Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of warm, buttery and velvety mashed potatoes? All signs point to no — and you certainly don’t need a holiday like Thanksgiving as an excuse to eat them.
Mashed potatoes are so much more than an indulgence in carbohydrates — they’re a necessary component to a variety of dishes like meatloaf, shepherd’s pie and Salisbury steak. But my favorite preparation of all is with a bowl, a spoon and pants with an elastic waistband.
Boiling potatoes and mashing them yourself is not a difficult feat and many chefs may call my decision to purchase refrigerated varieties blasphemous and textbook laziness, but sometimes life gets stressed and complicated and if it’s refrigerated mashed potatoes I want, then it’s refrigerated mashed potatoes I will get.
Surprisingly, Amazon Fresh only tends to sell three premade options (in the NYC area, at least), so if you’re hoping to satisfy that hankering in a pinch, you’re not going to get much diversity. The lineup, however, does include self–proclaimed No. 1 (they literally use this accolade to advertise the product), Bob Evans, tried-and-true Hormel, and then a brand that I had never heard about: Reser’s.
Which of these smooth spuds reigned supreme in the ultimate taste test? The results surprised me and they’ll likely surprise you, America. Check out my full ranking below.
3. Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes
The national chain may want to rethink their marketing campaign as “America’s no. 1 refrigerated mashed potatoes.” While the creamy consistency was present and palatable, I felt like it was entirely too potato-forward with virtually zero notes of butter, cream or even salt. In fact, these tasted downright healthy, which is the last thing I want to experience when partaking in carbohydrate bliss. To save the recipe that, frankly, doesn’t stand on its own, incorporate these into a dish like the aforementioned shepherd’s pie where ingredients like meat and vegetables will help to complement and enhance the flavor. Otherwise, you’re better off going to an actual Bob Evans restaurant and ordering their fresh mashed potatoes in person (which I can say are certifiably delicious and an upgrade to the packaged variety).
2. Hormel Homestyle Mashed Potatoes
While Hormel earned points for creaminess, there was a slight tang to its recipe that reminded me of sour cream. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you like your mashed potatoes to taste like heavy cream, you’ll be disappointed by the overall flavor profile. That said, these are the easiest to zhuzh up with your own additions like chives, shredded cheddar cheese, garlic or bacon bits. They’ll easily take on any topping and since the foundation isn’t potato-heavy like Bob Evans, these toppings will actually shine on their own. Just be mindful of not over-doing it — adding lots of fatty ingredients can make you feel physically ill after noshing on something that’s already so dense and filling.
1. Reser’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes
This was, hands down, the best premade mashed potato of the bunch. It may even be the best premade mashed potato product I’ve ever tasted. The recipe was smooth, buttery and had a perfect amount of black pepper for added spice. You really don’t have to add a thing, which is why I was able to house almost an entire tray in one sitting (#dangerous). If you’re scrambling to find a side dish, quickly toss this into the microwave and serve it with a spoon in an oversized bowl. Nobody needs to know that you didn’t labor over peeling, washing, boiling and mashing to achieve something that is totally tuber-lar.
Of course, you can always make your own mashed potatoes at home, when you’re feeling a bit more motivated. Here are a handful of my favorite TODAY recipes:
Courtesy Krisen Kish
A classic, high-rated recipe that incorporates chicken stock for an added depth of umami flavor.
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Carson dresses up his taters with booze, which sounds absurd until you realize how well it pairs with roasted garlic and crumbled bacon.
Is there anything a slow cooker can’t do? Apparently not, which is why I love this quick and easy recipe that uses cream cheese for extra decadence.
Courtesy Kevin Curry
This sweet potato and plantain iteration is so sinfully sweet that it’s practically dessert. Serve it with salted butter to bring in some balance.