When it comes to store bought mashed potatoes, there are a lot of options. You’ve got your just-add-water instant mashed potatoes nestled near the rice and pasta. Your frozen mashed potatoes chilling with the frozen vegetables. And then somewhere in a refrigerator—either near the rotisserie chickens or back by the meat counter—you’ll find the premade mashed potatoes (aka microwave mashed potatoes), which may be the best of the bunch. Oh, yeah. There are also actual potatoes in the produce department that you could peel and boil and mash together with three gallons of cream and 15 sticks of butter, but after this taste test I really don’t think you should bother!
Hear me out (and then yell at me in the comments if you must): Premade mashed potatoes taste as good as homemade mashed potatoes, but they are actually better than homemade mashed potatoes by virtue of being zero effort. I don’t care if your memaw makes the most delicious mashed taters this side of the Rockies—I’ve done the cost-benefit analysis and, I’m telling you, the effort just isn’t worth it, especially when you have 800 things going on and an entire internet to stare at on your phone. Just buy microwave mashed potatoes! But first, read this list to find the best premade mashed potatoes for you.
- Kroger Homestyle
At first we couldn’t put a finger on the flavor we detected in these premade mashed potatoes from Kroger. Is it potato soup? Maybe chowder? Then my colleague Jordan Myrick got it: These store bought mashed potatoes actually taste like potato skins, and that’s definitely a good thing. They’re earthy and loose, more like the consistency of a cauliflower mash. If you like creamy mashed potatoes you’ll like these. By microwave mashed potato standards, they aren’t exactly bursting with flavor, but that makes them great for dressing up with some shredded cheddar or crumbled bacon. Then, when anyone asks if you made the mashed potatoes, you can say yes!
Credit: Merc / Ralphs
- Hormel Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Yes, garlic is the predominant flavor profile in these Hormel premade mashed potatoes, but butter is a very close second. They are outrageously buttery tasting—and it’s actual dairy butter flavor, as Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling pointed out, not fakey margarine flavor. Lean into that udder deliciousness (see what I did there?) by adding a little extra whole milk to the tray before you serve these. Of the microwave mashed potatoes we taste tested, these were on the drier side, but a splash of milk will do the trick. They’ll taste great either way.
Credit: Merc / Vons
- Bob Evans Sour Cream and Chive
After I took a bite of these Bob Evans mashed potatoes, I legitimately walked around the office with a fork forcing everyone to try them. When premade mashed potatoes are this damn flavorful, you want to share them—what can I say?! They’re thick, creamy, potatoey, and so rich with the tang of sour cream and the subtle funk and earthiness of oniony chive. These microwave mashed potatoes were my personal favorite of the bunch, but I think they might be a little too flavored for some people’s purposes, especially if you’re serving a big group for the holidays. But, if you want to mix things up at Thanksgiving dinner (or literally any dinner ever), buy these.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes
Okay, as I said you can yell at me in the comments if you think I’m wrong, but I truly think these Bob Evans mashed potatoes taste exactly like homemade mashed potatoes. But you didn’t boil and peel and sweat over a stock pot while you incessantly mashed—you put the tray in the microwave and called it a day. They’re rich and creamy and have so much wonderful potatoey flavor. Buy the family-sized tray, dump it into a nice, big serving bowl, and then go have a glass of wine while you watch the parade instead of slaving away in the kitchen. The best premade mashed potatoes really are that good.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
Best Blank Slate
Best of the Best
Other premade mashed potatoes we tried: Hormel Loaded Mashed Potatoes, Reser’s Main St. Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Marketside Homestyle Mashed Potatoes