If you’re looking for a super basic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes recipe, you’re in luck my friends! These are soooo good! I have a really simple recipe to share with you plus 8 tips on how to get the best results every time.

A close up of a bowl of buttermilk mashed potatoes with chives on top

I originally shared this recipe on November 4th, 2016. I have added more information and media to make this recipe more useful today.

What Kind of Potato To Use For Mashed Potatoes

Start with the Right Kind of Potatoes.

There are two main types of potatoes, and a lot of variations in each of these categories.

Floury Vs Waxy Potatoes:

  • The first is a Floury Potato. These are the potatoes that have a thick skin, and fluffy dry interiors. A common example of a Floury Potato would be a Russet.
  • The Second is a Waxy Potato. These are thin skinned varieties that have moist and creamy interiors. A common example of these would be a Yukon Gold. While floury potatoes are best cooked with dry heat cooking methods (like baking), waxy potatoes are best used for wet heat cooking methods (like steaming or boiling.)

Therefore, for mashed potatoes you want to use waxy potatoes. I used Yukon Gold potatoes. I did this because I only buy Organic potatoes, and when I went to the store the largest potatoes that were thin-skinned and Organic were the Yukon Golds. {Tip: buy larger potatoes to make it easier to peel.}

Mashed potatoes with chives on top from overhead


How To Cook Potatoes for Mashing

1. Cut the Potatoes into the same size

After you peel the potatoes cut them into big chunks that are roughly the same size. Doing that will ensure that they will cook evenly. If you have some small pieces and some big pieces, the small pieces will be over-cooked and fall apart by the time the big pieces are ready. In this recipe, I cut my potatoes into 1 ½ -inch to 2-inch pieces.

2. Use Cold Water to Start

This is something I learned in culinary school. This also helps with the potatoes cooking evenly. When you bring the potatoes up to temperature with the water they cook more evenly.

3. Salt your water

In this recipe I call for 2 teaspoons of table salt. Which is a ton! But more than half of that goes into the cooking water. Then it gets poured out with the cooking water. Salting the water helps the potatoes become more salty at the beginning, so you can add less later.

4. Test for doneness

  • Getting creamy and tasty results is directly proportional to how the potatoes are cooked, over-cooking (or-under cooking) are both no-nos. Tip 2 and 3 will be really important in this goal. But testing for doneness is also important. To do so, dip a fork down into the pot of boiling potatoes, and press it into one of them. If the fork slides in easily and meets little resistance on the way out, the potatoes are ready.
  • If the fork doesn’t go in easily, then your potatoes are still not cooked in the center.
  • Also note, if you’re seeing small pieces of potatoes breaking off and the pot is full of disintegrating potatoes, you’ve either over-cooked them or there are smaller pieces that are over cooked. Also floury potatoes will do this in boiling water.

side view close up of potatoes with butter on top

How To Make Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 

Add in softened butter

I add in the softened butter first as I start to mash because the potatoes are at their hottest, and the butter melts in very quickly. Because I don’t want to blow my calorie budget on mashed potatoes, I keep the amount of butter in check.

For Ultra Buttery Mashed Potatoes

If you’re in the mood for a more buttery and rich side dish, you can use a full stick (8 tablespoons) of butter. If you do so, you may not need the full cup of buttermilk. Note calories below are based on the 5 tablespoon version of this recipe. 

Add buttermilk gradually

  • Because different varieties of potatoes absorb different levels of moisture, I recommend adding the buttermilk into the mashed potatoes in steps. That way you wont run the risk of making them too wet and gloppy. When potatoes are overcooked, they become saturated and wont take on as much buttermilk.
  • {Note: floury potatoes take on much more liquid when used for mashed potatoes as well. My fellow culinerd Alton Brown, with whom I usually agree, suggests this is why you should use them- so that you can add in the max amount of cream and butter. I disagree since I want less fat added in.}

Use white pepper

This is optional, but I really think it makes a difference in the flavor and appearance. I buy it pre-ground and use it a lot. If you don’t have it you can use black pepper, but it will make black specks.

Steps To Make This Recipe

You May Also Love These Recipes

  1. These Mashed Potatoes would be wonderful served with my Turkey Meatloaf recipe.
  2. If you love garlic, you can always kick your mashed potatoes up a notch by making Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  3. If potatoes are your love language you’ll adore my Oven Fries.
  4. I also love adding potatoes to soup. This Potato and Kale Soup with Andouille has been a favorite around here from way back. 
  5. If you’re serving this at Thanksgiving, you’ll want to check out my Cranberry Relish and my Cranberry Sauce with Orange recipes too when you’re menu planning. 

Get more THANKSGIVING RECIPES here. Get my Healthy Thanksgiving Planner here.

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Happy Cooking!




simple buttermilk mashed potatoes

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 7 cups 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


If you’re looking for a super basic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes recipe, you’re in luck my friends! These are creamy, tangy and the perfect Holiday side dish!



  • 3 pounds organic thin-skinned “waxy” potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened* see note
  • 1 cup non-fat buttermilk, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Chopped chives or parsley for garnish


  1. Cook Potatoes: Place potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover generously with cold water. Add 1 ¼ teaspoon salt. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and continue cooking until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to19 minutes.
  2. Mash Potatoes: Drain potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Add butter and mash the potatoes roughly with a potato masher. Alternatively rice them into a bowl (see instructions below.) Add the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ cup buttermilk and white pepper and continue mashing. Gradually add more buttermilk as you mash to achieve desired consistency. Keep warm until serving.


To Rice Potatoes

For the fluffiest and lump-free potatoes use ricer. Scoop cooked potatoes a little at a time into the back of the ricer, place the die on top and gently squeeze the handles together to press the potatoes through the die. Catch the potatoes in a large bowl. Add butter with the salt, buttermilk and white pepper. Stir well with a wooden spoon, adding more buttermilk as desired.

For Richer More Buttery Potatoes

If you’re in the mood for a more buttery and rich side dish, you can use a full stick (8 tablespoons) of butter. If you do so, you may not need the full cup of buttermilk. Note calories below are based on the 5 tablespoon version of this recipe.


  • Serving Size: 2/3 cup
  • Calories: 136
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Sodium: 396 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Close up mashed potatoes

simple buttermilk mashed potatoes