I tried 3 refrigerated brands

Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of warm, buttery and velvety mashed potatoes? All signs point to no – and you certainly don’t need a holiday like Thanksgiving as an excuse to eat them.

Mashed potatoes are so much more than a carb treat — they’re a necessary ingredient in a variety of dishes like meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, and Salisbury steak. But my very favorite concoction is with a bowl, a spoon, and pants with an elastic waistband.

Cooking and mashing potatoes yourself is not a difficult task and many chefs call my decision to buy chilled varieties perhaps blasphemy and textbook laziness, but sometimes life gets stressful and complicated and if I want chilled mashed potatoes, I want to become chilled mashed potatoes.

Surprisingly, Amazon Fresh tends to only sell three prepackaged options (at least in the NYC area). So if you’re hoping to satiate that craving in a pinch, you’re not going to get much variety. However, the range includes the self-proclaimed #1 (they literally use that award to promote the product), Bob Evans, the tried and true Hormel, and then a brand I’d never heard of: Reser’s.

Which of these smooth tubers came out on top in the ultimate taste test? The results surprised me and they probably will surprise you, America. Check out my full ranking below.

3. Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes

Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes
Bob Evans Original Mashed PotatoesCourtesy of Joey Skladany

The national chain may want to reconsider its marketing campaign as “America’s #1 Chilled Mashed Potato.” While the creamy texture was there and flavorful, I felt it was entirely too potatoy with virtually zero notes of butter, cream, or even salt. In fact, these tasted downright healthy, which is the last thing I want to experience when partaking in carb bliss. To salvage the recipe, which honestly doesn’t stand on its own, incorporate these into a dish like the shepherd’s pie mentioned above, where ingredients like meat and veggies help to complement and enhance the flavor. Otherwise, it’s better to go to an actual Bob Evans restaurant and personally order their fresh mashed potatoes (which I can say are provably delicious and an upgrade to the packaged variety).

2. Hormel Homestyle Mashed Potatoes

Hormel mashed potatoes house style
Hormel mashed potatoes house styleCourtesy of Joey Skladany

While Hormel got points for creaminess, his recipe had a slight hint that reminded me of sour cream. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you want your mashed potatoes to taste like cream, you’ll be disappointed with the overall flavor profile. That said, these are easiest to zhuzhen with your own ingredients, like chives, shredded cheddar, garlic, or bacon bits. They take on any topping with ease, and since the foundation isn’t as potato-heavy as Bob Evans, these toppings will shine on their own. Just be careful not to overdo it — adding a lot of greasy ingredients can make you feel physically sick after eating something that’s already so dense and filling.

1. Creamy mashed potatoes from Reser

Creamy mashed potatoes from Reser
Creamy mashed potatoes from ReserCourtesy of Joey Skladany

This was hands down the best pre-made mashed potatoes of the bunch. It might even be the best pre-made mashed potato product I’ve ever tried. The recipe was smooth, buttery, and had a perfect amount of black pepper for added spice. You really don’t need to add anything, which is why I was able to fit almost an entire tray in one sitting (#dangerous). If you’re looking for a side dish, quickly throw it in the microwave and serve with a spoon in an oversized bowl. Nobody needs to know that you didn’t have to go through the hassle of peeling, washing, cooking, and pureeing to achieve something absolutely tuberous.

Of course, you can make your own mashed potatoes at home if you’re feeling a little more motivated. Here are some of my favorite recipes from TODAY:

Creamy mashed potatoes

Courtesy of Crisis Kish

A classic, highly rated recipe that includes chicken broth for added depth of umami flavor.

Cloud Nine Mashed Potatoes from Carson's mom

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Carson decorates his taters with booze, which sounds absurd until you realize how well it goes with roasted garlic and crumbled bacon.

Slow cooker mashed potatoes

Nathan Congleton

Is there anything a slow cooker can’t do? Apparently not, which is why I love this quick and easy recipe that uses cream cheese for added decadence.

Sweet potato and plantain puree

Courtesy of Kevin Curry

This iteration of sweet potatoes and plantains is so sinfully sweet it’s practically a dessert. Serve with salted butter for some balance.

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