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What are Smashed Potatoes?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Smashed potatoes are a hearty variant on the more well known mashed potatoes. One clear difference is that smashed ones are generally prepared with the skins on, creating a bit more chunkiness to the finished dish. There are recipes that include peeled potatoes, but these are less common than “skins on” recipes.

One distinct difference between smashed and mashed potatoes is the way in which the potatoes are broken up. Most recipes argue for hand mashing with either a fork or handheld masher. Mashed potatoes, on the other hand, are often made with a handheld masher and then whipped with an electric mixer. By using a hand masher, the potatoes will be chunkier and not have a creamy, whipped texture, and it may also shorten the preparation time. If the cook decides to resort to the electric mixer, they become mashed potatoes, regardless of whether the skins are on or off.

Most recipes for smashed potatoes start with boiling the potatoes until they are fully cooked. Large potatoes can be cut into squares about 0.25 of an inch (0.635 cm) on each side. Many cooks prefer to use smaller, new potatoes instead of the traditional russets, as the skin is more easily chewed. Good choices for include new red potatoes and Yukon Golds.

Once the potatoes are cooked, they are smashed with a fork or potato masher, while butter and cream are added. The amount of cream or milk can differ significantly in recipes, but it is usually less than would be used in mashed potatoes. The amount of butter added tends to be higher, but can be adjusted according to taste and dietary restrictions.

Smashed potatoes lend themselves well to additions because diners expect a higher degree of texture from them. Common additions include bacon, green onions, parsley, and most particularly garlic. Salt and pepper are often used for seasoning.

Some recipes vary not only in texture, but also in flavor. Hot peppers or red pepper flakes can be added for a spicy variant. For an Italian variety, some chefs recommend adding finely chopped fresh basil and oregano. Other recipes add grated cheese that produces a taste similar to twice baked potatoes.

Differences in preparation are also notable in the many smashed potatoes recipes available on the Internet. Several recipes significantly reduce preparation time by preparing the potatoes in a slow cooker. In addition to saving on the number of bowls the cook will have to use, slow cooker cooking saves time. A working person can leave potatoes cooking during the day, and come home in time to complete the smashing process.

In any variation, smashed potatoes are considered by many to be some of the best comfort food. The chunky texture is appealing, and most find this dish an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By stoneMason — On Dec 19, 2012

@alisha-- The difference is not so much the ingredients but rather the method of making it.

Smashed potatoes are much easier because you don't need any kitchen appliances. You can just smash them with a fork and you don't need to peel the skins either. So you can think of smashed potatoes as an easier, faster version of mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes need to be put through some kind of blending device, like a mixer, or in the old days it was a ricer. This is not required for smashed potatoes.

Also, smashed potatoes are made with smaller, sweeter potatoes which are easier to smash. You can simply do it by hand and without peeling them. So making smashed potatoes has fewer steps.

By discographer — On Dec 18, 2012

How are smashed potatoes healthier than mashed potatoes? They both have butter right?

I'm still a little confused about their differences.

By turquoise — On Dec 17, 2012

I had some smashed potatoes and meatloaf at the diner last week. The potatoes were so good!

They were made from small red potatoes and I could see the skins inside. But the skins were not a problem at all. It was very soft, it definitely had some milk or cream in it, as well as rosemary.

I hadn't had such good potatoes in a long time.

By wavy58 — On Dec 16, 2012

There is one thing that I don't like about smashed potatoes. They get cold so quickly! In just the time it takes to mash up the butter with them and transfer them to a dish, they lose their warmth.

By orangey03 — On Dec 16, 2012

@lighth0se33 – New potatoes are definitely the way to go if you are making smashed potatoes. They are tender but still hang onto some of their chunks.

However, they aren't ideal for making mashed potatoes. I've boiled them for twenty-five minutes before and still had trouble getting all the lumps out with a mixer. So, I reserve them for making smashed potatoes.

Chunky potatoes go well with other solid elements, like bits of bacon and green onions. I think it would be weird to eat creamy mashed potatoes with ingredients like this in them.

By feasting — On Dec 15, 2012

I may be the only one to feel this way, but seeing a smashed potato makes me sad. I prefer to eat vegetables in whole form, and anything that has been mashed to smithereens doesn't appeal to me at all. I don't even feel like I'm eating a potato if it is all squished, so I stick to eating baked potatoes.

By lighth0se33 — On Dec 14, 2012

For a long time, I used the same big baking potatoes that I made roasted potatoes with to make smashed potatoes. However, after trying new potatoes, I can see why many people choose them instead.

New potatoes only have to be boiled for about fifteen or twenty minutes. After that, they are tender enough to be mashed with a fork.

I like to add butter to a bowl and use a fork to mash it into the potatoes. I've never tried adding garlic to the finished dish, though I do boil the potatoes in a pot with minced garlic.

By andee — On Nov 09, 2012

The first time I heard about smashed potatoes was on the Rachael Ray show. She makes everything look good and I was excited to try them. Since then I have seen them on the menu at some of my favorite restaurants and order them often. I like to eat them served with a steak and salad. All this talk of smashed potatoes is making my stomach growl!

By SarahSon — On Nov 09, 2012

What a great idea to put potatoes in the slow cooker and smash them when I get home from work. I very seldom make smashed potatoes during the week because they too much time, but this is the perfect solution.

I have a recipe for garlic smashed potatoes that everyone in my family loves. These are great any time of the year and are one of my favorite comfort foods.

I don't ever make mashed potatoes anymore because I like chunky potatoes anyway. With smashed potatoes you don't have to worry about peeling them and you can blend in cheese, butter, garlic and bacon so they taste amazing.

By honeybees — On Nov 08, 2012

I like smashed potatoes with the skins on because this way I know the potatoes are 'real.' Many restaurants serve instant potatoes and I don't like these at all. When I order mashed potatoes at a restaurant, I always ask them if they are real or instant. If they serve smashed potatoes, I know they are real and I don't have to ask this question.

By bagley79 — On Nov 07, 2012

@anon286454 -- Whether they are called smashed potatoes or mashed potatoes, I don't think you can go wrong. Both my husband and I enjoy meat and potatoes meals so that means there are a number of different ways I make potatoes.

If we had to choose a favorite, it would be smashed potatoes. They take a little bit more work than just throwing a baked potato into the oven, but I think they are worth the extra time and effort.

By anon286454 — On Aug 21, 2012

Is it an American thing to whip mashed potatoes? Because all my American friends' parents make mashed potatoes into basically soup. My mom mashes them chunky with a hand-masher, and we never called them anything but "mashed." But thanks for this answer. No one says "smashed" here, but I suppose, since the advent of the electric mixer, traditional mashed potatoes in USA needed a new name.

Where I live, in Canada, the one person I know who makes mashed potatoes with a mixer calls them "whipped potatoes." So, I guess, in American terms, what I've always eaten is "smashed" Who'd've thunk it?

By catapult43 — On Nov 30, 2008

The addition of cheese or a small amount of bacon can make smashed potatoes almost a meal onto themselves.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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