“Instant” packaged foods generally aren’t my jam.
Hot Take: Instant Mashed Potatoes Are Better Than Fresh
They are typically overly processed and contain ingredients that look like part of your chemistry homework, not food. But there is one exception for me: instant mashed potatoes, aka instant potato flakes, aka magic potato powder.
Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter
10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
Good brands of instant mashed potatoes, like Bob’s Red Mill, contain one ingredient: dehydrated potatoes. And when you rehydrate them with a bit of butter and milk and—please use a heavy hand—salt and pepper, they taste surprisingly clean and good. Is the texture a little lighter and more uniform than your everyday homemade mashed potato? Yes. Am I suggesting you serve them when you’re cooking for the King of England? No. But they’ll do in a pinch.
But where potato flakes really shine is as an ingredient. We use them in myriad recipes, in everything from gnocchi to candy to croquettes to clam chowder. Check it out.
Instant Mashed Potato Flakes in Candy
Our recipe for Needhams calls for a filling of instant potato flakes and coconut, all encased in rich dark chocolate. You don’t taste potatoes, but the flakes give the candies a slight savory edge. They’re delicious.
Needhams (Potato Candy)There's potato in there? Yes, but you wouldn't know it from eating these creamy, sweet confections.
Instant Mashed Potato Flakes in Gnocchi
This may be this magic potato powder’s highest culinary use. Simply mix the flakes with some flour, water, salt, and egg; shape into cute little pasta pillows; boil; and sauce. We have variations of Instant Mashed Potato Gnocchi that include Al Forno, with Browned Butter-Caper Sauce, with Tomato Basil Sauce, and with Fontina Cheese Sauce. They’re all sensational.
Instant Mashed Potato Flakes in Clam Chowder
Our Woodman’s-Style Clam Chowder is modeled on the iconic version they sell at Woodman’s of Essex on Massachusetts’ North Shore, which is one of the state’s busiest seafood shacks. This style of chowder is thin, and our recipe offers the flakes as an optional ingredient to make it a bit thicker. Apart from giving the broth more body, the flakes enhance the potato flavor in the chowder.
Instant Mashed Potato Flakes in Croquettes
This is another application that makes perfect sense. Many croquette recipes call for a base of leftover mashed potatoes, to which you then add your chicken, ham, shrimp, etc. Our recipe for Chicken Croquettes with Lemon-Scallion Sauce calls for the instant flakes—so there’s no need to have leftover mashed potatoes on hand to make them. Brilliant.
This list of recipes is just a start. You can also use instant mashed potato flakes in potato breads, biscuits, rolls, soups, stews . . . the list goes on and on.