can reheat leftovers thoroughly in the microwave. Place the covered dish in the microwave and heat on 75% power for 3-4 minutes until hot. Stir well before serving.
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British Mashed Potatoes (British Mash Recipe)
- 1 ½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes – see note 1
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 tbsp butter – see note 2
- ¼ cup milk
- salt and pepper – to taste
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters.
- Place the potatoes in a pan and add cold water until they are covered by at least an inch of water.
- Add the salt and bring to a boil.
1 tbsp salt
- Skim off any scum that appears on the surface, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes until tender to a fork.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the milk in the microwave (or in a small pan) until it is just below boiling.
1/4 cup milk
- Drain the potatoes very well and leave them in the sieve or colander for several minutes to really steam dry.
- Use a hand masher or potato ricer to mash until smooth.
- Add the butter and hot milk and stir to combine well.
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup hot milk
- Check the seasoning on your mash and add salt and pepper to taste.
- If you can’t get Yukon Gold, then try another medium-starch potato, like Dutch Cream, Desiree, or Maris Piper.
- If you have it use salted butter; if not unsalted butter will work, just add extra salt to taste at the end of mashing.