Are you a big fan of smashed potatoes? If you are, you may have wondered if there is a best way to smash the potatoes - is it with a fork, spatula, potato masher, or something else? Here we go over 7 different smashing methods and compare the plusses and minuses of each method!
Smashed potatoes are super popular and it's easy to see why: they are crispy, crunchy and such a fun spin on regular roasted potatoes! And, just as you can find a ton of different smashed potato recipes online, you can also find many different ways to put the "smash" in the smashed potato!
So, I started wondering - are there any differences among these various smashing techniques? Or are the all pretty much the same? I decided to test out as many different smashed potato methods I could find, and show you the results!
Just to be clear, this post only compares the techniques for smashing the potatoes, not the recipes used to cook the smashed potatoes. Here, I used my own air fryer smashed potato recipe on all the potatoes (sans the herbs, because I didn't want anything to obscure the browning we are looking for!).
Overview of the different smashed potato methods
These are the different methods for smashing potatoes that I tested:
- spatula (both flat and slotted)
- potato masher
- large fork
Now let's take a closer look at how each smashed potato method did in a side-by-side comparison.
First, I tested the slotted spatula. Here is what the smashed potato looked like, both before and after cooking:
The slotted spatula method is great - you get nice top and side texture, resulting in an overall crispy crunchy smashed potato. And, it's relatively foolproof (which is not the case with some of the other techniques coming up!).
After I did the slotted spatula, I decided I needed to also use a flat spatula, since this could create a different result. And I was right! Here you can see the potato smashed by the flat spatula, both before and after cooking:
The flat spatula method is not quite as good as the slotted spatula, in my opinion. You get some great texture on the sides, but, as the name implies, the top is rather flat and without much texture. But, this is an easy technique that still yields good results.
Next, let's test out the glass method. For best results, look for a glass that has a flat bottom. Check out the before and after cooking pictures below:
I really like the glass method. It's easy to do, and creates nice, thin, crispy edges. But similar to the flat spatula, there isn't much going on on top.
Potato masher method
Moving on to the potato masher method! This one was pretty interesting. Let me show you the before and after photos, and then we can discuss:
So, first of all, this was by far the trickiest method. I am including another photo below, showing you my first fail using this method:
I quickly found out that if you press too hard, the potato will spread up over the ridges of the masher, making it nearly impossible to remove the potato in one piece. So, just be careful to stop pressing when you see the potato flesh start to emerge through the masher's ridges!
On the other hand, those deep ridges create a ton of texture (and thus browning) on top. This one was definitely the crunchiest due to those deep ridges.
That being said, there is not much going on in terms of side texture, since the masher didn't do much to feather out those edges. This may be desirable, however, if you're looking for a nice contrast between the crunchy exterior and creamy interior.
Okay, now let's try the hand method. Let's check out the before and after pictures:
Not much to write home about here. This is by far the least crunchy smashed potato. The hand method is easy to execute, and you don't need any equipment. But, you need to wait for the potato to be cool enough to handle. And, there are so many other easy techniques here that I think we can do better.
We are nearly done with our list now, moving on to the fork method. Here are the before and after cooking photos using the fork:
This one, like the potato masher technique, was quite interesting. The fork, being relatively smaller than the potato, kind of broke the potato apart when pressed down, creating an irregular shape that was close to falling apart.
However, that irregularity created a lot of cragginess that turned into delicious crunchiness when cooked!
Large fork method
Okay, here is the very last method I tested: the large fork (so basically, a fork used for serving instead of eating). Let's take a look at what the large fork method looked like, both before and after cooking:
The large fork solved the problem of the potato breaking apart caused by the smaller fork. So, it had a nicer shape and held together better. But, the tradeoff was less texture on the sides!
VIDEO: COMPARING METHODS FOR SMASHING POTATOES
If you'd like to see what each of these potato smashing techniques looked like in real time, check out the video below:
Recapping the smashing methods: is there a "best" one?
So, I just went over each technique one by one, including the plusses and minuses. Did a clear winner emerge? I would say not really. Some smashed potato methods were obviously better than others (looking at you, hand method!). But, it kind of depends on your own preferences. Here are a few takeaways:
- In my opinion, the top method for crispy edges is a tie between both spatulas and the glass method.
- I think the top method for a crunchy top, and overall crunchiness, is the potato masher method. With the caveat that this method can be a little tricky to get right at first.
- And, if I had to pick a best overall, I would go with the slotted spatula. You get good crispy edges, plus decent top crunchiness, and it's easy to execute.
So that's all - for all those smashed potato fans out there, I hope this was helpful! Do you have a favorite way you like to smash potatoes? Is there another technique out there I should try? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section!
And if you are now urgently craving smashed potatoes, I don't blame you! Check out my recipe for smashed potatoes in the air fryer, the are ready in record time (thanks to some help from the microwave!).