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What to add to mashed potatoes that are bland?

Quick Answer: Ways to Add Flavor to Bland Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes can easily turn out bland and flavorless if not seasoned properly. Luckily, there are many easy ways to amp up the flavor of bland mashed potatoes. Here are some quick answers:

  • Stir in extra butter or cream – Adding more dairy fat will make mashed potatoes richer and more flavorful.
  • Use chicken, vegetable, or beef broth – Stirring in some broth will infuse savory flavor.
  • Mix in sour cream, cream cheese, or goat cheese – Tangy dairy products will brighten up bland spuds.
  • Stir in chopped herbs – Chives, parsley, dill, rosemary all add fresh flavor.
  • Add minced garlic – Just a bit of raw garlic packs a flavor punch.
  • Grate in fresh nutmeg – Nutmeg adds comforting warmth and spice.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan – The salty umami cheese boosts richness.
  • Season with salt and pepper – Don’t forget to properly season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with crispy bacon – Bits of smoky, salty bacon are a no-fail flavor booster.
  • Drizzle with gravy – What better sauce for mashed potatoes than more flavorful liquid?

What Causes Mashed Potatoes to be Bland?

There are a few common culprits that can lead to a pot of bland, flavorless mashed potatoes:

  • Not enough butter and dairy – Mashed potatoes get their signature creamy flavor and texture from generous amounts of butter and milk or cream. Skimping on the dairy leads to blah spuds.
  • Using large starchy potatoes – Baking potatoes like russets have a mild flavor. Try mashing smaller, waxy potatoes instead for more taste.
  • Boiling in too much water – Letting potatoes simmer in a large pot of water leeches out flavor. Use just enough water to cover the potatoes.
  • Over-mashing – Vigorously mixing can make mashed potatoes gluey. Gently mash so they retain some texture.
  • Not seasoning properly – Don’t forget to add ample salt, pepper, and other seasonings when mashing.
  • Serving cold – Mashed potatoes are best piping hot. The flavor dims if allowed to cool.

Best Ways to Add More Flavor

If your mashed potatoes are lacking in flavor, there are plenty of simple ways to give them a boost:

1. Stir in More Dairy

Adding more butter and cream or milk is one of the easiest ways to ramp up flavor. The extra fat makes the potatoes richer, creamier, and more indulgent. Whip in a few extra tablespoons of butter and splash in more cream until the potatoes taste sufficiently luxurious. Tangy sour cream or cream cheese also add flavor complexity. Just take care not to thin the texture too much.

2. Use Flavorful Liquids

Rather than boiling and mashing potatoes with plain water, try using chicken, beef, or vegetable broth instead. The savory flavor of the broth will infuse right into the spuds. You can also thin the mash with gravy, pan drippings, or any flavorful sauce. Stirring in just a bit of the starchy potato water left from cooking also helps intensify the potato flavor.

3. Mix in Herbs and Spices

Chopped fresh herbs are a fast way to brighten up a bowl of mashed potatoes. Favorites include chives, parsley, dill, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. minced garlic, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and black pepper also add a flavor punch. For warming spice flavor, add a grating of fresh nutmeg.

4. Grate in Cheese

Grating in parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, or blue cheese adds a hit of salty, savory flavor. Soft cheeses like goat cheese, cream cheese or ricotta mix in smoothly. You can also top mashed potatoes with a handful of shredded cheese.

5. Add Meaty Flavor

Cook crumbled bacon or sausage right into the potatoes while mashing to infuse meaty flavor. Other ideas are browning ground beef or chorizo to mix in. Crispy fried bacon bits, ham, or cooked chopped bacon work as flavorful toppings.

6. Use More Flavorful Potatoes

Some potato varieties simply have a deeper, richer flavor. Try mashing smaller yellow potatoes or red potatoes instead of russets. Potatoes grown in season also tend to be more flavorful. Similarly, freshly dug potatoes have a sweeter, brighter taste than those that have been stored for months.

7. Finish with Toppings

Even if the mashed potatoes themselves are on the bland side, you can pack in flavor with toppings. Ideas include crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, chopped green onions, dollops of sour cream or Greek yogurt, drizzles of gravy or sauce, and spicy toppings like hot sauce or chili crisp oil.

Recipe for Flavorful Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes

This easy recipe yields creamy, aromatic mashed potatoes brimming with flavor.


  • 3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  1. Place the potato chunks in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the garlic and butter. Mash the potatoes and garlic together, leaving some chunks.
  3. Heat the cream just until hot, then add it to the potatoes along with the sour cream. Continue to mash and stir together until smooth and creamy.
  4. Stir in the herbs, salt, and pepper until combined. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  5. Serve the mashed potatoes warm, garnished with extra chopped chives if desired.

10 More Ideas for Flavor Boosters

If the basic additions don’t quite do the trick, get creative with these flavor-packed mix-ins:

Flavor Booster Amount to Mix In
Caramelized onions 1/4 cup
Roasted garlic 2-4 cloves
Roasted red peppers 2-3 tablespoons, chopped
Sun-dried tomatoes 3-4 tablespoons, chopped
Tapenade or olive spread 1-2 tablespoons
Pesto 1-2 tablespoons
Caramelized onions 1/4 cup
Roasted poblano peppers 1/4 cup, chopped
Bacon jam 2-3 tablespoons
Crispy fried shallots 2-3 tablespoons

Tips for the Best Flavor

Follow these tips for maximizing the flavor in your mashed potatoes:

  • Use flavorful potatoes like Yukon Golds
  • Cook in broth, not water
  • Don’t overcook – keep potatoes firm
  • Gently mash to retain texture
  • Fold in add-ins gently to keep fluffy
  • Season well with salt and pepper
  • Stir in dairy just before serving while hot
  • Top with extra add-ins like cheese, herbs, or crispy bacon
  • Serve immediately for the best flavor


With a few simple tricks like stirring in herbs, broth, garlic, or cheese, you can easily fix a pot of bland mashed potatoes. Amp up the flavor right in the pot, or use tasty toppings like gravy or bacon. Follow the recipe for infusing herb flavor right into creamy spuds. And opt for flavor-packed potato varieties like Yukon Golds. With the right techniques and ingredients, you’ll never have to settle for boring mashed potatoes again.