Seven Secrets for the Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

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Creamy and rich yet fluffy and light vegan mashed potatoes are possible! It’s the two types of potatoes you use and my addition of miso butter that make them just as good as the classic version loaded with dairy.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 45 minutes
5 from 103 votes

Vegan mashed potatoes can often be underwhelming. They often lack the creamy texture and rich, savory taste typical of traditional mashed potatoes. And they might even elicit groans from friends and family around your holiday table.

But I’m here to tell you that creamy yet fluffy, rich and luxurious vegan mashed potatoes are possible, if you know right techniques. In this post, I share seven secrets to making amazing vegan mashed potatoes at home, plus step-by-step instructions and video guidance. And, of course the recipe (which I make each holiday season to rave reviews from my non-vegan family)!

And despite being indulgent, these mashed potatoes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free! Best of all, they take just 45 minutes to make. They’re a must-make vegan side dish for all your holiday needs.

In this post:
1. Watch: How to make amazing vegan mashed potatoes
2. Seven secrets you need to know
3. Step by Step Instructions
4. Frequently Asked Questions
5. Recipe Card

Watch how to make amazing vegan mashed potatoes

bowl of vegan mashed potatoes and chives with spoon, on wooden table

The secrets to making amazing vegan mashed potatoes

Virtually all of the search traffic for “vegan mashed potatoes” is either in the week before Thanksgiving or the week before Christmas. In other words, this is a holiday dish, not an everyday dish. So to me, the focus should be on making this dish as delicious and as crowd pleasing as possible, not as “healthy” as possible.

With that said, here are seven secrets to absolutely amazing vegan mashed potatoes.

Secret #1: Use the right variety of potato

I’ve been making mashed potatoes for 19 years (yes, 19 years!), and I’ve tried every potato variety. My favorite mashed potatoes contain a combo of two types of potatoes.

Russet potatoes are high in starch, which means they’ll bring the fluffy texture that you love about mashed potatoes. However, they’re light on potato flavor, which is where Yukon Golds come in.

Yukon Gold potatoes have loads of potato flavor. They’re also naturally creamy, which makes mashed potatoes rich and luscious, but they’re a bit lower in starch and a bit waxier.

Takeaway: Combining Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes gets you mashed potatoes that are fluffy and light yet creamy and rich, and high in potato flavor. If you prefer airy, fluffier mashed potatoes (as opposed to creamy, easily spoonable potatoes), use all Russets.

This is the same combo I use for my Fluffy Mashed Potatoes recipe in my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, so if you love using your Instant Pot, be sure to check it out!

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Secret #2: Choose the right plant-based milk

Traditional mashed potatoes contain a lot of high-fat dairy like half-and-half or heavy cream, as well as vegan butter and sometimes sour cream. As my version is dairy-free, these additions are obvi not an option.

Takeaway: In my testing, I’ve found that canned lite coconut milk works best. It provides creaminess without weighing the potatoes down (as full-fat coconut milk might). And have no fear – the potatoes, miso, vegan butter, and roasted garlic are the flavors you taste, not the coconut.

If you are allergic to coconut, there are alternate suggestions in the FAQ section.

Secret #3: Add umami with miso butter

In my pre-vegan days, I added sour cream and parmesan cheese to my mashed potatoes to provide a an irresistible savory note.

Takeaway: In this plant-based recipe, my secret weapon is miso butter, which adds such a complex, rich, savory taste often missing in plant-based mashed potatoes. When you cream vegan butter with white miso and add roasted garlic, it becomes a serious umami bomb that will have your family coming back for more.

If you’re looking more recipes that incorporate miso butter, be sure to check out my vegan mushroom risotto.

Secret #4: Salt as you go

Potatoes are dense little nuggets and need a fair amount of salt to penetrate them from within in order to be properly seasoned.

Takeaway: To ensure your mashed potatoes are well-seasoned (and not bland or overly salty at the end), generously salt the water the potatoes are boiled in. This infuses flavor directly into the potatoes.

You can’t replicate that depth of flavor by just sprinkling on some salt on top of the mashed potatoes at the end (though you should also salt the potatoes after everything is mashed and combined, taste, and add more salt to taste).

Secret #5: Dry potatoes before mashing

After you boil the potatoes, please be sure to dry them. If you just quickly drain the potatoes in a colander, they’ll still have moisture, which means watery, soggy, sad mashed potatoes.

Takeaway: After boiling, add the potatoes back to the pot (no water) over low heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking. The dry heat will help cook off any excess moisture.

Secret #6: Use a ricer or potato masher for the best texture

Contrary to what their name suggests, mashed potatoes need to be handled with care. I used to use an electric mixer to mash my potatoes, and they turned out nicely, but my mashed potatoes got great once I started using a ricer (affiliate link).

Takeaway: A ricer or a potato masher are the best tools I’ve used for mashing potatoes. Potatoes are starch-heavy and like to be handled gently. Skip the electric mixers. And always say no to a food processor. All that heavy-handed jostling around makes for gooey, dense, gummy mashed potatoes.

Secret #7: Mix ingredients carefully and minimally

Along the same lines, please take care when mixing your wet ingredients into the mashed potatoes, or else your potatoes might toughen up and the ingredients won’t incorporate.

Takeaway #1: Add your liquid ingredients while still warm. If the miso-butter or vegan milk are cold when added, it will cool down the potatoes and make it difficult to incorporate them into the hot potatoes.

Takeaway #2: Fold the liquid ingredients into the potatoes gently, using a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon). You want to be gentle because potato starches like to be handled with care. Overmixing, especially if you use a waxy potato, like Yukon Gold, can make the potatoes watery.

backlit photo of vegan mashed potatoes with chives on a wooden table

Step-by-Step Instructions

Peel the potatoes, then wash them (potatoes are dirty AF!).

Roughly chop the potatoes. I cut the potatoes into fourths or eights, depending on their size.

peeled and chopped potatoes on cutting board

Add the potatoes to a Dutch oven (affiliate link) or large saucepan and cover with cold water. If you add potatoes directly to boiling water, they’re more likely to cook unevenly.

Add about 1 tablespoon kosher salt (half amount if using sea salt). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft and almost fall apart when pierced with a fork.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return them to the saucepan over low heat and cook over dry heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking.

chopped cooked potatoes in saucepan

If adding roasted garlic, slice off the top layer of a whole head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and tightly wrap the garlic in foil. Roast in the oven at 400ºF/200ºC for 35-40 minutes until the cloves are practically oozing out and very soft. Then, mash the cloves with a fork.

Using a fork, cream together the softened vegan butter and miso paste. If adding roasted garlic, you can mash it in here.

Add the miso butter to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once almost melted, pour in the lite coconut milk and whisk well.

Using a ricer, rice the warm potatoes into a large bowl. Stir them gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to smooth out. If using a potato masher or handheld mixer, mash the potatoes that way.

ricing potatoes into a bowl for mashed potatoes

Pour the warm miso-butter-milk mixture into the potatoes. Fold gently with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until well-combined and smooth. Season with a decent amount of salt and pepper to taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do these mashed potatoes last in the fridge? How should I reheat them?

Store, covered, in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. If they are too thick for your liking, reheat them on the stove over medium heat with a bit of plant-based milk to loosen. For extra indulgence, add a pat of vegan butter when reheating.

Can I freeze mashed potatoes?

Mashed potatoes are the best served fresh, so personally, I do not freeze them. However, if you need to freeze them, cool completely, then add to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge, then reheat, always adding some plant milk and vegan butter to get the right consistency.

What’s the best plant-based milk for mashed potatoes?

I think canned lite coconut milk works best. It’s not so thick, such as full-fat, that it will weigh the potatoes down. And don’t worry – the potatoes, miso, vegan butter, and roasted garlic are the flavors you taste, not coconut. If you can’t find lite coconut milk, you can make your own by mixing together 1 part full-fat coconut milk with 2 parts water.

If you are allergic to coconut milk, use full-fat oat milk, like this one from Oatly (you might need a couple extra tablespoons). I don’t recommend soy milk, which some recipes use, because it has a slightly sweet taste (even unsweetened varieties) that is weird in savory food. And I certainly don’t recommend a thin plant milk such as almond milk. Mashed potatoes are meant to be indulgent, so you need a creamy substitute for the classic half and half / heavy cream / whole milk.

Can I omit or substitute the vegan butter?

IMO, no. I’ve tried making mashed potatoes with olive oil, and while they add the richness, they also add a grassy flavor that is too strong for mashed potatoes.

As for vegan butter brands, I think Earth Balance and Country Crock Plant Butter work really well here.

Where can I find miso paste?

You can find miso paste in many grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joes. If “white” miso isn’t available, buy “yellow” or “mild” miso. You can, of course, find miso at Asian grocery stores. Avoid red miso, as it has a much stronger flavor that will overwhelm the potatoes.

What should I serve these mashed potatoes with?

If it’s the holidays, my Mushroom Stuffing is a classic vegan side dish pairing that won’t steer you wrong. If you’re looking for a main dish to pair them with, I suggest one of these vegan stuffed squash recipes or this epic Vegan “Beef” Wellington.

These mashed potatoes also make a great bed for saucy and hearty stews, like this Instant Pot White Bean Stew or Mushroom and Black Lentil Stew.

What are some ways to use up leftovers?

Use this mashed potato recipe for the topping in my delicious lentil shepherd’s pie!

This might sound crazy, but mashed potatoes are a really fun way to jazz up pizza. Spread a layer on your pizza crust instead of tomato sauce. Add caramelized onions, garlic, jalapeños, and vegan sausage for a delightful treat! My kitchen assistant Hannah came up with this idea and said it was one of the best pizzas she’s ever had!

While I haven’t tried this myself, these vegan mashed potato pancakes look amazing!

Can I double this recipe?

Sure! This recipe comfortably serves 6 people as side, perhaps even 8. But if you’re feeding a larger crowd, it’s very easy to double the recipe.

vegan mashed potatoes with butter and chives in a bowl

Watch the YouTube video!

8 tips for PERFECT VEGAN MASHED POTATOES + my secret ingredient
8 tips for PERFECT VEGAN MASHED POTATOES + my secret ingredient

The Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

5 from 103 votes
Creamy and rich yet fluffy and light vegan mashed potatoes are possible! It’s the two types of potatoes you use and my addition of miso butter that make them just as good as the classic version loaded with dairy.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic head (optional but recommended)*
  • Olive oil for roasting garlic (optional but recommended)
  • 1 ½ pounds (680g) Russet potatoes
  • 1 pound (454g) Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt** + more to taste
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) “lite” or reduced-fat coconut milk***
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste (or mild / yellow miso), softened at room temperature
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh chives, for serving

Instructions

  • Roast the garlic (optional but recommended). Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Remove the outer layers of the garlic head and then slice off a thin layer off the top to expose the skin of the cloves. Rub the exposed cloves with a bit of olive oil. Wrap in parchment paper and then in foil to make a packet, (or directly in foil) and then place directly on an oven rack.
    Roast for 35-40 minutes until soft and tender and lightly golden. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of the skin into a small bowl and mash with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, take the vegan butter and miso paste out of the fridge to soften.
  • Start preparing the potatoes. Peel the potatoes and then rinse them in cold water. Chop the potatoes into fourths or eighths, dependent on size. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and add enough water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt (or 1/2 tablespoon sea salt) and stir to combine.
    Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are very soft and yield no resistance when poked with a fork and almost start to fall apart, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes back to the saucepan. Heat over low heat for a few minutes, tossing the potatoes around to prevent them from sticking. This removes any remaining moisture in the potatoes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, place the softened butter in a small bowl and add the miso paste and the mashed roasted garlic (if using). Using a fork, cream them together until well combined.
  • Heat a small or medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the miso butter and stir to combine. Once it’s almost melted, pour in the lite coconut milk. Whisk often to combine and stir until everything is melted. Season with a bit of freshly cracked black pepper. Continue heating until the mixture is very warm but not bubbling.****
  • Add the warm potatoes to a large bowl and mash using a potato masher. Add the warm miso butter-coconut milk mixture. Fold gently with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Be gentle and don't overmix, as it can make potatoes watery.
  • Taste for seasonings, adding kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. I usually add a bit of salt, taste, add more salt, and repeat until they're perfect.
  • Garnish with fresh chives and serve warm. For extra indulgent mashed potatoes, drizzle a little melted vegan butter on top of the potatoes right before serving.

Notes

*The roasted garlic is optional but I think it makes these potatoes more amazing. Plus, you can roast the garlic while the potatoes are boiling, so it really doesn’t take more than an extra minute or two. 
**I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If using sea salt or Morton’s kosher salt, use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons. 
*** If allergic to coconut milk, sub with full-fat oat milk (full-fat is important). You might need 2 extra tablespoons. Read more in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the blog post. 
****Add warm miso butter-milk mixture to warm potatoes. If you make the miso butter-milk ahead of time, reheat it in a saucepan. If added to the potatoes while cold, it will be hard to incorporate. 

Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 781mg | Potassium: 785mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 542IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 2mg

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5 from 103 votes (68 ratings without comment)

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117 comments on Seven Secrets for the Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

  1. Extra Proxies

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say excellent blog!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there, sorry about that! Thank you for the lovely compliment though :)

  2. Jen H

    5 stars
    These are the best! I’m so happy to have finally found a recipe that is easy and delicious. Mashed potatoes are always a craving of mine and they have yet to make any instant or frozen vegan versions. I am curious can the same incredients/measurements be ud to make mashed sweet potatoes too?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jen, the measurements should be roughly the same and you may want to use a bit less salt (but most of the salt is to taste in this recipe, so that’s fine).

      The miso might be a little strong for sweet potato flavors. It will likely be delicious, but perhaps not exactly what you’re expecting with a sweet potato flavor profile.

      We have a sweet potato mash used in our brown butter sweet potato casserole, so you could also look to that recipe for measurements and quantities.

  3. Amy

    5 stars
    I am an omni eater with a vegan partner and we made this for the holidays! I have used another vegan recipe for mashed potatoes before that were not very creamy at all. This was really excellent and did not taste like coconut or “vegan” at all! Highly recommend & will use again!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Amy!

  4. John Borger

    When I made this dish, it was superb and would have gotten rave reviews had I been able to serve it immediately. Hearty, yet light, just enough “fluffiness”, with rich, umami-infused potato flavor. Perfect. But I made it a day before Thanksgiving and kept it in the fridge until ready to serve. When I took it out the next day, I found that the dish had liquified. It was no longer mashed potatoes, it was mashed potato soup. Why? I am speculating that the miso somehow changed the texture of the potatoes, maybe some kind of continued mild fermentation? Anyway, be forewarned – this is not a make-ahead recipe.

    1. Nisha

      Hi John, thanks for reaching out. I tested this recipe this week to see if I could figure out what happened. I tested three batches: one default recipe as written, one batch without the miso to see if the miso was the culprit, and one with miso but without roasted garlic to see if the roasted garlic was possibly the culprit.

      After 24 hours, I removed all three batches from the refrigerator and the texture was fairly similar. Once I reheated them (I used the microwave), the batches with the miso were less fluffy and more runny, but not soupy and certainly not like mashed potato soup. The batch without the miso was still fluffy (but I will say, much less flavorful).

      So I suspect that the miso does affect the texture of the potatoes after resting. But for me and my partner, the texture after reheating was not soupy. It just not as fluffy as day 1 and a bit runnier.

      In the future, I would recommend if you need to make these ahead of time to either (a) omit the miso; and for a flavor boost, on the day of serving, mash room temperature miso into a tablespoon or two of room temp vegan butter, then fold this mixture into your warmed up mashed potatoes; (b) use all Russet potatoes (these are starchiest and while they lack the same flavor as Yukon golds, they tend to produce the fluffiest, least liquidy mashed potatoes).

  5. Zachary

    5 stars
    I made this recipe tonight for Friendsgiving and it was a huge hit! Definitely the tastiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever made and I’m sharing your recipe with my friends :-)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy you loved it, Zachary! Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Nelly

    5 stars
    These potatoes nailed my thanksgiving meal, everyone loved them. I doubled the recipe and was so happy I did because leftovers were almost fought over, I’m kidding but negotiations were in progress. The best part was no one ever realized they were vegan. Thanks for your amazing hard work

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so awesome to hear, Nelly. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review! :)

  7. Cat

    I have a soy-free guest coming for thanksgiving this year, so is there a way to sub the miso??

    1. Nisha

      Hi Cat, the miso is one of the things that makes these mashed potatoes special and super flavorful, but if you must omit it, go ahead and do so and add more salt to taste.

    2. Laura

      5 stars
      I would use chickpea miso instead of soy miso. I use chickpea miso for the lighter flavor.

    3. Laura

      5 stars
      I would use chickpea miso instead of soy miso.

  8. Melissa

    I’ve been seeing some other recipes recommend using half and half, and I found a coconut/oatmilk blend from Silk that I thought might be the perfect addition to the potatoes for that extra creamy texture. Any thoughts if this sounds like a good idea, and what kind of ratio I would do for 2 lbs of yukon potatos? I want to surprise my girlfriend with mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving lol

    1. Nisha

      Hi Melissa, I’ve never tried this product before or anything similar, so I’m not sure what the consistency of the milk is or how sweet it is. It should be thick (similar to “lite” canned coconut milk or barista-style milk and it should have no sweetness to it). If it has any underlying sweetness, the potatoes will taste a little strange. I would start with 1/2 cup milk to avoid too-thin potatoes, and you can add more later as needed.

  9. debbie

    5 stars
    i just did a practice run at these to know if i should do for Thanksgiving… so glad i did, bc now we know to double-it!!!
    perfection. every tip is gold. thank you!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Debbie, Thank you so much for such a fantastic review! Appreciate you taking the time!

  10. Nathan

    How many loose cloves of garlic if you don’t have a bulb? 8? Can you still roast it but just for shorter/lower temp?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Nathan, there are about 10 to 12 cloves in a head of garlic. If you need to roast them separately, toss the garlic cloves with a bit of olive oil and season with a pinch of salt if desired. Spread them out on a sheet pan (lined with parchment paper). Bake in a 400ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and fork-tender.

  11. Tara

    5 stars
    These are great mashed potatoes! Wonderful side dish for Christmas and Thanksgiving or anytime as a side dish not just a holiday. Thanks!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely review, Tara!

  12. tina wilks

    5 stars
    These were the comfort food I was needing. Can’t tell they are vegan! Will be making them for every holiday. My carnivore family will never know the difference!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Tina! It makes us happy to know that you enjoy the recipe.

  13. Deb

    5 stars
    These mashed potatoes are delicious, “The Best”. Vegan and not vegan, everyone loves this mashed potato recipe.
    I’m usually lazy and just use garlic powder, rather than roasting the garlic.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Yay! We’re so happy to hear it, Deb :)

  14. Ray

    5 stars
    Best mashed potato recipe!!! I make this every year for the holidays! Swapped the lite coconut milk for the starchy water that the potatoes were boiled in since some family members don’t like the flavor. Tripled the recipe, still turned out phenomenal!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Ray!

  15. Tanvi

    I don’t have a scale and plan to make this today. Does anyone know about how many russet potatoes and Yukon potatoes are needed for this recipe?

    1. AK

      I weighed them at the store–the russets were HUGE so really only needed one and then two larger yukons or three smaller yukons.

    2. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Tanvi, it really depends on the size of the potatoes. I bought two russet and about 5 yukon gold potatoes when I picked up the ingredients at the store the other day. Hope that helped!

      1. Tanvi

        Thank you! I had my husband do groceries and he forgot to weigh the potatoes, hence my dilemma haha. Definitely getting a scale for the future!

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Oooh, understandable! We highly highly suggest buying a scale though, it’s one of our most used kitchen appliances in the RPL kitchen!

  16. Lorie

    5 stars
    These potatoes are lovely! I made some this week for Canadian Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit. Even the omnivores kept reaching for them.

    A few tips:
    1. Read the directions in the blog post. Sounds simple, but there are a lot of good tips in there!
    2. Drain the potatoes thoroughly! If they’re not dry, you’re going to end up with overly watery potatoes.
    3. Likewise, don’t overmix! You’ll get a puree texture instead of a mashed texture.

  17. Krista

    5 stars
    These are absolutely delicious! The miso gives them almost a cheesy flavour! Will definitly do again!

  18. Kay

    I have at least 6 kinds of vegan butter in my fridge. Please, what kind do YOU use for these potatoes?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Kay, we think Earth Balance and Country Crock Plant Butter work really well in this recipe!

  19. Natalya D

    5 stars
    BEST MASHED POTATOES EVER! Sadly I didn’t get to leave Friendsgiving with any leftovers. Which also, everyone there was not vegan, so that tells you something…

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So great to hear that, Natalya! Thanks for leaving the review :)

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