Nutrition, Education, and Motivation that remind us why Plants-Rule.  Supporting a plant-based, whole-foods diet with scientific evidence.  A chef's passion for ingredients with the realistic practicality of a home cook.  These articles offer insight into the benefits of a vegan diet with the humor to support a balanced healthy lifestyle. 

How to Make the Best (Vegan) Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

A recent post on Food and Wine laid out the recipe for a Perfect Gravy.  Epicurious released their “10 Commandments of Perfect Mashed Potatoes”.  If there is one dish to master this holiday season, it has to be Mashed Potatoes with Gravy.  There is power in this classic American comfort food.  Producing a delicious pot of potatoes has the magical ability to ease sibling rivalries and quell family disagreements.  Even arguments over politics and religion don’t stand a chance with a ladle of warm, rich gravy.  I’m not sure if the Pilgrims had yet tasted creamy, fluffy Yukon golds, but I sure hope they had some sort of sauce to ladle over their Thanksgiving meal.

However, I lost the Food and Wine position on “perfect” when their recipe started with bacon and thickened with wheat flour.  Not so perfect if you don’t eat animals or have a gluten sensitivity.  Epicurious had me until buttermilk and heavy cream, which can be difficult at a table with lactose sensitivity and expanding waistlines.  No, the best mashed potatoes and gravy would still taste incredible but pass on unnecessary calories and bothersome ingredients.


The slideshows below will offer my Chef’s tips in step-by-step photos, but here’s a quick checklist to help:  


For Gravy:

Thicken with flour – While you would traditionally use a butter/flour mix to thicken gravy, you can really use any flour.  My favorite is brown rice flour as has a light texture and makes this gluten-free.  You can also use whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour, which would offer a unique nuttiness.

Toast the flour – It is essential to brown the flour before you add the stock to your gravy.  You want to cook all of the white out of the flour.  This step will toast the flavor for more flavor, and it also helps prevent a lumpy gravy.

Flavor up the Can – Gravy made just from stock (or even just from turkey drippings) can taste one flat.  To bump up the flavor, think of balance:  apples and shallots would offer sweetness; mushrooms and leeks add depth; wine and beer add acidic pops; and dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage add seasonal flavor.

Warm Your Gravy Boat– No one likes lukewarm gravy.  Try to find a warm spot near the oven to warm the gravy bowl.  At the very least, let the gravy be the last thing you put on the table, to ensure that it’s hot.  A hot gravy can cover almost any holiday dish flubs.


For Mashed Potatoes:

Same Size – Cut your potatoes into the same size for boiling.  This ensures even cooking for light, fluffy potatoes

Start with Cold Water – Start your potatoes in cold water, then bring to a boil.  Again, this ensures even cooking to avoid gummy potatoes.

Drain then Steam – When the potatoes are tender, drain them from their boiling water then immediately return them to the pot where they were boiling.  Let them steam off until they are as dry as possible.  You can even cook these steamining potatoes over a very low flame for 1-2 minutes.  Less water = more fluffy potatoes

Mash and Add Hot – Add your milk (for me, it’s almond milk) and any herbs or spices while the potatoes are still hot.  Mash away while hot to heighten the flavors.


Chef's Tips for the Best Gravy:

Chef's Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes:


For the Gravy:
1 package (8 oz) cremini mushrooms
1 shallot
3 tbsp brown rice flour
1/4 cup Port wine (or any other wine, must be gluten free if preparing for someone with Celiac)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme

For the Potatoes:
3 pounds potatoes, mix of red and Yukon gold
1/2 bunch parsley
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups plain almond milk
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
To make the gravy: Preheat a wide pan over high heat. No oil is needed. Slice the mushrooms and mince the shallot. Add the mushrooms and shallots to the hot pan. Spread into a single layer, sprinkle with salt, and let brown. Cook until mushrooms and shallots are well browned, about 10 minutes

Add brown rice flour and stir. Cook until flour is no longer white and absorbs much of the juices.

Deglaze the pan with the Port wine. Scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add vegetable stock, garlic, thyme. Simmer, partially covered, at least 10 minutes

Gravy is ready when thick. Serve over Smashed Potatoes

Chef’s Tip: Use gluten free alcohol if preparing for someone with Celiac disease. You can use any variety of mushrooms, including porcini, oyster, and hen-of-the-woods. This can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and simply microwave or simmer before serving.

Yield: 3 cups

To make the Smashed Potatoes: Wash and cut potatoes into large chunks, about the same size. Place the potato chunks in a large or, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are tender, 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and chop parsley

Check potatoes with a knife- they should easily slide off when done cooking. Drain potatoes. Enjoy the steam facial
Place potatoes back in the hot pot. Let them steam a bit more to get rid of some of the liquid. Add the remaining ingredients: parsley, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, onion powder, granulated garlic. Use a potato masher to mash together. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Serve warm

Tips: Using thin-skinned Yukon Gold and Red Potatoes means you don’t have to peel them. They also add a nice, creamy texture to the dish.

This recipe is part of my Chef's Essential Plant-Based Holiday Cookbook, which has two full menus and Chef's Tips for the best recipes.

Chef's Essential Plant-Based Holiday Cookbook

This Holiday Cookbook features healthy, delicious vegan recipes for a plant-based celebration.  A traditional menu offers oil-free classic flavors, while a gluten-free "Twisted" menu offers exciting new dishes.  Chef's Tips offer guidance while beautiful photographs keep you inspired.

To preview the first 10 pages

Add To Cart