Food & Recipes

This $1 Kitchen Staple Is the Secret to Rich and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Despite being such a humble dish, there are so many different ways people swear by when trying to whip up the most delicious pile of mashed potatoes. It can honestly get a little confusing! But if you’ve been searching high and low for the key to a perfectly creamy mash, just pick up a can of evaporated milk on your next grocery run.

Southern chefs have boasted about this “secret ingredient” in mashed potatoes for generations now. According to Christy Jordan, blogger and author of Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family (Buy on Amazon, $20.88), evaporated milk became a popular choice in those hotter climates because it wouldn’t spoil as quickly as regular milk or cream. It’s also obviously super budget-friendly (Buy at Walmart, $0.94).

Jordan calls for evaporated milk in her MeMe’s mashed potato recipe (using her family’s affectionate nickname for her grandmother). “You can use regular milk in these, but the difference in MeMe’s mashed potatoes is definitely the evaporated milk, which has a richer flavor,” she explains. In fact, Jordan goes so far as to say, “Pretty much any time you are making a recipe that calls for milk, substituting evaporated milk will make it just a little bit richer and, like most things in life, richer is better.” Hard to argue with her there!

Most recipes for mashed potatoes with evaporated milk, including Jordan’s grandmother’s, call for a five ounce can — plus all the usual yummy ingredients like butter, salt, pepper, and, of course, the spuds themselves. You can also get as creative as you’d like with spices, seasonings, herbs, and other add-ins. 

Carnation, one of the most popular brands for all types of dairy, keeps things simple with their recipe listing just six potatoes, half a stick of butter, and a cup of their evaporated milk (which adds a little more creaminess with about eight ounces).

The amount of evaporated milk you end up using will depend on your own personal cream and flavor preferences. Psst: It’s also easy to make your own evaporated milk instead of buying a can at the store.

You might never go back to making mashed potatoes any other way!

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