Happy Accident Mashed Potatoes


These are some of the most luscious mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted. And they almost didn’t ever happen.

When Matt and I were newlyweds, I was making a quick and thrown together dinner for us one weeknight. It had been a long day and we were both a little cranky. I had some potatoes, so mashed potatoes occurred to me. I knew we had some milk and butter, but what about sour cream? I asked Matt if we had any and he replied that we did. I took this to mean that we had enough sour cream for the dish. Um, no. We didn’t. We had about two ounces of it, which is not enough. I was about to throw out the whole thing when I looked back into the fridge and saw four ounces of cream cheese.


I’d never had cream cheese in potatoes before, but figured why not try it. I was skeptical, but I also did not want to waste the potatoes. Can I just tell you that they were some of the best mashed potatoes ever?? That cream cheese trick really worked! I was so excited. Both of our crankiness instantly dissipated and we shared a very warm, happy dinner together.


Now many of you are probably thinking that it’s really not revolutionary to put cream cheese in mashed potatoes. I know that now. I am very aware that tons of people do that, and probably have for zillions of years. But I was not exactly what you’d call a “good” or “innovative” cook at that time. So it really was an exciting discovery for me. But even if it’s not the most creative thing in the world, I still love it and this is how I almost always make my mashed potatoes. And if you’re one of the few who have never tried cream cheese in your mashed potatoes, I implore you to go out and quickly correct that!


4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2-3 oz. sour cream
½ cup whole milk, or more as needed
2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ a bunch of fresh chives, snipped

Add the potatoes to a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water. Add a couple pinches of salt. Place over medium-high heat, cover and let come up to a boil. When boiling, set the lid ajar and let boil until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a sharp paring knife. There should be no resistance at all.
Shut off the heat and drain your potatoes in a sieve or colander. Place them back in the hot pot. Working in batches, place all the potatoes through a potato ricer and into a clean bowl. When all the potatoes have been through the ricer, add the cream cheese, sour cream, milk, and butter. Stir to incorporate and let melt.
Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the chives. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. At this point also check the temperature of the potatoes. Potatoes can cool off extremely quickly. I’ve found the best way to quickly warm them back up is to just zap them in the microwave for a couple of minutes.
Note: if you do not own a potato ricer, just place them in a bowl after you have drained them and get to work with a potato masher. Then add the rest of the ingredients through the milk and mix with an electric mixer (hand or stand, doesn’t matter). Mix until they are smooth and creamy, then season to taste and fold in the chives.

6 responses to “Happy Accident Mashed Potatoes

  1. I love other people’s newlywed accidental cooking stories–mine always involve lots of cursing and inedible food on my part.
    I need to get a potato ricer. Usually I just enlist my kids to do the mashing, but they’d have more fun in their job kitchen play if they had a ricer. Aren’t I a thoughtful mom?!
    If you ever need to hold the potatoes for a while, they will do just fine hanging out in a crock pot on low/keep warm.

  2. Texan New Yorker

    Oh, geez, I have plenty of cursing-followed-by-inedible-food stories too. It’s a rite of passage for home cooks, I think!

    I love my potato ricer, even though it violates the Alton Brown rule of not having any kitchen gadgets that can only perform one function. To me it’s worth it because there are NEVER lumps when you use that thing! Then again, I don’t have magical elves, I mean kids! 🙂

    Ooohh, why didn’t I ever think of the crockpot??? Awesome tip, THANK YOU!!!

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