Garlic mashed potatoes are a deliciously savory side dish that is perfect for a family gathering or holiday meal, any time of the year. With creamy yukon gold potatoes and a rich brown butter sage and garlic sauce, these mashed potatoes have enough flavor to stand on their own, but still make a great compliment for your favorite pan gravy. Try them with a classic roast chicken or pair them with my pork chops with mustard shallot gravy, and my screaming skillet green beans for a complete meal. The recipe is simple, but the sauce can be a bit tricky on your first try. Read on for my tips on how to get it right the first time.
Garlic mashed potatoes do an excellent job of capturing the split personalities of my food loving soul. On one hand, I am a meat and potatoes lover with midwestern/southern roots. On the other hand, the California/Oregon inspired chef side of me says potatoes have so much more potential than the everyday, ordinary mash. Lucky for me, these potatoes embody both and are anything but ordinary.
While we start with Yukon gold or white potatoes to make our basic mash, the real fun in these potatoes is in the sauce. A brown butter sage and garlic sauce to be exact. Don’t worry! Browning butter is easier than it seems and I’ll walk you through some key steps below.
Whether you are making a huge feast for Easter, Christmas, or Thanksgiving; hosting a birthday or anniversary party; or just having a weekly family meal, these garlic mashed potatoes will fit right in and may even steal the spotlight.
For all of my mashed potato recipes I use Yukon gold or white potatoes. I find that russet potatoes, while great for baking and casserole dishes, just don’t impart the same creamy texture that you get from the silky flesh of these thin skinned varieties.
Speaking of thin skin, the skin on these potatoes allow you to skip the step of peeling without making a noticeable difference in your final product.
Note: Red potatoes have similar skins and flesh as the Yukon gold and white potatoes mentioned above, but when mashed with skins on, the skins stand out. The overall texture is similar, so if you don’t mind the color variation you can use red potatoes interchangeably with most recipes that call for Yukon gold or white potatoes.
How to get the perfect mashed potatoes:
- Cut the potatoes into about 1″ cubes. Too small and they will get water logged, too big and they will take forever to cook.
- It’s unnecessary to pre-boil the water for potatoes. Place chopped potatoes into the pot and cover with 1″ of cold water.
- Potatoes can be chopped up to 24 hours in advance. Place them in a lidded container, cover with water, and refrigerate until ready to boil.
- Once potatoes boil, drop the heat and cook at a simmer until fork tender.
- For slightly chunky potatoes: leave the skins on and use a hand masher.
- For super creamy potatoes: remove skins and process with an electric mixer with the paddle blade attachment.
The Garlic Paste
The garlic part of these garlic mashed potatoes comes from the garlic paste. It’s the secret ingredient that makes the brown butter sage and garlic sauce so irresistible. It also makes it much easier to the get sauce just right without being super experienced with making brown butter.
The steps for making a garlic paste are fairly simple. Smash and peel garlic cloves. Mince, sprinkle with salt, then use the side of the knife blade to break down the garlic until it resembles a paste. The video below goes over the method. Instead of having your cutting board slip around like mine, keep your work space safe by placing a damp paper towel under your cutting board to keep it in place.
Making Brown Butter
If you aren’t familiar with brown butter this may just rock your world. It’s a single ingredient sauce with a rich, nutty flavor that is achieved by heating the butter over a medium-low flame until the water evaporates and the milk solids are toasted. Here is how to get it right.
- Use a light colored pan so that you can see the milk solids toasting – you can’t stop them from burning if you can’t see it happen. Once you can smell it, it’s too late.
- The process happens quickly, so don’t walk away from it.
- The sauce is going to initially foam up. This is the water boiling off. (Image 1)
- After the water boils off, the butter will start to sizzle and the milk solids will start to brown. The top of the sauce will look foamy. (Image 2)
- Swirl or stir the butter every couple of seconds, watching for the brown color to develop and the foam to slightly subside. You’ll know it’s done when the milk solids turn a dark brown and the smell takes on a nutty aroma. (Image 3)
- Remove it from the heat immediately to prevent burning.
To turn our brown butter into a brown butter sage and garlic sauce, add the sage and garlic paste as soon as you remove the brown butter from the heat. (Image 4) It will only take 30 seconds or so for the sage and garlic to fry, releasing their oils into the sauce, which is about how long it takes for the sauce to cool enough that it will no longer fry.
In my testing, using minced garlic or larger at this stage resulted in uncooked garlic chunks. Adding those chunks in earlier gave an equal split between undercooked chunks of garlic, burnt butter, and everything just right. Using the garlic paste instead resulted in more consistent results.
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Garlic Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Creamy garlic mashed potatoes with a nutty brown butter sage and garlic sauce make the perfect addition to your table for holidays, special occasions, or just an ordinary weekday night. If you have leftovers, place them in a lidded container and store in the fridge for 3 – 4 days. For longer storage, place in the freezer. Heat on the stove top, thinning out with additional milk as needed to get the right consistency.
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Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
- 6 leaves fresh sage - chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5 TBSP butter
- 1/3 cup 2% or whole milk
- 1 tsp salt
Boil the Potatoes
- Wash potatoes, peel if desired, chop into 1" chunks, and place in the bottom of a 3 quart pan. Add cold water to cover the potatoes by one inch.
- Place potatoes over a medium high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- While the potatoes boil chop the sage, make the garlic paste and brown butter.
Make the Garlic Paste
- Finely mince garlic cloves. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt.
- Using the flat blade of your knife, mash the salt into the garlic, fold, mince, and mash again, repeating until a paste has formed. Set aside.
Make the Brown Butter
- Place a light colored pan over a medium-low heat and add the butter. Butter will melt and foam up.
- After the initial foam goes subsides, continue to cook, stirring or swirling the pan every few seconds until the milk solids turn brown with a nutty aroma.
- Immediately remove the pan from heat and add in the sage and garlic paste. The butter will sizzle and foam up again as the residual heat fries the sage and garlic. Leave the brown butter sage and garlic sauce in the pan to cool.
Mash the Potatoes
- Once potatoes are fork tender use a colander to drain off the liquid - do not rinse. Return the potatoes to the pan* and mash.
- Add the brown butter, milk, and remaining salt (as needed) to the potatoes, and stir to combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm.