How to Best Cut Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes

Watch how I figured out the best way to cut potatoes for mashed potatoes. This pie-shape cut allows a range of doneness and starch gelatinization optimal for mashed potatoes.


  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (rinsed, peeled and cut into pie-shaped pieces (see video))
  • 2 pounds red "boiling" potatoes (rinsed, peeled and cut into pie-shaped pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
  1. Place all spud hunks in a 4-quart saucepan and add just enough cold tap water to cover. (You can put the potatoes in the water and refrigerate them for up to 8 hours before cooking.) Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. (This will take about 15 minutes.)
  2. Meanwhile, combine the buttermilk, cream and garlic in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a bare simmer over low heat, watching to make sure the mixture doesn’t boil over. Keep the mixture barely bubbling until the potatoes are done.
  3. When the spud water boils, ditch the lid, drop the heat to a simmer, and cook until the spuds are easily crushed with tongs, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan and the heat. Toss and shake gently for 30 seconds or so to knock off any excess surface moisture. (The drier the spuds the better.)
  4. Move the pan to a trivet, hot pad or towel on the countertop and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Pour on about a quarter of the buttermilk mixture and start mashing.
  5. As the spuds break down, add more of the buttermilk mixture until you’re happy with the results. Remember, these are mashed potatoes, not whipped potatoes. If you over-mash in an attempt to smooth every piece you will inevitably rupture starch granules, which can and most likely will result in gummy potatoes.

The goal here is to use the starch profile of two different potato varieties to produce rustic and chunky mashed spuds possessing contrasting and complementary textures.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Laura Lea

    I don’t cut into such small cubes, but since I try not to have unitaskers… I use an apple slicer/corer and leave it at that… still kind of get the pie shape, but not teeny pieces. If it’s a giant spud, I’ll cut it in half before I “Apple Slice” it. Helps when I’ve just about had it with my knife skills, too. Quick, easy, half the work.

  2. 2

    These mashed potatoes were such a hit at Thanksgiving that I’ve been asked to make them again for New Years! I go a little lighter on the garlic, but the potato mix and chopping method make a big difference!

  3. 3

    I made your crock pot mashed potato recipe and they were delicious and really freed up my stove and kitchen. Thank you…I’m adding this recipe as a new tradition!

  4. 4

    I like to boil them whole, skins and all. You can easily squeeze off the skin if you don’t want them in the mashed potatoes, but boiling them whole, then cutting them up into the mixing bowl is awesome! I’ve also done the ricer, but then there’s no lumps!

  5. 5

    Mashing potatoes is a gradual process and after draining you should mash them a bit to get a feel for the consistency before adding any add-ins otherwise you run the risk of adding too much liquid. Also, I am not keen on Alton’s idea of cutting lots of little triangles of potatoes; you’ll lose a lot of nutrients and flavor into the cooking water and watery potatoes left in the pan. I prefer to cut the potatoes in half lengthwise if medium ones, larger ones get cut again widthwise. This has always given even cooking results for me. And I don’t add salt to the cooking water until they’ve come to a boil, and I leave the lid on ajar.
    I have successfully kept prepared mash in a crockpot buffet server on “warm” for several hours, but I keep checking them and stirring in a bit more milk/cream (or reserved cooking liquid), if they seem to be drying out at all.

  6. 6

    To much trouble and potatoes will come out tasteless Potatoes are mostly water so when you boil smaller pieces the flavor goes away too.

    Linda keeping them warm in a crock pot will dry them out. However you can do like I have done for years using a crock pot and freeing up time and stovetop space.

    5 pounds potatoes, cut into chunks
    1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
    3 cubes chicken bouillon
    1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    1/2 cup butter

    In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes, garlic, and bouillon until potatoes are tender but firm, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving water. In a bowl, mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency. (this can be done the day before if needed cover and sit in fridge)

    Transfer the potato mixture to a slow cooker, cover, and cook on Low for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. 7

    Do you think making the mashed potatoes in the morning and then keeping them warm in a crock pot, would work for a meal around 1pm? I have a lot going on in my kitchen and don’t want to be fooling with the potatoes too.

  8. 8

    Mr.Brown if you see this i hope you could give me an answer to this question. What is better wet or dry brine for your turkey? please your opinion really does give me a sense of clarity.

  9. 9

    I know I need to wait for another video but I grew up using a ricer to make mashed potatoes. It seems that the smaller pieces would just turn to mush? Please do dish…all puns intended!

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