Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 8
Tangy buttermilk lightens mashed potatoes made with russet potatoes for Thanksgiving.
(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)
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Buttery, fluffy mashed potatoes are an essential part of Thanksgiving. Russet potatoes make light mashed potatoes, to play better with the rest of the rich holiday dishes on the table. (You can use Yukon Golds instead for a richer, creamier dish.) Buttermilk also keeps the potatoes light, but you can swap in sour cream, crème fraîche or heavy cream, if you like.

This recipe is part of our Guide to Classic Thanksgiving, a collection of simple recipes for timeless holiday dishes to make this year and for years to come.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with half a handful of kosher salt. Add the potatoes, return to a boil, then cook until a paring knife inserted in the thickest pieces slides in and out easily, 14 to 18 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pot.


Place the pot over low heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher until mostly smooth. Add the buttermilk and the ½ cup butter, and stir with the masher until completely smooth. Season with the 1½ tablespoons salt and the black pepper, if using.


Scoop the mashed potatoes into a warm serving bowl and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, so that it melts in the center. Sprinkle the potatoes with the scallions and chives and serve hot.

Make Ahead:
Place the mashed potatoes in their serving bowl but don’t top with the butter or herbs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place over a pot of barely simmering water to keep them warm for up to 1 hour. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and top with the butter and herbs.