Much as my family loves mashed potatoes with pools of melted butter and gravy on Thanksgiving, I’m always reluctant to make them because they’re difficult to make ahead. I don’t know about you, but to me, the thought of frantically mashing potatoes at the last minute (while trying to get a dozen other hot dishes on the table, with guests of all ages milling around the kitchen) is nerve-wracking. That’s why I was thrilled to recently discover on Cooks Illustrated a method for make-ahead mashed potatoes that works really well. Not only are the mashed potatoes ultra-creamy, they can also be made two days ahead of time and reheated in the microwave — a huge bonus when oven and burner space is at a premium during the holidays.
Interestingly, the recipe calls for baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. In all my years of cooking, I have never seen a mashed potato recipe that starts with baked potatoes. But it makes sense: water is the enemy of perfectly mashed potatoes. If the potatoes are too wet, they become dense and heavy. (That’s why most recipes instruct you to “dry” the boiled potatoes on the stovetop before adding the butter and liquid.) Baking the potatoes does take longer but it’s a tradeoff: you don’t have to peel or dry the potatoes and it’s completely hands-off. And since the potatoes cook directly on the oven rack, you won’t even dirty a pan!
To begin, place the potatoes directly on an oven rack and bake until very soft, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. While the potatoes are still hot, cut each in potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out all of the flesh from each potato half into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or the bowl of an electric mixer). Break the cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using a fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula.
Beat on low speed until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. It’s important to do this while the potatoes are still hot; otherwise you’ll end up with lumps.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a simmer.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the hot cream and butter mixture. Folding (rather than stirring in the stand mixer) prevents the potatoes from becoming gluey.
It will take a few minutes to mix the liquid in; keep folding until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Mix in the salt, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. To reheat, poke lots of holes in the plastic wrap with the tip of a knife and microwave at medium-high (75 percent) power until the potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring halfway through the reheating time. Season to taste, then transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the chives. Serve warm.
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Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- 3-1/2 pounds Russet potatoes
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- Chives, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and adjust an oven rack to the middle position.
- Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack (alternatively, you can place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet). Bake until very soft, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. (Err on the side of overcooking rather than undercooking them.)
- Remove the potatoes from the oven. While they are still hot, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Using an oven mitt or a folded kitchen towel to hold the hot potatoes, scoop out all of the flesh from each potato half into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (*see notes on using a potato ricer, food mill or hand-held electric mixer). The flesh near the skin gets a little tough, so be sure to leave it behind. Break the cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using a fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula. Beat on low speed until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and 6 tablespoons of the butter to a simmer.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the hot cream and butter mixture. It will take a few minutes to mix it all in; keep folding until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Stir in the salt, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap (the bowl should be large enough that the potatoes don’t touch the plastic wrap). Refrigerate for up to 2 days. (DO NOT FREEZE)
- To reheat, use the tip of a knife to poke about 10 holes in the plastic wrap knife, and microwave at medium-high (75 percent) power until the potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring halfway through the reheating time. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a serving dish, top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and sprinkle with the chives. Serve hot.
- Note: For perfectly smooth potatoes, pass the potato flesh through a potato ricer or food mill before adding them to the mixer. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand-held electric mixer but the potatoes won’t be quite as smooth. If you don't have an electric mixer, pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer and then whip by hand with a wooden spoon.
- Per serving (8 servings)
- Calories: 464
- Fat: 34 g
- Saturated fat: 21 g
- Carbohydrates: 38 g
- Sugar: 3 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Sodium: 470 mg
- Cholesterol: 112 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.