Whether you’re downing them as homemade fries or in a marshmallow-topped casserole, potatoes are arguably the most popular holiday side. And it’s no surprise why: They’re starchy, comforting, versatile and virtually impossible to dislike. But that doesn’t mean you need to labor over them for hours, especially since you’re already roasting a turkey, baking a pie and entertaining your relatives. Enter these store-bought shortcuts that will make your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) to-do list a little shorter. Here are the eight best instant mashed potatoes to lean on this holiday, according to our taste test.

RELATED: The 8 Best Boxed Stuffing Mixes to Serve for the Holidays

The Best Instant Mashed Potatoes, At a Glance:

Scroll down for in-depth reviews of each.

The Methodology

Before we get into our top picks, here’s how we determined the best instant mashed potatoes for every need:

  • Value: Are the instant mashed potatoes worth the money for how they taste and what’s in them?
  • Ease of Use: How easy are they to prepare? Are there any fussy ingredients or instructions compared to other instant mashed potatoes?
  • Quality: Are the ingredients high quality? Are the instant mashed potatoes loaded with any weird preservatives or fillers?
  • Texture: Are the instant mashed potatoes fluffy, light and creamy? Are they grainy or clumpy?
  • Flavor: Do the instant mashed potatoes taste good? Are they buttery and like real potatoes? If they’re flavored, do they taste like their name suggests they should?

Bob’s Red Mill/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

1. Bob’s Red Mill Potato Flakes

Best instant mashed potatoes overall

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Flavor: 20/20

TOTAL: 96/100

We were so impressed by this pick from Bob’s Red Mill, a brand that’s famous for its natural, whole-grain flours, baking mixes and cereals. Non-GMO, vegan dehydrated potatoes are the sole ingredient, and the flakes are great for so much more than mashed potatoes. They can be used in breads, soups, breading for poultry or fish and even as a thickener for sauce or gravy. But back to the mash: It turned out *so* ridiculously creamy. The potatoes may not be as tall or fluffy as some others on the list, but you truly won’t care once you taste their impeccably balanced, buttery flavor. And how about that mess-free resealable bag?

$24/four-pack at Amazon

Whole Foods Market/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

2. 365 by Whole Foods Market Original Instant Mashed Potatoes

Most like homemade

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Flavor: 18/20

TOTAL: 94/100

So, you want to use instant mashed potatoes to lighten your load on the biggest food holiday of the year…but you don’t want your guests to know. Look no further than this Whole Foods Market gem made from nothing but dehydrated potatoes. These spuds are light as air and pleasantly fluffy; they literally melt onto your tongue like a cloud. They’re not as creamy as Bob’s, but their firmer texture makes them great for scooping and serving, since the mounds will maintain their shape. Plus, the texture makes it look like you mashed them yourself, so your relatives will have no clue that you took a shortcut. Their flavor is very neutral (you may want to add a pinch of salt to the water, even though the recipe on the box doesn’t call for it), so they’d be easy to zhuzh up with herbs, spices, sour cream or bacon.

Buy it ($2)

Amazon/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

3. Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes

Creamiest instant mashed potatoes

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 17/20

TOTAL: 91/100

Looking for a silky, creamy mash that your guests will ask for seconds of? Hungry Jack (yup, like the pancake mix) has your back. Made from Idaho potatoes and a few preservatives, this gluten-free gem can feed up to 20 people in a matter of minutes. The mashed potatoes turned out super smooth, but were still fluffy enough to hold their shape on a plate. Their flavor is solid, nostalgic and satisfying, thanks to butter and a pinch of salt in the mix.

$2 at Amazon

Amazon/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

4. Idaho Spuds Classic Mashed Potatoes

Fluffiest instant mashed potatoes

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 18/20

TOTAL: 92/100

If you’re all about Insta-worthy potato volcanos that are inches high and spouting a fountain of gravy, this sturdy pick by Idaho Spuds is for you. The ingredients are almost identical to Hungry Jack’s offering (both brands are produced by Basic American Foods), except it uses potato flakes instead of plain dehydrated potatoes. We found that the flakes gave the final product more volume and a chunkier, more voluminous texture. They also somehow taste more potato-y than Hungry Jack’s, which will trick your relatives into thinking you peeled and mashed them yourself.

Buy it ($2)

Idahoan/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

5. Idahoan Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Baby Reds Mashed Potatoes

Best flavored instant mashed potatoes

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 20/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 19/20

TOTAL: 93/100

When you *really* don’t want to do any work, there’s no better choice than Idahoan’s packets of instant spuds. First of all, they only need boiling water to come together, so you won’t have to fuss with butter, milk or salt to make them. Secondly, if you buy a flavored variety, you won’t have to spike the mash with spices or herbs, since the work’s been done for you already. Most importantly, the mix is made with real Idaho potatoes (this one including baby reds) for authentic flavor and texture. This particular variety smells and tastes like real garlic and boasts Parmesan cheese’s signature sharp, salty flavor, but neither overpowers the spuds. The ingredients include dried garlic instead of roasted, but a touch of sugar in the mix mimics the caramelized quality of real roasted garlic. We also liked that there were chewy nubs of potato and bits of potato peel throughout the mash, which gave it a rustic look and feel.

Buy it ($1)

Edward & Sons/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

6. Edward & Sons Organic Homestyle Mashed Potatoes

Best organic instant mashed potatoes

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 19/20

TOTAL: 94/100

Despite how expensive these are compared to others on this list (about 89 cents an ounce, to be exact), this mix from Edward & Sons tastes so damn good that it’s worth every penny. Its ingredients include organic potato flakes, organic onion powder, sea salt and organic black pepper, so you won’t need to season it yourself (unless you’d like to add herbs, sour cream or cheese). Its flavor is on the sweet side, almost like dumplings or gnocchi. The box only makes four servings of mash, but you may want to stock up and spoil your Thanksgiving guests instead of buying one big box of another brand. Its texture is on the fluffy side, and it doesn’t need much stirring to get there—be gentle when mixing in the potatoes because the mash thickens and congeals in a flash.

$19/six-pack at Amazon

Amazon/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

7. Betty Crocker Unflavored Mashed Potatoes

Best instant mashed potatoes for a crowd

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Flavor: 18/20

TOTAL: 91/100

You usually turn to Betty Crocker for cookies and cakes. But you can also lean on her for savory dishes (especially if you ever need to feed mashed potatoes to a few dozen people in five minutes flat). This massive box can make 34 servings of mashed potatoes. Not only is it great for feeding a crowd, but its preparation method is also a bit different from others on this list. The recipe on the box calls for the same amounts of butter and salt as its competitors, but less milk and more potato, making for an uber fluffy, extra buttery final product.

$15/six-pack at Amazon

ALDI/Background: Rawin Tanpin/EyeEm/Getty Images

8. ALDI Chef’s Cupboard Instant Mashed Potatoes

Best value

  • Value: 20/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Flavor: 17/20

TOTAL: 92/100

We love a bargain, and we’re basically guaranteed to find one at ALDI. Their in-store brand, Chef’s Cupboard, makes a solid instant mashed potato mix, despite its low price. The potatoes’ buttery flavor shines through, but its flavor is still neutral enough that they’d be great to doctor up with flavorful mix-ins. The mash’s texture is equal parts creamy and fluffy, so everyone at the table will be satisfied regardless of their preferences. For $1.39, you can hook 20 guests up with a side of mashed potatoes—that comes out to only 7 cents per serving, meaning you can splurge on more important menu items…like cocktails.

Buy it ($1)

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what’s worth the spend—and what’s total hype. Learn more about our process here.

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