My favorite food growing up was mashed potatoes. Probably because my family was completely obsessed. We ate mashed potatoes with everything. My mom would buy the huge 10-pound bags of potatoes and that would be good for one meal.  No joke. Nothing has changed really. Even this last Thanksgiving, I was looking at my mom’s notes for the meal and saw that she had planned for well over a pound of potatoes per person.

I remember one of the first times I was at Eric’s family’s house for the holidays. His mom Kris was making mashed potatoes and was following some recipe that called for salt and butter and nothing else. (At least that’s what it tasted like.) Whaaaat? No sour cream? No cream cheese? Not even any garlic??

I asked her if I could at least add some sour cream and she said no, absolutely not, she was going to follow her recipe. That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I enlisted the help of Eric and his sisters, and we managed to gradually sneak in sour cream, garlic, onion, and more salt while Kris’ back was turned. At dinner, she kept talking about how awesome the mashed potatoes were while the rest of us snickered into our napkins.

(Lest you assume that I think Kris is a bad cook, let me correct you by pointing out these incredibly delicious recipes that are straight from her. She is a magnificent cook and I hope to be awesome like her someday.)

I remember another time when Kris was visiting us is Indiana. I was making mashed potatoes and she watched as I put an entire stick of butter in. She said Karen. That is an entire stick of butter. And I said Yeah Kris. I know. It is for her sake that this “official” recipe only has 6 tablespoons of butter instead of a full stick, for fear that she would have a virtual heart attack.

One time Eric and I had the missionaries over for dinner, and they chatted with me in the kitchen as I finished spicing up the potatoes. Afterward, one of them complimented the mashed potatoes profusely, and said that as she watched me copiously sprinkle on what looked like several thousand spices, she thought to herself, Gross…we have to eat that stuff. As she related the story, her companion nodded fervently in agreement. (Since missionaries usually dine in people’s homes, they are typically expected to politely eat whatever is put in front of them, no matter how horrible.)

I have been asked for my mashed potatoes “recipe” so many times that I decided to include it on the blog, even though this is the first time I have ever measured anything. I usually just pour stuff in til it tastes good. So treat this as a guide rather than scripture. (Since I know that’s how you regard my other recipes.) As I tell everyone who asks how to make these: when in doubt, add more butter and more salt.


Mashed Potatoes {from heaven}

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 12
These mashed potatoes are very forgiving. I usually just pour stuff in til it tastes good. So treat this as a guide rather than scripture. As I tell everyone who asks how to make these: when in doubt, add more butter and more salt.


  • 5 pounds potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, + 2 tablespoons, I always use light
  • 1/4 cup milk, + 1 tablespoon
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion
  • 3 shakes lemon pepper, generous shakes


  • Peel and chop the potatoes. (I weighed mine after peeling and it ended up being 4 pounds total.) Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and turn the heat to high. When it has reached a boil, lower the heat to medium, and continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes.
  • Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes, being sure to leave a few chunks. (Do not use a mixer. Then you get glue. Grooooss.) Add the butter, sour cream, milk, and cream cheese*, stirring well after each addition. Add the salt, pepper, seasoning salt, parsley, garlic, onion, and lemon pepper. Adjust seasonings to your taste and enjoy!
  • *Sometimes I don't have cream cheese in the fridge. No biggie. Just up your sour cream a bit. (Or "so-cray" as Eric calls it.)


Note: The asparagus you see in these pictures is Balsamic-Browned Butter Asparagus. It is to-die-for. I didn't think these mashed potatoes could get any better, but if you drizzle them (as the pictures show) with the sauce from this asparagus recipe, they actually do.
Source: my mom Janice


Serving: 1g | Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 380mg | Potassium: 1155mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 279IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Calories: 286
Keyword: mashed potatoes, potato
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

Source: my mom Janice

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    1. Thank you Doreen for all your sweet comments! I was smiling ear to ear when I read all these the other day. I hope you come back for more! I love engaged readers like you, it validates all my work :)

  1. Aack, Karen, I can’t believe you didn’t know that quote! That is the best part of that movie, and one I often quote. Totally makes me want to go watch that movie.

    I’m pretty sure that I can be blamed for the exorbitant number of spices thrown into the potatoes. I remember trying all sorts of things sometimes (you know, the spices in those weird cans that mom has had not only for all of our entire existence but possibly since the beginning of time? What are those?) The funny thing is, I’ve totally backed off from the number of things I used to throw in the pot when in high school and “in charge of the potatoes”. But you can never back off from cream cheese/sour cream. Never.

  2. hahahaha! let’s see, according to you, every meal we had about 1.3 pounds of potatoes per person! that’s ok tho, we did love them. funny how they evolved over time – i started with just normal, boring mashed potatoes, and somehow ended up with what we have now. easter mashed potatoes, coming soon to a table near me!

  3. These potatoes look delish! My grandma makes holiday potatoes that you make like regular potatoes, then you add a block of cream cheese and dry Italian dressing seasoning; put it back in the oven and bake it until the top is a little crusty. I eat about 3 pounds of them every holiday. Mmm!

      1. Yes. I’ll look for the recipe and send you the amounts my grandma uses. I call them Memaw Sue Mashed Potatoes (after my gram) and expect them, at least once, on every visit to PA!

  4. Ooh!! You have an official pinterest button! Yay!

    Mashed potatoes are a personal favorite of mine…really, there are so many reasons we are friends! :) …and can I just leave you with this thought, “these mashed potatoes are so creamy. Mary mashed ’em”

    1. I’m ashamed to say that I had to look up the quote Sandy. I love that movie! I found a clip of that scene here.

  5. I’ve never thought about adding cream cheese to my mashed potatoes, but I might start after this. Oh, and I pinned the Dickens out of this, mainly because I love that you have a “pin It” button now, but also because I want to try mashed potatoes with cream cheese. Consider this post successful.

  6. You Sneaky PETE!!! I had no idea. NOW you tell me! and you are right about the entire stick of butter! Thanks for eliminating 2 whole tablespoons of the stuff! We are talking literal heart attack, not virtual. No wonder my cholesterol was so high when I got my blood checked. I went to the doctor yesterday and she told me to tone it down. I’m calling her back and telling her it wasn’t my fault – my daughter-in-law is clogging my arteries with her delicious food!

    Awesome recipe Karen. You really are the cat’s pajamas.

    PS I actually burst out laughing when I read this.

    1. Aren’t we horrible Kris? It is practically sibling tradition now for us to sneak something in the mashed potatoes. So watch out!!! (And don’t worry. If you have to become an invalid in order to enjoy my food, I will take care of you.)

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