Perfect, Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Perfect, creamy mashed potatoes made with garlic butter. Simple, but with a twist to make them extra special.

Perfect, Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I posted this mashed potato recipe years ago, and hundreds of you have cooked them! Seeing as mashed potato season is just around the corner, I thought I'd update the recipe with a few notes and suggestions. Creamy, buttery peaks and cloud-like potatoes are drizzled with garlic butter spiked with saffron. Top the potatoes with a toasted almond, coriander, sesame sprinkle - it's incredibly delicious. Simple, but with enough of a twist to make them special.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes with Saffron Garlic Butter

Mashed Potatoes: What's the Best Type of Potato to Use?

People really dig in with opinions about what type of potato is king when it comes to making the best mashed potatoes. I like the creamy texture most waxy "new" potatoes bring to the party. Yukon gold potatoes or yellow finns are my go-to. They both have great flavor and texture. That said, many people use russet potatoes because they're readily available and less expensive. Don't get me wrong, russet potatoes have high starch quantity and can contribute to a beautiful, fluffy bowl of potatoes. They're fine! But, smaller, waxy potatoes are superior here. They're creamy when mashed and lend a beautiful, naturally rich texture you can't get otherwise.

Skin off or Skin on Mashed Potatoes?

This is completely a personal preference. If you're serving a crowd that appreciates a rustic mashed potato, by all means, leave the skins on. If your people like uniform billowing clouds of mashed potato, get out the peeler. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two.

The Secret Drizzle Magic

A special butter drizzle is the thing that takes these potatoes over the top. It's a simple combination of butter, garlic, saffron and a pinch of salt. When you drizzle the butter mixture over the potatoes the scent is incredible. This is the perfect way to elevate a beautiful platter of mashed potatoes beyond classic garlic butter. As a last touch, a dusting of almonds and herbs brings an updated accent to classic mashed potatoes. The recipe is below.


There are endless ways to top great mashed potatoes. A dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche paired with lots of black pepper is never a bad idea. And regardless of what other toppings you decide on, minced chives are always welcome to the garnish party. Some people love adding cream cheese, but I tend to skip that approach - too heavy. An alternative on the cheese front could be a strong cheddar grated along with chopped jalapeno or Serrano chiles. Grated parmesan on mashed potatoes is another match made in heaven. For my greens enthusiasts, I love these Kale Mashed Potatoes from forever ago. Or, if you're open-minded about a sweet potato variation - these Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes are in need of an updated photo (laugh/cry), but so good. 

What is the Best Method for Mashing Potatoes?

It's best to start with the worst methods for mashing potatoes. Avoid using a food processor. It breaks up the cellular structure of the potatoes and creates a glue-like texture. No good! Correspondingly, hand blenders cause the same problem. A potato masher is my first choice. A strong wooden spoon or large fork can also work. keep in mind it takes a bit of time for the potatoes to absorb the liquids. If you're committed to automating the process, an electric mixer with paddle attachment is an option, but avoid over-mixing. A pro-tip at this stage is to use warm milk as opposed to cold milk. It keeps hot potatoes hot, and makes them easier to mash.

Keep them warm!

I get this question on occasion. What is the best way to keep the potatoes hot? If you have a slow cooker this is option number one. It allows you to work on other dishes and easily keep the potatoes hot. Specifically, mash the potatoes and hold them in the slow cooker. Then, add any butter drizzles just before serving. Another idea, hold them in a foil-covered oven-proof bowl in warm oven.

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Perfect, Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Butter

4.86 from 21 votes

I like the creamy texture new potatoes like Yukon gold potatoes and yellow finns lend here. That said, good russet potatoes yield light, fluffy, beautiful mashed potatoes and are delicious as well. You can read my notes above. Also, you can easily make these vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter and your favorite non-dairy milk. Lastly, don't be thrown off by the saffron, you can leave it out if you don't have any. Enjoy!

  • 3 pounds potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium garlic cloves minced
  • 1 pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup whole milk, gently warmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
Boil the Potatoes
  1. To a large pot of boiling, salted water over high heat add the potatoes. Cook until tender throughout, but not falling apart, about 15 minutes - it really depends on the potatoes.

Prepare the Garlic Saffron Butter
  1. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter gently in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic, and allow to steep there over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. You can either leave the garlic bits in, or strain them out. Either way, at this point, stir in the saffron (if using), and a pinch of salt, and set aside.

Prepare the Almond Mixture
  1. Crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle. Add the almonds, and crush them, but not so much that they turn to paste. Stir in the sesame seeds, and then the oregano. Crushing the oregano in between your palms as you add it.
Mash the Potatoes
  1. When the potatoes are tender, drain them, and return to the cooking pot over the lowest heat. Mash together with the milk, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and the salt. Serve hot, topped with the garlic butter and almond mixture.
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
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Recipe Rating


Thanksgiving winner! This recipe is absolutely fantastic. The saffron lends such a lovely, nuanced flavor to the garlic butter, and the spice mixture is so unique and delicious- what an unexpected but welcomed texture. Both elements really elevated the classic mashed potatoes above and beyond. These mashed potatoes will absolutely be a staple on our Thanksgiving table moving forward.5 stars

Rachel Jablon

    Thanks Rachel!

    Heidi Swanson

I made these for christmas! they were fantastic, thank you, there are very few mashed potato recipes out there on blogs I admire.


If the mash potato tastes as good as the picture, job well done! i love garlic, sea salt and butter in my mash too!

Jason Galletti

I love the crunchiness added to the potatoes with almond and sesame. I also like the use of saffron 🙂


You have a knack for combining typically segregated spices- I never would have guessed oregano, sesame and coriander would be a match made in (cloud) heaven.

Maggie @ Veg Fiend

You really know how to gussy up a dish! That saffron butter and nut topping would work wonders on just about anything and turns these potatoes into a main attraction.


These potatoes looks seriously so good – the saffron butter is an awesome touch!


Oh my word… I need to up my mashed potato game! This looks utterly wonderful. And I am in the same boat with cloud photos – I’m a sucker for a nice sunset/sunrise 😉

Jeanne Horak-Druiff

Mashed potatoes have never looked so beautiful! They’re my ultimate comfort food – looking forward to whipping up your version soon.
– Hannah (


I love the creative element in your recipe, the idea of adding almonds is original. I can easily adopt this as my favorite mashed potato recipe as almonds is my favorite snack.

Clarise McQuay

I absolutely love mashed potatoes and how airy your blog looks.

Amby Felix

This was spectacular Heidi. We had it last night with steak and a broccoli salad. Beautiful thank you!


This mash looks heavenly! Wouldn’t mind just having that on its own for dinner! T’was only yesterday I tried using saffron in a savoury (also potato!) dish, and it worked a treat 😀 Thanks for sharing this 🙂 x

Jules @ WolfItDown

on the list! what a stellar combination. this may be a silly question, but did you peel the potatoes here?

HS: I don’t – I like them on the rustic side.


Mmm these look divine! I think I’ll make with sweet potatoes and coconut milk. Can’t wait.


Saffron! What a great twist on the traditional mashed potato. Love it!

Sarah from Soymilk + Honey

Love your creative toppings, Heidi, from the garlic/saffron infused butter to the almond, coriander sprinkle. . .definitely more than “enough of a twist to make them special.”


Beautiful. Heidi, I trust your recipes and good sense on flavours so I’m asking a substitution suggestion for almonds. I’m allergic. How about roasted pumpkin seeds or is there another seed that gives a better near-almond effect?

HS: I feel like walnuts would be an A+ substitution Cynthia 🙂

Cynthia Moffat

Heidi…..oh my…….the things that inspire you! It’s a blessing to us all. Thankyou for being.
And the potatoes? Oh yes. Gonna try.


Beautiful. Heidi, I trust your recipes and good sense on flavours so I’m asking a substitution suggestion for almonds. I’m allergic. How about roasted pumpkin seeds or is there another seed that gives a better near-almond effect?

HS: I’m feeling like walnuts would be a nice swap!

Cynthia Moffat

I’m always taking photos of clouds, they’re just so pretty and trippy!
Gorgeous potato mash; that butter looks spectacular.


I want to eat all of this, the clouds and spuds, alike.
Re: the potatoes, my mind is spinning with applications for the coriander-almond-sesame sprinkle. Sauteed cabbage! Potato leek soup! Salads of all sorts! Roasted cauliflower! Cardboard!
Kidding, of course, that last one, but I trust you know you have a true talent for toppings. The browned butter rosemary ginger that ran atop a pumpkin soup, several years ago, is still in such steady circulation around here, I leave a pan of the stuff out on my stove, all winter long. So, so good.
And yes, there are particularly good cloud seasons. One more thankful.


Beautiful! I’m not usually a fan of mashed potatoes but… such a simple, and delicious sounding combination.


That sprinkle immediately made me think: furikake!
Looks fantastic.


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