Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are creamy smooth, buttery, fluffy, and melt in your mouth. There are five reheating methods here plus tips on how to keep them warm for dinner, or holiday meals like Thanksgiving when you have several things cooking in the oven.
We all want that creamy classic buttery warm goodness, right? No one wants mashed potatoes that are gummy, lumpy, and cold.
Today we will master one of the most popular side dishes in America with easy tips and techniques to make the best mashed potatoes. And any dish that you can have ready to go for dinner or entertaining is always a winner...
TRUE CONFESSION: For many years, I didn't make mashed potatoes, as in I didn't want to make them at all...and if I did, I was never happy with how they turned out.
My Sister-In-Law Krisztina makes the most perfectly creamy mashed potatoes ever, and mine seemed sticky and lumpy-not what you want. I had almost given up until I learned a couple of neat tricks from a Chef and my cooking mentor in a professional cooking school.
I became determined to master this "simple" dish, and made them over and over until I loved how they turned out. So I bought two 15 pound bags of potatoes and got to work.
Table of Contents
How To Make Mashed Potatoes
With a couple of easy techniques, you can make a large batch for hungry friends and family ahead. Use my favorite methods, and the best tips here to freeze and or reheat them perfectly every time.
The last thing you want to be doing on a big day like a holiday is cooking in a rush to get dishes ready. Over the years, I have created some of the best methods to make hot, creamy mashed potatoes over-the-top good. Let's make them, here is what you need.
- russet potatoes
- sea salt
- black pepper
- salted butter
- heavy cream (whipping cream or half and half)
- cream cheese (optional-read on for more swaps)
Heavy Cream: You can use any dairy product; heavy cream, half and half, whipping cream, or heavy whipping cream. Even hot milk works fine if that is what you have in a pinch. Add a little extra cream or additional milk ¼ cup at a time, give a good stir, then see if is the creamy texture you want.
First, in a large pot or big Dutch oven, fill ½ way with cold water and add ½ teaspoon sea salt.
Peel and slice the potatoes into 1" pieces. Put the cut potato pieces into the pot of water as you peel and slice so they don't turn brown.
Be sure water covers the potatoes by 2 inches, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
Cook the potatoes for 25 minutes in boiling water, uncovered, or until the potatoes are soft and fork-tender. They should easily break apart by smashing with a fork on a plate.
Drain well in a colander to remove the extra liquid. Discard the water.
Hold the potato ricer over a large empty pot, load the ricer full in batches, using a large spoon, and press all the potato pieces into the large pot.
Or, place your drained hot potatoes back in the pot once drained and mash with a potato masher. If you want an airy fluffy, creamy texture in your mashed potatoes, the ricer really works in a short amount of time!
PRO TIP: A masher will work, but it never gets all the little lumps out completely. The key is to get them well mashed before adding the cream and butter mixture.
In a small saucepan, add the butter, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Stir and don't boil, once those ingredients are melted together you can add the cream cheese if you desire. It makes them super duper creamy!
Pour the creamy butter sauce all over the well-mashed potatoes, and mix well with a large spatula.
Transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish (spray for easier cleanup) and cover with the lid of the dish or a large piece of aluminum foil. Keep in a warm oven or place in the refrigerator until ready to reheat up to 2 days.
PRO TIP: A potato ricer presses the potatoes through a screen with holes and creates a smooth consistency with no lumps. If you really want airy fluffy mashed potatoes, the ricer is the way to go. A masher or mixer will work, but it never gets all the little lumps out completely.
Flavor Variations And Additions
There are lots of garlic fans out there that love roasted garlic or garlic powder in their mashed potatoes. You can also mix in some onion powder for extra flavor.
Chicken Stock: Some people cook their potatoes in chicken stock, I find using water is fine but some people love this method to add flavor.
Mashed Potato Toppings
So many people love a make-ahead gravy or even a giblet gravy to ladle on hot potatoes, but you can add grated parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, extra butter, or a sprinkle of green onions. I really love homemade Herb Butter, try my recipe!
Mashed Potato Top Tips
- Food processors and hand mixers, can't get all the lumps out and make them a gummy texture. Not smooth and fluffy like an inexpensive ricer can.
- Never mix lumpy potatoes with more cream or butter, it becomes almost impossible to get the lumps out at that stage!
- Never use potato flakes and expect the best flavor and texture. Good quality ingredients are always worth it...
5 Ways To Reheat Mashed Potatoes And Keep Them Warm!
You have come to the right place Next time you need to reheat and keep your taters warm. Years ago my hairdresser asked me what is the best way, and it was such a good question! But here is the deal, there is no one simple short answer, there are lots of hacks to use!
These are the five different methods I have used over the years. Choose the easiest way to warm potatoes in your kitchen for the best results.
Some people are lucky enough to have a warming drawer in their kitchen. But most of us home cooks don't have that fancy luxury, but not to worry here are some great ways to keep your prepared mashed potatoes nice a warm when oven space is in demand.
The best part is you can also use these same techniques to warm sauces, casseroles, side dishes, appetizers or hot gravy to top your company-worthy spuds. These will also hold them at the perfect temperature for your gathering.
❶ Oven Method & Microwave Reheating
Clean-up is so much easier if you spray your baking dish with a non-stick spray like coconut oil before you add the mashed potatoes to the bottom of the dish.
Microwave: Reheating in a microwave is the fastest way if you need to reheat mashed potatoes quickly. Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe dish, add a splash of liquid like milk or cream, and gently stir. Then heat at half power for 2-3 minutes. Time will depend on how big a dish of potatoes you are warming up.
Oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, cover mashed potatoes with heavy foil in an oven-safe dish to keep them from drying out, and reheat at 375 for 30-40 minutes. One advantage is this is the most hands-free way to reheat potatoes to get them ready to serve, the downside is it takes up valuable oven space.
❷ Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Reheat Method
Did you ever hear how to reheat mashed potatoes in a crock pot or slow cooker? The best way is to load them in your slow cooker insert, and mix in a splash of heavy cream, a splash of milk, or a bit of butter to keep them moist ahead of time. Then turn the heat to medium-low heat setting and put the lid on. Give them a quick stir every 15 minutes until hot. You can add warm water in a pinch, but the cream adds better flavor and a creamy texture. Butter also works.
You can use any kind of crockpot, the key is once they are warm keep them on a low setting so they don't dry out. You can leave them this way for at least a couple of hours, and up to 3-4 hours. Some models will have a warm setting too, which is a nice feature. I like to set up a nice buffet area, and let people go back to serve themselves seconds for holidays and parties!
❸ Stovetop Pan Of Water
If you make your cooked potatoes ahead the day before, you can also place cold mashed potatoes in a double-gallon zip lock bags. Put one inside of the other-and yes they are food safe per the manufacturers. Seal well, and keep refrigerated for up to 2 days. Then when ready to eat them, place carefully in a pan of water on a low simmer. This method is called a water bath bain-marie or sous vide cooking method. A double boiler will work well too if you have one of those.
Or place the mashed potatoes in a heat-safe large bowl (like a stainless steel or glass heatproof bowl) over a pot of simmering water on low heat, to reheat and keep warm on the stove.
❹ Heating Pad
Reheat the potatoes in the method you choose and keep them hot on a regular household heating pad covered with a pretty towel, and keep the heat at a low-medium heat or high heat. This idea is great for buffets during the holidays and keeps dishes warm all during your gathering.
❺ Warming Trays
Warming Trays are a great way to free up space in your oven, keep food warm, and set up a nice buffet for hot food on busy holidays, family dinner, and parties. They come in different sizes and usually can hold large casserole dishes. There is usually a temperature setting dial to adjust, so it's a nice hands-off way to keep food warm without it taking up kitchen stove space.
By the way, the warming tray in the picture was my parents. It was a wedding gift to them in 1960. It still works perfectly to keep a number of foods warm at parties. I took it to my cousin's house for Christmas one year, and he loved it. He found one just like it at a garage sale!
How To Reheat Frozen Mashed Potatoes
A great option is to make your mashed potato dish ahead, and use several of these tips on how to master the freezing process.
PRO TIP: The easiest most low-effort technique is to freeze your mashed potatoes right in the casserole dish. Thaw them for a few hours in the refrigerator, overnight is best, then you are ready to heat them in the oven the next day.
Easy Casserole Dish Method: Freeze your mashed potatoes right in the dish. You can remove the potatoes and wrap really well in plastic wrap and foil until ready to use. Then, unwrap, defrost, and reheat.
Individual Servings: Use a large ice cream scoop and freeze on a rimmed baking sheet pan in 1-cup portions. Then once frozen, put in a resealable plastic bag freezer-safe or airtight container and use them within 2 months.
Creative Portion Ideas: Alternatively, you can freeze leftover potatoes in silicone molds or slice a pan of leftovers into individual portions and freeze them, then break the frozen mashed potato cubes into a container or freezer bag.
Vacuum Packing: Home Vacuum sealers are also great kitchen tools, that keep freezer burn and ice crystals away from frozen foods. It is not a very time-consuming method and saves you money in the long run. They preserve the flavor and taste of frozen sweet potatoes, meats and so much more.
More Side Dishes
This mashed potatoes recipe is a tasty side dish for the family dinner table, potlucks, and holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving dinner, and Easter.
For more great tasty side dish ideas try my Roasted Vegetables, Pineapple-Orange Cranberry Sauce, Sausage Stuffing, or this Sweet Potatoes Casserole. These are all Thanksgiving staples and classic holiday dinner ideas...
More Potato Recipes
Smashed Potatoes served with melted herb butter are one of the most heavenly potato recipes. These crispy potatoes are a perfect side dish for a family dinner, romantic date nights, holidays, or a dinner party.
Bake your Hash Browns in muffin tins and skip the frying on your stovetop altogether. And no messy stovetop to clean! This simple recipe is so popular for holidays or any special occasion.
Wondering what to do with leftover mashed potatoes and other holiday dishes? After the holidays, try this Leftover Turkey Recipe for a new recipe for shepherd's pie! Use turkey leftovers, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and more from Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas.
Tater Tot Casserole is an easy breakfast recipe that takes 15 minutes to prep and bakes golden brown in just 50 minutes.
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Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes Recipe - Reheated 5 Ways
- 5 lbs russet potatoes - peeled and sliced into 1" pieces (6-7 large potatoes)
- 2 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup salted butter
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream - heated (whipping cream or half and half)
- 8 ounces cream cheese (optional)
- In a large pot, fill ½ way with cold water and add ½ teaspoon sea salt.
- Peel and slice the potatoes into 1" pieces. Put the cut potato pieces into the large pot of water as you peel and slice so they don't turn brown.
- Be sure water covers the potatoes by 2 inches, bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
- Cook the potatoes for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and fork tender. They should easily break apart by smashing a piece with a fork on a small plate.
- Once cooked, drain well in a colander to remove the extra liquid. Discard the water.
- Hold the potato ricer over a large empty pot, and load the ricer full in batches using a large spoon, and press all the potato pieces into the same large pot. Or, place your drained potatoes back in the pot once drained and mash with a potato masher. If you want airy fluffy creamy mashed potatoes, the ricer really works!Again, the masher will work, but it never gets all the little lumps out completely. Whichever way you mash your potatoes, the most important thing is to get them mashed well before adding the cream and butter mixture for a smooth creamy texture.
- In a small sauce pan, add the butter, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Stir and don't boil, once those ingredients are melted together you can add the cream cheese if you desire. It makes the mashed potatoes super creamy!
- Pour the creamy butter sauce all over the well mashed potatoes, and mix well with a large spatula.
- Spray an oven-safe casserole dish with nonstick spray (for easier cleanup), transfer the creamy potatoes in and cover with the lid of the dish or a large piece of aluminum foil. Keep in a warm oven or place in the refrigerator until ready to reheat for up to 2 days.
5 Ways to reheat and keep mashed potatoes warm
- Reheat in the microwave: Put the cold potatoes in a microwave-safe dish, add a splash of liquid like milk or cream, and gently stir. Then heat at half power for 2-3 minutes. Time will depend on how big a dish of potatoes you are warming up. Reheat in the oven: cover mashed potatoes with foil and reheat at 375 for 30-40 minutes.
- Reheat in a slow cooker on medium low, add them to your slow cooker and mix in a little more cream and butter to keep them moist. Stir every 15 minutes until hot. Keep the temperature on low setting.
- Place in a double gallon zip lock bag (put one inside of the other), seal well and place carefully in a pan of water on low simmer.
- Place mashed potatoes in a heat-safe bowl over a pot of water to reheat and keep warm on the stove.
- Reheat the potatoes in a method you choose and keep hot on an electric warming tray or a heating pad covered with a pretty towel. This works great for holidays and parties, or family dinner.
Potato RicerPresses the potatoes through a screen with holes and creates a smooth consistency with no lumps. If you really want airy fluffy mashed potatoes, the ricer is the way to go. A masher or mixer will work, but it never gets all the little lumps out completely.
Heavy CreamYou can use any dairy product; heavy cream, half and half, whipping cream, or heavy whipping cream. Even hot milk works fine if that is what you have in a pinch. Add a little extra cream or additional milk ¼ cup at a time, give a good stir, then see if is the creamy texture you want.
Mashed Potato Top Tips
- Food processors and hand mixers, can't get all the lumps out and make them a gummy texture in my experience. Not smooth and fluffy like an inexpensive ricer can.
- Never mix lumpy potatoes with more cream or butter, it becomes almost impossible to get the lumps out at that stage!
- Never use potato flakes and expect the best flavor and texture. Good quality ingredients are always worth it.
Jessica Robinson says
I love that you gave so many great ideas for reheating and using mashed potatoes! Such a great article and informative!
Nice article. I happened to watch America's Test Kitchen (ATK) where potato-mashing methods were discussed. Their top-score method was the ricer, and I've been doing it ever since. Hand-held ricers are fine, but it's really challenging to get scoops of hot potato chunks into the strainer chute, but once done, they whip and blend to perfection.
Agreed JJ! And I LOVE ATK, obsessed would be a better description. I love their equipment reviews. I just made mashed potatoes last week, and agree they are tough to get in the ricer but worth it. I am making more potatoes tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and I will think of you when I am struggling to get them in the dang ricer! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for the nice comment.
CHRISSY JASON says
Hi Lisa, great article. I heat my cold mashed potatoes in a heat-proof bowl over a gently, simmering pot of water. I cover the bowl with the pot lid & stir occasionally until potatoes are heated through. Works like a charm & the potatoes don’t form a crust on top, the way they do when you bake them.
Dave Skolnick (S/V Auspicious) says
Overall a good article EXCEPT one reheat approach. Do NOT heat in a ziptop bag in hot water. All of the manufacturers of bags that I have checked explicitly say this is not food-safe due to plasticizers leeching from the bag into the food.
Hey Dave, I know it would seem to be the case, but I learned this technique in a professional-level cooking school taught by a French chef who also teaches at the International Institute of Culinary America. I just pulled this from Ziploc bags website: FDA Requirements
"All Ziploc® brand Containers and microwavable Ziploc® brand Bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator and freezer temperatures." I feel safe to do this technique, but understand if you don't no worries!! Happy Cooking and thanks for the comment.
Ruth Goetz says
Thanks for your suggestions they are all good ones. I have been doing this for some years. I place in a shallow roasting pan, and cover with foil. Then place in the oven for approx hour and a half. I use my Bosch mixer to mash with melted butter, cream cheese and hot milk. The most difficult thing is making sure they are hot all the way through when reheating. I will pull the pan out of the fridge to bring to room temp, good suggestion.
Thanks, Ruth for your comment, I will try using cream cheese...heard it makes them really creamy. Appreciate your comments so much and happy cooking.
These are SO good. Turned out beautiful and no one knew I had made them the night before. I used a ricer and reheated them in a crockpot. I added extra cream and butter during reheating and stirred about every 30 minutes. Thank you!
Yay Jo!!!! Thank you so much for leaving your comment, this is how I make them every year. It took me years to figure out how to get them smooth and creamy. So glad everyone loved them. Happy Holidays Jo, keep on cooking!
If I reheat in the oven,do I not need to add additional butter and cream, as you say to do in the crock pot method? I am making this recipe for Thanksgiving.
Hello Linda! What I do is pull from fridge for an hour of so, keep covered with a lid or heavy foil, and pop into the oven. You can always add some butter or cream if them seem a bit dry, but I have never had to do that! Happy Holidays...
I see that you do not mention microwaving the potatoes to reheat them...Have you ever done that, and if you don't, is there a reason why it would be a bad idea?
Karen, I haven't tried the microwave (but it might work just fine!) I do like how the oven crisps them right up...they are yummy leftovers.
So I can make mashed potatoes the night before and then reheat the night before?
Hi Nancy, you can make the make the mashed potatoes ahead, and reheat the day of your party!
I followed your recipe exactly and they turned out perfect! I even picked up a potato ricer at Bed Bath and Beyond ($12.00 with coupon). Thank you for sharing your recipe and tips. There are tons of recipes out there, but yours is the one (complete with so many options for reheating). I'm so thankful I stumbled across your blog. Happy Thanksgiving
Thank you SO much Pamela! : D That was my thought when I wrote the recipe, is people want some different ways to reheat them. (As my hairdresser had asked me one day) Happy Thanksgiving, I appreciate your kind thoughtful comment, and thanks for finding Delicious Table!
How long should the mashed potatoes be reheated in the crockpot?
Hi MJ, Great question! Well, that will depend on a couple things. The amount of mashed potatoes you are reheating and the brand of slow cooker (some slow cookers actually reheat faster than others!). What I would plan on is at least 2 hours, I would pull the mashed potatoes out ahead of time to start bringing them up to room temperature. Then I would load the mashed potatoes into the slow cooker on low with extra cream and a little butter, and make sure to stir them every 30 minutes or so. Then turn the heat up 30-45 minutes before serving to med-high. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!
Malia Griffice says
Thank you for spelling out how long it takes for them to reheat. I never know how long and would hate to have cold mashed potatoes for everyone! Happy thanksgiving!
Hi Malia, You are welcome! Timing and reheating is the hard part of Thanksgiving Day cooking, glad it is helpful...Happy Cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm going to make these for Thanksgiving. What is the serving size? I'm having 12 people, so not sure whether I should make more than the recipe calls for.
Hello Peggy, This recipe will make 10 servings (so 10 people) each serving is 8 oz. You might want to double the recipe for your party? I always like to have extra sides for Thanksgiving because people tend to eat more than a regular portion. You can make little sandwiches with rolls and all your leftovers, or even Thanksgiving empanadas. I have a recipe for you if that sounds good to you. Happy Thanksgiving Peggy, and happy cooking!
How am I 45 years old and have never heard of a potato ricer? I made these without one and they were still amazing with all that heavenly cream and butter, but I am hopping online to order a ricer and see first hand the difference that makes. I love an experiment!