Mashed potatoes are as involved as you want them to be. Want to peel them? Great. Want to rice them? Also great. Not doing those things? You guessed it—still great. I don’t think I’ve ever made the same bowl of mashed potatoes twice. From cooking methods, to add-ins, to the potatoes themselves, there are simply too many variables, and tweaking those variables is a large portion of the fun.
Recently though, I have been very into zapping the spuds in the microwave. It is fast. It is easy. It doesn’t turn my kitchen—which is becoming warmer by the day—into a steam room. The potatoes steam in their own moisture, so there’s no draining involved either. The only limiting factor is the amount of potatoes you can fit in your microwave.
Conversely, it’s the perfect way to cook a small amount of mashed potatoes for a couple of people, especially if you have only a few spuds to work with. (Please. I beg of you: No who ever wants a small amount of mashed potatoes??? comments down below. I’m so tired.)
Some recipes for microwave mashers have you melt the butter and warm any dairy. I never do this. The heat from the nuked potatoes melts the butter perfectly fine, and the amount of milk or cream I add is not enough to cool them very much. Honestly, the potatoes come out of the microwave very hot—a little cooling is fine. The recipe you see below is bare bones (or bare spuds), but that’s by design. You should feel free to scale it up or down, and tweak and riff as you see fit. (If you need inspiration, try a little onion dip and go from there.)
Microwave Mashed Potatoes for Two
- About a pound of potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (I usually use 4 rinsed, unpeeled Yukons)
- 2 big pinches of salt
- 2 tablespoons of butter (about 1/2 tablespoon per potato)
- 1 tablespoon half & half (or cream or milk)
- 2 teaspoons mayo (optional)
Place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl or dish, cover with plastic wrap, and make a half-inch slit in the top. Microwave the potatoes for 9-12 minutes (depending on how many potatoes you have), until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove them from the microwave and roughly mash them with a large fork, a big wooden spoon, or a potato masher to let any excess moisture evaporate.
Add your butter and mash until it’s melted, then add your half & half and mayo and mash again. Even if you are mayo-averse, I recommend it—it really helps emulsify the hydrophobic (fatty) with the hydrophilic (watery). Give your ‘tates a taste, then season and garnish as you see fit.