Put down that masher! The days of laboring over spuds are long gone, with the array of instant mashed potatoes gracing our store shelves. Take a peek in your pantry; chances are, there’s a box waiting for you. Their allure? They’re budget-friendly, whip up in a snap, and boast an impressive shelf life. For many, instant mashers stir up a comforting nostalgia — reminiscent of simpler times. And let’s not forget the fans of that silky-smooth texture, a feat that can be elusive with fresh potatoes unless you’re armed with the perfect tools. So, why not give the best instant mashed potatoes another stir tonight? We have a list of the mixes to pick up on your next trip to the grocery store.
There’s something about mashed potatoes that everyone loves. It’s the comfort food of all comfort foods. A study found nearly half of all Americans crown mashers as their favorite Thanksgiving Day side, followed by sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. While they’re delightful in their simplicity, they truly shine when adorned with rich butter, delectable cheese, aromatic herbs, and a medley of other flavorful additions. Some aficionados even appreciate instant mashed potatoes as a blank slate, relishing the opportunity to conjure up their magic.
While what you have on your Thanksgiving menu the day-of is crucial, leftovers are just as important. A study shows that half of Americans think the holiday’s leftovers are even better than the meal itself! And 46 percent of people choose mashed potatoes and stuffing as their favorite leftover. That’s right, the feast doesn’t just have to last one day. You can enjoy turkey sandwiches for the rest of the week if your family doesn’t scarf it all down at the dinner table.
When hunting for the ideal instant mashed potato mix, it’s crucial to factor in the ingredients, desired texture, flavor, and how easy it is to prepare. We’ve delved deep into these considerations and curated a list of the best instant mashed potatoes for your crowd. Did we overlook a favorite of yours? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
The List: Best Instant Mashed Potatoes, Per Experts
“I can’t believe this isn’t the real thing!” raved one taster to Good Housekeeping about their original mix. “With a silky-smooth texture and surprisingly ‘fresh potato taste,’ this brand beat out the others in terms of its likeness to homemade mashed spuds.”
According to The Kitchn, “Idahoan had the earthiest, most natural-tasting potato flavor…Following the box’s preparation instructions yielded a bowl full of soft, nicely hydrated potatoes (unlike some brands, whose instructions left me with stiff lumps). Bonus points for the fact that it’s on par with, or even cheaper than, its competitors. And considering the fact that I’ve seen it sold in gas stations, you should have no trouble tracking down a box.”
The Insider loves the classic version of these mashies. “The potatoes had a good, fluffy consistency. Despite being made from a powder, they weren’t grainy or thick. If someone had told me they had come from a packet, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. The butter flavor was perfectly prominent. My only criticism of the Idahoan classic mashed potatoes was that they were slightly salty for my liking.”
Note: Idahoan makes many flavored versions of their instant mashed potatoes that also did well in expert taste tests.
Good Housekeeping writes, “Of all 11 varieties of instant mashed potatoes we sampled, Betty Crocker Creamy Butter mashed potatoes come the closest in flavor and texture to genuine mashed potatoes. And considering that they take just five minutes to come together, we would choose them in a heartbeat over the real deal almost any day.”
Sporked also gives these mashies the thumbs up. “These instant mashed potatoes are smooth, flavorful, and incredibly creamy. They’re also packed with flavor and don’t need additional seasoning to land on the dinner table (although we’d never discourage you from dousing your instant potatoes in gravy). These are the best instant mashed potatoes.”
Mashed isn’t really a big fan of any instant mashed potatoes but says, “While the other instant mashed potatoes either lacked seasoning or tasted unpleasant, I thought Betty Crocker’s version was decently creamy, buttery, and well seasoned. So, even though homemade mashed potatoes will always have my heart, Betty Crocker will be my go-to from now on if I ever need instant mashed potatoes in a pinch.”
Pure Wow gives this brand a 20 out of 20 for flavor! “Non-GMO, vegan dehydrated potatoes are the sole ingredient, and the flakes are great for so much more than mashed potatoes. They can be used in breads, soups, breading for poultry or fish, and even as a thickener for sauce or gravy. But back to the mash: It turned out so ridiculously creamy. The potatoes may not be as tall or fluffy as some others on the list, but you truly won’t care once you taste their impeccably balanced, buttery flavor.”
This is a little harder to find than other brands, but when you do The Kitchn says you’ll be hooked. “The flavor of Bob’s mashed potatoes was also great — ever so slightly sweet and almost creamy. Perhaps because Bob’s one ingredient is potatoes (no mono/diglycerides here!), the end result was super smooth and had a nice, velvety texture.”
“These potato flakes are versatile and can be used for many different recipes,” according to My Best. “Besides using them to make mashed potatoes, you can also use them as a thickening agent for sauces or gravy. They’re a great gluten-free alternative to regular breadcrumbs and can help you make a crispy coating for meat and seafood as well.”
Delish raved about these saying, “These mimic a fresh bowl of homemade mashed potatoes. So light! So airy! The craggily texture is perfect for catching the melty butter and gravy.”
“The mashed potatoes turned out super smooth, but were still fluffy enough to hold their shape on a plate,” says Pure Wow. “Their flavor is solid, nostalgic, and satisfying, thanks to butter and a pinch of salt in the mix.”
Good Housekeeping says, “Its texture won everyone over since it wasn’t grainy in the slightest. Some tasters commented that it was a bit bland,’ but we think it would make a great blank canvas for your favorite mix-ins. Fold in chopped garlic and Parmesan, Cheddar and chives, or caramelized onions and bacon.”
“If you’re all about Insta-worthy potato volcanos that are inches high and spouting a fountain of gravy, this sturdy pick by Idaho Spuds is for you,” writes Pure Wow. “The ingredients are almost identical to Hungry Jack’s offering (both brands are produced by Basic American Foods), except it uses potato flakes instead of plain dehydrated potatoes. We found that the flakes gave the final product more volume and a chunkier, more voluminous texture.”
Delish calls these instant spuds “the creamiest and smoothest mashed potatoes.” Adding, “Boxed instant mashed potatoes can be extremely grainy, but not these. The creaminess makes them feel extra indulgent.”
“Look no further than this Whole Foods Market gem made from nothing but dehydrated potatoes,” writes Pure Wow. “These spuds are light as air and pleasantly fluffy; they literally melt onto your tongue like a cloud. They’re not as creamy as Bob’s, but their firmer texture makes them great for scooping and serving since the mounds will maintain their shape.”
Delish admits without salt these tasted a bit bland, but once salt was added, the website says it “made them pretty dang good!”
Serious Eats agrees, and says the spuds tasted “natural” and “gluey”, but they are a “good candidate if you’re the type who likes to forgo the instructions and just add your own proportion of butter and cream (I.E. a lot more than they recommend).”
These tend to be more expensive than other options on our list, but Pure Wow says they’re worth every extra penny. “Its ingredients include organic potato flakes, organic onion powder, sea salt, and organic black pepper, so you won’t need to season it yourself (unless you’d like to add herbs, sour cream, or cheese)…Its flavor is on the sweet side, almost like dumplings or gnocchi. The box only makes four servings of mash, but you may want to stock up and spoil your Thanksgiving guests instead of buying one big box of another brand. Its texture is on the fluffy side, and it doesn’t need much stirring to get there—be gentle when mixing in the potatoes because the mash thickens and congeals in a flash.”
“These homestyle organic mashed potatoes are 100 percent vegan, ready in four minutes, and can be made on the stovetop or the microwave,” writes First For Women. “Whether you make them as a side dish, or use them to top a healthy shepherd’s pie, rest easy knowing they’re gluten-free, paleo, keto-friendly, low-sodium, and ethically sourced. Delicious and good for the earth — what could be better?”
Mashed states, “These mashed potatoes are not at all salty, which means you can add your own salt and pepper to taste. We much prefer adding salt to slightly bland mashed potatoes than starting off with overly salty potatoes that can’t be fixed.”
You may also be interested in:
- The Kitchn
- Eat This, Not That!
- My Best
- Good Housekeeping
- Pure Wow
- Serious Eats
- First For Women
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.