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"How to Make Perfectly Creamy Smashed Potatoes: A Step-by-Step Guide"

Smashed potatoes, with their delightful combination of crispy exteriors and fluffy interiors, have become a beloved side dish for many. This versatile potato preparation can be enjoyed in various forms, from oven-roasted to creamy stovetop versions. In this article, we'll explore the art of creating the perfect smashed potatoes, including the best potato varieties to use, the ideal boiling and smashing techniques, and how to achieve that irresistible crispness. We'll also dive into creative toppings and garnishes to elevate your smashed potatoes to new heights of flavor.

Key Takeaways

  • Selecting the right potato variety, such as Baby Gold Potatoes, is crucial for achieving the perfect balance of buttery flavor and crispiness in smashed potatoes.

  • Boiling the potatoes until just past fork-tender, and then smashing and roasting them at high temperatures, such as 450 degrees F, ensures a crispy exterior with a tender interior.

  • Seasoning with extra-virgin olive oil and flaky sea salt, like Maldon or fleur de sel, adds a flavorful touch that enhances the natural taste of the potatoes.

  • Experimenting with toppings and garnishes, such as classic flaky salt and pepper, herb infusions, or cheese and sour cream, can add a delightful twist to traditional smashed potatoes.

  • For a creamy stovetop variation, the use of dairy like butter and buttermilk or milk, along with mix-ins for added texture, offers a comforting and rustic alternative to the classic crispy version.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Smashed Potatoes

Selecting the Right Potatoes

The foundation of crispy and fluffy smashed potatoes begins with selecting the ideal type of potato. Baby Yukon Gold potatoes are the top choice for this dish due to their lower moisture content and natural sweetness, which contribute to the desired crispy texture and flavor balance. When shopping, look for potatoes that are uniform in size to ensure even cooking.

Here's a quick checklist for selecting and preparing your potatoes:

  • Find Baby Yukon Gold potatoes, about 1.5 pounds or 24 pieces.

  • Ensure they are small, round, and have a thin skin.

  • Look for uniformity in size for even cooking.

  • Avoid over boiling; cook until fork tender.

  • Smash gently to keep the inside creamy.

  • Space them out on the baking sheet for optimal crisping.

Boiling to Perfection

Achieving the ideal texture for smashed potatoes begins with boiling them to perfection. Start by placing the potatoes in a large pot and covering them with cold water. Ensure the water is generously salted to infuse the potatoes with flavor as they cook. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. The key is to boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender, which typically takes about 15-20 minutes, though this can vary based on the size of your potatoes.

Here's a simple guide to help you gauge the readiness of your potatoes:

  • 15 minutes: Small-sized potatoes

  • 20 minutes: Medium-sized potatoes

  • 25 minutes: Larger-sized potatoes

Remember to check the potatoes periodically by piercing them with a fork. Once they reach the desired tenderness, drain them and proceed to the next step of your smashed potato journey.

The Smashing Technique

Once your potatoes are boiled past fork-tender, it's time to unleash the smashing technique that transforms them into a culinary delight. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and gently press down with a flat-bottomed drinking glass or the palm of your hand to flatten them into a disk, allowing the edges to fray for that ultimate crispy texture upon baking.

After smashing, let the potatoes air dry for a brief period. This step is crucial as it ensures the potatoes don't steam up during the baking process, which can prevent them from achieving that desirable crispiness. A five-minute wait before seasoning is all it takes to prime your potatoes for perfection.

Seasoning for Flavor

The right seasoning can elevate your smashed potatoes from simple to sublime. Experiment with different spices and herbs to find your perfect blend. A classic seasoning mix might include salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and smoked paprika, giving the potatoes a herby taste with a smoky kick.

For those who enjoy a bit of creativity, consider these combinations:

  • Garlic Parmesan: garlic powder, grated Parmesan, salt, pepper

  • Cajun: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano, thyme

  • Rosemary Sea Salt: fresh rosemary, coarse sea salt

  • Curry Turmeric: curry powder, turmeric

  • Lemon Herb: dried basil, oregano, lemon zest

Don't be afraid to mix and match or to try out less conventional seasonings like Chili Lime or Everything Bagel for a fun twist. The key is to taste as you go and adjust the seasonings to your preference.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes: From Oven to Table

Prepping Your Baking Sheet

To ensure your smashed potatoes achieve that desirable crispiness, start by generously coating your baking sheet with olive oil. This not only prevents sticking but also contributes to the golden-brown crust we all love.

Here's a simple checklist to follow:

  • Drizzle olive oil evenly across the baking sheet.

  • Arrange the cooled potatoes on the sheet without overcrowding.

  • Gently press each potato to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

By skipping the parchment paper, you allow the potatoes to crisp up beautifully on the bottom. Remember, a bit of mess is a sign of deliciousness to come!

Achieving the Perfect Crisp

To ensure your smashed potatoes have that irresistible crunch, oil them well. An even coating of oil is crucial for that golden, crispy exterior. Here's a simple guide to get that crispy factor dialed up:

  • Use a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil, both on the potatoes and the baking sheet.

  • Place the potatoes directly on the baking sheet without lining; this encourages a crispier bottom.

  • Aim for a thickness just shy of 1/2-inch when smashing; too thin and they may over-crisp, too thick and they'll be doughy.

Remember, the type of potato matters too. Yellow potatoes are ideal for their creamy interior and ability to crisp up nicely. And when it comes to seasoning, don't hold back. A liberal sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a dusting of Parmesan can elevate the flavor to match the perfect crispiness.

Timing and Temperature

Achieving the ideal balance of timing and temperature is crucial for perfect crispy smashed potatoes. Preheat your oven to 425°F to ensure a golden and crispy exterior. The potatoes should be baked for 25 to 35 minutes, but keep an eye on them as oven strengths vary. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through to promote even browning.

After baking, you can serve the potatoes immediately or keep them warm in the oven. If you need to wait for the rest of your meal to be ready, keep the potatoes in a casserole at 275°F. This will preserve their crispiness without overcooking them.

Serving Suggestions

Once your crispy smashed potatoes are ready, the possibilities for serving them are endless. Pair them with a variety of proteins to complement their savory crunch. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Balsamic Grilled Chicken

  • Ground Turkey Tacos

  • BBQ Chicken Burgers

  • Grilled Fillet Mignon

  • Chicken Parmesan Sliders

  • Grilled Fish Packets

  • Zucchini Apple Turkey Burgers

For a more decadent experience, consider adding a final drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of sour cream. Cheese lovers can sprinkle salty Parmesan during the last few minutes of cooking for a melty touch.

Creative Toppings and Garnishes

Classic Flaky Salt and Pepper

The foundation of any great smashed potato dish begins with the simplicity of classic flaky salt and pepper. This timeless combination enhances the natural flavors of the potatoes, providing a subtle yet essential taste that complements any additional toppings.

  • Flaky sea salt offers a delicate crunch and a burst of salinity.

  • Freshly ground black pepper adds a warm, aromatic kick.

Experimenting with the coarseness of the salt and the grind of the pepper can lead to subtle variations in texture and flavor. For those looking to elevate this basic seasoning, consider infusing the salt with herbs or citrus zest for an extra layer of complexity.

Herb and Spice Infusions

Elevating the humble smashed potato to a culinary delight can be as simple as infusing it with the right combination of herbs and spices. A harmonious fusion of flavors can transform your dish from ordinary to extraordinary. For instance, incorporating a seasoning blend like Potato Spice from Green Land Food, LLC, which is designed to complement the natural flavors of potatoes, can make all the difference.

When it comes to herbs, timing is key. Woody stemmed herbs such as thyme and rosemary can withstand the heat and should be added before baking, while delicate herbs like parsley or chives are best sprinkled on after cooking to maintain their vibrant color and fresh taste. Spices like smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder are always winners, but don't be afraid to experiment with more adventurous combinations such as Cajun or Curry Turmeric blends.

Here are a few popular herb and spice combinations to get you started:

  • Garlic Parmesan: garlic powder, grated Parmesan, salt, pepper

  • Cajun: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano, thyme

  • Rosemary Sea Salt: finely chopped rosemary, coarse sea salt

  • Curry Turmeric: curry powder, pinch of turmeric

  • Lemon Herb: dried basil, oregano, lemon zest

  • Smoky BBQ: smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder



Cheese and Sour Cream Delights

Transform your smashed potatoes into a decadent dish with the addition of cheese and sour cream. Layering these ingredients creates a rich, creamy texture that's irresistible. Start by generously sprinkling grated cheddar cheese over the warm potatoes, allowing it to melt slightly. Then, dollop cool, tangy sour cream on top for a delightful contrast.

For those who love extra flavor, consider these mix-ins:

  • Chopped bacon for a smoky crunch

  • Fresh chives or green onions for a pop of color and freshness

  • A sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a hint of heat

Remember, the goal is to complement the potatoes without overwhelming them. Experiment with different cheeses like sharp Parmesan or a smooth mozzarella to find your perfect match.

The Final Drizzle: Oils and Sauces

The crowning glory of any smashed potato dish is the final drizzle that enhances both flavor and presentation. Choose a high-quality extra virgin olive oil for a simple yet elegant serving, or opt for a fancy infused olive oil for a more nuanced finish.

  • Sauces. Whether for dipping or drizzling, the right sauce can elevate your smashed potatoes to new heights. Consider classics like pesto or sour cream, or experiment with bold options like romesco or chimichurri.

  • Cheese. Adding cheese during the last few minutes of baking allows it to melt sumptuously over the potatoes without over-crisping.

Stovetop Smashed Potatoes: A Creamy Twist

Choosing Your Dairy: Buttermilk vs. Milk

When crafting stovetop smashed potatoes, the choice between buttermilk and milk can significantly affect the dish's flavor and texture. Buttermilk imparts a tangy richness, reminiscent of sour cream, while milk offers a milder, creamier taste. Both can be added gradually to achieve the desired consistency.

  • Buttermilk: Adds a tangy flavor and creamy texture.

  • Milk: Provides a gentler taste and smooth consistency.

Experiment with the amount of dairy to suit your preference, and don't hesitate to mix in additional flavors like garlic, herbs, or cheese to elevate your dish.

Butter for Richness

Incorporating butter into your smashed potatoes is essential for achieving that rich, indulgent flavor that makes this dish so comforting. Start by melting your choice of butter, be it salted for a savory edge or unsalted for a pure, creamy taste. Gradually fold the melted butter into the warm potatoes, allowing it to be fully absorbed and evenly distributed.

Remember, the amount of butter can vary depending on the type of potatoes and your personal taste. A good rule of thumb is to begin with a tablespoon per pound of potatoes and adjust from there. If you're looking to enhance the buttery flavor further, consider adding a touch of Parmesan or a dollop of sour cream.

Mix-Ins for Added Texture and Flavor

Transform your creamy stovetop smashed potatoes into a dish that's bursting with flavor and texture. By incorporating mix-ins, you can tailor your potatoes to complement any meal or satisfy any craving. Start with the basics like salt and pepper, and then get creative with a variety of add-ins.

Here's a quick guide to some delightful flavor combinations:

  • Loaded Potato: Enhance with buttermilk, chopped bacon, green onions, and grated cheddar cheese.

  • Garlic-Herb: Infuse with minced garlic, chopped rosemary or chives, and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

Remember, the key to perfect mix-ins is to add them gradually, tasting as you go, to achieve the perfect balance that pleases your palate.

The Art of Creamy Smashing

Mastering the art of creamy smashing is essential for achieving that perfect balance between texture and richness in your stovetop smashed potatoes. The key is to add your dairy and butter gradually, ensuring that each addition is fully incorporated before adding more. This method prevents the potatoes from becoming too runny or greasy.

Here's a simple guideline to follow:

  • Begin with warm dairy to prevent the potatoes from cooling down.

  • Add butter for that velvety richness, one tablespoon at a time.

  • For a more nuanced flavor, consider mix-ins like roasted garlic or caramelized onions.

  • Finally, smash the potatoes gently to maintain some texture while incorporating the creamy elements evenly.

Conclusion

In the world of potato dishes, smashed potatoes stand out as a versatile and delightful treat. Whether you're looking for a crispy side to complement your main course or a comforting snack to enjoy on its own, smashed potatoes offer the perfect balance of crunchy exteriors and fluffy interiors. With the ability to customize toppings and seasonings to your liking, there's no end to the culinary creativity they inspire. From the simplicity of the boil-smash-bake method to the rustic charm of stovetop variations, smashed potatoes are a testament to the humble potato's potential for greatness. So next time you're pondering what to serve alongside your meal or seeking a new favorite potato recipe, remember the smashed potato—where every bite is a celebration of texture and taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of potatoes are best for making smashed potatoes?

Baby Gold potatoes are excellent for smashed potatoes due to their buttery flavor and ability to crisp up nicely when smashed. Other varieties of baby potatoes that are roughly the same size can also be used.

How long should I boil the potatoes for smashed potatoes?

Boil the potatoes until they are just past fork-tender, which usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

What is the best way to achieve crispy smashed potatoes in the oven?

After boiling and smashing the potatoes, drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake them in a preheated 450-degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for even crisping.

Can I make creamy stovetop smashed potatoes?

Yes, for creamy stovetop smashed potatoes, use baby yellow, white, or red potatoes, and after boiling, mix them with butter, buttermilk or milk to your preference, and season with salt and pepper.

What toppings and garnishes can I add to smashed potatoes?

You can top smashed potatoes with classic flaky sea salt and black pepper, herb and spice infusions, cheese and sour cream, or a final drizzle of oils and sauces for added flavor.

What are some serving suggestions for smashed potatoes?

Smashed potatoes make a great side dish for breakfast with items like Loaded Frittata Muffins, or for dinner with Baked Crab Cakes. They are best served straight off the sheet pan while they are still hot and crispy.

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