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Milk Substitutes For Mashed Potatoes – I Try 14 Options

Halfway through cooking your mashed potatoes and just realized you’re out of milk?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I reveal the results of my experiment substituting 14 different ingredients for milk in mashed potato.

These substitutions should work whether you need:

  • A vegan alternative
  • Something already in your kitchen cupboard
  • A lactose free substitute

In a rush? Here’s the short answer.

What’s the best substitute for milk in mashed potatoes? The best substitute for milk in mashed potatoes is heavy cream. Add a quarter of the required milk volume as heavy cream. Melted butter, stock, and sour cream are all excellent substitutes too. Vegan substitutes include almond milk, coconut milk, and vegetable stock.

A note on my experiment

To find out the best milk substitute for mashed potatoes, there’s no replacement for actually tasting the finished mash, so that’s exactly what I did.

I boiled a load of potatoes and then made 15 different batches of mash, all with different ingredients in place of the milk.

Here’s what I tested.

14 substitutes for milk in mashed potatoes:

  1. Heavy cream 
  2. Extra melted butter
  3. Chicken stock/vegetable stock
  4. Mayonnaise
  5. Coconut milk
  6. Creme fraiche 
  7. Cream cheese
  8. Almond milk
  9. Plain yogurt
  10. Unsweetened creamer
  11. Water
  12. Potato cooking water 
  13. Olive oil
  14. No additions, just skipping the milk (not recommened)

And finally, milk (as a control).

I followed this basic recipe and mashed the potatoes together with the butter before adding the milk substitute.

For lighter substitutes such as almond milk, stock or water, I went with a 1:1 ratio.

But for heavier substitutes like cream, mayonnaise, or cream cheese, I used less than the amount of milk called for.

Results summary

SubstitueTasteTextureOverallNotes
Heavy cream 
Similar to milkSmooth and creamyTop tierSour cream will be similar
Extra butterRich and butterySmooth and creamyTop tierAdd melted
StockStrong and saltySmooth and creamyTop tierMy personal favourite
MayonnaiseMayo-eySmooth and creamyMiddle tierMix with water to dull taste
Coconut milkHint of coconutSmooth and creamyMiddle tierDon’t add too much
Creme fraicheTangyThick but smoothMiddle tierMelt before adding
Cream cheeseCheeseyThick but smoothMiddle tierMelt before adding
Almond milkNuttySmooth but slightly grainyMiddle tierAdd extra butter
Plain yogurtTangySmoothMiddle tierDon’t add too much
Creamer (unsweetened)BlandSmooth but slightly grainyMiddle tierAdd extra butter
WaterBlandGrainyBottom tierAdd extra butter
Potato cooking waterStarchyGrainyBottom tierAdd extra butter
Olive oilOilyOilyBottom tierAvoid
No substitiuteBlandDry and lumpyBottom tierAvoid

Heavy cream produced the most similar results to milk. Extra butter also worked really well. Both of these substitutes resulted in rich, creamy mash.

Olive oil, no substitutions, and water were the worst options. They resulted in grainy mash.

The rest of the substitutes worked well in terms of texture, but they all imparted a unique taste onto the mashed potatoes that you may or may not like. 

I recommend melting the thicker options, such as creme fraiche, before adding them to the potatoes. Or thinning them out with some water.

The biggest takeaway I got for my experiment was this:

You can use just about any liquid to smooth out mashed potato, but if it lacks fat (i.e plant based milks or water), you’ll need to add in some extra fat for the creaminess element.

The fat can come from melted butter or margarine, or a small amount of a dairy product like cream cheese.

Substitute options I didn’t try

Other things I didn’t try but I feel are worth mentioning as potential substitutes include:

  • powdered milk
  • ranch dressing
  • buttermilk
  • sour cream
  • any soft cheese

The best substitutes for milk in mash

Here I go through each substitute in more detail.

Heavy cream

I used heavy cream, and it produced a very similar mashed potato to the milk control.

It was creamy (as expected), and the potatoes had a smooth texture. You couldn’t taste the cream.

I poured the cream in bit by bit as I didn’t want to overwhelm the potatoes. Overall I added around ¼  of the amount of milk I’d added.

You can use any type of cream here. Heavy cream, light cream, ½ and ½  will all give good results. 

Keep in mind that cream is quite calorific and will make for an indulgent mashed potato!

Sour cream will also work really well and add a unique flavor.

Taste: very similar to milk.

Texture: smooth and creamy.

Verdict: I highly recommend cream as a substitute for milk in mashed potatoes. There was little difference in the results.

Extra melted butter

This was one of my favorite substitutes. It made the mash extra rich and buttery but in a good way. 

The mash was well bound together and smooth without any lumps. 

I added double the amount of melted butter that the recipe called for in my experiment. But you could get away with less if you want less of a butter taste.

As with everything, start by adding a small amount and then increase the quantity until you’re happy.

Taste: rich and buttery.

Texture: smooth and creamy.

Verdict: I wholeheartedly recommend this method, especially because it’s using an ingredient you’ll already have.

Stock

I used chicken stock in my experiment, but you could also use vegetable stock.

I really liked the stock-ladened mashed potato.

It tasted very strongly of stock, and maybe I’m weird, but I love the taste of chicken stock. The mash also had a much better texture than just water.

There was no graininess, just a nice smooth mash.

Don’t salt the mash until you’ve added the stock because stock tends to taste pretty salty.

Taste: strong taste of stock.

Texture: good consistency, smooth, and well bound.

Verdict: one of my favorite options, but the taste won’t be for everyone.

Mayonnaise

Adding mayonnaise gave the potatoes a nice consistency. They were well bound and creamy. However, there was a strong taste of mayonnaise.

It reminded me of potato salad and could have done with some chopped spring onions to cut the flavor.

I’d rename the dish – potato salad mash. 

In terms of how much to add, go slowly. As a rough guesstimate, I added one tablespoon per one portion of mash.

Taste: very mayonnaisey.

Texture: good texture, similar to that of milk.

Verdict: okay if you don’t mind the taste of mayonnaise.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk was an option that pleasantly surprised me. 

The end texture of the potatoes was smooth and rich. And it didn’t taste overwhelmingly of coconut!

There was a slight hint, but nothing that you couldn’t drown out with some garlic or extra pepper.

If you’re looking for a vegan substitute, coconut milk is a good option. It has more fat than other kinds of vegan milk, so it results in a creamier mash.

I didn’t use an exact 1:1 ratio with the coconut milk because I was worried about the flavor. I used around 2/3rds of the amount, and it worked out well.

Taste: a background hint of coconut, but not too strong.

Texture: creamy and smooth.

Verdict: I would use coconut milk again as a substitute, but be wary if you’re serving it to guests that don’t like coconut.

Creme fraiche

If you’re going to use creme fraiche, make sure you melt it before adding it to the potatoes. The thick texture of cold creme fraiche won’t give you the smooth mash consistency you’re looking for.

Melting it gives the creme fraiche a runnier texture and makes it easier to smooth the mash.

The potatoes took on a lot of the creme fraiche flavor, which wasn’t awful but definitely wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. It was a bit too rich for me.

I think bacon bits would have gone well with the creme fraiche flavor.

You could also mix the creme fraiche with something plainer, like the potato cooking water, to mute the flavor a bit.

Taste: sweet and tangy, very rich.

Texture: dry and lumpy using cold creme fraiche, much smoother with melted creme fraiche.

Verdict: overall, the taste was off-putting for me so I would aim to mix the creme fraiche with something plainer.

Cream cheese

Cream cheese ended up very similarly to creme fraiche texture-wise.

They have similarly thick consistencies, so the fat doesn’t incorporate well into the potatoes without melting them first.

Make sure you like the flavor of the cream cheese you’re using because you’ll be able to taste it. To enhance the cheesy flavor, you could also mix in some grated cheese.

Again, I recommend using a bit of cream cheese for the fat content but mixing it with something like the potato cooking water to thin it out and mute the flavors a bit.

Taste: quite a strong cream cheese flavor, goes well with potatoes.

Texture: creamy provided you melt the cream cheese before adding it.

Verdict: if you’ve got cream cheese in the fridge, go ahead and add it but make sure to thin it out first.

Almond milk

I used almond milk in my experiment, but any plant-based milk substitute will work.

The almond milk gave less of a creamy texture than the milk, but it was more creamy than just using water.

To fix this, I would recommend adding in a little bit of extra fat. Butter (vegan or not), coconut cream, creme fraiche, or cream cheese will all help get the richness that’s lacking.

Make sure you like the taste of the milk you add since they retain the flavor of their original source, and always go for the unsweetened version. I used a 1:1 ratio for the quantity.

Taste: potatoes take on the taste of the milk.

Texture: mostly smooth, but with a hint of graininess.

Verdict: okay, but would be made better by adding some extra fat in.

Unflavored yogurt

I used plain yogurt for my experiment, but you could also use unflavored greek yogurt.

The final texture of the mash turned out wonderfully smooth, and the yogurt bound the potatoes together nicely.

But the taste was a downside for me. I don’t feel the flavor of the plain yogurt went with the potatoes. It was way too tangy.

This would be rectified if you only used a little bit for the fat element, and then use a more plain liquid to smooth the potatoes.

Taste: very tangy, I didn’t like it.

Texture: nice and smooth.

Verdict: I wouldn’t use plain yogurt again, or if I did I would only add a small amount.

Unsweetened creamer

This was a last-minute addition because I found some in my cupboard and was curious to see if it worked.

I had powdered creamer and liquified it with some water so it was the texture of heavy cream. 

It worked fine but wasn’t amazing. 

The taste was pretty bland, which is sometimes a good thing with mash because you can taste the seasoning.

However, because there’s not much fat in the creamer, it didn’t bind the potatoes as much as I would have liked. There was a hint of graininess to the texture (maybe some extra butter would have helped this).

Taste: fairly bland, but meant the seasoning could sing.

Texture: smooth with a hint of graininess.

Verdict: if you have some lying around, go for it, but add some extra butter to enhance the creaminess

Water

Water doesn’t have any fat, so it didn’t bind the potatoes in the same way as the milk. 

It was easy to mash the potatoes and get rid of any lumps, but the texture was a bit grainy when you ate the potatoes. The water also diluted the taste of the butter and the seasoning, which left the mash a little bland.

I added slightly less water than the equivalent amount of milk because the potatoes didn’t soak it up as much, and I didn’t want to make the mash too watery! 

Taste: slightly bland, but not offensive.

Texture: grainy.

Verdict: adding water is better than having no milk substitute, but it’s definitely not the best option.

Potato cooking water

I was interested to see how potato cooking water would work.

It did help with smoothing the potatoes out, and the final texture was less grainy than just adding water.

But the taste was very potatoey. It lacked the creamy flavor that milk gives the mash.

Be aware that if you salted the water, you could be adding lots of salt to the mash along with the water. 

Taste: starchy and potatoey.

Texture: smooth but slightly grainy.

Verdict: not the best substitute, but better than adding nothing.

Olive oil

I tried olive oil but wasn’t overly impressed with it. Looking back, I think it’s more a substitute for butter rather than milk.

It wet the potatoes but didn’t provide them with a characteristic creaminess that milk does. The final texture was quite rough.

The potatoes also tasted very oily, which wasn’t particularly pleasant.

Taste: oily (I used olive oil).

Texture: wet but rough.

Verdict: I wouldn’t recommend using oil in place of milk. Water is a better option if you’re really stuck.

No substitute – just skip the milk (not recommended)

I don’t recommend just skipping the milk totally without replacing it with something. This resulted in lumpy, dry mash.

Because there wasn’t much liquid, it was hard work to mash the potatoes and remove all the lumps. The texture was also very stodgy.

Can I use water instead of milk in instant mash?

Yes, you can make instant mash with water instead of milk, but the mash will lack creaminess and taste pretty flat. Add something like butter or ranch dressing to the mash to fix these issues. You could also use broth instead of plain water. Or use a different dairy product like sour cream.

Best for milk substitute for instant mash

When it comes to instant mash, the best substitute to use is another diary product. This will ensure you get the creaminess and taste you’re looking for. Heavy cream or sour cream are good options. You can also use powdered milk. 

Non-dairy options include broth or plant milk. These options contain less fat, so it’s a good idea to add some margarine in as well to help with the texture and flavor.

The BEST Milk Substitutes For Mashed Potatoes

Halfway through cooking your mashed potatoes and just realized you’re out of milk?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I reveal the results of my experiment substituting 14 different ingredients for milk in mashed potato.
These substitutions should work whether you need:
– A vegan alternative
– Something already in your kitchen cupboard
– A lactose free substitute
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person
Calories 88 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion heavy cream or sour cream
  • 1 portion butter melted
  • 1 portion stock chicken, vegetable
  • 1 portion mayonnaise
  • 1 portion coconut milk
  • 1 portion creme fraiche
  • 1 portion cream cheese
  • 1 portion almond milk or other plant based milk
  • 1 portion unflavored yogurt
  • 1 portion cooking water or water
  • 1 portion olive oil

Instructions
 

Add heavy cream

  • You can use any type of cream here. Heavy cream, light cream, ½ and ½ will all give good results.
    Keep in mind that cream is quite calorific and will make for an indulgent mashed potato!
    Sour cream will also work really well and add a unique flavor.

Add melted butter

  • I added double the amount of melted butter that the recipe called for in my experiment. But you could get away with less if you want less of a butter taste.
    As with everything, start by adding a small amount and then increase the quantity until you’re happy.

Add stock (chicken/vegetable)

  • Substitute the milk for stock in a 1:1 ratio.
    I really liked the stock-ladened mashed potato.
    It tasted very strongly of stock, and maybe I’m weird, but I love the taste of chicken stock. The mash also had a much better texture than just water.
    There was no graininess, just a nice smooth mash.
    Don’t salt the mash until you’ve added the stock because stock tends to taste pretty salty.

Add mayonnaise

  • Add roughly 1 tablespoon of mayo per portion of mash.
    Adding mayonnaise gave the potatoes a nice consistency. They were well bound and creamy. However, there was a strong taste of mayonnaise.

Add coconut milk

  • Use 2/3rds of the milk volume as coconut milk.
    Coconut milk was an option that pleasantly surprised me.
    The end texture of the potatoes was smooth and rich. And it didn’t taste overwhelmingly of coconut!
    There was a slight hint, but nothing that you couldn’t drown out with some garlic or extra pepper.
    If you’re looking for a vegan substitute, coconut milk is a good option. It has more fat than other kinds of vegan milk, so it results in a creamier mash.

Add creme fraiche

  • If you’re going to use creme fraiche, make sure you melt it before adding it to the potatoes. The thick texture of cold creme fraiche won’t give you the smooth mash consistency you’re looking for.
    The potatoes took on a lot of the creme fraiche flavor, which wasn’t awful but definitely wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. It was a bit too rich for me.
    You could also mix the creme fraiche with something plainer, like the potato cooking water, to mute the flavor a bit.

Add cream cheese

  • Make sure you like the flavor of the cream cheese you’re using because you’ll be able to taste it. To enhance the cheesy flavor, you could also mix in some grated cheese.
    Again, I recommend using a bit of cream cheese for the fat content but mixing it with something like the potato cooking water to thin it out and mute the flavors a bit.

Add almond milk (or other plant based milks)

  • Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
    I used almond milk in my experiment, but any plant-based milk substitute will work.
    The almond milk gave less of a creamy texture than the milk, but it was more creamy than just using water.
    To fix this, I would recommend adding in a little bit of extra fat. Butter (vegan or not), coconut cream, creme fraiche, or cream cheese will all help get the richness that’s lacking.
    Make sure you like the taste of the milk you add since they retain the flavor of their original source, and always go for the unsweetened version.

Add unflavored yogurt

  • I used plain yogurt for my experiment, but you could also use unflavored greek yogurt.
    The final texture of the mash turned out wonderfully smooth, and the yogurt bound the potatoes together nicely.
    But the taste was a downside for me. I don’t feel the flavor of the plain yogurt went with the potatoes. It was way too tangy.
    This would be rectified if you only used a little bit for the fat element, and then use a more plain liquid to smooth the potatoes.

Add other ingredients

  • I also tried adding: unsweetened creamer, olive oil, water, and cooking water. These all weren't amazing but will do in a pinch. Full details are in the main post.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 88kcal
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