10 Great Mashed Potatoes Substitutes & When To Use Them

Mashed potatoes are a one of the classic sides that complete the trifecta of vegetables, meat, and a starch. But what if you don’t have the time, ingredients, or want to try something new?

In this article we’ll talk through your best options. I’ll cover alternative potato dishes, healthier veggies that can be mashed like potatoes, and starches that can fill in and complete a dish.

As a pro cook who had to muster up a variety of sides, and as a father who has a son that doesn’t like mashed potatoes, I will share some of my favorite substitutes that can work in a pinch. 

Instant Potato Flakes

Pre-prepared instant mashed potatoes in a bowl

Want mashed potatoes, but don’t actually want the hassle of mashing?

Instant potato flakes sometimes get a bad reputation, but they are simply dehydrated cooked potatoes. The biggest knock against them is that they can be quite bland by themselves, but doctoring them up with heavy cream, butter, and sour cream goes a long way.

You won’t get the texture and fluffiness of mashed potatoes made from scratch, but they are a great substitute when you have the craving but not the time.

Here is a great, easy recipe for garlic instant potatoes. I would add some sour cream to this recipe for even more flavor! 

French Fries

Fried Potatoes in a bowl

French fries are great when you still want a substantial starch, and have the potatoes but not enough butter, heavy cream, or sour cream. 

Prep of fresh cut potatoes isn’t difficult, but bagged French fries from the store work as well!

Roasted Potatoes


Roasted potatoes are a hearty fill in for mashed potatoes, require less effort, and are less greasy than deep fried French fries.

When you have enough time to dice, oil, and season potatoes, but don’t have the ingredients to make mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes serve well to satisfy your potato craving.

Throwing other vegetables in like carrots, onions, and celery rounds out the side as well!

Pro-tip: Cook whole potatoes ahead of time in bulk! They store well in the refrigerator for up to a week, and can be used for both mashed and roasted potatoes. 


daikon root vegetable

Daikon is a root vegetable that becomes soft when cooked, and has a mildly sweet flavor. It is packed with vitamin C, and is a low carb alternative to mashed potatoes.

Boil daikon radishes and prepare like you would mashed potatoes.


Raw Jicama, Mexican turnip, ketogenic food

Jicama is a root vegetable that can take on a lot of flavor. It is crunchy and contains a lot of water.

Use jicama as a starchy alternative for mashed potatoes that is low in calories, sugars, and fats.

When jicama is cooked and mashed, it won’t be quite as soft as potatoes. Its texture reminds me of chunky mashed potatoes, which can be great, depending on your preferences! 


Mashed Cauliflower with Butter

Cauliflower is a popular substitute for mashed potatoes, and you can even buy mashed cauliflower at the store!

Cauliflower gets very tender when cooked, and when combined with heavy cream and butter, it tastes a lot like mashed potatoes.

Riced cauliflower is another great starch substitute.


root vegetable on a wooden surface

Parsnips resemble carrots but are pale white to yellow-white color.

They are similar to potatoes in the caloric count and carb content, but they are much higher in fiber.

These are a great substitute for mashed potatoes when you have them on hand because their texture is so similar when cooked and mashed.    

Here is a delicious recipe for mashed parsnips.

Celery Root

Fresh celery root on a wooden surface

Celery root, or celeriac, is an excellent low carb alternative to mashed potatoes. 

It does have a subtle celery-like flavor, so I like to cook it in milk to take some of that edge off. 

Mashed celeriac won’t taste like mashed potatoes, but heavy cream and butter can help a lot.

With this celeriac mash recipe, you can enjoy a dish with the fluffiness of mashed potatoes but with far fewer carbs and calories. 

Rice And Orzo Pilaf

Rice And Orzo Pilaf

If you want a hearty, filling starch, rice and orzo pilaf can fill in for mashed potatoes quite well.

This is carb heavy but can really hit the spot. When you cook it with broth, it adds a nice savory flavor to your dish.

Here is a great, simple rice and orzo pilaf recipe you can try out!

Butternut Squash

whole and diced Butternut squash

Butternut squash is a winter squash with an orange color. It is sweet and a low calorie alternative to mashed potatoes.

With butternut squash, you can dice and roast them, or even mash them because they can become quite tender.

Frequently Asked Questions

What vegetable tastes most like potato?

My go-to to replicate the taste of potato is daikon, as it can take on a lot of flavor. On its own, its flavor is more mild than other radishes.

What can you eat instead of rice and potatoes?

Roasted butternut squash is a great, starchy, healthy alternative to rice and potatoes. 

About the author

Ryan worked the Twin Cities circuit as a line cook, sous chef, and kitchen manager for over 15 years. Though he doesn’t cook professionally anymore, he loves to share his restaurant expertise with anyone that needs a tip. Once a cook, always a cook.