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Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food: a staple at holiday meals and weeknight suppers alike. Martie Duncan, cookbook author and host of the Homemade Podcast, makes them often using a classic potato masher she inherited from her mother. “But if you want an extra-smooth mashed potato for the holidays or another kind of special occasion, you might want to use a potato ricer,” says Duncan. She has both in her kitchen.
Many cooking experts recommend ricers for the fluffiest possible mashed potatoes. The way they process cooked potatoes through a screen guarantees a lump-free side dish. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you may want to consider having both a masher and ricer. After all, though they’re known as potato mashers and ricers, they both have uses beyond the humble spud.
Mashers, which come in either a perforated or wave design, come in handy for quickly breaking down avocados for guacamole and bananas for banana bread. Ricers have a multitude of uses including making homemade baby food, applesauce, and even fresh fruit juices. They’re also ideal for squeezing excess water from greens and other veggies.
If you must choose one, though, Duncan has a clear-cut opinion: “Every household needs a potato masher.” Here, the best potato ricers and mashers for Thanksgiving and any time of year.
This easy-to-use tool is actually three potato ricers in one. It comes with three interchangeable settings: coarse, medium, and fine. A cleverly designed dial mechanism allows you to switch between them without swapping them out of the ricer, which means you never lose track of the ones not currently in use. Use the fine setting for making light-as-air gnocchi and silky vegetable purees or baby food. The medium setting yields a delightfully rustic mashed potato. It’s just the right size for homemade spaetzle.
You can also use it to wring all the excess liquid out of greens like frozen spinach. Finally, the coarse setting is perfect for creating chunky applesauce or other textured sauces. It’s designed with a convenient notched attachment that allows it to sit securely on the rim of your mixing bowl. Handles are padded and nonslip, which means no sore hands no matter how many potatoes you need to do. After you’re finished cooking, this ricer can be cleaned right in the dishwasher.
This classic design makes quick and efficient work of your boiled spuds. It’s made from abuse-proof solid stainless steel. It features a soft-touch silicone handle for firm and easy gripping. The perforated mashing surface has an unusual design feature: the exterior holes are larger while the interior holes are smaller, which leads to quicker mashing and a lump-free finished product.
One side of the masher has a built-in bowl scraper, which lets you easily whisk your potatoes out of the bowl and into your serving dish, minimizing both waste and cleanup. When not in use, you can store it easily by hanging it by its integrated hook. This masher is dishwasher safe and BPA-free. Minimal grooves and seams mean no dirt gets trapped and it’s easy and quick to wash by hand. You’ll want to use it to make egg salad and guacamole as well.
This ricer has the kind of fine-texture disk that’s ideal for creating the pillowy gnocchi of your Italian food dreams. Its extra-long handles provide much-needed leverage for easy pressing. They’re also padded for a comfortable grip. It’s made from heavy-duty stainless steel that’s rust-proof and warp-resistant.
You won’t even need to peel your potatoes for use in this ricer—the fine holes push the potato through while keeping the peels behind. Just discard them as you go. If you want to use your ricer for a wide variety of things, like applesauce, you probably want to choose one with multiple options for hole sizes. But this one can certainly make plush, fluffy mashed potatoes in addition to the aforementioned gnocchi. It’s also possible to make fresh-squeezed fruit juice with this ricer. Just place ripe fruit in the hopper and squeeze over a bowl. But note: Those fine holes do mean a little extra elbow grease may be required.
The waffle-style potato masher isn’t for everyone. Some cooks just prefer the look, feel, and performance of the wave-style masher. And if you love a more rustic mashed potato with some texture or a chunky guacamole, you’ll definitely want to seek out this style.
The wave design makes it harder to overprocess your food. (On the flip side, if only the smoothest, silkiest mashed potatoes will do, avoid the wave-style design.) This model is silicone-coated, which has the added benefit of not scratching your cookware. So if you’ve got nonstick pots and pans, you definitely want to mash with one of these instead of a grate-style metal option, which will scratch and chip that nonstick finish. (It will also safeguard the seasoning on your cast iron cookware.) This design is heat-resistant, so you can go right ahead and mash food right in a hot pot or skillet on the stovetop. It’s BPA-free and dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
Though it may look like a large whisk, this is actually a uniquely designed potato masher. Chunks get trapped inside the "cage," and the coils compress as you push down, resulting in a fine mash. That motion reduces the number of times needed to punch the potatoes, making this tool a little easier on the wrists, and the handle is easy to hold as well.
The silicone scraper, which is heat-safe up to 500 degrees, makes quick work of scraping bits from the bowl or pot (without scratching any nonstick surfaces). This stainless steel, BPA-free gadget is safe to throw in the dishwasher, so you can go straight to serving those spuds without worrying about cleaning up.
Designed like a giant garlic press, this ricer easily turns your boiled potatoes into a pile of evenly riced potato flesh just waiting for the slightest encouragement and maybe some milk and butter to become the fluffiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever had. It’s made from durable, heavy-duty plastic. The contoured handle is pleasant to hold and easy to grip firmly. A notched extension allows you to securely anchor it over a bowl or pot.
There are two plates included—one medium and one coarse. The medium is ideal for mashed potatoes, but if you have gnocchi on your made-from-scratch wish list, you may want to choose a ricer that offers that all-important fine setting. If you love making a cauliflower crust for pizza, this tool is the perfect thing to squeeze the excess water from your cauliflower before forming the crust. The ricer disassembles easily for cleaning, and it's dishwasher safe. If you have a masher and are looking to add a ricer to your toolkit, this inexpensive model could be just the thing.
Let’s say the main reason you want a potato ricer is for the holidays when you’re cooking up a portion of mashed potatoes big enough for a football team. Sure, you can use a conventionally sized ricer, but you’ll need to fill up the hopper over and over, squeezing and pressing yourself into hand cramps. There’s also the possibility you want to use your ricer as an alternative to a food mill. You want to puree pounds of tomatoes or make your child’s everyday supply of baby foods.
In these cases, you’ll want a large-capacity ricer, and this model is an excellent choice. It’s made from stainless steel, with coated handles for a comfort grip. As with other models, there’s a notched extension for resting the ricer on a pot or bowl. The bigger basket means you’ll be able to get through all your potatoes while they’re still hot, which is crucial when it comes to smooth, fluffy potatoes.
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Joy Manning is a food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in many publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post. She’s the author of Almost Meatless and Stuff Every Cook Should Know.