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I tried 3 brands of store-bought mashed potatoes and Idahoan surprised me with its homemade-tasting, fluffy potatoes

Summary List Placement This Thanksgiving, with most people opting for smaller dinners or even being by themselves, it's all about choosing the quickest and easiest option for food. Despite being someone who usually swears by homemade mashed potatoes, I decided to try out a variety of instant mashed potato brands and flavors...

instant mashed potatoes

Summary List Placement

This Thanksgiving, with most people opting for smaller dinners or even being by themselves, it’s all about choosing the quickest and easiest option for food.

Despite being someone who usually swears by homemade mashed potatoes, I decided to try out a variety of instant mashed potato brands and flavors in order to determine the absolute best instant mashed potato brand you’ll find in the grocery store.

The brands included Big Y, Bell’s, and Idahoan with flavors ranging from classic butter to sour cream and chive and roasted garlic.

Almost every kind of instant mashed potatoes I tried required only a microwave and water, and I was surprised to find that instant mashed potatoes were a pretty good alternative to the homemade kind.

Here are six different kinds of instant, store-bought mashed potatoes, ranked from worst to best.

SEE ALSO: 13 Thanksgiving sides you can make in a slow cooker

Bell’s sour cream and chive mashed potatoes were the same price as the classic, which I also tried.

The package cost $1.79 for a 4-ounce bag. 

My first impression of these potatoes was that they were a little thick.

My arm got a little bit of a workout stirring the mix with the boiling water.

Just as I anticipated, the texture was a little starchy.

The sour cream and chive flavor didn’t fully come through, either. Perhaps these potatoes would have been better with milk added, like the classic version.

However, if you’re looking for a super-filling instant mashed potato mix, this is the one for you. I could barely eat a few bites before feeling completely full.

Idahoan’s classic mashed potatoes and other flavors made slightly more servings than the other brands.

A 4-ounce bag of Idahoan instant mashed potatoes costs $1.49 and makes four and a half servings. Like the Big Y brand mashed potatoes, Idahoan instant potatoes require only a microwave and two cups of water.

I really appreciated the easiness and not having to take up precious stove space, and imagine I would appreciate that even more if I was actually cooking these for Thanksgiving.

The potatoes had a good, fluffy consistency.

Despite being made from a powder, they weren’t grainy or thick. 

The classic version of Idahoan instant mashed potatoes looked and tasted like homemade mashed potatoes.

If someone had told me they had come from a packet, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. The butter flavor was perfectly prominent. My only criticism of the Idahoan classic mashed potatoes was that they were slightly salty for my liking.

Big Y’s butter mashed potatoes were the cheapest of the brands I tried.

The store-brand instant mashed potatoes cost $1.29 for a 4-ounce bag, which serves four people.

The Big Y butter mashed potatoes were super light and fluffy.

Giving the bowl a stir, they did have a similar consistency to “real” mashed potatoes.

The flavor was satisfying overall.

The butter flavor was slightly stronger than the Idahoan brand’s, and they also tasted distinctly creamier. Big Y really came out on top, however, with its consistency – the potatoes were so light, they practically melted in your mouth.

However, I wondered how such a light mashed potato would hold up against thick gravy on top. You probably couldn’t make mashed potato volcanos with this one.

I also tried Idahoan’s sour cream and chive flavor.

A 4-ounce bag cost me $1.49 and contained four-and-a-half servings.

Idahoan’s sour cream and chive mashed potatoes fared far better than the Bell’s brand.

The texture, just like the classic flavor, was light and fluffy. I could also spot specks of chives mixed into the potatoes which gave them an authentic appearance.

The sour cream and chive flavor really came through.

I was again impressed by both the texture and flavor of Idahoan’s mashed potatoes. Unlike the classic flavor, I didn’t find this flavor too salty at all. Rather, they were creamy and seasoned perfectly.

Bell’s classic mashed potatoes were the most complicated to make.

This brand of mashed potatoes required using a stove and other ingredients. To make them, you need 1 tablespoon of butter, 3/4 cup of milk, one and a half cups of water, and a teaspoon of salt.

They were also slightly more expensive than the other brands — a 4-ounce package cost me $1.79.

Making these instant potatoes felt a little bit more involved, but I thought they came out great.

The texture was a nice balance between fluffy and thick, and the milk added a wonderful creaminess I didn’t get from the other brands.

These were my favorite classic mashed potatoes.

I liked knowing how much real butter was put in, and thought these would be a good base for people looking to spice up their instant potatoes. 

However, despite tasting better than the other two classic butter instant potato brands, they did create a little bit more of a mess. Part of the draw of instant mashed potatoes is saving precious stove space, which is where this brand falters slightly.

My favorite flavor of instant mashed potatoes was the Idahoan roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Just like the brand’s other flavors, a 4-ounce bag cost me $1.49 and contained four-and-a-half servings.

Right away after mixing, I could smell the garlic — I even saw flecks of it in the mashed potatoes.

The potatoes also had a light, fluffy texture while still holding their shape.

These mashed potatoes were buttery and extremely flavorful.

Even for someone who can be a little sensitive to garlic, the garlic flavor was strong but not overpowering. I thought this kind would pair well with gravy and other Thanksgiving foods.

Think garlic bread meets mashed potatoes — what more could you want on the holidays?

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