These amazing make-ahead mashed potatoes are the best I have ever eaten. Even better, they are just as delicious reheated as they are on day one.
We have hosted Thanksgiving almost every year for the past 10+ years. When we first began hosting, I completely exhausted myself making everything on the day of Thanksgiving. I thought we needed to have everything coming fresh out of the oven minutes before family was set to arrive. I quickly learned that this was not only impossible, unless I was willing to invest in more ovens, it was also a sure fire way to be sure that I never wanted to host Thanksgiving again. Trying to time everything to be done at just the right moment is really stressful and also leaves no room for error. Besides that, I would like to spend at least a small portion of Thanksgiving morning lounging with my family, catching a little bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I knew I had to start figuring out how to make a few recipes ahead of time. However, I also knew that I would be very picky about actually using make-ahead recipes. I wanted to be sure they still tasted delicious and I especially didn’t want them to taste like I reheated leftovers. The first make-ahead recipe I began searching for was make-ahead mashed potatoes. I like to make very traditional mashed potatoes with nothing more than milk, butter, salt and pepper. But every make-ahead recipe I came across called for a few less traditional add-ins, like cream cheese and garlic. I almost gave up on my search but one particular recipe I came across had rave reviews. So even though I was a little skeptical of veering from my traditional route, it seemed this popular recipe wouldn’t steer me wrong and besides…. I was desperate. I did not want to spend another Thanksgiving morning peeling, dicing and mashing potatoes.
It turned out the reviews were right, these make-ahead mashed potatoes were delicious. The problem? They definitely weren’t my idea of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. And once you added gravy? Let’s just say the flavors weren’t complementary. I was mortified, I looked around the room as our 30+ guests sat down with their plates. I watched their reactions to see if I could read the looks on their faces or if the potatoes seemed to go untouched on everyone’s plates. I didn’t seem to catch either of these so I started to believe maybe it was just me, maybe I was, as usual, just being too critical of myself. I ultimately decided that it wasn’t quite the failure I initially thought but decided I would not make these again and continued my search for a more traditional recipe.
I never did find a good option for make-ahead potatoes with a traditional list of ingredients. I did however come across a recipe for the most amazing mashed potatoes I had ever tried. One bite and I knew I’d never feel the need to try another mashed potatoes recipe again, it could never get better than this. The recipe called for a couple of small changes to the traditional recipe I had always made, but these small changes made a life changing difference: heavy cream instead of milk and yukon gold potatoes instead of russet. Oh.my.goodness. What a difference.
It took me a couple more years of trial and error at Thanksgiving time to turn this recipe into the make-ahead mashed potatoes option I had so long been searching for, but I finally got it.
And don’t forget to set some aside, because you’ll definitely want to use some of the leftovers to make these equally amazing mashed potato cakes. Taking leftover mashed potatoes and frying them into golden, buttery cakes? So delicious. To keep them special I only make them once a year and we always look forward to having them the day after Thanksgiving.
Whether you eat these mashed potatoes same day or save yourself the grief and make them a couple of days ahead of the big day, they are equally delicious. I hope your family enjoys them as much as ours!
Amazing Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Note: for a group of about 25, I usually quadruple the recipe and reheat in a 6 qt slow cooker.
- 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, washed and peeled
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
Dice potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Put in saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes by at least 1-inch. Cover with lid, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove and turn the heat down to maintain a simmer. Continue simmering until potatoes can be easily smashed when squeezed with a pair of tongs (this usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes) Drain potatoes.
Mix potatoes with the cream, butter, salt and pepper. You can either do this with a hand held or stand mixer. For the smoothest mashed potatoes possible, put the potatoes through a ricer/food mill before mixing with the other ingredients.
Make-ahead option: Refrigerate for a day or two in advance. On the day the mashed potatoes will be needed, remove slow cooker insert from fridge and let come to room temperature on the counter for about 30-45 minutes. Then place insert into slow cooker base and add 1-2 tbsp. of butter, sliced into pieces, across the top of the potatoes. Cook on low for 2-3 hours until heated through. Once heated, give the potatoes a good stir and turn the slow cooker to the warm setting. (Note: if you are concerned about reheating in the slow cooker or are short on time, you can reheat entirely in the microwave and then turn the slow cooker on the warm setting)
Source of Mashed Potatoes Recipe (without make-ahead option): Food Network, Courtesy of Alton Brown