This extrusion tool forces cooked potato through small holes, resulting in rice-like pieces of potato (hence the name). It’s constructed of a hopper into which you put a cooked potato (peeled or not) and a plunger that forces the potato through the holes. Because air is incorporated into the potato as it’s pressed, this tool gives you the lightest mashed potatoes possible. A ricer guarantees no lumps, and your potatoes will be very smooth. The only downside is that it can be a bit time-consuming, especially if you’re using unpeeled potatoes, as the skins must be removed from the hopper after each pressing; otherwise, they clog the holes.
Hand mashers get a bad rap for leaving lumps, but I found that they can, in fact, deliver smooth, creamy potatoes. You just have to be methodical with your mashing method, getting into every corner of the pot and using a press and twist motion with the masher, adding a little liquid at a time if you must. (Be sure your potatoes are thoroughly cooked, too.) If you like the skins in your finished dish (for nutrition and texture), a masher or metal spoon is the only way to go. Don’t expect mashers to deliver light or fluffy potatoes, though.
Which tool you use depends on your definition of ideal mashed potatoes. If you’re after a bowl of textured spuds, especially good when adding extras like herbs or cheese, a masher should be your choice. If fluffy and smooth is your idea of potato nirvana, go with a ricer. Either way, be sure to buy a durable model that feels good in your hand. When you have a pile of potatoes to work through, you don’t want a flimsy tool that’s going to cause a hand cramp.