A Substitute for a Potato Masher

A Substitute for a Potato Masher. (Image: jgareri/iStock/GettyImages)

It's not difficult to mash potatoes without a masher; plenty of common utensils, ranging from a fork to a food mill to an electric mixer, can be used to get the results you crave. While a fork makes the same dense, creamy, slightly lumpy mashed potatoes as a potato masher, gadgets like a food mill or an electric mixer create a smooth and fluffy mash. Just be careful not to over-process your potatoes, or you'll end up with gluey, unappetizing results.

Handy Hand Tools

A fork makes a simple potato masher substitute, especially if your goal is mashed potatoes that are hearty with a creamy and slightly lumpy texture. With the fork, press down on the cooked potatoes so that they mash through the tines. While effective, using a fork to mash potatoes is labor-intensive and not an ideal method if you're feeding a crowd. You can also use a pastry cutter by rocking it back and forth across the cooked potatoes. If you don't mind lumps, use the back of a spoon to smash the potatoes.

Rice, Rice Baby

For the lightest, fluffiest mashed potatoes, a potato ricer is the way to go. Potatoes go into the hopper of a ricer, and a plunger forces them through small holes as it is pressed, resulting in an irresistibly smooth, fluffy mash.

A food mill produces similar results. Add cooked potatoes to the food mill and turn a crank that causes a bent metal blade to crush and force potatoes through small holes. However, using a ricer or food mill is time-consuming and is not ideal for larger servings, especially for skin-on potatoes. Skin should be removed before ricing or crushing in a food mill as it will clog the holes.

Using Electric Gadgets

If you want light, fluffy mashed potatoes, use an electric gadget such as an electric mixer or immersion blender. Transfer cooked potatoes to a bowl and whip them until just whipped. When using these gadgets, you run the risk of over-processing your potatoes, which can result in a sticky, gluey mess. Mix conservatively, stopping frequently to check the consistency of the potatoes. Immersion blender mashed potatoes, and mashed potatoes by hand mixer or stand mixer, work best if you add your butter or cream at the beginning. The fat lubricates the potatoes, and helps keep them from getting gummy.

Potato Masher Substitute Dos and Don’ts

While you may be tempted to use it for speed and convenience, a food processor or countertop blender should not be used to mash potatoes. These kitchen appliances turn mashed potatoes into an unappetizing glue in seconds. The starch cells in hot, freshly cooked potatoes are swollen and soft, just like the flour or cornstarch you use to thicken your gravy, and when they're pulverized by the machines' powerful blades they become equally sticky.

No matter which substitute you use, you'll get your best results with dry, fluffy potatoes. Start by cooking them only until they're tender, because they'll absorb too much water if they're overcooked. Let the drained potatoes steam for a few minutes before you mash them, which leaves time for more water to evaporate. If they're visibly wet, you can even put the pot back on your stove for a moment or two. The residual heat from the turned-off burner will help the potatoes dry out. Just give them a shake or two, to keep them from sticking.

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