Mashed potatoes are a wonderful side dish. They’re easy to make, reliable, a crowd pleaser, and very filling. Sometimes though, you stop to wonder just what else you can make. A change is probably welcome every once in a while.
The good news is that mashed potatoes are easy to substitute, and easy to enhance with different other ingredients. The bad news is, no substitute will be as gloriously creamy and rich as the true mashed potato. But they can certainly please your taste buds and maybe teach them a new meaning for ‘delicious’.
Best mashed potato substitute
The best substitutes for mashed potatoes are mashed peas, sweet potato mash, roast turnip mash, roast celery root mash, cauliflower mash, and mashed fried beans. All of these end up fairly creamy, though they may have a more texture than regular sweet potatoes.
Depending on what you’re cooking some of these may work better than others. And you can definitely make two of these, to get different flavors in your meal. None of these are as starchy as potatoes, so the overall carb count is lower. That doesn’t mean you can’t enrich them with butter or cream cheese and a bit of bacon 1
Now let’s take a look at the best substitutes for mashed potatoes, explained.
1. Mashed peas
Mashed peas may not sound extra appetizing, but they definitely are. Their only problem is the skins, which need to properly break down. So you need a good blender, probably an immersion blender to get the right texture. In fact an immersion blender may be the right tool for all of these substitutes. A big, standing blender needs a bit more water to work well and you risk getting a runny mash.
Back to peas, don’t overcook them. Once they’ve softened enough, they’re good to go, don’t let the green turn muddy. Reserve a few tablespoons of cooking water, strain the rest.
Read also: Mushroom Substitutes
You may consider adding a leaf of two of fresh mint or basil while you’re blending. This brightens the entire mash, making it much less boring.
Milk and butter may not be as good here as they add too much moisture and thin out the mix.
2. Sweet potato mash
Sweet potatoes were probably on your list already, especially since they can provide that beautiful sweetness to balance the salty, savory main dish. Sweet potatoes boil fairly quickly and they get very soft, so be sure to drain them very, very well before you take a blender to them.
Butter and heavy cream bring decadence, but it can get a little much. Instead sprinkle some cayenne or chili into the mix for a ice kick.
3. Roast turnip mash
Turnips have that distinct, earthy flavor that you either love or hate. If you love it, great, cut the turnips into chunks, throw them on a baking sheet, and roast them in the oven. They should be soft enough to mash when done, you can add just a bit of butter and milk to help things along.
Or you can simply boil them instead of roasting and strain all but a few tablespoons of cooking water. You can add a few apple slices to them as they’re cooking for some extra flavor, or just sneak in some applesauce.
4. Roast celery root mash
Celery root gets nice and creamy and soft when roasted, so peel it, cut it into chunks, and roast it in the oven. It will smell like fall season is upon you and you may feel the urge to bake a pumpkin pie. Resist that urge.
Like the turnip mash, you can help it along with some butter and milk so everything mixes together. Or you can boil instead of roast, and still get a very impressive side dish.
We recommend fresh basil or rosemary to go with this one, if you have any.
5. Cauliflower mash
Cauliflower mash is a tried and tested way to replace the mashed potatoes without many people noticing. Of course cauliflower has a specific smell, like broccoli, but you can mask it with a bit of pressed garlic.
Cauliflower retains a lot of water, so reserve a few table spoons of cooking water and strain out the rest. Begin mashing and blending without any extra liquid first, to see how much extra liquid the cauliflower is hiding. You’d be surprised.
And yes, you can do this with broccoli too! Cream cheese goes very well with both of these, or shredded cheddar.
6. Mashed fried beans
Fried beans, or refried beans, are very easy to get creamy, and you can make them from essentially any bean type you like. Kidney, pinto, butter, the tiny white ones, all of them work well. But it’s especially the butter beans that break down into a creamy mess. You can even mix a few bean types if you like.
Get canned beans to make your life easier, boil them a little with some salt and pepper, drain almost all the water, and try mashing with a fork first. Then bring in the blender, and add a little bit of olive oil to help things out. Milk, butter, cream cheese are a bit weird in this.
But you can easily add some caramelized onions, or those crispy onion bits if you have any. Anything bacon will work with this as well, so bacon grease ? Throw it in here.
Tasty add-ins for mashed potato
Alright, what can you do if you ever want to make mashed potatoes interesting ? Something you’ve never seen before ? There’s a few options out there, and we’ll walk you through them.
1. Butter, heavy creamy, cream cheese
If you’re not already adding butter to your mashed potatoes you’re missing out. You can replace the butter with margarine but the effect will be a little different. The point is that a bit of fat can help make mashed taters that mush better.
Heavy cream instead of milk (don’t add too much) will also make mashed potatoes even tastier. Heavy cream beings a lot of fat and protein, more than the same amount of milk.
Cream cheese is a hit or miss, in our opinion. Some love it with mashed potatoes because it keeps a thick consistency and adds a nice tang. Some hate it because it brings a tanginess they don’t want to feel in their mashed potatoes.
2. Simmer a whole, peeled onion with the potatoes
When you’re boiling your mashed potatoes, throw in an onion. Peeled and rinsed, of course, but left whole. Smaller ones boil faster. These will add an extra layer of yum to mashed potatoes, and once you try it you’ll know what was missing.
You can also do this with onion powder, but it tastes just a little different, since it’s essentially dehydrated onion.
3. Roasted, creamy eggplant
If you have roasted eggplant on hand then we really recommend you add some to the mashed potatoes. It’s a nice bitter-umami-roasted flavor that gives everything a bit of an earthy note, in a good way.
You don’t need a whole eggplant for this, so don’t go roasting one just for this occasion. Unless you wan to make baba ganoush.
Fresh eggplant can be chopped and simmered with the potatoes and they will get very creamy. Just be sure to not leave any skin on the eggplant, it won’t look good in the mix.
4. Chopped fresh basil
Fresh basil, like chives and spring onions, add a fresh, green note to the otherwise deep and decadent mashed potatoes. It manages to balance everything out.
5. Try truffle oil
Truffle oil is expensive, yes. But it also keeps for a long, long time and it comes in small bottles anyway. You can try knockoff truffle oil, which is essentially flavored olive or vegetable oil and it’s usually under $5.
In any case, add just a drop or two. This is a very strong flavor and you will easily notice it in your mashed taters. DO a test batch, or take out a small bowl of mashed potatoes and add just a drop of truffle oil. Mix and see if you like it. We’re sure you’ll love it. It’s not for everyday use, but it’s something to spice things up.
6. Hot chili flakes
Speaking of spicing things up, bring out the chilies ! Sprinkling a few chili flakes will add a nice hot kick every few bites, and it may be a nice touch for some people.
7. Crispy bacon bits
Mmmm bacon ! We don’t think we need to explain this one. Just keep in mind that the bacon bits won’t be that crispy after they’ve been in the potatoes, so add then just before serving. Add if you’ve got any bacon grease be sure to add that too !
In short, there are a whole lot of mashed potato substitutes out there. And all of them can give your meals a nice twist, especially if you’re willing to season them right. And there is hope for those who eat mashed potatoes day in and day out. Simply season them differently and add a couple extra ingredients and you should be good !
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.