I made mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot, and it was far easier than usual

A bowl of mashed potato on a wood surface surrounded by potatoes and garlic
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s nothing more comforting than a big scoop of creamy mashed potato. It’s the unsung hero of side dishes, smooth, creamy, and the perfect accompaniment to so many meals. Whether you like to customize your mash with garlic, cheese or herbs, or you just prefer straight-up buttery mash, it’s a firm favorite in so many households.

This inexpensive potato dish isn’t exactly difficult to make, but mastering the perfect results every time can be trickier than you might think. Most people want to achieve a smooth mash that’s light and fluffy, but many of us have experienced disappointingly lumpy results. This is, in part because, when boiling potatoes on the hob, they must be watched like a hawk and checked often before being drained and mashed. They're perfectly cooked when a butter knife slides through them with ease, although it doesn’t take long before they become a watery mess.  

The best Instant Pots take the hard work out of cooking an array of dishes, including vegetables. Pressure cooking is one of the multitude of cooking methods these appliances offer and unlike boiling sees less water evaporate during cooking, retaining an even temperature throughout the cooking pot. This got us thinking  - surely potatoes will cook more thoroughly in an Instant Pot, ensuring a smooth, creamy mash every time? 

Read on to find out just how to make mashed potato in an Instant Pot, or if you want to get your hands on one of the best multicookers right now, check out these great deals for some of the best prices on the market.  

So, what's the secret? 

Before you even start cooking, the best mash starts at the grocery store. By selecting potatoes that are higher in starch you’ll get a better result. There are hundreds of potato varieties, so find out what’s available in your local store and pick the most suitable. In the US varieties like Russet and Yukon Gold are popular for mash and in the UK Maris Piper or King Edward are a good choice.

Back in the kitchen and the first thing you’ll need to do is peel the potatoes. Some people love to leave the skin on for a more rustic mash, and if that’s the result you want, go right ahead. But for the best creamy mash, peel your potatoes first. Then, chop them into even size pieces, this is important because if the potatoes are all roughly the same size they’ll cook evenly. Now this doesn’t mean you need to spend ages cutting them into tiny pieces, quite the opposite, small pieces can over cook and break down which will leave you with a watery potato mess. Around 1.5 to 2 inch/ 4 to 5 cm square chunks are fine.

There are several recipes online for making mash potato in an Instant Pot. I read lots of them before my first attempt and my biggest takeaway was that there’s no set potato to water ratio, just add your potatoes to the pot and then add enough cold water to just cover the potatoes. Crucially, you need to take care not to exceed the max line on your pot.

I added 4.4 pounds/ 2kg of potato and 2.3 pints/ 1.3 liters of water and a teaspoon of salt. Then I set my Instant Pot  to pressure cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. The time was based on what I’d read in other recipes, taking into account that I was making quite a big batch. It’s worth remembering that the time required will vary depending on your potato variety, how big the chunks of potato are and also the number of portions you’re making. But 8 to 12 minutes is a good starting point.

At the end of cooking, release the pressure quickly, remove the pot of potatoes and drain away any excess water. Be sure to use some oven mitts to protect your hands when lifting the pot and tipping the water out. Then you can add in your flavoring, I added heavy cream and salt for an indulgent and creamy mash, but you can add butter, olive oil, spices, cheese or garlic, get creative. I’d advise adding some fat in the form of butter, oil or cream, this will give you a tasty mash that doesn’t have a dry texture.

The potatoes need to be mashed while they’re still hot, so as soon as you’ve drained away the water, get mashing. You can do this in the cooking pot, then at the end there’s only one pot to clean. I’d recommend using a potato masher, but for very creamy and super smooth whipped potatoes an electric hand whisk  works wonders at banishing lumps.

Potatoes that have been steamed and mashed in the bowl of an Instant Pot

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Is it any faster? 

In short, no. The preheat took 25 minutes, then there was the 12 minute cook time and add to that the 5 minutes to release the pressure at the end. This gave a total cook time of 42 minutes for my large batch, compared to about 25 minutes on my stove. But the preheat will be quicker if you make a smaller batch.

The thing is, that despite the slightly longer cooking time, I’d still cook my mash this way again because I didn’t have to watch over the pot, so I was free to leave the room or concentrate on cooking other parts of the meal. Additionally, the potatoes were perfectly cooked through, which gave me a really smooth lump-free mash.

Yes you still have to peel the potatoes, and then use a bit of elbow grease at the end to mash them, but letting your Instant Pot take care of the cooking gives you potatoes that are cooked to perfection, which really does make the end result smoother and creamier, I’m certainly a fan.

Helen McCue
Freelance Contributor

Helen is a freelance writer who specializes in kitchen appliances and has written for some of the biggest home-related titles around. She has been reviewing small appliances, including blenders, juicers, and multi-cookers, for more than 8 years,  and also upholsters furniture when she's not testing the latest food tech gadgets.