Seven Secrets for the Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Jump to Recipe
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 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
5 from 44 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 two varieties 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 light, 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.

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!

If you need to pick just one potato, I’d recommend Yukon Gold for their deeper potato flavor. Using Russets alone = less flavor and they really absorb milk/cream and butter, so you’ll need more of those.

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 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 is the best tool I’ve used for mashing potatoes, and I’ve tried all the tools. Potatoes are starch-heavy and like to be handled gently, which is exactly what a ricer does, yielding fluffy and light mashed potatoes.

You can get a ricer at a kitchen store or on Amazon for $15-20. If you don’t have a ricer, you can also use a food mill. If you don’t want to buy a ricer, use a potato masher or an electric handheld mixer (low speed only).

Whatever you do, do NOT use a food processor. All that heavy-handed jostling around makes for gooey, dense, gummy mashed potatoes.

Secret #7: Mix ingredients carefully

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.

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 44 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 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, miso, nut-free, potatoes, ricer
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic head (optional but recommended)*
  • Olive oil for roasting garlic (optional but recommended)
  • 2 ½ pounds (1.1kg) potatoes (I use half Russet and half Yukon Gold potatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt** + more to taste
  • 1 cup (240 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)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh chives, for serving

Instructions

  • Roast the garlic (optional). 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, 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 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.****
  • Grab a large bowl. If you are using a ricer, add the warm potatoes to the ricer and pass them through into a large bowl. If you are using a potato masher or an electric handheld mixer (on low speed), mash the potatoes.
    Add most of the warm miso butter-coconut milk mixture. Fold gently with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. If the potatoes are at your perfect consistency, leave as is. Otherwise, add the rest of the milk mixture.
  • 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. 

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @rainbowplantlife and hashtag it #rainbowplantlife

Leave a Comment & Rating

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider giving it a star rating along with your comment! It helps others discover my blog and recipes, and your comments always make my day :) Thank you for your support!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe




66 comments on Seven Secrets for the Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

  1. Adriana

    These look amazing. I can’t wait to try them. Can the miso be substituted? I have a kid who is allergic to soy (which is a very common allergen).

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha: “Hi Adriana, you can definitely omit it, but I’d try to boost the savory notes in another way. Perhaps a generous scoop of vegan sour cream or some vegan parmesan cheese?”

  2. Hiyanthi

    5 stars
    I am yet to find a RPL recipe that doesn’t impress everyone. I’ve made this several times, and most recently I tried using cashew milk instead of coconut milk because I had run out of it. So good! The roasted garlic is a great addition!

    A little tip: boiling the potatoes with the skin on makes them easier to peel!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hiyanthi, So glad to hear you love this recipes! Thanks for the awesome review!

  3. sadie

    Thoughts on using Miyoko Vegan Butter? This recipe looks divine! Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sadie, we love Miyoko’s butter… we definitely recommend!

  4. Julia

    5 stars
    Made this last year and they were the best vegan mashed potatoes I’d ever had! Will be making them again this thanksgiving!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Julia!

  5. Celeste

    5 stars
    Made this with earth balance and I planned on using light coconut milk, but when I went to grab it, I realized I was out and so I used soy milk. I threw like half a bottle of dried chives in there. Good call, it was a great addition. Many nods up and these are the best comments. A little on the salty side for me, next time I’d use the unsalted version of butter sub. But very very tasty.

  6. Marsha Mullen

    5 stars
    So delicious!!! My family didn’t even know it was vegan.

  7. Bridget

    5 stars
    Hands down, these were the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made (vegan or non-vegan). Super simple and super delicious. The roasted garlic is a must, if you like/can eat garlic! I served these with your vegan Wellington recipe, along with the mushroom gravy. So so so good.

  8. Violette

    OH MY GOSH!
    this is by far the best recipe for vegan mashed potatoes! I made this for our Christmas dinner and nobody could tell that there was no dairy. I used a potato masher and the consistency turned great as well :)
    The miso paste was such a great ingredient, thanks so much for this. I would not be able to figure it out by myself.

  9. Nicole

    I got the vegan miso butter idea from a video of yours and had it with corn on the cob. Delicious!

  10. Sandra

    What do you do with the roasted garlic?? So sorry if you said and I missed, I’m just mashing them with the potatoes. I’m sure it’ll be amazing anyway, but I’d be happy to know if there’s a better way. All your recipes I’ve made are great :)

  11. danielle

    Thank you Nisha for another new favorite recipe! Best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made. I really appreciate all the tips, and the potato combo is brilliant!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Aww that’s so amazing to hear, Danielle! So happy to hear that these were the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever tried!

  12. michelle

    i made these twice and they turned into a watered mess i don’t know what went wrong? the second time i used less than 1/4 c coconut milk and still it’s runny as all get out. my potatoes are measured correctly. the only thing i did differently was using regular butter. the flavor is good otherwise.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Michelle, hmm that’s so strange – I’ve received so many messages from other users with great feedback. Did you dry out your potatoes as indicated in step 4? If not, you would have excess cooking water leftover, which can cause watery mashed potatoes. Another possible reason is that the potatoes were overcooked – that can also cause them to be more watery. You want the potatoes to be tender but not falling apart.
      I haven’t cooked with regular butter in several years but I can’t imagine that would make a big difference.

  13. Joanne Simeon

    I need to make these in there morning and reheat before serving. Any suggestions? Also, I would need to double the recipe. Do I double all of the ingredients? Sometimes that doesn’t work as expected. Thanks!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Joanne, you can easily double the ingredients. Since you’re just doubling the amount of potatoes, it shouldn’t be any problem as long as you have a big enough pan. And for the miso-butter-milk mixture, fine to double it as well.
      As for reheating, this article outlines the best way to reheat mashed potatoes: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-reheat-mashed-potatoes-the-best-simplest-method-251034
      Basically, transfer them to a baking dish in an even layer. And add some moisture back in since they tend to dry out once refrigerated: add a bit more plant-based milk and a bit of vegan butter. Cover the pan and heat in an oven at 350F until warmed up again.
      You can microwave them as well if needed. Once they’re hot, you can add a bit more plant-based milk and/or vegan butter as needed and stir it in.

  14. Moe

    Is it absolutely necessary to use coconut milk? I am not a fan. I am planning on making this for Thanksgiving and using unsweetened soy milk. Thoughts?I love your cookbook by the way especially the dal! OMG

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Moe,
      So happy to hear you love my cookbook :) Thank you!
      It is not essential to use coconut milk (though you can’t taste the flavor, if that’s what you are worried about). Unsweetened soy milk should work just fine!Have a great Thanksgiving!

  15. Leana A.

    I wanted to do a test run of a few Thanksgiving dishes before the holiday so I tried your mashed potatoes and followed all of your tips. Just WOW! They came out so perfect – light yet creamy, just like you said. Thank you for sharing all these amazing tips!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Leana! That’s so wonderful to hear. Thank you for stopping by to share your feedback and so happy to know that they came out just as expected :)

  16. Sarah M

    Love these tips! So much useful information here. Will definitely be trying out this recipe on thanksgiving and the vegan butter as well!

  17. Lauren

    Can’t wait to try! Can you use red miso if that’s what’s on hand?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Lauren! It might, but just keep in mind that red miso paste has a deeper umami flavor so it might be more prominent. I’d try just 1 tablespoon at first to see how it goes. Hope that helps!

      1. Lauren

        Made for Thanksgiving and they were phenomenal!! My husband hates coconut, and was wary when he saw the can of coconut milk, but I later overheard him telling a friend that he was impressed with how they came out and couldn’t taste it at all! Thank you for all the trial and error– and the 1 tbsp of red miso was perfect!

  18. Gonul

    This is it! I am excited to follow this recipe to a T for Thanksgiving. I really appreciate your thorough explanation. I told my food scientist husband about the structure of Yukon vs. russet potatoes and he appreciates the info too!
    Also— how nice to see new plant butter brands popping up. I love Miyoko’s but can’t wait to give Country Crock a try, too. Can’t pass up anything with olive oil! :)
    Thanks so much, Nisha!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Gonul! I am so happy you found this explanation helpful and thorough! And that’s awesome your hubby is a food scientist. I love learning about food science, though I wish I knew more! I am so happy to see more and more plant based dairy alternatives on the market – even in the last 3ish years I’ve been vegan, there are so many new options!

  19. Rasika

    OK. Nisha. This is the BEST article I’ve ever read about mashed potatoes! So detailed and I love your tips!! Makes me want to go home right now and mash them taters up! (I mean, I will was them first lol)

    1. Nisha Vora

      You are so sweet Rasika! Thank you! I am so happy you think so and love the tips. I have some mashed potatoes in my fridge right now, I think they’ll be part of my lunch today :)

  20. Sharon Waltham

    This was so thorough and useful! Thank you for the tips. I have always made my mashed potatoes with yellow potatoes, but am looking forward to the combination you suggested.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Sharon! I am so happy you enjoyed the post and the tips. Hope your mashed potatoes this year the best ones yet!

Development Alchemy + Aim
overhead shot of vegan lentil shepherd's pie

5 Secrets for the 

Best Vegan Holidays

free email series

Get ready for the most delicious and stress free vegan holidays of your life.