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A bowl of herby buttermilk mashed potatoes.

Creamy Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

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4.8 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Adapted from Sally Schneider’s A New Way To Cook


Potatoes: If possible use something like Yellow Finns or Yukon Golds, which become extremely creamy when mashed. If made with baking potatoes, the result will be grainy and watery.

Gear: For the smoothest potatoes, pass the potatoes through a food mill or a ricer before adding the buttermilk and reserved cooking liquid in step 2. As noted in the post, I love this Zyliss Potato Masher. 

Buttermilk: Use whole milk buttermilk if possible. Low-fat buttermilk won’t impart the same creaminess and richness, and it might impart more tartness as well. The original recipe calls for warming the buttermilk, but I find as long as I measure it and leave it at room temperature when I start boiling the potatoes, it works just fine. 

Herby garnish: As noted in the post, I spoon the garnish over only half of the potatoes, and I leave half of the potatoes plain for the children. If you like the idea of using this garnish over all of the potatoes, I would double it, and use a larger skillet. 

Roasted Garlic Variation: After the potatoes are mashed, add two heads of roasted garlic cloves to the pot. Stir to combine. 


For the buttermilk mashed potatoes: 

  • 1 3/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (you’ll have about 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes post peeling) 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature, see notes above
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt, if you have it

For the herby garnish (see notes above before making): 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, to yield a heaping half cup or so
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro


  1. Place the potatoes and the 2 teaspoons of the salt in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Drain, reserving at least 1/4 cup of the cooking water — I like to reserve at least a cup of the cooking liquid. 
  2. Return the potatoes to the pan and set over low heat, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the potatoes dry out a little. (See notes above if using a ricer or food mill.) Add the buttermilk, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid, pepper to taste, and a pinch of sea salt. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until you have a coarse purée. Add the butter and mash again. Once the potatoes are as mashed up as possible you can switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and beat them further. Taste. Add more sea salt and pepper to taste. Thin with more reserved cooking liquid if desired.
  3. To make the herby sizzle: Heat the oil, scallions, crushed red pepper flakes, and cilantro in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the scallions and red pepper flakes start to visually and audibly sizzle. Season with a pinch of sea salt and remove from the heat.
  4. To serve: Transfer half of the potatoes to a serving dish. Use the back of a spoon to swoosh the potatoes around a bit, creating peaks and valleys. Spoon the herby oil over top, allowing the oil to pool in the crevices. Crack more pepper over top and, if you wish, season with another pinch of sea salt. 
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American