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What makes mashed potatoes stick together?

Mashed potatoes are a staple food in households around the world. Whether you are at a fancy restaurant or having a casual dinner at home, there is a good chance that mashed potatoes will be on the menu. While mashed potatoes are a simple dish to prepare, sometimes they can be difficult to get just right. One common problem that people face when making mashed potatoes is when the potatoes stick together, resulting in a gummy or gluey texture. In this article, we will explore what causes this problem and how to avoid it.

The Role of Starch in Mashed Potatoes

To understand why mashed potatoes stick together, we need to understand the role of starch in the potatoes. Starch is a type of carbohydrate that is found in potatoes and other vegetables. When potatoes are cooked, the starch granules in the potatoes are heated and they start to absorb water. As a result, the starch granules begin to swell and burst open, releasing the starch molecules into the surrounding water.

When potatoes are mashed, the starch molecules are further released from the starch granules, which leads to more starch being present in the mashed potatoes. This can be a good thing, as the starch helps to give mashed potatoes their creamy texture and helps to hold them together. However, if too much starch is released, the potatoes can become gummy, gluey, and unappetizing.

How to Avoid Sticky Mashed Potatoes

So, what can you do to avoid making mashed potatoes that stick together? Here are some tips:

Choose the Right Potatoes

The type of potatoes that you use can make a big difference in the texture of your mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes are a popular choice for mashed potatoes because they are high in starch and low in moisture. This means that they will mash easily and result in a fluffy, creamy texture.

Don’t Overwork the Potatoes

As we mentioned earlier, the more you work the potatoes, the more starch gets released. To avoid making your mashed potatoes sticky, you should try to mash them as little as possible. Use a potato masher or a potato ricer to crush the potatoes until they are just mashed. Avoid using an electric mixer or food processor, as these tools can easily overwork the potatoes and cause them to become gummy.

Use the Right Amount of Liquid

Adding too much liquid can also cause mashed potatoes to become sticky. You should add just enough liquid to the potatoes to make them creamy and smooth. Start with a little bit of liquid and gradually add more until you reach your desired consistency.

Heat the Milk or Cream

If you are using milk or cream to make your mashed potatoes, you should heat it up before you add it to the potatoes. This will help the liquid to incorporate into the potatoes more easily and will prevent the potatoes from becoming sticky.

Season the Potatoes

Finally, make sure that you season your mashed potatoes properly. Adding salt, pepper, and butter can help to balance out the flavors and make your mashed potatoes more enjoyable. Be careful not to over-salt your potatoes, as this can also cause them to become sticky.


Making mashed potatoes that don’t stick together can be a challenge, but by following these tips, you can avoid this common problem. Choose the right potatoes, mash them gently, add the right amount of liquid, heat the milk or cream, and season the potatoes properly, and you will be able to enjoy smooth, creamy, and delicious mashed potatoes every time.


What is the secret to non gluey mashed potatoes?

Mashed potatoes are a classic, comforting side dish that go well with many different meals. However, there is nothing worse than mashed potatoes that turn out gluey and lumpy, instead of light and fluffy. If you don’t want to end up with a sticky mess, there are certain tips and tricks that can help you achieve perfectly smooth and creamy mashed potatoes every time.

One key to making mashed potatoes that are not gluey is to start with the right type of potatoes. Waxy potatoes, such as red or new potatoes, are not ideal for mashing because they tend to become too sticky when mashed. Instead, opt for starchy potatoes like Russet or Yukon Gold, which are ideal for making fluffy mashed potatoes. They have a lower water content and higher starch content, which allows them to hold up well during boiling and mashing.

Another important thing to consider is the amount of liquid you add to your potatoes. While some recipes call for heavy cream or milk, it is easy to overdo it and end up with a bowl of gluey potatoes. Instead of using too much liquid, try adding butter to your mashed potatoes. Not only will it add flavor, but it also helps to create a smooth texture. For every pound of potatoes, drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the dish and fold it gently into the potatoes. This will help to keep the potatoes from getting sticky and gluey.

You can also use a potato ricer or food mill to create a fluffy, light texture for your mashed potatoes. These kitchen tools help to break down the potatoes into small, uniform pieces, which results in a smoother consistency. A hand-held electric mixer can also be used, but make sure not to over-mix the potatoes, as this can cause them to turn gluey.

The key to making non-gluey mashed potatoes is to start with the right type of potato, use the right amount of liquid (such as melted butter instead of heavy cream), and mash or blend them until they are fluffy and smooth. Follow these tips, and you’ll end up with the perfect side dish every time.

Why do you salt water for mashed potatoes?

Salting the water that you use to cook your mashed potatoes may seem like an insignificant step in the cooking process, but it’s actually a crucial one. Adding salt to the water in which you cook potatoes is done for flavor purposes, as well as to help improve the overall texture of the potatoes.

When you cook potatoes in unsalted water, the resulting mashed potatoes can sometimes taste bland and lack flavor. By adding salt to the water, the potatoes absorb some of the salt and this helps to enhance the overall flavor of the dish. Salt also helps to bring out the natural sweetness of potatoes, which is another reason why it’s such an important ingredient to use.

Aside from enhancing flavor, salt also helps to improve the texture of mashed potatoes. As the starches in potatoes are heated up, they open up and absorb water (and salt if you add it), which contributes to a creamy and velvety texture. If you don’t salt the water, the starches won’t absorb as much water, which can make the mashed potatoes more dry and grainy in texture.

It’s worth noting that the amount of salt you should use can vary based on personal preference and the amount of potatoes you’re cooking. As a general rule, it’s recommended to use about one teaspoon of salt per quart (4 cups) of water when cooking potatoes. This should be enough to add flavor without making the dish too salty.

Salting the water when cooking mashed potatoes is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked. It not only helps to enhance the flavor of the dish, but it also contributes to a better overall texture.

How do you keep mashed potatoes warm without getting gummy?

Mashed potatoes can be a delicious and satisfying side dish to serve with a variety of meals. However, many people struggle with keeping their mashed potatoes warm without them getting gummy. The key to avoiding this problem is to use a gentle heat source and to keep the potatoes covered to prevent them from drying out.

One effective method for keeping mashed potatoes warm is to use a water bath. To do this, fill a large pot with enough water to come up about halfway on the sides of your mashed potato pot. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Once the water is simmering, put the lid on your mashed potato pot and gently place the pot inside the simmering water bath. Leave the stove on and allow the water to simmer for as long as you need it to keep your potatoes warm. Not only will the water bath keep your potatoes warm, but it will also keep them light and fluffy.

Another option for keeping mashed potatoes warm is to use a slow cooker. To do this, transfer your mashed potatoes to a slow cooker and set it to the “warm” or “low” setting. Be sure to stir the potatoes occasionally to ensure that they don’t dry out or get gummy. If you are concerned about the potatoes getting too thick, you can add a little bit of milk or cream to them before transferring them to the slow cooker.

Finally, you can also keep mashed potatoes warm by using a warming tray. These trays are designed to keep food at a consistent temperature, which can be incredibly helpful when serving large meals. Be sure to cover your mashed potatoes to prevent them from drying out, and keep an eye on the temperature to ensure that they don’t get too hot or cold.

There are several effective methods for keeping mashed potatoes warm without getting gummy. Whether you choose to use a water bath, slow cooker, or warming tray, the key is to maintain a gentle heat source and to keep the potatoes covered to prevent them from drying out. With a little bit of effort, you can serve delicious, fluffy mashed potatoes at any meal.