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How To Make The Mashed Potatoes Of Your Dreams

Choose your own adventure: do you like them fluffy, creamy, garlicky, or cheesy?

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All mashed potato recipes follow the same basic formula.

Cut potatoes, boil potatoes, drain potatoes, mash potatoes, mix in dairy and any extra ingredients. But, it's important to know how to make mashed potatoes exactly the way you like them.

There are three variables that will have a big impact on your mashed potatoes:

1. The type of potato you use

2. The kind of dairy you add (plus any extra ingredients for flavor)

3. The tool you use to mash the potatoes

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We identified the four most important mashed potato varieties on the planet and gave them highly scientific names.

Choose your favorite, then learn exactly what it takes to make them.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photo by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Mashed potato purists want their spuds to be starchy, fluffy clouds of magic. These mashed potatoes are perfect for soaking up puddles of gravy. HOW TO DO IT: 1) use only starchy potatoes, 2) add milk, cream, and butter, 3) press with a potato ricer.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photo by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Some people prefer thick, smoooooth, and creamy mashed potatoes. Using an electric mixer to whip the cooked potatoes makes the the end result dense and super rich. HOW TO DO IT: 1) use a mixture of starchy and waxy potatoes, 2) add milk, cream and butter, 3) mash with an electric mixer.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photo by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Many people are unwaivering in their belief that EVERYTHING. TASTES. BETTER. WITH. CHEESE. And really, who can argue? Adding horseradish and using sour cream instead of milk or cream would give these cheesy potatoes some extra zing, but for this post we'll keep it classic. HOW TO DO IT: 1) use a mixture of starchy and waxy potatoes, 2) add sour cream, cheese, butter and horseradish, 3) mash with a potato masher.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photo by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Smashed, skin-on red bliss potatoes have more texture than classic mashed potatoes, and adding soft roasted garlic to the mix takes them over the edge. HOW TO DO IT: 1) use skin-on waxy potatoes (red bliss are the prettiest), 2) add butter, cream and roasted garlic, 3) mash with a potato masher.

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1. Assemble your ingredients.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photos by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

We will walk you through the basics of each recipe side by side, step by step in this post. But for the full recipes (measurements, more photos) of each, there are individual posts:

-Find the full recipe for Garlicky Smashed Potatoes here.

-Find the full recipe for Cheesy & Tangy Mashed Potatoes here.

-Find the full recipe for Swirly & Creamy Mashed Potatoes here.

-Find the full recipe for Fluffy Mountain Mashed Potatoes here.

3. Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted water.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photos by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

As you cut the potatoes, put them in a large pot with cold water so they don't turn brown from oxidation. When all the potatoes are in the pot, make sure they're covered by an inch with cold water, then add 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes or done, 15-20 minutes.

4. While the potatoes cook, prep the dairy.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photos by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

For the FLUFFY MOUNTAIN, CREAMY & SWIRLY and GARLICKY SMASHED potatoes: Bring the milk and/or cream to a simmer in a small sauce pot, just to warm it. For the CHEESY & TANGY potatoes: Grate the cheese, and let the sour cream come to room temperature on the counter. (Again, there are separate posts for each recipe and you can click on the titles above to see them.)

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7. Put the potatoes back in the pot over low heat for two minutes to dry them, then add butter, salt and pepper.

8. Mash the potatoes with the appropriate mashing tool.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photos by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

There's more info about tools at the bottom of this post.

9. Add the dairy and any other ingredients, and mix everything together.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed. Photos by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

For the FLUFFY MOUNTAIN, CHEESY & TANGY and GARLICKY SMASHED potatoes, you'll add the dairy and other ingredients, then mix everything together with a wooden spoon. For the CREAMY & SWIRLY potatoes, you'll add the dairy and other ingredients, then mix everything together with the electric mixer you used to mash the potatoes.

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10. Now all that's left to do is transfer everything to a serving bowl and feast on the mashed potatoes of your dreams.

…and the tool you use to mash your potatoes will determine the texture of your mashed potatoes.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Get a potato ricer here ($14.99).

Get a potato masher here ($11.99).

Get an electric hand mixer here ($39.99).

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