Tutorial: Dairy-free Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes is a staple at our house, but when I first started cooking for Joseph, I was at a loss as to how to make them safe for him. I started by just adding water to his potatoes and mashing them separately, but he didn’t like those. So, I read recipes, and experimented, and have come up with a version that not only he will eat, but so will the rest of my family.
This post is not a regular recipe though, partly because I don’t measure what I put into the pot, and partly because I’ve tried multiple things with good results. So, this is more of a “choose-your-own adventure” recipe, so try what sounds good to you. And my thanks go out to Our Best Bites, who pioneered the Choose Your Own Mashed Potatoes post, for all the tips that they gave.
Yukon gold, red, russet, and pretty much any other potato you can think of will turn out well in mashed potatoes, though consistencies will vary. According to Our Best Bites, russets have a high starch content which leads to them making fluffy light mashed potatoes. Red and yukon gold on the other hand will be creamy, but can become runny if you’re not careful.
Potatoes can be made with and without skins. Thinner skinned potatoes like reds can be mashed with their skins without affecting the end product very much. Russets have tough skins, which some can find unpleasant in mashed potatoes.
For serving size, about 1 fist sized potato will be good for each person. At home, I usually use three potatoes for the four of us, and we have leftovers. But then again, my daughter barely touches them.
I cut the potatoes into 1″ cubes to make the cooking go faster and more uniformally. Then put the potatoes in a pot, and add water until all the potatoes are submerged. Add some salt, and then put it on the stove to boil for 15-20 minutes. I know that adding the potatoes to the water before it’s boiling can lead to overcooking, but for mashed potatoes, it’s better to overcook the vegetables than undercook them.
Choose Your Liquid
When the potatoes are done (you should be able to easily cut the pieces with a spoon) drain them (but don’t rinse). If you use an electric mixer, put it in your mixing bowl. I use a hand masher, so I just put the potatoes in the bowl I’m going to serve it in, or the pot if the bowl doesn’t let the masher go all the way to the bottom.
Add enough liquid to achieve the desired consistency. When I first got married, I tended to add too little liquid and the potatoes were dry and starchy. Now, I tend to add a bit too much, leaving the potatoes a bit sloppy. But at least if I do add a bit too much, I’ve found that it will thicken up a bit with additional mashing.
Since we can’t use the traditional milk, here are some options to use for dairy-free liquids.
- Rice milk – this will give the closest taste to traditional potatoes, due to its neutral taste. I’ve only tried coconut milk as another alternate milk in mashed potatoes, and I didn’t like how it tasted. Part of it was the vanilla flavoring from the beverage didn’t go well with the savory taste I was expecting.
- Chicken broth – This will add a nice flavor to the potatoes, though they won’t be pearly white anymore.
- Water – I’d only use this if there was nothing else around. One recipe I read recommended using the same water used to cook the potatoes.
Add Some Fat
Adding 1-2 teaspoons of fat per potato will help it be creamy, but more importantly, it adds to the taste. So if I was stuck with only neutral flavored canola oil, I might skip this step. Thankfully, I haven’t been in that predicament yet.
- Dairy-free, soy-free buttery spread – This is definitely my preferred fat to add, since it results in a taste that is closer to the traditional potatoes.
- Olive oil – this will add a more nutty flavor to the potatoes.
Mix in More Flavor
If you’re going for a more traditional type of mashed potatoes, then just stop here. But if you like to walk on the wild side, or just want to make up for the fact that there’s no real dairy in these potatoes, add in some things from this list according to your heart’s desire.
- Daiya cheese
- green onions
- cider vinegar
- bay leaves
How do you like your potatoes?