How to Make Instant Potatoes Taste Better

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Have everyone thinking you spent a long time peeling, boiling, mashing and mixing potatoes, when really didn’t! Learn how to make instant potatoes taste better: rich, creamy and full of flavor.

Did you grow up eating from scratch mashed potatoes or instant? My mom made us real, homemade mashed potatoes 99% of the time. They were amazing! But here’s the weird thing…every now and then I would have a taste of instant potatoes and I thought the flavor and texture were so good. Just because they were different.

So whether you grew up on instant potatoes or real Idaho potatoes, we hope you give these jazzed up instant potatoes a try. They are a great convenience food. You’ll be surprised at how good instant spuds are!

bowl of garnished instant mashed potatoes

What readers are saying:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Liz says, “”So happy I found this recipe! Got caught in a pinch and homemade mashed potatoes failed. Thankfully I had a box of instant mashed potatoes and this recipe just helped elevate it. We got plenty of compliments and will definitely use for the next get together.”

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Colleen says, “I have never used chicken broth for these instant potatoes but I am definitely going to try it with the broth the next time I make this recipe. My family members love these so much that I make them for Thanksgiving and sometimes for Christmas. I usually mix these by hand but I am going to try the hand mixer instead. Thank you for posting this recipe!”

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • uses pantry items (instant potato flakes)
  • quick and easy for last minute dinners
  • easy add-ins for great classic flavor
  • goes with just about any main dish
  • its an easy holiday season shortcut

Are instant potatoes as healthy as real potatoes?

The short answer is no. Real whole potatoes are the best option. But if you’re comparing instant potatoes to fried potatoes or fast food potatoes, then they are definitely healthier than that.

table with instant potatoes, rolls and mixed vegetables

What are the best instant potatoes?

We tested three types of instant potatoes:

  • Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes: These were our favorite! They had great buttery flavor, a good consistency and were fairly light and fluffy. Some might find them a little salty if they are sensitive to salt.
  • Meijer Store Brand Creamy Buttery Mashed Potatoes: These were very thick. The exact opposite of the Hungry Jack potatoes. Because of that they were heavier. They had the consistency most like our traditional fresh homemade mashed potatoes, and the flavor was comforting. Not quite as buttery as the Idahoan, but still flavorful.
  • Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes: These had a familiar flavor that was ok. However, they were really runny compared to the other two. Too runny for my tastes. If I were using this brand again, I would add more flakes to make them thicker.
ingredients for instant potatoes

What to Add to Instant Potatoes to Make Them Taste Better

Many packages of instant potatoes call for just adding water. That is what makes them quick and easy, right? However, if taste is most important to you, try these additions based on your preferences:

  • Milk: Milk adds to the richness of the potatoes. Use at least 2% milk, but preferably whole milk.
  • Chicken broth: This adds a richer flavor than if you would just use water.
  • Butter: Butter is always a good idea. Don’t use margarine. Use real 100% butter, either salted or unsalted.
  • Sour Cream: Sour cream and potatoes just go together. So why not mix them in?
  • Cream cheese: My grandma always added cream cheese to her potatoes. It thickens them and makes them super creamy.
  • Seasonings: Salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder are our favorites, but add any seasonings you’d like.

Please be aware that different brands of instant potatoes may put in their own seasonings, so don’t go overboard. Add the ingredients slowly so that you get the perfect flavor that you prefer. Especially if you need less salt.

Mashed Potato Toppings

Looking for a way to top this easy recipe? Try one of these:

  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • roasted garlic
  • green onions
  • bacon bits
  • fresh chives or fresh herbs
  • parmesan

How to Serve Instant Mashed Potatoes

  • Special Occasions: Whether it is a holiday or a birthday, serve this potato recipe alongside roast turkey, short ribs or pork loin.
  • Shepherd’s pie: Use leftover potatoes as a topping for shepherd’s pie or in a mashed potato casserole.
  • Make potato cakes! Potato pancakes take time to make, rather than peeling fresh potatoes, use potato flakes as a time saver.

How to Store Instant Potatoes

Place the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you are ready to reheat them, warming them in the microwave is the best option.

bowl of instant mashed potatoes
bowl of instant mashed potatoes

How to Make Instant Potatoes Taste Better

4.63 from 277 votes
Have everyone thinking you spent a long time peeling, boiling, mashing, and mixing potatoes, when really didn't! Learn how to make instant potatoes taste better: rich, creamy and full of flavor.
Servings 8
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

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  • 8 ounces instant mashed potatoes* (We used 2 4-ounce packages)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  • In a medium saucepan bring the milk and broth to a gentle boil and stir continuously while the mixture boils for two minutes.
  • Remove the liquids from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add potato flakes and stir well with a whisk to make sure all flakes are moistened. Let sit for five minutes.
  • Use a hand mixer to mix and fluff potatoes on medium speed for one minute.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix on medium to medium high until all ingredients are well combined. You can have small lumps, but should not have very many.They should be slightly fluffy and smooth.
  • Garnish with parsley, bacon, cheese, gravy…whatever you choose!



*We prefer the Idahoan buttery homestyle brand of instant potatoes. Go by ounces rather than cups to measure the potato flakes.
In the video I say you need a tablespoon of onion powder, but it is a teaspoon. Follow the written recipe. 
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 8, with 1 serving being ⅛ of the recipe. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**


Calories: 324kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 866mg | Potassium: 497mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 733IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 324
Keyword comfort food, old fashioned recipe, potato recipe
gravy pouring over mashed potatoes

Other Mashed Potato Recipes

Love potatoes? We do, too! Try one of our mashed potato recipes:

About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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3 months ago

4 stars
Great recipe and I didn’t even use my mixer. All blended smoothly and tasted yummy. Would have rated a 5 but they are instant potatoes after all. Definitely worth making… Thanks

10 months ago

For those that may not have realized, the 8oz of potato flakes needs to be by weight or you’re not using enough. For me, the 8oz was roughly 3 1/4 cup. We really like these potatoes, but I may have made the mistake of just using the 8oz in my measuring cup if I’d not have skimmed through comments first.