Your dinner guests will never know.
Advertisement

Mashed potatoes can elevate practically any meal, but sometimes you just don't have the time to peel, boil, mash, and mix the spuds. For moments when you need some mashed potatoes ASAP (hey, we've all been there) instant potatoes can really save the day. After all, the boxed food takes mere minutes to make and tastes almost as good as the real deal.

However, there's nothing wrong with kicking your instant potatoes up a notch, especially if you want your dinner guests to believe you spent hours in the kitchen perfecting the popular side. Plus, with a potential potato shortage headed our way, it can't hurt to have a few instant potato hacks up your sleeve just in case your usual haul of Yukon Golds, Russets, or Idaho potatoes are nowhere to be found.

Ready to learn how to take store-bought instant potatoes to the next level? Keep reading for some tasty tips and tricks!

mashed potato with butter and green onions in a white bowl on a gray concrete background. Healthy food.
Credit: Getty Images

Related Items

1 Toss in some fresh herbs

Jazz up your instant potatoes by tossing in some fresh herbs. Chives work great if you like a mild, oniony taste, but feel free to use parsley, dill, or thyme as well. If your instant potatoes already have some garlic mixed in (another worthy add-on!), try garnishing your spuds with tarragon or rosemary, which pair exceptionally well with garlic.

2 Stir in some milk

Most instant potato varieties call for you to combine the potatoes with water, but if you want your potatoes to taste a bit more indulgent, use milk instead. Whole milk will yield delightfully rich potatoes, but 2 percent milk works well too. If you really want to go all out, try combining the potatoes with half-and-half or buttermilk. And feel free to play around a little bit—if you suspect that replacing all of the water with milk will make the potatoes too decadent, try using half water and half milk instead.

RELATED:  This Is the Weirdest Trick for Making the Most Flavorful, Creamy Mashed Potatoes (and It Totally Works)

3 ...or chicken broth

Using chicken broth instead of water will give your instant potatoes a richer, more complex flavor, and no, they won't taste like chicken. If you don't have chicken broth on hand, you can use another broth—such as vegetable broth—instead.

4 Make a compound butter

A compound butter is basically butter mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs or spices. To elevate your instant potatoes, try mixing a savory compound butter in with the spuds while they cook, or serve 'em with a compound butter on the side. Use one of these compound butter recipes to get you started, or try this classic garlic butter. Trust us, you really can't go wrong here!

5 Get salty

Not interested in adding butter to your mashed potatoes? We hear ya. Though it may sound simple, adding a dash or two of your favorite salt to a pot of instant mashed potatoes is a really easy way to bump up the flavor factor. Some of our favorites include truffle salt, matcha salt, and citrus salt. Just be sure to add a bit of salt at a time. Many instant potato varieties have a bit of salt in them already, and you don't want to end up with an overly salty side.

RELATED: The (Only) 2 Types of Salt Every Home Cook Needs

6 Treat 'em like a loaded baked potato

If you can load up a standard baked potato with all sorts of savory toppings, what's to stop you from giving instant mashed potatoes a similar treatment? Nothing! When the potatoes are just about done, stir in some of your favorite potato toppings—we're talking cooked bacon bits, sour cream, and of course, cheese. 

7 Grab those frozen veggies

Got a pack of frozen veggies taking up some prime real estate in your freezer? Mix 'em into the pot with your instant mashed potatoes. Just be sure to thaw them first, and opt for small vegetables, like peas, carrots, and corn, so everything gets cooked through. This is a great way to make the potatoes just a tad healthier, and is helpful if you've got little ones who ordinarily won't go near a vegetable.

RELATED: 9 Chefs Share Their Favorite Canned and Frozen Foods—and We've Never Felt so Inspired to Cook

8 Experiment with wasabi

If you're not a fan of spice, you may want to sit this one out, but if you happen to have some wasabi on hand, go ahead and mix it into your instant mashed potatoes. The result is a spicy, flavorful side that pairs perfectly with teriyaki chicken or miso glazed fish. Just be sure to mix the wasabi thoroughly into the mashed potatoes so you don't end up eating a potent wasabi chunk!