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Cooking Tips

Actually, It’s Easy to Fix Gluey Mashed Potatoes

Are your mashed potatoes sticking together in a gummy lump? Don’t panic. This simple tip will make things right.

Published Nov. 30, 2023.

People may disagree on whether the ideal mashed potatoes should be smooth or chunky, fluffy or creamy—but nobody wants their mashers gummy or gluey.

Here’s how this sticky state of affairs happens:

Cooking causes the starch granules within the potato cells to absorb water and swell. Some cells will inevitably burst, releasing tacky gel that helps give mashed potatoes their cohesiveness.

But if too much gelled starch seeps out of the cells, either from overcooking or too-vigorous mashing (or both), gumminess ensues. 

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Luckily, there’s a way to mitigate the tackiness: Stir extra fat into the mash, which helps coats the starch and makes the gumminess less noticeable. 

How to Fix Gluey Mashed Potatoes

Here’s how to do it: For every pound of potatoes in your mash, drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the dish and fold it gently into the potatoes. 

If the mash is still too gluey for your liking, repeat the process with another tablespoon of butter.

It’s that easy! Now you’re ready to serve some deliciously fluffy (and extra buttery) potatoes to your hungry guests.

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How to Avoid Gluey Mashed Potatoes

While the fix is pretty easy, the absolute best solution to gluey mashed potatoes is to avoid overcooking or overmashing them in the first place.

Overcooking was a pitfall I addressed when developing my recipe for the Fastest, Easiest Mashed Potatoes

The typical strategy for cooking spuds to mash is to cut them into chunks, with some recipes calling for a rinsing step after the cook to rid the potatoes of the excess starch that causes a gluey texture.

But this seemed like a backwards fix to me, since cooking thick pieces until they’re tender at the core is what causes that mushy outer layer of sloughed-off starch to form in the first place. 

My solution? Cutting the potatoes into slices rather than chunks. This way, the potatoes cook more evenly in the first place, without sloughing off so much starch. 

You can also avoid gummy results by not overworking the potatoes when you mash them. A ricer or a food mill are more gentle than a potato masher, so take special care if you use the latter tool not to pound too much (especially over the same area) or too hard. 


Fastest, Easiest Mashed Potatoes

Forget big pots of water, long simmer times, and gummy mash. Rigorous testing and our best potato science revealed a smarter, faster, more flexible path.
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