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.
Watch how to make amazing vegan mashed potatoes
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Watch the YouTube video!
- 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
- 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.