Ina Garten’s Key to Perfect Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes: Barefoot Contessa’s Twist on the Usual Boring Side Dish

Ina Garten has the perfect way to make mashed potatoes anything but boring, revealing the “key” to her parmesan smashed potatoes is adding ingredients that elevate the flavor. The Barefoot Contessa star shared her tips for making the easy side dish — and there’s no peeling required!

Ina Garten wears a blue shirt and holds a cocktail during 'Seth Goes Day Drinking with Ina Garten' on Late Night With Seth Meyers
Ina Garten | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Ina Garten shares the ‘key’ to perfect mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a classic Thanksgiving side dish that can be served any time of year. Garten has found the key to perfect mashed potatoes lies in the ingredients you add to boiled potatoes. Garten’s parmesan smashed potatoes recipe begins with small new potatoes that don’t require any peeling because the skin is super thin.

During an appearance on the Cooking Up a Storm with Al Roker podcast, Garten shared the secret to great-tasting potatoes. “I just think the key to mashed potatoes is what you add to them to make them have great flavor,” Garten shared. “So it’s about the flavor, the texture. And I think two things people really miss a lot, in almost every recipe, is the salt. It needs a lot of salt to give it flavor.”

Garten said that it’s important to add flavor that gives potatoes “an edge” and in this recipe, that’s parmesan cheese. “But also it needs something with an edge — it’s something that’s a little sharp that kind of wakes up your taste buds,” she noted.

“But usually mashed potatoes is potatoes, cream, butter, and not enough salt — and it’s boring,” the Barefoot Contessa star said. “I’ve got the answer to that.”

How to make Ina Garten’s parmesan smashed potatoes

Garten demonstrated how to make her parmesan smashed potatoes recipe on the Cooking Up a Storm podcast. When Roker asked her how she came up with the idea, Garten said, “I don’t know, I just thought, ‘How can we make smashed potatoes better?’ It’s got great texture, it’s got great flavor.”

She placed small red potatoes in a saucepan filled with salted water, brought it to a boil, then simmered the potatoes, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes. Garten drained the potatoes and placed them in the bowl of an electric mixer and used the paddle attachment on low speed to break the potatoes into chunks.

“So they have lots of texture, the skins are in it,” she pointed out. “Sometimes you want something for texture.”

Garten heated half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan and added three-quarters of it to the potatoes while mixing it on low speed. “You don’t want to put cold cream and butter into the potatoes,” she noted. “Because it’ll congeal the whole thing.” Garten said to fold in additional cream and butter if the potatoes are too thick.

Then she folded in sour cream and parmesan cheese and seasoned the potatoes with plenty of salt and pepper. She added the remaining cream and butter to make the potatoes creamy.

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star’s side dish is easy to keep warm

Garten shared that the side dish can be made ahead of time and put in a baking dish to reheat in the oven. She offered an easy tip to keep the potatoes warm: place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of boiling water.

The Barefoot Contessa star pointed out how that her smashed potatoes are so simple to make when compared to traditional mashed potatoes. “It’s so much easier. First, you don’t have to peel them,” she explained. “Second, they cook very quickly because they’re small potatoes. And then you just mix them in a mixer, which is as easy as it gets.”

The full recipe is available on the Today website.

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