7 Ways To Make Instant Mashed Potatoes Thicker – From Watery to Wonderful

We’ve all been there – preparing a comforting bowl of instant mashed potatoes and realizing they’re a tad too runny. Fret not! In this article, I’ll guide you through the simple methods how to make instant mashed potatoes thicker. So, lets turn these watery mashed potatoes into that perfect, creamy consistency you’re craving!

Why Are My Instant Mashed Potatoes Too Runny?

tubs of mashed potato

Before we discuss how to make instant mashed potatoes thicker, it’s useful to know why they may turn out too thin and watery in the first place.

The most common reasons for too-runny instant mashed potatoes include:

Idahoan instant mashed potatoes instructions
  • Not Following Instructions: Each brand of instant mashed potatoes comes with specific preparation guidelines that you can usually find at the back of the box. Failing to adhere to these can result in a runny, watery texture.
  • Wrong Proportions: Some instant mashed potatoes, like Idahoan, Batchelors, Betty Crocker’s, Hungry Jack, Red Mill, Great Value, and Ore-Ida, require a mixture of water, milk, and butter, or just one of the two or three of them. Using the wrong proportions is the most likely cause of making your instant mashed potatoes too runny.

Read Also: 5 Easy Ways To Get Lumps Out of Mashed Potatoes!

Easy Ways to Make Watery Mashed Potatoes Thicker!

here is how to make mashed potatoes thicker

There are some hungry people waiting but you got a pot of watery instant mashed potatoes in front of you and wondering how to turn them into a creamy delight.

Below, I will cover some simple tips and tricks on how to make runny instant mashed potatoes thicker.

1. Add More Instant Mashed Potato FlakesAdd a tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition.Straightforward, maintains flavor.Risk of making the potatoes too thick.
2. Lengthen the Cooking TimeHeat on low, stirring often; or use short microwave bursts.Effective for minor adjustments.Can make potatoes gluey if overdone.
3. Drain Off Excess LiquidStrain potatoes using a sieve or colander.Instantly reduces liquid, thickens potatoes.May lose flavor; re-seasoning needed.
4. Add CornstarchMix with cold water, then add to potatoes, stirring continuously.Quick, doesn’t alter flavor much.Can create gelatinous texture if overused.
5. Add FlourMake a roux with butter and flour, then add to potatoes.Widely available, versatile.Can be doughy or clumpy if not prepared right.
6. Add Grated CheeseGrate and add to hot potatoes, stirring until melted.Adds creaminess and flavor.Can be too rich or stringy; not for very runny potatoes.
7. Mix in Butter or CreamAdd butter or warm cream, stirring well.Increases richness and flavor.Only for slightly thin potatoes; can be greasy.
This table provides a quick reference for the different methods to thicken instant mashed potatoes.

Note: These tips below will also work for homemadebmashed potatoes made from scratch.

1. Add More Instant Mashed Potato Flakes: A Quick and Efficient Solution

adding more mashed potato flakes

When you find your instant mashed potatoes turning overly liquidy because you’ve added too much liquid, here’s a simple fix: just add more instant mashed potato flakes. But remember, to get the right consistency, you might end up with a bigger batch of mashed potatoes than you originally planned.

How it Works: Potato flakes are designed to absorb liquid, so adding more of them to your mixture will help soak up any excess. The flakes will expand and soak up the extra liquid and make it thicker right away.

Implementation: I usually add one tablespoon of potato flakes to my too-thin mashed potatoes, then stirring thoroughly after each addition. Repeat until the desired consistency is achieved.

Pros: This method is incredibly straightforward and effective, maintaining the original flavor of the potatoes.

Cons: Be cautious, as adding too many potato flakes. You know, if you pour in too many potato flakes, the mash can turn super thick. Then, if you try to thin it out by adding liquid, and then find it’s too watery and add more flakes… well, you see where I’m going with this, right? Before you know it, you’ve made a mountain of mashed potatoes! It’s a bit like a see-saw, so just take it easy and add a little at a time.

2. Lengthen the Cooking Time to Evaporate Excess Liquid: A Gentle Approach

cooking a bit longer

You’ve run out of instant mashed potatoes, but your mix is still too runny. What to do? Well, you can just let it cook a bit longer. Keep it light and easy, and you’ll have it sorted in no time.

How it Works: As the extra water evaporates while cooking, the potatoes will naturally thicken up, achieving that perfect, velvety texture we all love. No need for extra ingredients or major adjustments; a little patience on the stove can work wonders.

Implementation: On the stove, heat on low, stirring often to avoid the mashed potatoes sticking to the pot. In the microwave, use short bursts, stirring between each until the desired consistency is reached.

Pros: Effective for minor adjustments.

Cons: Cooking your mashed potatoes for too long can give them a gluey texture, which isn’t ideal for their quality.

3. Drain Off Excess Liquid: A Last-Resort Quick Fix

draining off the excess water

If your instant mashed potatoes turn out too watery, you might want to think about draining off the extra liquid, especially if trying other tricks like adding more flakes or cooking them for a longer time hasn’t worked out.

How it Works: You could quickly fix the problem by just draining off the extra liquid. It’s a fast and effective way to get rid of too much liquid in your dish when you need a solution right away.

Implementation: Use a sieve or colander to strain your watery mashed potatoes. After draining, return them to the pot; you may still need to employ other methods, like heating or adding more mashed potato flakes, to achieve the desired thickness in your dish.

Pros: Instantly reduces the liquid content, helping to make the potatoes thicker.

Cons: You may lose some flavors and re-seasoning might be necessary.

Ingredients to Add to Make Your Instant Mashed Potatoes Thicker

Most of the time, the methods mentioned earlier will do the trick for thickening your instant mashed potatoes. However, I’d also like to suggest a few additional ingredients that can further enhance their texture and even flavor.

4. Add Some Cornstarch: An Effective Thickening Agent

bowl of cornstarch

How it Works: You know, if you mix some cornstarch into your mashed potatoes, it works wonders as a thickener. When it heats up and mixes with the moisture, it can quickly change runny potatoes into something a lot thicker.

Implementation: Prepare a slurry by combining a tablespoon of cornstarch with a small amount of cold water. Gradually add this mixture to the hot mashed potatoes while stirring continuously until the desired consistency is reached.

Pros: Quick, effective, and doesn’t alter the potato flavor too much.

Cons: Using too much cornstarch can result in an unpleasant, gelatinous texture.

5. Add Flour: A Pantry Staple for Thickening

adding some flour slurry

Let’s talk about thickening mashed potatoes with flour in a straightforward and practical way.

Preparing the Flour Slurry: The first step is to create a smooth mixture of flour and water. This is done to ensure that when you add the flour to the potatoes, it blends in without creating lumps. Just mix a small amount of flour with an equal part of cold water in a separate bowl until it’s smooth.

Deciding the Quantity: The amount of this mixture you’ll need depends on the consistency of your mashed potatoes and how much you’re making. A good rule of thumb is to start with one tablespoon of flour mixed with one tablespoon of water for a large pot of potatoes. It’s better to start with less and add more if needed.

Incorporating the Mixture: Now, gradually add this flour mixture into your mashed potatoes, stirring continuously. The gradual addition and constant stirring are key to achieving a smooth texture without lumps.

Cooking After Addition: After adding the flour mixture, cook the mashed potatoes over a low heat for a few minutes. This helps eliminate the raw taste of the flour and allows the mixture to thicken properly.

Adjusting Consistency and Flavor: Once you’ve cooked the potatoes with the flour mixture for a few minutes, check the consistency. If it’s still not as thick as you’d like, you can prepare a little more of the flour mixture and add it. Also, taste the potatoes and adjust the seasoning if needed, as flour can sometimes dilute the flavors.

Serving: Serve the thickened mashed potatoes promptly. They tend to thicken further upon standing, so it’s best to enjoy them immediately after preparation.

Pros: Most people already have some flour in their kitchen. It’s also effective for thickening a variety of dishes, making it a versatile option.

Cons: Flour can give a doughy, uncooked flavor if not heated long enough. Plus, watch out for lumps – it can get clumpy if you don’t mix it well!

6. Add Grated Cheese: A Flavor-Enhancing Thickening Option

adding grated cheese to mashed potatoes

How it Works: Cheese melts to form a cohesive bond with the potatoes, resulting in a thicker texture. It also introduces a new flavor profile, which can make your dish more delicious, that of course, if you like cheese.

However, if the mashed potatoes are too runny, adding cheese most likely will not fix it.

Implementation: Choose a good melting cheese like cheddar or Gruyère. Grate it and add it to the hot mashed potatoes, stirring until completely melted.

Pros: Adds creaminess and cheesy flavor, along with thickening the texture.

Cons: If overused, cheese can make the dish too rich or even stringy. It is only effective for slightly runny mashed potatoes.

7. Mix In Some Butter or Cream: For a Luxuriously Thick Consistency

adding butter to mashed potatoes

How it Works: Adding butter and cream can work pretty well for mashed potatoes. They not only boost the flavor but also make them rich and creamy. These fats blend nicely with potato flakes, and many brands even suggest using them. However, if your mashed potatoes are super watery, this method on its own might not be enough to thicken them.

Implementation: Add a tablespoon of either room-temperature butter or warm cream to your thin mashed potatoes. Stir well and assess the texture before deciding whether to add more.

Pros: Increases richness, flavor, and mouthfeel.

Cons: Only effective for slightly thin mashed potatoes. Overuse can result in a greasy texture and significantly higher calorie count.

Read Also: Why Use Cream Cheese In Mashed Potatoes? (Taste, Texture And Recipe).

Final Thoughts and Precautions

When fixing your instant mashed potatoes, moderation and patience are key. It’s easy to go from watery to overly thick if you’re not careful, so add thickening agents gradually. Always remember that each addition also brings its own flavor, which can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how well it complements the dish.


Mastering the art of perfect instant mashed potatoes is achievable with a bit of know-how and attention to detail. With these detailed solutions and an understanding of their pros and cons, you’re well-equipped to tackle the challenge of watery instant mashed potatoes, turning them into the creamy, comforting dish they’re meant to be.

Related Article: 5 Creative Ways to Fix Salty Mashed Potatoes (Do Not Add Sugar!)

2 thoughts on “7 Ways To Make Instant Mashed Potatoes Thicker – From Watery to Wonderful”

  1. I once made mashed potatoes from an instant mix, and they turned out too watery. But, I found a quick fix: I just added more instant potato flakes to thicken them up. It absorbed the extra water and improved the texture without altering the flavor. Remember to add the flakes gradually to avoid making them too thick. This trick saved my dish!

  2. Hi there Jen! I noticed you visited my website, and I thought I’d do the same. I’m currently exploring ways to enhance my cooking site and found some of your ideas inspiring. I’m considering incorporating similar concepts into my own site.


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About Jen Evansy

Nutritionist, researcher, avid home cook, and writer interested in everything nutrition and food-related. Striving to inform, encourage, and inspire all the readers to make healthy and informed choices when it comes to cooking, food, diet, and nutrition.