Mashed potatoes are one of America’s favorite side dishes. Whether it’s served with a fancy steak dinner or brought to the family Thanksgiving festivities, the creamy and comforting dish is always a welcome sight at the table. Making it, though, can be a little tricky and nobody wants a mound of lumpy and bland potatoes. Read on for five secrets to making the best mashed potatoes ever.

Choose Wisely

When getting ready to prepare the best mashed potatoes ever, you need to have a solid foundation, which means the right potato. Go to your local store, though, and they’ll probably have several kinds: russets, red potatoes, and Yukon Golds at least. Most people use russets for baked potatoes, but for the best mashed potatoes, go with Yukon Golds for a creamier and smoother texture.

Carefully Cook Your Potatoes

Most home chefs cook their potatoes correctly, starting in cold and salty water and bringing the heat up slowly. If you drop potatoes into hot water, then the interiors will be woefully undercooked. However, there’s one trick that will help your potatoes end up creamy. After you’ve drained the potatoes, return them to the pot, uncovered, and cook up to two more minutes. This will allow any extra water to evaporate.

Keeping The Potatoes Fluffy

After cooking away the extra moisture, there’s another trick to ensure that your potatoes stay fluffy. After you drain and dry your potatoes, add a pinch of baking powder just before you begin mashing. The baking powder helps form air pockets to give your potatoes that extra bit of fluffiness.

Use A Ricer Instead Of A Masher

Mashing the potatoes is the fun part, but if you overwork them they may turn into a gluey mess. The best way to get those heavenly smooth and silky potatoes is to press them through a potato ricer. The ricer is similar to a garlic press and will break the potatoes into small pieces while maintaining a light and fluffy texture. You can find a ricer online or at your local kitchenware store.

Go The Extra Mile

The classic mashed potatoes recipe calls for cream and butter, but adding a few extra ingredients goes a long way. Try fresh herbs like chives, parsley, or basil. For cheese lovers, grated parmesan gives the potatoes a nice saltiness. Or add a touch of tang with sour cream, which will also give your potatoes extra creaminess. Of course, you can never go wrong with everyone’s favorite add-on, bacon.