Mastering the Basics: Smashed Potatoes

For the first two years of college, a 64-ounce carton of potato flakes graced my top pantry shelf. Making mashed potatoes from scratch just seemed too time consuming, too laborious, and too wasteful (I’m one girl; how could I consume five pounds of spuds before they spoiled?).

So I gulped down my watery, bland box concoction, often mixing it with whatever veggies were on my plate (or even melting cheese or stirring in a couple drops of BBQ sauce) to make it mildly flavorful. It was only when I went home for Thanksgiving and judo-chopped my brother’s hand away from the massive bowl of mashed potatoes that I realized I had a problem. Well, that and the fact that I kept referring to the slightly buttery, creamy side as “my precioussss” and hissing at anyone who dared glance at them.

I may be exaggerating on that, but only a little.

The truth is, hearty, flavor-packed potatoes can be quick and easy, and all of the ingredients are probably in your dining hall, if they’re not already in your mini-fridge. No goopy consistency, no starchy taste — and you can make them right in your dorm room.

To save time, don’t bother peeling the potatoes. Plus, they have more texture in their “smashed” form, making it an even better departure from the instant stuff.

Kitchen gadgets needed: fork, steak knife, measuring cups, large mixing bowl, microwave-safe plate, microwave, paper towels


  • 5-6 baking potatoes (or Yukon Gold, if you want a velvetier taste)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional; for a subtle boost of flavor)

NOTE: You can half this recipe for two quick servings, or you can prepare everything at once and store the smashed potatoes (covered) in the fridge for about a week. It’s a great make-ahead dish.

Time commitment: 18-22 minutes


1. Wash the potatoes, then stab them a few times with a fork so they won’t explode in the microwave. Wrap the potatoes in a damp paper towel so they retain moisture, then bake them — 2-3 at a time — for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until they’re tender.

2. Let the potatoes cool for about 5 minutes. Next, Slice those spuds into 1-inch chunks so they’re easier to mash. (Be careful; they’re H-O-T.) Add in the milk and butter, then use the back of a fork to start smashing.

3. Add a little salt & pepper, mix everything and taste. Gradually add more until it’s seasoned to your liking. Yup, it’s that simple.

Not sure what to serve with it? How about:

1 Comment

  1. […] Mashed or baked potatoes […]

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