Does anyone else agree that the best part of Thanksgiving is all the sides?! Even before I was a vegetarian, I always counted down the days until I could eat my body weight in mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, and pecan pie. Luckily, making homemade mashed potatoes that are VEGAN and CREAMY is super easy. These mashed potatoes go one step further and add in sweet caramelized onions for the most perfect Thanksgiving side: Vegan Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes!
How to make the best vegan mashed potatoes
There are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from making homemade mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving these past few years. It’s only fair I take the majority of this blog post to walk you through how to make creamy mashed potatoes.
Tip 1: Peeled Potatoes Lead to Creamier Mashed Potatoes
While the skin on potatoes is certainly nutritious, when it comes to mashed potatoes using potato skin ultimately leads to a less ideal texture. For creamy potatoes, I recommend peeling those potatoes!
Tip 2: How to Choose the Perfect Potato for Mashing
I use about 75% Russet potatoes and about 25% Yukon potatoes for my perfect mix of Mashed Potatoes. Russet potatoes are starchy potatoes, have a very neutral taste, and absorb the butter perfectly when mashing. However, adding in a few Yukon potatoes adds a little more flavor than just using Russet potatoes.
Tip 3: Boil Potatoes in Large Chunks, and Not for Too Long
Make sure to boil your potatoes in large chunks so they don’t absorb too much water. Absorbing too much water leads to less flavorful and watery mashed potatoes.
Tip 4: Room temperature/melted butter Works Best!
I like to use warm butter for mashed potatoes so that the potatoes can fully absorb all the butter. Also, make sure to mash the butter and potatoes together while the potatoes are still hot for the best results!
Tip 5: Don’t over-mash your potatoes.
Seriously, having chunks is good! If you mash potatoes for too long, they will release too much starch and get a gummy consistency. YUCK. I recommend using a Potato Masher over a blender as well!
Tip 6: Don’t be afraid to add a lot of salt and pepper.
I realize that with mashed potatoes, the ideal salt to potato ratio really varies by person so I didn’t include any definitive amounts. One thing that helps is making sure to boil your potatoes in really salty water as this adds a ton of flavor to the potatoes before you have to salt at the end.
How to make caramelized onions
The truth behind making caramelized onions is that they take time. If you see a recipe calling for just 10-15 minutes of time- that is really just sautéed onions being made. Some people may say 40 minutes isn’t enough for a true caramelized onion, but I find that I love the flavor of the onions after cooking for this amount of time.
I left the recipe open ended, so I recommend anywhere from 20-40 minutes minimum for caramelizing onions. First, I heat the vegan butter in the pan and, once that is melted, I add in the chopped onions. I always make sure to stir my onions frequently while they are cooking until they are soft and brown.
What Makes Caramelized Onions Sweet?
When you think of caramelized onions and the sweetness behind them, you may think sugar gets added during the cooking process. However, it’s really just the caramelized onions breaking down the natural sugars into smaller molecules that browns the onions and gives them a sweeter flavor. Just another reason I love geeking out about food science!
The savory notes of potatoes mixed with the sweet caramelized onions truly make these Vegan Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes the perfect Thanksgiving side dish!
I can’t even wait to pair these vegan mashed potatoes with some Vegan Pecan Pie, my Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls, and some homemade stuffing this year. Oh, and you also definitely want to check out the recipe for my Vegan Cranberry Orange Sweet Buns aka the best way to use up all that cranberry sauce this year. Happy Vegan Thanksgiving all!
Looking for more vegetarian side dishes? Check out these SGTO favorites!
- 6-7 medium peeled potatoes (a mix of 75% russet and 25% yukon potatoes works best)
- 6-8 Tbsp vegan butter (make sure the butter is melted or room temperature before adding)
- 2 Tbsp coconut milk (can be replaced with additional 2 Tbsp of vegan butter)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- fresh thyme (optional)
- 1 large thinly sliced yellow onion
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter or oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Before starting, peel your potatoes and cut into large but equal sized pieces. Slice your onions into thin long slices and set aside.
- Add the peeled potatoes to a strainer and rinse to remove some of the starch. Then, add the potatoes to a large pot and fill the pot with cold water until the potatoes are just covered by about 1/2" of water. Add a generous amount of salt to the water until the water tastes salty.
- Bring the pot of potatoes to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until you can pierce the potatoes with a fork/knife and they are the same consistency all the way through. You don't want to overcook your potatoes or the mashed potatoes will be too watery, so I recommend checking at the 12 minute mark to be safe.
- While the potatoes are cooking, caramelize the onions. Add 2 Tbsp of vegan butter/oil to a frying pan and turn on the burner. Once the butter is bubbling and melted, add in the onion slices. Pan fry at low heat until onions are browned; around 20-40 minutes depending on preference. Stir frequently so that the onions do not burn. Once the onions are done, season with salt and pepper to your liking and set aside.
- As soon as the potatoes are cooked, strain and add back to the pot. Use a potato masher to roughly mash the potatoes while still hot.
- Once the potatoes are somewhat mashed, add in 6-8 Tbsp of room temperature/melted butter to the pot and continue mashing until the potatoes are mostly smooth with some chunks. How large your potatoes are and how buttery you like your mashed potatoes will determine how much butter you use, so feel free to add in less or more to your liking! If you like your potatoes a little creamier, add in 1-2 Tbsp of coconut milk at this time as well. Season with the garlic powder, fresh thyme, and additional salt & pepper until your desired flavor is reached. As a final step, gently fold in the caramelized onions.
- Top with additional fresh thyme or a homemade gravy and serve warm. Enjoy!
Best enjoyed on the day the potatoes are cooked. If you are making an hour or two ahead of eating make sure to keep warm and covered so the potatoes do not dry out
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8 recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229Total Fat: 12.2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 27.8gFiber: 2.5gSugar: 3gProtein: 2.7g