As the name promises, instant mashed potatoes can be prepared quickly; simply add a hot liquid to reconstitute the dehydrated potato flakes for a piping hot side that's ready in mere minutes. Many varieties and brands of instant mashed potatoes exist, from Betty Crocker to Idahoan, but all share similar steps for preparation.
Fresh vs. Dehydrated
For instant mashed potatoes, producers dehydrate cooked potato flakes. The dehydrated potatoes reconstitute quickly in hot liquid, which essentially transforms them into mashed potatoes in an instant. The smooth texture of instant mashed potatoes does not appeal to some consumers, but for others, the convenience of instant outweighs any cons.
Stovetop Instant Mashed Potatoes
Add the instructed amount of water to a pot. If indicated, add salt and margarine or butter to the water. Bring the water to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat. Add the instructed amount of milk and stir in the contents of the package of instant mashed potatoes. Let the potatoes stand until moist, 1 to 2 minutes. Fluff them with a fork and serve.
Note: Make your mashed potatoes creamier by stirring in additional hot water or milk.
Microwaved Instant Mashed Potatoes
Put the indicated amount of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Add salt and margarine or butter to the bowl, as per the package instructions. Heat the water to boiling on your microwave's highest setting, approximately 1 to 3 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and add the indicated amount of milk. Stir in the contents of the package of instant mashed potatoes and let them stand until moist, 1 to 2 minutes. Fluff the potatoes with a fork and serve. Note: Heating times may vary depending on your microwave and may need to be adjusted.
Different flavors and varieties of instant mashed potatoes exist, ranging from home-style to garlic butter to au gratin, but you can also exercise creative control over your instant mashed potatoes by adding desired seasonings. Try a dry ranch dressing seasoning or fresh herbs such as rosemary to instantly elevate the flavor. You can also add more margarine or butter for a richer flavor, top the potatoes with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives, or serve them with drizzle of gravy.