Mashed potatoes are an important part of any respectable big dinner, whether it's a potluck, church event, or simply the family stopping by to say hi. Although making the dish from scratch isn't that hard, it's still time consuming. What if you've accidentally waited until the last minute, and suddenly Auntie Gertrude is ringing your doorbell with a whole sea of hungry family members barreling in behind her? Are you going to waste time staring at your pot of water, trying to use sheer mind power to make it boil while you try not to cause too much damage frantically peeling as many potatoes as you can?
Instead of stressing out, you should take that apron out and, like the old saying goes, work smarter — not harder — and pull out your emergency potatoes. That's right, we're talking about boxed mashed potatoes, also known as instant potatoes. Don't worry, they're made from real spuds, just ones that have been cooked, mashed, and dehydrated to make your life a little easier. Take a look to see the best instant mashed potatoes you should keep stocked in your pantry.
Best for a Large Group: Idahoan Original Mashed Potatoes
You can't go wrong with Idaho potatoes, especially when it comes to Idahoan Mashed Potatoes. This deceptively small box of Idahoan Real Premium Mashed Potatoes is the perfect way to serve a crowd (65 servings, to be exact) on a budget. And thanks to its “fresh potato taste,” your guests will never suspect a thing! Don’t believe us? Amazon user Lynn M. says: “These are as close to fresh mashed in taste that you can get in an instant. You can make as much or as little as you like.”
Where to Buy It: $13.98, Amazon
Best for a Traditional Feast: Betty Crocker’s Country-Style Mashed Potatoes
If you’re looking for an old-school taste, then Betty Crocker is the only way to go. Betty Crocker’s Country-Style Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes uses a combination of starchy Russet spuds and creamy, smooth Yukon golds for an authentic, made-from-scratch texture. These potatoes are so good, Amazon user Casey Stewart says she gives them “five stars for flavor.”
Where to Buy It: $10.36, Amazon
Best for Gluten-Free Guests: Edward & Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes
Edward & Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes are not only gluten-free, Kosher-certified, and USDA organic, but they’re quick, easy, and delicious. In fact, Amazon user J. Lee says: “I was impressed by the glorious potato/onion enhanced flavor compared to the other brands of instant potato I was used to getting. I gobbled down two servings without batting an eye.”
Where to Buy It: $18.47, Amazon
Best for a Vegan Side Dish: Bob's Red Mill Instant Mashed Potatoes Creamy Potato Flakes
Vegans and vegetarians often feel left out when it comes to all the important comfort-food dishes. However, you can whip these creamy potato flakes for yummy mashed potatoes on the stove or in the microwave to make sure every member of your family is getting their belly filled. Amazon user Diane Marie gushes in her review that "you would never believe they're instant," so even the non-vegans in your family might not notice the lack of dairy in these instant mashed potatoes.
Where to But It: $9.40, Amazon
Best for Everyone Who Loves Bacon: Idahoan Fully Loaded Mashed Potatoes
If you’re trying to sneak a fast one past your hubby, we’d recommend going with Idahoan Fully Loaded Peppered Bacon and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. Cheesy cheddar mixes with bacon in a “flavor-filled union of awesomeness” in these instant spuds — which we’re guessing is exactly what he’d like. “This is a very tasty product,” writes Amazon user J. Tant. “And nothing says comfort food in the backcountry like mashed potatoes… even instant.”
Where to Buy It: $44.99 for a pack of 12, Amazon