For these black pepper mashed potatoes, put away your potato ricer or stand mixer. The beauty of these made-from-scratch spuds, besides the sugar that offsets the earthiness of the spuds, is their hunky chunky texture. This is the time to haul out your handheld potato masher that’s been languishing somewhere in your basement.

As for that pinch of sugar, we know it’s not politically correct to add sugar where it’s not needed, but trust us–your family is gonna love these. That’s the sort of genius that happens when you let a pastry chef make mashed potatoes.Renee Schettler Rossi

What Kind Of Potato Makes The Best Mashed Potatoes?

This black pepper mashed potatoes recipe originally called for creamy red skin potatoes, which are perfectly lovely. But because not everyone has red potatoes on hand when hit by a craving for mashed potatoes from scratch, some of our recipes testers swapped in russets while others subbed white new potatoes. And yet no one was disappointed by their results. Quite the contrary, actually. Which means you can rest assured that you really can’t go wrong with this recipe, no matter what sort of potato you use.

A baking dish filled with mashed potatoes that are sprinkled with black pepper

Black Pepper Mashed Potatoes

5 from 1 vote
These black pepper mashed potatoes are not your ordinary spuds. They’re made with plenty of butter, milk, and black pepper, of course. But the secret ingredient? A pinch of sugar to bring out the other flavors.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories379 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • Handheld potato masher


  • 2 pounds red skin potatoes, rinsed, peeled if desired, and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) chunks
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste


  • Fill a large pot about 2/3 full with cold water, add the potatoes, and slide the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Carefully drain the potatoes, being wary of the steaming hot water, and transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Working quickly, add the butter, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper and mash with a handheld potato masher. Serve hot. (If, by any chance, you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate them for up to a couple days and then follow the instructions for the Leftover Mashed Potatoes Casserole that follow. Trust us on this.)


How To Make Leftover Mashed Potatoes Casserole

Leftover black pepper mashed potatoes make a bang-up casserole when they’re mixed with some sour cream, spooned into a buttered baking dish, and baked alone or with leftover cooked veggies or sliced meat tossed on top at 350°F (177°C) for 45 minutes.

Adapted From

Milk Bar Life

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 379 kcalCarbohydrates: 40 gProtein: 5 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 15 gMonounsaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 62 mgSodium: 1210 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Christina Tosi. Photo © 2015 Gabriele Stabile. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is my absolute favorite mashed potatoes recipe. I have already made this twice and love both the taste and the ease of putting it together. I think, indeed, the sugar does bring it all together. I used 2 pounds of russets freshly harvested from our garden. It took about 20 minutes for the potatoes to be fork-tender. I drained the potatoes and returned them to the stove for a couple of minutes to dry them. I followed the directions and had the most amazing mashed potatoes. I mashed the potatoes by hand, so it was a little lumpy, but that’s how we like them.

Crowd pleaser! I made these tonight with small red potatoes from the farmers’ market, and they were delicious. In fact, my pickiest eater said “these potatoes are amazing!” I was concerned about boiling the potatoes without any salt in the water but followed the recipe as written, adding the salt after cooking, and they tasted perfectly well-seasoned. My family prefers their potatoes well-cooked, so I boiled them for 20 minutes, although they were fork-tender at 15. I may cut down the amount of sugar a little next time, as my kids thought they were perfect, but I detected a tad too much sweetness.

Let’s face it. Mashed potatoes are a classic dish that everyone loves; you can’t go wrong with a big bowl of spuds at dinner, no matter who is joining you. That said, when I see a unique variation on classic mashed potatoes, I love to try it out. The recipe says that the secret to the potatoes is the tablespoon of sugar, which I agree put a nice spin on them, but I truly think the secret to these potatoes is not just the sugar, but the combination of the sugar, butter, and cracked pepper. I decided to use Yukon Gold potatoes, which really enhanced the buttery flavor and color of these butter-filled potatoes! My potatoes only took about 12 minutes to get tender. Overall, the sweetness from the sugar was very faint but it paired nicely with the butter. The cracked pepper not only added a lovely peppery crunch, but it looked pretty, too! My pepper grinder had pink and black peppercorns in it, which was a lovely color contrast to the yellow, buttery potatoes.

Completely wonderful method and details to elevate your standard mash a bit and give reliably delicious results. I like red, waxy potatoes and chose smallish ones, so that when I trimmed any would-be eyes and scars, I’d removed just enough skin to make the remaining pieces perfect for incorporating into the mash. If you were using another variety, say Yukon Golds or rosy fingerlings, they might be tender sooner than the 15 minutes it took my reds. I like the waxier ones for their flavor and tolerance for so many different treatments, not to mention they aren’t watery. The small amount of sugar was a surprise ingredient, but it worked well with the pepper and butter and made the flavors pop, so I will probably include it in the future. I like to mash by hand with an old-fashioned masher and for there to be some texture or small lumpy bits along with the skin. I am very cautious about using a paddle mixer on potatoes, having once turned my carefully picked blue potatoes into a gluey mass that none of the kids or adults wanted to try at a holiday dinner! The thing that blew me away was how well the reheating method worked the next day. I stirred in a bit of crème fraîche, put everything in the oven dish, and lightly covered it with foil, and it made for a second-night dish that definitely did not feel like leftovers. Winner winner for dinner! I made a half recipe since there was just two of us, and even that yielded 2 nights of dinners for 2 (modest portions—don’t let me lie because it was very tempting to have more of these, but that would have meant no leftovers for the perfect reheating). On a scale of 1 to 10, these are an 11.

This is a simple mashed potatoes recipe that produces a very good mash. I used 3 russet potatoes to reach the 2 pounds required in the recipe. When I was getting ready to make these potatoes, I realized that the butter was supposed to be room temperature. Not wanting to wait hours to make the potatoes, I placed my cubes in the microwave for 15 seconds on 60% power. I mixed the sugar, salt, and pepper together before adding them to the potatoes. The flavor of the mash was a good balance of salt and pepper. However, I was not a fan of the sugar. I might try them again cutting the sugar in half or eliminating it all together. The cooking method was simple and straightforward.

These black pepper mashed potatoes were definitely “moreish.” I kept on eating spoonful after spoonful. I made these with white new potatoes that came in my farmers’ market box. I have no idea what type. It’s hard to know if it was the addition of sugar, the fresh potatoes, or the generous amount of butter that made these so tasty. The recipe would serve 4 if you were eating the potatoes with something else. I just ate them with a salad, nibbled out of the bowl, and packed for lunch. In all, I had 3 meals with these potatoes. If I were to make these again, I’d reduce the amount of salt a bit and then taste and add more if necessary. I cooked the potatoes in my pressure cooker, so they only needed to cook for about 6 minutes.

These black pepper mashed potatoes were actually quite tasty. Not a big surprise with that amount of butter. When I make mashed potatoes my way, I use about 1/3 of the amount of butter and a bit of heavy cream instead of milk. Not a big difference in taste, if any at all, but way less calories. I used russets, as I always do with mashed potatoes.

The potatoes were delicious. I served them with porchetta and honey and lemon thyme roasted carrots.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    So seeing the photo up top made me do a couple of things: 1) bang out OMG I NEED THIS NOW on David’s FB post about the recipe; and 2) clatter into the kitchen (thankfully a short hop from the computer), praying that I would have some potatoes on hand. 25 minutes later, I was sitting down with the pot that I had boiled and mashed the spuds in on my lap (atop a judiciously-placed cushion), digging in. For me, there is no problem in the world that mashed potatoes can’t make better. And this recipe, as simple as it is, punches all the right buttons. My method for mash is this: mash the spuds straight after draining until barely lumpy, salt lightly, then beat in all other seasonings with a wooden spoon. I find that it makes it fluffier (provided you’re using a fairly floury potato to start with). The butter we get here has a much higher fat content, and is slightly cultured, so there’s a nice, full, bass-note twang. Sugar was the light brown stuff, ‘cos I like the caramel edge in the middle section, and the pepper – 1 teaspoon of freshly ground fruity Tellicherry made it sing. This is a mash that should almost have a side dish, not be a side dish!

    1. Ling Teo, and this is why we love you so! I would “like” this comment an infinite number of times if I could. Especially the part where you said “twang.” Many, many thanks for taking the time to drop us this note.

      1. Haha! You’re most welcome, Renee! (twang). I’ll be looking for any excuse to make these again and again. Happy holidays to you all at LC!