5 Perfectly Respectable Uses for Instant Mashed Potatoes

By Linsey Knerl on 14 February 2008 (Updated 13 September 2013) 32 comments

I have been making my own mashed potatoes from scratch since I learned how to boil water. Like most people, I can tell the difference between authentic mashed potatoes, made from fresh spuds, and the dehydrated “flakes” that come in a box. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use them, however. After being gifted a large supply of the instant stuff, I went in search of acceptable ways to use them. The results were surprisingly delicious!

Soup Thickener or Gravy

Formally a fan of flour or corn starch, I have started trying a dab of instant potato in my thicker cream soups and white gravies. My favorite use is, not surprisingly, potato soup. You can also make a mean corn chowder or white chili with just the right thickness that only instant potatoes can provide. Experiment with different amounts to get just the right effect.

Gnocchi

This small Italian delicacy literally means “lump.” This is perfect, since it is usually made with potatoes. Several reputable gnocchi fans have reported substituting the potatoes with their dehydrated cousins. Use the recipe below, and serve with your favorite red sauce.

HOMEMADE GNOCCHI

1 cup instant mashed potatoes
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 teaspoons butter, clarified
1 cup romano cheese, grated
3 cups flour

Prepare instant potatoes as directed on package.
Combine potato with eggs and salt and whip until fluffy.
Add ricotta cheese, butter, Romano cheese and flour.
Knead until smooth.
Shape into 1/2" rolls and cut into 1" lengths.
Make impression with thumb in each piece, then lightly dust with flour.
Drop into boiling salted water and cook only until they rise to the surface.
Drain and serve!

(Note: Before cooking, gnocchi may be flash frozen on a cookie sheet, then placed in plastic bag in freezer.)

Potato Bread

Delicious and full of carbs, a good potato bread is priceless. Make it yourself and be the envy of all your friends. It’s not too difficult, and you can throw in some of those instant potatoes for good measure. Try this recipe if it’s your first time.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Meatloaves and Meatballs

I have always loved preparing little meatloaves, and traditionally they are made with bread crumbs, rice, or oatmeal. Have you ever tried instant potatoes, instead? It makes meatloaf with a very consistent texture that is great for fancier variations. Simply substitute the potatoes cup for cup, and prepare as usual. (For some kickin’ meatloaf ideas, see my other article.)

Frying Batter

While not really a “batter,” my favorite way to fry pork chops, fish, chicken or even vegetables involves the coveted instant mashed potato. Mix 1 cup instant potato with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper. After dipping your meat in an egg wash, butter, or oil, dip into the potato mixture. Fry lightly in your favorite oil, and you will have a light and crispy coating in no time!

Potatoes

What? There is a way to eat instant potatoes that tastes like the real thing? Apparently so. This handy trick came to me from an article by Maggie Hardy.

“Use twice-diluted sweetened condensed milk in place of the water that's called for in the recipe on the package. Then, use once-diluted evaporated milk for the milk ingredient. Reduce the milk ingredient by 1/4 and make up the difference by using chicken broth. (Example: if the package calls for 1 cup of milk, replace that with 3/4 cup of once-diluted SCM and 1/4 cup of chicken broth.) Add your butter, salt, pepper and any other seasonings and you won't be able to tell the instant potatoes from the real thing.”

Can’t wait to try it, Maggie!

It appears that instant potatoes are useful. They also have a long shelf-life, and can be an inexpensive alternative in areas where fresh potatoes are scarce (or worse, green). How do you use your speedy spuds?

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Guest's picture
jess

i love creative stuff like this. although i can't imagine all that sweetened condensed milk being very healthy. ;)

Guest's picture
FrugalZen

I use the kind that come in the bag that you just have to add water too...they have everything else in them but here is something I do often.

Potato Soup

1 Tbsp Butter
1/3 cup Chopped Onion
1 Pork Bouillon Cube (Knorr-in Asian Markets usually or sub another flavor)
1 Quart Water
1 Bag Instant Potatoes (I like the Roasted Garlic but use what you like)
Milk or Cream
Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Saute the Onion in the Butter until Soft. Add the Water and the Bouillon Cube and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and Whisk in just enough of the Instant Potatoes to get a cake or muffin batter consistency. Add Milk or Cream until you have thinned it to desired consistency. Taste for Salt (usually doesn't need any because of the salt in the bouillon) and add Cracked Black Pepper if Desired.

Serve with a nice French Baugette.

~ Roland

Guest's picture
splott

That's what I was looking for. :)

Guest's picture

Thank You!

After trying Zuppa Tuscana from Olive Garden, I am looking for easy potato soup with hopefully less sodium! Just FYI, I am going to add sliced pepperoni for the seasoning.

Myscha Theriault's picture

OK, I am SOOOO digging the fact that they can be used for gnocchi! One of the things that's been holding me back on trying it is the double round of prep activity.

Very cool.

Guest's picture
Kathryn

I don't know how old your kids are, Lindsey, but if any of them are approaching the "fend for themselves" age, I've found that kids don't give a hoot about instant vs. fresh mashed potatoes. It's one of those things they can whip up for themselves for a hearty snack or make for the family if they want to help out or take charge of an entire meal, even.

Guest's picture
Scott

...until after college....my mother never made them.

I intend to file suit against her in the United States Federal Court for the District of Eastern Pennsylvania

Guest's picture

Sweetened? I'd think that would be kind of icky. I could see evaporated milk, but I don't know about the sugar.

I use them for baby food. My daughter gets really constipated from oats or rice cereals, so IMP have become a great thing to have in the pantry. Plus, they thicken up homemade baby food that has gotten too liquidy in the freezer (the squash puree that breaks down over time.) She loves them, and it's just dried potatoes with no chemicals (Barbara's brand, from the food co-op, so I don't feel guilty) so it is healthy for her. Very portable, too--a little in a ziploc bag can stay in the diaper bag indefinitely for those restaurant meals.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Cats like them too.. When we get a stray kitten around we will feed them the potatoes or any extra infant cereal we have.  They love it!

Guest's picture
Alexandra

Super tips!

Guest's picture
K

I was in search of recipes to use for a full box of Potato Buds that was near expiration date and found one for chocolate chip cookies using Potato Buds that are supposidly out of this world. I will be testing those this next week.

Guest's picture
Guest

hope the cookies were good. i am looking for that. could you send it please. and thank you

Guest's picture
K

Now that I think about it my mom made Lefse (Scandinavian flat bread sort of similar to a tortilla) with instant mashed potatoes instead of riced potatoes occasionally.

http://www.lefsetime.com/all_about_lefse/

Guest's picture
steve

No worries about "expiration". You can probably eat dried potatoes for a couple of years past their expiration, if not more.

Linsey Knerl's picture

That is the coolest commercial for Smash! Thanks for sharing.

Guest's picture
Guest

I was reading about adding sweetened condensed milk to instant mashed potatoes, and I think maybe it should be evaporated milk instead. I checked the link to Maggie's page, and I think she means evaporated milk with her recipes, too. Just a head's up. Thanks for your great ideas!

Guest's picture
Guest

My kids love to use instant potatoes as part of a family favorite. "Hot Dog Boats" or really unhealthy, glow in the dark, oh my veins are clogging boats.

Make up some potatoes, enough for 8 people
two pkgs. hot dogs, beef in our kosher home
seasoned salt
1 cup shredded cheese or enough slices of processed cheese to cover.

1. Slice hot dogs length wise, and lay out on a cookie sheet.
2. Stuff the hot dogs with the instant potatoes.
3. Strinkle with the seasoned salt.
4. Cover with cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted, about 25 minutes.

Eat with ketchup and a salad on the side.

Guest's picture
Guest

You agree to keep your comments:

■relevant to the topic
respectful of others, and
■suitable for a family forum.

Please keep this in mind when you post.
meat does not go with cheese,
the reference is neither necessary nor respectful

Guest's picture
Guest

...what?

Guest's picture
AvaRoss

wow that sounds weird but really really good. I think i will try that sometime :) o and whoever said meat doesn't go with cheese has obviously never heard of chili cheese dogs, Philly cheese steaks... etc.

Guest's picture
Willie

That is a strange post. The author states that their home is kosher then proceeds to say they put a dairy product on a meat product.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks!  I've edited the article to reflect your discovery. I was wondering if that's what was intended, but didn't want to question someone with better ideas than my own.  I appreciate the catch!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
Guest

I usually never use instant mashed potatoes, but in a pinch they work great for the topping on a Shepard's Pie. (You know you didn't plan for dinner when...)

Guest's picture
Guest

i'm sorry, the ...what comment was meant to be a reply to #20. I'm confused as to what's going on there.

Guest's picture
Guest

No-one who keeps a kosher home would contemplate preparing meat (sausage) and dairy (cheese) together. They must be cooked in separate kitchens and served separately. Referring to your recipe as kosher is deeply offensive to observant Jews.

Guest's picture
JoPi

I know that we can't use "Instant" mashed potatoes because one of the ingredients is sulfites also called sodium metabisulfite. If you have asthma and are allergic to sulfites you will have an asthma attack if you use this product.

Guest's picture
Guest

If the breading/frying thing works well, we are going to be one happy gluten-free family! Never thought of using potato flakes for breading.

Guest's picture
Lisa

Love the ideas. Thank you. I fix instant potatoes all the time for my diabetic husband. He can eat those and it doesn't run up his blood sugar. Adding some heavy cream or evaporated milk with real butter, salt and pepper and its really good.

I've even taken the cold left over instant potatoes and made potato cakes. Just add flour, salt, pepper and an egg, form into patties and fry in hot canola oil. Serve with milk/flour gravy. My family loves them.

Guest's picture
Sarah

My little comfort snack is instant mash made with boiling water, add pepper and sour cream and lots of shaved parmesan. Sometimes I throw in some steamed veg too. It's a comforty snack made in seconds that's perfect for when you feel ill.

Guest's picture
julia

For the Gnocci, you DO NOT have to cook the potatos! Just add the water to the instant potatos and gnocci away :)

Guest's picture
Guest

To save time, I use instant mashed potatoes for Shepherds Pie. The kids love it. Follow the directions on the box for mashed potatoes, I use the Butter and Herb flavour. Brown ground beef and open a can or corn or peas. Transfer ground beef in a square pan, then can of peas or corn, top with instant mashed potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes if desired.