How to thicken mashed potatoes?

How to thicken mashed potatoes

We all look forward to mashed potatoes especially when they are accompanied by a roast. The mashed potatoes and gravy are sometimes the most popular side dish, but no one will ask for seconds if it’s a runny mess. But of course, disasters happen, especially when you are in a big rush. For example, runny mashed potatoes can occur through various factors such as boiling the potatoes too much, the addition of too much milk, or not draining all the water from the cooked potatoes. We look at how to thicken mashed potatoes and restore it to its former glory as well as the best ways to mash potatoes successfully in the first place.

How to Thicken Mashed Potatoes

1.     Save Runny Mash by Turning up The Heat and Letting the Liquid Dissolve

Place the runny mashed potatoes or runny instant mash into a large saucepan or pot on the stove over a low heat. Do not cover the pot with a lid because doing that will create steam inside the pot which creates more liquid. If you leave the pot uncovered, the excess steam can evaporate (turn on your extractor fan to get rid of the steam). Stir the pot or pan slowly and frequently with a wooden spoon and spatula to prevent the mash from sticking to the bottom of the pot. As more steam escapes, stir less often because you don’t want the mash to turn gluey and stiff. Once the mash reaches the desired consistency, remove immediately from the heat and serve warm.

2.     Thicken Mashed Potatoes by Adding a Thickening Agent

It should come as no surprise that one of the easiest way to thicken mashed potatoes is to add some dry instant mashed potato. Various ingredients can improve the consistency of mashed potatoes without changing the flavor. Thickening agents include flour or cornflour cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, and tapioca. Cornstarch has double the thickening power of regular flour. Add approximately one tablespoon of thickening agent at a time to the mashed potatoes. Incorporate it using a fork. To add flavor to your mashed potato, you could add some grated hard cheese such as Parmesan. To make mashed potatoes creamier, you could add some powdered milk until it reaches the desired consistency. Always taste the mash to check the flavor and texture to see if the seasoning should be adjusted, and if the texture is palatable.

3.     Bake the Runny Mashed Potatoes in the Oven

To thicken mashed potatoes, place the runny dish in an uncovered glass casserole. Place the dish in the oven pre-heated 325° Fahrenheit. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes to dry the moisture out of them. 

4.     Microwave Runny Mashed Potatoes

Place the runny mashed potatoes in a microwave-safe dish, uncovered. Nuke it for one minute at a time on a high setting. After each minute, remove the dish from the microwave and take note of the consistency. Continue until you reach the desired consistency. 

5.     Thicken Runny Mashed Potato with More Potato

Another simple solution to thicken mashed potatoes is to add more potato. Cook another potato of two. Cooking in the microwave is a viable option for speed and efficiency. Don’t add any more liquid. Mash the potato separately, and then incorporate it into the runny mashed potatoes until the desired consistency is achieved.

6.     Strain Your Runny Mashed Potatoes

This method might only work if your mashed potatoes are super extra runny. Place the mashed potatoes in the center of a piece of clean cheesecloth. Tie the ends together to create a pouch. Leave the pouch in a colander over a bowl or over the sink for around 30 minutes or more. During this time, you can prepare other dishes! The excess moisture should succumb to the force of gravity and it will drain out. Hopefully, you’ll be left with thicker mashed potatoes. If you save the drained liquid, you can incorporate it into a creamy gravy.

What to Do With Runny Mashed Potatoes?

If you can’t deal with the thought of rescuing your mishap mash or if if your thickening efforts are not successful, or if you have time to start again, don’t toss the runny mashed potatoes. Rather incorporate them into stews, soups, or casseroles instead.

The Best Type of Potatoes to Use for Mashed Potatoes

The best way to go about making mashed potatoes the right way straight from the beginning is to choose the correct type of potatoes. At the market or the store, look for Yukon gold or Russet potatoes. These varieties make fluffy, smooth and tasty mash. If you go for red or white waxy potatoes, they require more mashing to reach a creamy consistency, but this could lead to an unpleasant pasty texture.

How to Avoid Runny Mashed Potatoes?

Apart from choosing the right type of potatoes, to further lower the risk of runny mashed potatoes, here are a few tips. When cooking, do not start the potatoes in hot or boiling salted water. Rather, place the peeled potatoes in cold salted water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. If you start them in boiling water, they’ll cook unevenly and the outside will fall apart before the inside is cooked. Another important factor to consider is draining the cooked potatoes after cooking. Drain them well, and even dry them with a cotton dish towel to avoid adding extra water. In addition, you could also gently reheat the drained potatoes on the stovetop to let excess steam evaporate before mashing.

Why Do Mashed Potatoes Sometimes Become Pasty And Stiff?

The starch in the cooked potatoes is more delicate than you might imagine. If you mash the potatoes too vigorously or use a blender or food processor, or mash them for too long, the potatoes react by releasing more starch, which makes the texture unappetizing and gluey. Being gentle is key with potatoes if you want to impress your guests with fluffy and light mash.