These richly flavored garlic mashed potatoes are made extra creamy with cream cheese and Parmesan. Ready in under 30 minutes and decadent as can be, this is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish!
Everybody needs a staple mashed potato recipe and this one is mine. Why? Because garlic makes everything better and adding cream cheese to mashed potatoes is a great way to take them to the next level.
These mashed potatoes are:
- Smooth, velvety and creamy from cream cheese
- Bursting with garlicky flavor
- Ready in under 30 minutes
- Can be made in advance and frozen
- Great as an easy weeknight side dish
Why use cream cheese in mashed potatoes? The high-fat content of cream cheese adds extra depth and creaminess to the potatoes. It also contributes a velvety texture that milk alone doesn't.
- Yukon gold potatoes are my favorite potato to used for mashed potatoes because they are silkier and smoother than Russet.
- Garlic: Minced garlic is sauteed in butter until fragrant. I usually press my own garlic but using pre-minced garlic is a great way to cut down on prep time. Two tablespoons minced garlic is equal to about 6 cloves, give or take.
- Cream cheese: Half a block of plain cream cheese is all you need to take mashed potatoes to the next level.
- Milk: Whole milk is my go-to in mashed potatoes because it adds enough creaminess but is lighter than heavy cream or half-and-half. For an even lighter option you can use skim, 1% or even dairy-free alternatives like unsweetened, unflavored oat milk or soy milk.
- Parmesan: Shredded Parmesan adds a nice umami kick and additional creaminess. If you're vegetarian make sure to look for Parmesan labeled as vegetarian (many aren't!) or opt for a similar cheese like Asiago.
- Salt and pepper: Keep seasonings simple so that the Parmesan and garlic can shine.
Step by step instructions
Boiling the potatoes
Rinse the potatoes in cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Skin the potatoes if desired. Slice into one-inch cubes. Try to make the potatoes as similarly sized as possible.
Cover potatoes in cool water. You want to use cool water because slowly bringing the potatoes to a boil helps them cook evenly. Add salt to the water. Potatoes soak up a lot of salt, so this is an important step.
Boil the potatoes over high heat until fork-tender. This means that you can easily pierce a potato with a fork without it falling apart. Keep boiling if you have to use any force to pierce the potato.
When the potatoes are ready, drain the water and set the potatoes aside.
Making the garlic mashed potatoes
Place the empty Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add minced garlic.
Saute, stirring frequently, until golden and aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Keep an eye on the garlic as it can go from perfectly golden to burnt quickly.
Add the remaining ingredients. Mash until mostly smooth, adding extra milk as needed to reach desired consistency.
The easiest way to mash potatoes is using a potato masher. If you don't have one on hand you can use a fork or even a metal whisk.
Let cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through.
- Roasted garlic mashed potatoes: If you're feeling adventurous and have a little extra time on your hands, roasted garlic mashed potatoes are a must-try. If using roasted garlic instead of fresh, simply melt the butter in the Dutch oven and add it in with the remaining ingredients. Check out my garlic knots recipe for step-by-step instructions on how to roast garlic.
- Herby garlic mashed potatoes: For an herby kick, try adding 1 tablespoon each of fresh chopped rosemary, thyme and sage. Bloom fresh herbs with the minced garlic for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Adjust garlic to taste. I usually add 6-8 cloves for an obvious garlic taste in the mashed potatoes.
- Make sure to salt the potato water!
You can make this recipe up to 3 days in advance. Add a splash of milk and heat on the stove over medium heat to warm up.
Keep mashed potatoes refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Place on the stove in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium heat. Add a splash of milk to loosen the potatoes. Cover and heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
Yes, you can freeze these mashed potatoes. Let them cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
They make a great Thanksgiving or dinner side topped mushroom gravy or just a pad of butter, salt and pepper. Make it a complete comfort food meal with gouda mac and cheese, sweet potato rolls, a warm kale salad.
You can use an equal amount of your favorite cream cheese alternative, non-dairy milk, and vegan butter to make these mashed potatoes dairy-free.
Some potatoes are definitely better for mashing. Higher starch potatoes like Russet or Yukon gold are best. Red potatoes also work. This recipe uses Yukon gold because they make a really creamy dish and have a naturally buttery flavor.
I leave the skin on for this recipe because Yukon golds have really thin skins. The skins add a nice texture to an otherwise very creamy dish. You can remove the skins if you prefer.
The rule of thumb is 1 and ½ potatoes per person. This recipe calls for 3 pounds of potatoes, so you can assume it will serve 6. Adjust the recipe as needed based on the number of people you will be serving.
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Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes
- 2 and ½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes see note #1
- ¾ teaspoon coarse salt divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic about 6-7 cloves; adjust to taste
- ¼ cup to ½ cup whole milk
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan
- ¼ cup thinly sliced chives for topping
- Wash potatoes and remove any debris. Skin if desired (I leave the skin on with Yukon gold). Cut into one inch pieces. Place in a 4 quart pot or dutch oven. Add ½ teaspoon salt and just enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until fork tender. Drain water and set cooked potatoes aside.
- Place the empty Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add two tablespoons butter. Once melted, add minced garlic. Saute, stirring frequently, until golden and aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.
- Return potatoes to the pot. Over medium-low heat, add ¼ cup milk, cream cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Use a potato masher to mash until mostly softened. I like to leave a few small chunks for texture. Stir in the Parmesan. Add additional ¼ cup milk to thin if desired. Keep over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. until warmed through.
- Taste for salt and pepper. Serve topped with thinly sliced chives and mushroom gravy. Enjoy!
- Potatoes: Yukon gold are my preferred mashing potato. Russets potatoes also work. I leave the Yukon gold skin on because it is very thin and adds nice texture to the mashed potatoes. If using Russet, I recommend peeling the skin.
- Storage: Mashed potatoes will keep refrigerated for 3-4 days in a closed container.
- Reheating: Place on the stove in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium heat. Add a splash of milk to loosen the potatoes. Cover and heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.