Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

The following recipe is from the September 28 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!

The great thing about whipping up a bowl of really great mashed potatoes is that when it comes to ingredients, less really is more, and that means potatoes, milk or cream, and plenty of butter. Of course, a short list of ingredients doesn't negate a little bit of mashed potato-making technique, and for this technique we turn to Michael Ruhlman and his new kitchen technique bible, Ruhlman's Twenty.

This recipe for Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes incorporates a few easy but game changing elements. First off is the potato cooking method. Instead of aggressively boiling, Ruhlman opts for a gentle simmer on medium-low heat; this way the exterior doesn't disintegrate into the cooking water. The potatoes are then drained and left aside for their steam to release, therefore drying out the potatoes slightly and making for a fluffier mash. The final element added to this amazing mash—and the one that sets it apart—is brown butter, with all its caramelly, nutty flavor. Incorporating brown butter into mashed potatoes gives them an added element of richness in a way that is both nearly effortless but totally elegant. This is of those recipes that will certainly change the way you think about humble mashed potatoes from here on out.

Adapted from Ruhlman's Twenty by Michael Ruhlman. Copyright © 2011. Published by Chronicle Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 10 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes


  • 1 pound russet/baking or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter 


  1. 1.

    Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender throughout, about 20 minutes. Don’t boil the potatoes; this can disintegrate the exterior. Drain the potatoes and set aside to let the moisture steam off. 

  2. 2.

    In the same saucepan, combine the milk and 2 teaspoons salt and set over medium heat. When the milk is hot, return the potatoes to the pan. You can mash them in the pan with a masher (I like them chunky so I prefer this method), or mash them directly into the pan with a ricer or food mill. Stir the potatoes just to combine with the milk; don’t overmix. Taste and season with salt if needed. 

  3. 3.

    In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the foaming subsides, stir the butter and note the color of the solids. When the solids are golden brown, add half of the butter to the mashed potatoes. Taste for seasoning. If you prefer the potatoes thinner, add a little more milk. 

  4. 4.

    Serve the potatoes topped with a spoonful of the remaining brown butter.