Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary

A few years ago I wrote a Mashed Potatoes 101 guide. I pride myself on making fabulous mashed potatoes. I really do. Last year I mastered what I (then) called the perfect mashed potatoes thanks to a tip from one of my favorite local chefs. And now I have mastered Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary, my new perfect mashed potatoes recipe.

Look, it’s Thanksgiving. It’s okay to indulge a little. And for crying out loud, we’re talking about brown butter and mashed potatoes. You put anything with those two and you’ve got a winner, right?

I wrote a tutorial on how to make brown butter. Brown butter is the kind of thing that changes your life. Kinda like the first time you taste a farm fresh egg vs. one from the grocery store, or discover real maple syrup. Well, adding brown butter to mashed potatoes is kinda like that too.

I had the idea to make this recipe months ago and when I finally made it, I proudly proclaimed that it would be on our Thanksgiving menu this year, thankyouverymuch. My husband said, “Yes, but with twice as much butter, please.” TWICE AS MUCH BUTTER? Julia Child just smiled down on my husband. Oh, yes she did. I followed his advice, and I’ll just say it: He was right.

I make my mashed potatoes differently than most people. I don’t whip them into glue with an electric mixer. (Please don’t do that.) I like to infuse them with flavors as they cook – a tip I learned from making black beans in a slow cooker several times a week. So I add a bay leaf, some herb sprigs and whole garlic cloves to the water. And after that, I use real butter and whole milk to make them rich and creamy.

Potatoes are easily infused with aromatics like garlic and herbs. The flavors of the bay leaf, garlic, and rosemary isn’t overwhelming, but it’s enough for other people to say they are fantastic without being able to pin down exactly why. Sometimes you’ll get really good potatoes that are flavorful on their own, and other times they’re bland. I have really good luck using Yukon gold potatoes, but russets are my second favorite for mashed potatoes.

I almost always use whole potatoes. I don’t even bother peeling them anymore. The peels, if I choose to remove them, come off easier after the potatoes are cooked anyway. It saves time. (And I can’t always locate my peeler…but that’s another story.) For these brown butter mashed potatoes, I left the skins on. They didn’t bother me, and I liked the rustic element.

Always start with cold water. The water and the potatoes will come up to temperature at the same time this way. The potatoes will cook evenly. I promise that works. And as I said, I now always add the aromatics (garlic and herbs) to the cooking water. You can add salt, but it doesn’t really penetrate the potatoes, so I salt after mashing.

After they potatoes are cooked, I drain off the water and let them sit for a few minutes to dry off. Mashed potatoes can quickly go soupy from too much liquid. Also, I never add the milk until after I’ve added the butter. According to Cooks’ Illustrated magazine, it helps them stay fluffier and prevents gluey potatoes.

For rustic, chunky mashed potatoes, I always use a sturdy potato masher. I have used a whisk in a pinch – but not in a whisking motion, in the same way I would use a proper masher. For peeled and smooth mashed potatoes, I always use a ricer. They are super easy to use and the potatoes come out light, fluffy and lump free.

After they’ve been mashed, I add the melted brown butter and a good bit of salt. Then I stir gently, not vigorously, until all of the potatoes have been coated with the butter. (Obviously this is a different method than I use when I cook the potatoes in milk. They are amazingly silky and creamy. Barely any butter needed.) Then I start adding hot milk a little at a time and let the potatoes absorb it before I add more. Don’t add too much. You really can’t take the excess liquid away once it’s there. But you can always add more milk if you need to.

To finish off the mashed potatoes, I sprinkle a bit of very finely minced fresh rosemary as a garnish. My husband says that he loves the way the piney rosemary plays off the caramelized taste of the brown butter. It really works well together. Simple as can be you’ve got the most amazing mashed potatoes you’ll ever taste.

Also, you just became the most popular person at your Thanksgiving dinner. You are also very smart because you made a double batch and tucked the other one away for later. :)

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Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary

The creamiest, most delicious rosemary-infused mashed potatoes with a hefty dose of brown butter added in.

  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3 pounds whole, unpeeled gold or russet potatoes
  • one garlic clove
  • one fresh rosemary sprig
  • one bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • finely minced fresh rosemary, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with water and add the garlic clove, rosemary sprig and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until the tip of a knife pierces the potato easily and the skins are starting to split, between 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
  2. Meanwhile in a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat and let cook for 10-15 minutes or until medium brown in color. Pour into a clean bowl and let cool.
  3. When the potatoes have finished cooking, drain in a large colander. Discard the garlic, rosemary and bay leaf. Peel if desired. Mash the potatoes to desired smoothness. (I leave the peels on and keep them chunky.)
  4. Pour the brown butter over the mashed potatoes and mix well. Add some of the milk, stirring well, adding more as needed. Taste and season well with salt, fresh ground black pepper and minced fresh rosemary.
  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: American

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary


Ingredients:

3 pounds whole, unpeeled gold or russet potatoes
one garlic clove
one fresh rosemary sprig
one bay leaf
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 to 1 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
finely minced fresh rosemary, for garnish

Instructions:

Wash potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with water and add the garlic clove, rosemary sprig and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until the tip of a knife pierces the potato easily and the skins are starting to split, between 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

Meanwhile in a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat and let cook for 10-15 minutes or until medium brown in color. Pour into a clean bowl and let cool.

When the potatoes have finished cooking, drain in a large colander. Discard the garlic, rosemary and bay leaf. Peel if desired. Mash the potatoes to desired smoothness. (I leave the peels on and keep them chunky.)

Pour the brown butter over the mashed potatoes and mix well. Add some of the milk, stirring well, adding more as needed. Taste and season well with salt, fresh ground black pepper and minced fresh rosemary.

Makes 6-8 good-sized servings.

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57 Comments

  1. Oh, my mouth is watering! And I agree that trying real farm fresh eggs AND real maple syrup are life changing events. When we were in VT last month, we spent a good 20 minutes at the maple syrup tasting station, downing shots of different grades of maple syrup. It was heaven. I expect brown butter and rosemary mashed potatoes are also heaven.

  2. I’m not waiting for Thanksgiving to make this one! Looks so dang good!

    Two questions.
    1 – I’m fine to use the potatoes from LNF, right? I’m not sure what kind they are.
    2- Tips on making 1 day ahead of time? Or should I not even mess with that?

  3. Having our thanksgiving today, and just made these–so so good! I added a little leftover ricotta and roasted garlic too. Can’t wait to dig in fully in a few hours!

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