What’s the best way to deliver those smooth mashed potatoes everyone loves? To find out, I put the two most commonly used tools, a ricer and a masher, to the test:
This extrusion tool forces cooked potato through small holes, resulting in rice-like pieces of potato (hence the name). It’s constructed of a hopper into which you put a cooked potato (peeled or not) and a plunger that forces the potato through the holes. Because air is incorporated into the potato as it’s pressed, this tool gives you the lightest mashed potatoes possible. A ricer guarantees no lumps, and your potatoes will be very smooth. The only downside is that it can be a bit time-consuming, especially if you’re using unpeeled potatoes, as the skins must be removed from the hopper after each pressing; otherwise, they clog the holes.
Hand mashers get a bad rap for leaving lumps, but I found that they can, in fact, deliver smooth, creamy potatoes. You just have to be methodical with your mashing method, getting into every corner of the pot and using a press and twist motion with the masher, adding a little liquid at a time if you must. (Be sure your potatoes are thoroughly cooked, too.) If you like the skins in your finished dish (for nutrition and texture), a masher or metal spoon is the only way to go. Don’t expect mashers to deliver light or fluffy potatoes, though.
The bottom line:
Which tool you use depends on your definition of ideal mashed potatoes. If you’re after a bowl of textured spuds, especially good when adding extras like herbs or cheese, a masher should be your choice. If fluffy and smooth is your idea of potato nirvana, go with a ricer. Either way, be sure to buy a durable model that feels good in your hand. When you have a pile of potatoes to work through, you don’t want a flimsy tool that’s going to cause a hand cramp.