I consider myself well-versed in kitchen implements and gadgets, but upon a recent visit to a friend’s house, I discovered a completely new-to-me tool: the potato ricer. I was digging through her drawer looking for a masher to help her with the side dish to her roasted chicken.
“No masher!” she said. “Check this out!” She pulled out a gizmo that looked like an oversized garlic press and popped a potato in. And I was awed.
Read on to learn more about this nifty tool. I’ll also take a look at some of the best ones on the market. The links in the table below will take you right to the listings on Amazon with the latest prices and reviews for my recommendations.
What is a Potato Ricer?
A potato ricer is a manually-powered tool that instantly yields a smooth, lump-free puree of any boiled or steamed vegetable or fruit like potatoes or apples. It looks and operates like a garlic press: put the food into the holding spot, swing the handle plunger over top of it, and then push down, forcing the material through a number of holes at the base of the tool.
See a ricer in action:
There are two main benefits to using a potato ricer over a traditional masher:
- Your mashed potatoes will come out very smooth, fluffy, and lump-free. They won’t get glutinous and gluey the way they do in a food processor, either.
- You can “mash” the potatoes with the skins on. The skins will stay in the ricer’s hopper, with just the inner potato flesh squeezing through. No need to first peel the potatoes (hallelujah!).
A potato ricer may seem like a one-trick pony, but you can actually use this tool for a number of culinary tasks:
- Apple sauce
- Homemade jam
- Baby purees
- Squeezing liquid out of something like thawed frozen spinach or shredded cucumber
Shopping for a Ricer
It’s a simple tool, but there are a few differences in the various ricer options.
Ricers are usually made of stainless steel or plastic (stainless appears to be more common/preferred). Added features like rubbery grips or ergonomic handles can help with the job.
2. Number of Holes
A ricer with more holes is easier to work with than one with fewer holes. The size of each opening isn’t as important as this factor.
3. Ease of Use
Many potato ricers have a non-slip nob on the opposite side of the handle so that you can rest it on the side of your pot or bowl to help give you a bit more leverage as you operate it.
Another convenience factor to consider is the ease of cleaning this tool. With lots of little corners, you’ll want to be sure you can get in there to get it clean after each use.
Here I’ll discuss some of the top-rated ricers available to buy.
OXO is one of the best-known manufacturers or kitchen gadgets, with their signature silicone grips and ergonomic designs.
This ricer showcases a pretty textbook ricer design. The primary material of the body is stainless steel, with silicone grips on the handles, both upper and lower, and a silicone no-slip nob on the opposing side for bracing the ricer when in use.
This ricer gets top marks by reviewers. Many people find it does a great job getting adequately cooked potatoes through and turning them into a fluffy mass. The cleanup is also easy with this ricer. Users note it’s best to cut the potatoes into pieces rather than trying to push a whole potato through.
Some owners of this ricer find that whatever is being mashed squishes up through the sides around the plunger when pushing down, which makes for a messy procedure. Other people found that with the relatively short handles on this ricer, it requires quite a bit of strength to work.
This is another pretty standard ricer made of stainless steel with jaunty red silicone grips. It has a bracing nob on the opposing side to assist with the ricing action. It also comes with 3 interchangeable discs that have different sized holes, to create a more precise ricing action depending on what you’re using.
Most users really love this ricer. People find it is solid and feels like it will last a long time. Those who love this item gush that they were able to make their best mashed potatoes with this ricer.
The most frequently cited complaint is that after pushing food through the ricer, the discs often stick to whatever food is left inside and lift up with the plunger arm. This is particularly irritating if you’re ricing a large batch of potatoes or anything else, as you may have to wipe and replace the disc each time you use it.
To be honest, the idea of different sized discs sounds good, but it doesn’t seem there is a huge amount of variation between different sizes of holes.
This ricer employs a much larger size than most ricers. Whereas most ricers’ holding cups have about a 1-1.5 cup capacity, this ricer has a 3-cup capacity. It is constructed of stainless steel with Santoprene (a rubbery plastic) handles. It has a grooved pot rest extension on the side opposite the handle, with 3 different sizes depending on the size of your pot and the distance you need to get good leverage.
One definite positive of this ricer is that the holes come up around the side of the holding cup. This helps with the ease of the ricing action and makes the job go a bit faster.
Many people find this ricer works great. People love the larger-than-standard sized holder to speed up the work of ricing through a large pot of potatoes. Owners also feel this is well-built and will hold up well over time.
Some people find that this larger size makes it significantly harder to push down than smaller ricers. Some of these owners found that it works very well to simply push liquid out of food, but that for potatoes, it was just too much work.
This item is a bit different than the traditional style of ricer, but it does create a ricing effect, so I’ve included it. Plus, it claims to be “the world’s best” potato masher…
It looks more like a traditional hand-held potato masher that you press into the pot. But it also has a spring-loaded ricing plate above the masher wires that presses down above the masher to give you the silky smooth effect you expect from a ricer. This masher/ricer is made of 18/8 grade stainless steel and will also take up less real estate in your kitchen drawers than a normal ricer.
With a novel design like this, the big question is, “does it work?” Many reviewers give a hearty “Yes!” Those who love this masher really love it and say it does what it says it will—mashes and rices for super fluffy potatoes. People also report that it feels sturdy and well-built.
Some people, however, find it’s a bit awkward to use, as the ricer gets clogged up and the whole apparatus gets suctioned into the potatoes as you push down. I also find this design loses some of the functionality of traditional ricers as it won’t be useful for pressing the liquid out of things like spinach or zucchini the way that a ricer does.
Time for Creamy Mashed Potatoes!
I actually make mashed potatoes fairly often because I love them. So I think a ricer would be a useful addition to my kitchen drawer.
The ricers I’ve discussed here all have their strong and weak points. I like the simplicity of the OXO ricer—this would be my choice. I have a feeling playing with the doneness of the potatoes may mitigate the squishing factor, but otherwise, this looks like a high-quality ricer that is also useful for other kitchen tasks. The Bellemain ricer also seems like a great option, although personally, I’d rather not have pieces that can be misplaced.
If space was no issue, though, I might look to the Endurance Jumbo ricer to make quicker work of the job of mashing up a big batch of potatoes. Perhaps if my family grows! If you’ve tried these plunger type of ricers and found them hard to operate, the more traditional hand-held masher style ricer combo from Harold Imports would be a good one to try.
Now, if you’re primarily looking for a ricer to make mashed potatoes, flaws in your technique will make it difficult work no matter what tool you use for the job. Take a look at this Chowhound video for tips on the right method for mashing potatoes.
I will warn you, though—I take issue with only using “some” butter—I like LOTS of butter in my potatoes!
How do you like your mashed potatoes? Do you have experience with a ricer? Let us know!