V is for Vanilla Bean: Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes


Vanilla beans are actually seed pods from the Vanilla orchid, which is a type of flower. They were originally discovered on the east coast of Mexico, used by Aztec people in their food. Now vanilla is used in food, perfume, and even make-up! Vanilla is thought to be the world’s most popular flavor, and it’s no wonder it’s used in everything from Vanilla Ice Cream to Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes.

Vanilla Mashed Potatoes may sound strange at first but don’t worry, it’s still as savory and delicious as regular mashed potatoes. Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes can be a tasty side dish or a main course and because both Potatoes and Vanilla Beans are so popular, they can be enjoyed all year!


Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes

Makes 4 Servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes

Inspired by Diethood

Collect Ingredients

  • 1 pound Russet Potatoes or Red Potatoes
  • 1 Vanilla Bean Pod or 2 to 3 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves for garnish (optional)

Collect Tools

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 sauce pan
  • Cutting board 
  • Vegtable Peeler
  • Fork 
  • Paring knife
  • Butter knife
  • Measuring Cup

Recipe Steps:

  • Wash Hands
  • Wash Potatoes
  • Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a large pot. It should cover the bottom.
  • Fill the pot with water until the tops of the potatoes are covered. 
  • **Grown-Up** Turn the heat on High and let the potatoes boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • **Grown-Up** With a paring knife, cut 1.5 to 2.5 inches off the Vanilla Bean Pod.
  • **Grown-Up** Carefully cut open the Vanilla Bean. With the edge of the knife scrape out the seeds to use. 
  • Measure out 1/2 cup of milk into a liquid measuring cup and add it into the saucepan.
  • Measure out 2 tablespoons butter with a measuring cup Or if the butter is inside a wrapper, use a butter knife to cut at the 2 Tablespoon mark. Remove the wrapper and add the 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce pan.
  • Add the scrapped out Vanilla Bean pod and its seeds in the saucepan.
  • Set the milk, butter, vanilla bean pod mixture to the side for now.
  • **Grown-Up** With a fork, check to see if the potatoes are tender. 
  • **Grown-Up** Once the potatoes are tender, they can be drained.
  • Run the potatoes under cold water for 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Drain the potatoes again and let them cool. 
  • **Grown-Up** Put the sauce pan with the combined milk, butter, and vanilla bean on low to medium heat to simmer.
  • When the potatoes are cool enough to be handled, peel the skin (or leave it on!). 
  • **Grown Up** Once they’ve cooled, cut the potatoes into quarter pieces so it isn’t as difficult to mash them.
  • Mash the potatoes with a fork until they’re nice and smooth. 
  • Once the butter has melted, remove the milk/butter/vanilla mixture from the heat.
  • Remove the vanilla bean pod from the mixture. 
  • Pour the mixture over the potatoes and mix them together. 
  • Season with salt, pepper and thyme to taste.
  • Nom!

**Grown-Up Pro Tips**

  • Once the potatoes have fully cooked, they’re easier to peel. 
  • Make sure the potatoes are fully cooked so that your little chef has an easier time mashing them.
  • You can either use the vanilla bean seeds or cook with the vanilla pod. We did both. 
  • Be careful if you use vanilla extract. If you add too much it might be too overwhelming. 
  • Any leftover vanilla pod can be used for flavoring milk, coffee, or in baking!


About the Author & Photographer 

Lincoln Gardner is a senior at Ithaca College with a major in Television-Radio and a Writing minor. She’s worked as Production Intern for The Ithaca Voice and as a Assistant Director for the college television show ‘Sautéed’ for three seasons.