There are a few common kitchen tools that will do the trick.
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Mashed potatoes can be divisive. Some prefer this universally loved side dish rich and creamy while others like them light and airy. The method you use to mash the potatoes will impact the end result. Overworking the spud breaks down its cells and causes starch to be released—the more starch that's released, the denser and gluier the potatoes become. That's why there's the masher. This tried-and-true kitchen tool practically guarantees your mashed potatoes have a perfect texture. If you find yourself without a potato masher, there are a few other techniques that work just as well. We consulted our test kitchen experts to find out their favorite mashing methods—no masher required!

mashed potatoes with cream cheese
Credit: Johnny Miller

Ricer or Colander 

One of our food editors' favorite methods for mashing potatoes is using a ricer. Greg Lofts, deputy food editor at Martha Stewart Living, says this is a particularly good method if you like smooth, creamy mashed potatoes. Start as you would any mashed potato recipe—by boiling the potatoes until tender—then allow them to cool before adding them to a ricer. "If you rice them right away, you're not allowing excess moisture to evaporate off the potatoes," Greg says. Skipping this step can lead to dense, gluey potatoes. Once they've cooled down enough (a good indicator of this is that they're stopped steaming), pass the potatoes through a ricer and then mix with butter, milk, or stock. If you don't have a ricer, Greg says a colander will also yield tiny grains of potatoes. To do so, add the potatoes to a colander and use a spatula to press the spud through its holes. 

Fork

If you like a chunky mashed potato, Greg says use a fork, preferably a larger one. "If you have a serving fork that's faster and easier because you can break down more potatoes at one," he says. However, he does note that with this method you're never going to get totally smooth mashed potatoes. Stir in your chosen fat and liquid, such as butter and cream, as you work until you achieve your desired consistency. 

Stand Mixer

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment is an efficient way to mash potatoes. It will break the potatoes down gradually as the paddle moves around the bowl. Be careful not to turn the mixer on too high or run it for too long; Greg says doing either of these things can lead to slightly gummy potatoes by overworking them. Although the tools seem similar, our editorial director of food Sarah Carey, says to process with caution if using an electric hand mixer—it's her least favorite method for mashing potatoes. If this is your only option, be sure to keep the tool on the lowest setting because if you turn it on too high the potatoes will be beaten too vigorously and yield a dense potato.

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