How to Cook Potatoes

Created March 7, 2017
how to make potatoes
Everything you need to know about making mashed, au gratin, and roasted potatoes! MORE+ LESS-

If you ever have an empty spot on your dinner table, there’s a good chance that gap can be filled by the humble potato!

The nice thing about potatoes is they can be either incredibly easy to prepare or more complicated and fancy. There really is a potato for every occasion, and no matter what you’ll end up something delicious.

Let’s walk through some of the best ways to make potatoes!


Mashed Potatoes

Probably the most popular way to make potatoes is to mash them. Whether you like them creamy smooth or with some texture, mashing potatoes is always a good option.

There are a few keys to making really great mashed potatoes. You can use either Russet potatoes or new potatoes (or even sweet potatoes). If you want a smoother texture, I recommend peeling them. Then boil them in lightly salted water until they are tender.

When you’re ready to mash, return the potatoes to a hot pan and add hot milk to them. Keeping the potatoes hot while you mash them will lead to a smoother texture.

If you’re looking for a good general mashed potatoes recipe, check out this Perfect Mashed Potatoes method.

Once you get the method down, the additions and variations are endless! Toss in some roasted garlic? Sure! Cheese or bacon? Please do! You get the idea… mashed potatoes are a great base and should definitely be in your wheelhouse.


Au Gratin Potatoes

On the opposite side of the spectrum are au gratin potatoes. I think these are a lovely potato side, just a bit more fancy than simple mashed potatoes. That doesn’t mean that they are particularly hard, but they do require either a mandolin slicer or a very steady knife hand!

The hard part of au gratin potatoes is slicing the potatoes very thin!

For a basic au gratin, just layer these sliced potatoes in a large baking dish with cheese, butter, and cream (hard to go wrong with those ingredients, right?).  Then bake the whole thing until the potatoes are tender in the center and bubbling with cheese. Yeah… it’s delicious!

Again, au gratin potatoes lend themselves to a lot of great variations. Check out this wonderful slow cooker au gratin potato recipe or, if you’re feeling frisky, try out this chicken and fennel au gratin option.

If I’m ever trying to impress, I always think about making a big baking dish of au gratin!


Roasted Sweet Potatoes

When in doubt, you can always just cube potatoes, toss them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them until tender!

While you can roast any potato, personally I prefer roasted sweet potatoes with just a pinch of chili pepper for a nice twist. Try my Chili Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe.

Whether you roast potatoes, mash them, or bake them with cream into a fancy layered casserole, you can always count on the simple potato to fill your dinner plate.

What’s your favorite way to cook potatoes? Leave a comment with your best recipe!

Nick thinks there’s a potato method for everybody! Check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon profile.