Are Red Lobster mashed potatoes dairy free?

Red Lobster is a popular seafood restaurant chain known for dishes like cheddar bay biscuits, lobster, shrimp, and fish. One of their signature side dishes is mashed potatoes, which are creamy, buttery, and flavorful.

Quick Answer

No, Red Lobster’s mashed potatoes are not dairy free. They contain milk, cream, and butter, which means they are not suitable for people with dairy allergies or on a vegan diet.

Ingredients in Red Lobster Mashed Potatoes

According to the nutrition information on the Red Lobster website, the restaurant’s mashed potatoes contain the following ingredients:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Butter (contains milk)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Milk, cream, and butter are all dairy products. This means Red Lobster’s mashed potatoes are not dairy-free.

Why Red Lobster Mashed Potatoes Contain Dairy

There are a few reasons why traditional mashed potatoes recipes call for dairy ingredients like milk, cream, and butter:

  • Milk/cream help make the potatoes smooth and creamy. They add richness and moisture.
  • Butter provides flavor and creaminess. It gives the potatoes a rich, velvety texture.
  • Dairy ingredients help prevent the potatoes from becoming gluey or gummy.
  • Milk, cream, and butter all complement the starchy flavor of the potatoes.

Leaving out milk, cream, and butter would result in mashed potatoes with a much thinner, drier consistency and less richness of flavor. The dairy ingredients are essential for achieving the signature creamy, buttery potatoes that Red Lobster is known for.

Are There Any Dairy-Free Options?

Unfortunately, the standard mashed potatoes recipe served at Red Lobster is not dairy-free. However, there are a few options for ordering mashed potatoes without dairy:

  • Ask for plain mashed potatoes – Order the mashed potatoes without milk, cream, or butter. They will still be made with potatoes and salt/pepper, but without any dairy additions.
  • Request a dairy-free milk substitution – Ask for the mashed potatoes to be made with a non-dairy milk like almond, soy, or coconut milk instead of regular milk/cream.
  • Order a different dairy-free side – Options like steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, fresh fruit, or rice pilaf.

While possible to order plain mashed potatoes or request a substitution, the taste, texture, and creaminess will be different than the restaurant’s regular recipe. Going with a vegetable side dish is likely the best bet for a dairy-free option.

Nutrition Info for Standard Recipe

Here is the nutrition information for Red Lobster’s regular mashed potatoes recipe containing milk, cream, and butter according to their website:

Nutrition Facts Per serving
Calories 220
Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 7g
Trans Fat 0.5g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 330mg
Carbohydrates 24g
Fiber 1g
Sugar 2g
Protein 3g

The high saturated fat and cholesterol numbers are due to the heavy cream and butter. Those with dairy allergies or avoiding saturated fats for health should avoid this dish.

Ingredients in Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes

To make dairy-free mashed potatoes at home, try using plant-based substitutions:

  • Substitute almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • Use olive oil or vegan butter instead of dairy butter.
  • Skip adding heavy cream for richness.
  • Flavor with garlic, herbs, spices, vegetable broth, or vegan cream cheese.
  • For creaminess, add nutritional yeast, cashew cream, soaked raw cashews, or mashed avocado.

With the right plant-based ingredients, you can achieve smooth, creamy mashed potatoes without the dairy. It does take some trial and error to find the right substitutions and ratios for your tastes.

Top Tips for Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes

Here are some top tips for getting the tastiest dairy-free mashed potato results:

  1. Choose starchy, low moisture potatoes like Russets. Higher moisture potatoes like red or yellow can become gluey without dairy.
  2. Cook the potatoes whole and peel after cooking for creamier texture.
  3. Use a food processor, ricer, or masher, not a hand mixer or whisk which can make them gluey.
  4. Heat plant-based milk and vegan butter/oil before mixing in for added creaminess.
  5. Season well with salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, vegan cream cheese, or nutritional yeast.
  6. Add some of the potato cooking liquid for extra moisture and richness.
  7. For lumpier potatoes, gently mash and fold rather than blending smooth.

Taking these tips into account helps ensure smooth, creamy, flavorful dairy-free mashed potatoes. It may take some trial and error to find your perfect plant-based milk and fat combination and ratio.

Best Milk Alternatives for Mashed Potatoes

The best dairy-free milks for mashed potatoes are:

  • Soy milk – Adds creaminess and has a neutral flavor.
  • Oat milk – Provides creaminess while keeping potatoes gluten-free.
  • Almond milk – Tastes great in mashed potatoes but can separate when heated.
  • Coconut milk – Rich and creamy, imparts a subtle coconut flavor.
  • Cashew milk – Extremely smooth, creamy, and subtle flavor.

Stick to unsweetened varieties for savory dishes. Soy, oat, and cashew work especially well. Nut-based milks and coconut milk tend to be thicker.

Best Fats for Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes

These are good dairy-free fats to use:

  • Vegan butter – Mimics flavor and texture of dairy butter nicely.
  • Olive oil – Adds richness without strong flavor.
  • Avocado oil – Neutral tasting oil that blends in smoothly.
  • Coconut oil – Provides creamy texture but also coconut flavor.
  • Vegan cream cheese – Gives tanginess similar to sour cream.

Vegan butter and olive oil are likely the best options for flavor and texture most similar to dairy butter. Coconut oil is nice for adding creaminess as well.

Recipe for Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes

This recipe for dairy-free mashed potatoes uses oat milk and olive oil:


  • 3 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1⁄2 cup oat milk
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the potato chunks in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Drain potatoes well and return to pot.
  4. Add oat milk, olive oil, vegan butter, garlic powder and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mash potatoes to desired smoothness using a masher or ricer.
  6. Stir thoroughly until liquids are fully incorporated.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  8. Serve warm.

The starchy Russets and oat milk create a light, creamy texture, while the olive oil and seasonings add richness and flavor. Feel free to experiment with different dairy-free milks and fats.

Common Questions

Why are dairy-free mashed potatoes often gluey?

Using the wrong potato type or cooking method are often reasons for gluey dairy-free mashed potatoes. Stick to starchy potatoes like Russets. Cook them whole, then peel. Over-mashing or using a hand mixer can also cause gumminess. Folding with a masher is better. Not adding enough liquid is another cause. Having some fat like oil or vegan butter helps too.

How can I make dairy-free mashed potatoes creamier?

Using a creamy plant-based milk like oat, soy or cashew milk helps. Heating the milk before adding helps too. Including some potato cooking liquid adds moisture. Sources of healthy fat like olive oil, avocado oil, or vegan butter also improve creaminess. Other additions like soaked raw cashews, mashed avocado, or vegan cream cheese increase richness.

What is the best vegan milk for mashed potatoes?

Oat and soy milk work very well in mashed potatoes. They have a mild flavor and add creaminess without excess sweetness. Cashew milk is also excellent, providing a rich texture. Almond milk can be used but doesn’t heat as well. Coconut milk imparts more coconut flavor. Choose unsweetened varieties of non-dairy milks for savory dishes.

Do dairy-free mashed potatoes reheat well?

Yes, dairy-free mashed potatoes generally reheat well. Cover and reheat gently either on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. Add a splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk or vegetable broth while reheating if they seem dry. Stir frequently for even heating. They may not be quite as creamy as freshly made but still taste good.

Key Takeaways

  • Red Lobster’s mashed potatoes contain milk, cream, and butter so are not dairy-free or suitable for vegans.
  • Dairy ingredients help give the mashed potatoes a smoother, richer, creamier texture.
  • To make them dairy-free, request plain mashed potatoes or a non-dairy milk substitute.
  • At home, use potato cooking liquid, plant-based milk, oils, and seasonings for creamy dairy-free mashed potatoes.
  • Oat milk, olive oil, and vegan butter are good choices. Different potatoes and cooking methods also affect texture.

While not as rich as the dairy version, with patience you can produce smooth, flavorful dairy-free mashed potatoes. They make a tasty plant-based side dish.

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