Thanksgiving mashed potato recipe challenge

Mashed potatoes are a staple at every American Thanksgiving table. Whether it’s twice baked, baked with bread crumbs, boxed, or traditional garlic mashed, potatoes are always there in its smashed goodness. Every home has their favorite mashed potato recipe, the one mom makes every year. Or the recipe that grandma lets you lick the remaining potato off the masher.

Best Thanksgiving mashed potato recipe

Well, brace yourself, I come from a boxed mashed potato family. My family spent most of Thanksgiving day preparing the turkey, that the potatoes were often a second thought. You can imagine my fiance’s face when our first Thanksgiving together, living alone, I suggested boxed mashed potatoes.

It has been a couple of years and I now have a few Thanksgivings under my belt, but I am still not sure. How do you soften your recipe? Do you use marscapone? What about sour cream? Or do you rely solely on butter and cream?

Then comes the big question: WHICH POTATO DO I USE?

Yukon russet red potato

This year, I am giving myself a mashed potato challenge. I am going to take the mashed potato recipes of six different Food Network chefs and see which one tastes better.

The recipes will test the age old Thanksgiving debacle, Yukon gold? Russet? or red skin potatoes?

Here are the six mashed potato recipes I tried:

  1. Garlic red bliss mash by Sunny Anderson (red)
  2. Creamy mashed potatoes with chives by Andrew Zimmern (yukon gold)
  3. Robuchon-style mashed potatoes by Anthony Bourdain (yukon gold)
  4. Creamy garlic mashed potatoes by Alton Brown (russet)
  5. Mashed potatoes with buttermilk and green onion by Bobby Flay (yukon gold)
  6. Giada’s mashed potatoes by Giada De Laurentiis (russet)

Best potato for mashed potatoes

For each of the recipes I used a single potato and cut the recipes down to a third or less in order to match consistency and flavor. Only on two occasions did I really stray from the recipe and that was for Alton Brown’s and Bobby Flay. I forgot to pick up half-and-half and as a result decided to use heavy cream, but a reduced amount. After I cut Bobby Flay’s recipe into a third, it left my mashed potatoes looking more like baked potato soup, so I boiled an extra half potato to add.

Garlic red bliss mash by Sunny Anderson

Anderson’s red potato recipe closely matches my usual Thanksgiving mashed potatoes dish. I always like the deep red color that the potatoes turn when you boil them. Since I boiled all my potatoes together in one pot, I missed the part about also throwing in the garlic cloves so I had to boil those separately. This recipe had a hearty texture. I left the skin on, which gave the mash a reddish hue over the other five recipes on the table.

Red potato garlic mash

Fiance’s comments: “It tastes like mashed potatoes”


We decided that this recipe was OK. It doesn’t have any “wow” factor that I would expect a mashed potato recipe from a Food Network chef would have. But, it is a nice simple and cost-effective mashed potato recipe.

On a scale of 1 to 5, we gave this one a 2.5.

Creamy mashed potatoes with chives by Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern is my idol. His food adventures are everything I want to be a part of when I grow up. Oh wait, did that already happen? This makes me a little bias in terms of how good it was.

I really liked this yukon gold recipe because it tastes a lot like sour cream and onion chips but in mashed form. This recipe ups its level of fancy by using creme fraiche instead of buttermilk or sour cream. The creme fraiche makes this recipe a bit more expensive, but the texture was lighter and fluffier than the Garlic Red Bliss Mash recipe above.

One thing that caught me off guard about this recipe: there’s no garlic. This made me a bit uncomfortable. Why? I have no idea. I guess as an Italian, everything has garlic in or it just is bland. But not in this case. This recipe also uses white pepper instead of ground black pepper, which was pleasing to the eye since there were no flecks of black disrupting my smooth mountain of gold. I added an extra half scoop of creme fresh and eyeballed the chives.

Mashed potato yukon chive recipe

Fiance’s comments: “Taste’s like potatoes and stuff. There’s something different about this one.”


We ranked this one slightly higher in taste and texture from the Red Garlic Mash. On a scale of 1 to 5, we gave this one a 4

Robuchon-style mashed potatoes by Anthony Bourdain

In contrast to Zimmern, I am not a big fan of Bourdain. He always comes off as a pompous ass. But, I needed to try his yukon mashed potato recipe. I had no idea what Robuchon-style meant, but apparently he’s a Michelin chef that is known for his potato puree. After making this recipe I can agree that this mashed potato recipe closely resemble a slightly more firm puree potato.

Personally, I like skin in my mashed potatoes; but, this recipe called for skinned yukon gold potatoes. I guess that is how you get the “Robuchon-style” that makes this recipe what it is. Our of all the recipes I selected this one was the simplest using only four ingredients. It also used the most butter out of all the recipes at six sticks for four pounds of potatoes.

yukon gold mashed potato recipe

Fiance’s comments: “Tastes plain.” *Added salt and pepper to it* “That’s better.”


Surprisingly, this one ranked the highest for both of us even with it being plain. The texture on it was so smooth. The large quantity of butter really makes this recipe stand out. On a scale of 1 to 5, we gave this recipe a 4.

Creamy garlic mashed potatoes by Alton Brown

Hello, cheese! There are some people who detest cheese in their mashed potatoes. While there are others that live and swear by it. This recipe calls for russet potatoes. I tend to use russet potatoes for non-Thanksgiving meals. I think this is partially because russet potatoes are much more cost-effective. You can get a five pound bag of potatoes for like $1.50 to $3 depending on where you shop.

I made a booboo with this mistake and forgot to purchase half-and-half. In replace of half-and-half I used a reduced amount of cream instead. I also pictured butter in the “before” shots of the ingredients, when no butter is used in this recipe. The garlic for this recipe also calls for simmering in the half-and-half on the stove.

Parmeson russet mashed potato recipe

Fiance’s comments: There’s something in this…tastes like potatoes

The texture on this was nice and the fresh grated parmesan added an extra layer of “oomph” with its salt content. I liked this a lot because it wasn’t too cheese but also wasn’t as plain as Sunny Anderson’s recipe. Also, the russet potatoes are bit more gritty than the yukon golds but the cream helps offset that. On a scale of 1 to 5, we gave this one a 3.

Mashed potatoes with butter milk and green onion by Bobby Flay

This recipe was a mess. It tasted like a liquid baked potato you would eat at a summer barbecue. Which makes total sense considering this a Bobby Flay recipe. Flay uses yukon gold potatoes, buttermilk and green onions. I selected this recipe partially because I already had green onions sitting on my counter. But also because I’ve never cooked with buttermilk before.

It might have helped to taste the buttermilk before cooking with it. Have I learned nothing from Chopped?? Even though I cut this recipe into less than a third, it was still too much buttermilk. I had to boil half a potato to make the mixture the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Yukon gold mashed potato buttermilk green onion

Fiance’s comment: It’s creamy like it has half-and-half in it. It tastes sour. Too sour creamy.

We did not like this one at all. After the first bite, I couldn’t even get the fiance to try it again to give me a numerical value for taste and texture. On a scale of 1 to 5, we gave this recipe a 1.


Giada’s mashed potatoes by Giada De Laurentiis

This is a cheese lover’s mashed potato recipe. Out of all the recipes, Giada’s mashed potatoes were probably the most complex and expensive to make. Where the other recipes were around five or six ingredients, Giada’s was a whopping eight ingredients!

The three ingredients that elevate this mashed potato recipe are:

  • Marscapone
  • Chicken broth
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese

The texture on this was smooth and hearty kind of like the red garlic mash but the chicken broth gave it a richer flavor that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, the fiance thought the parmesan and marscapone made it a bit too cheesy flavored. I felt that the chicken broth did a good job of masking that over powering cheesiness.

Marscapone russet mashed potato recipe

Fiance’s comments: “There’s cheese in this.”

On a scale of 1 to 5, we gave this recipe a 3.

The Thanksgiving Mashed Potato challenge verdict

While all of the mashed potato recipes were pretty good, minus Bobby Flay’s, we settled on Bourdain’s and Zimmern’s being the best. Which is kind of funny considering they aren’t even really Food Network chefs, but Travel Channel chefs. Both recipes use yukon gold potatoes and both don’t use garlic.



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