Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

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Perfect for the busy holidays, these ultra-creamy make-ahead mashed potatoes can be prepared two days ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.

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, but 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.

What you’ll need for make-ahead mashed potatoes

make ahead mashed potatoes

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!

How To Make Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

make ahead mashed potatoes

To begin, place the potatoes directly on an oven rack and bake until very soft, 50 to 60 minutes. 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.

make ahead mashed potatoes

Beat on low speed until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 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.

make ahead mashed potatoes

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a simmer.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. 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.

make ahead mashed potatoes

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.

make ahead mashed potatoes

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 for about 14 minutes. Stir the potatoes halfway through reheating to be sure they warm evenly. Season to taste, then transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the chives and serve warm.

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Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Perfect for the busy holidays, these ultra-creamy make-ahead mashed potatoes can be prepared two days ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Chives, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and adjust an oven rack to the middle position.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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 note below 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 potato masher, fork, 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. (Note: it’s important to mash the potatoes while they are still hot, otherwise you’ll end up with lumps.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and 6 tablespoons of the butter to a simmer.
  5. 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)
  6. To reheat, use the tip of a knife to poke about 10 holes in the plastic wrap, 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.
  7. Notes: 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. 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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Comments

  • I was nervous about trying a new dish for Christmas dinner, but there was no way I wanted the pain of making mashed potatoes the day of.

    Shouldn’t have worried, these turned out gorgeous! Creamy and rich and jusy perfect. I ended up heating them in the oven for 30min @ 350 instead of using the microwave, and I cut the extra butter while cooking.

    My very picky wife’s only complaint? That I didn’t make a double batch! Thanks for the great recipie for my new potato go-to

    • — Kim on January 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can not wait to try these. HUGE fan of OUAC and was thrilled to be a taster for your new book which is outstanding!!!!!!
    My daughter just got wisdom teeth pulled and only thing she has a taste for is mashed potatoes. These look and sound amazing. My ONE question is – can I substitute full fat coconut milk for the heavy cream in this one?

    • — Randi on January 4, 2022
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    • So glad you like the recipes and thanks again for your help testing! I’d recommend sticking with the heavy cream for this. Hope your daughter feels better soon!

      • — Jenn on January 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • Made for Christmas dinner
    It was perfect and guests loved it and asked for the recipe
    This is the only mashed potatoes I will be making. I used a food mill them whipped in mixmaster.
    Thank you

    • — Paxe S on December 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have used this recipe with a potato ricer for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. My potatoes have turned out perfectly both times. I only folded in as much of the cream and butter as needed to reach the desired consistency.

    At Thanksgiving, I made them a day ahead and stored them in the bowl of rice cooker overnight in the fridge. The next day, I just popped them in the rice cooker on “keep warm” to reheat them.

    For Christmas, I reserved the potato skins from the ricer, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and cheese, then baked them until they began to brown. Topped with sour cream and green onions, they were delicious!

    • — Anne on December 25, 2021
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  • This is the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made and it’s been the most requested dish from both my family and friends. I followed the recipe exactly as instructed multiple times over and it’s always been so consistently delicious!

    • — Anne on December 25, 2021
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  • YUCK, they were alot more work and not as fluffy as my normal mashed potatoes. Will never waste my time with this method again.

    • — Dee Bb on December 24, 2021
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  • I followed the recipe too- and it’s still soupy- I used crème – any suggestions to thicken it uo?

    • — Tina Liu Celek on December 24, 2021
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    • Hi Tina, They will likely thicken up overnight, but you can try reheating them gently on the stovetop and simmering, stirring frequently, until thickened.

      • — Jenn on December 25, 2021
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    • Sorry, this was very disappointing. Very slimy and like paste. I followed the directions exactly. Now I have pounds of slime; no idea what to do for potato dish.

      • — Carrie McDonough on December 25, 2021
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  • What if I were to use skim milk? Thank you!

    • — Brooke Fraites on December 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Brooke, I don’t recommend it – sorry!!

      • — Jenn on December 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • What a disaster! I followed the instructions exactly and wound up with a soup mess. I even used an extra potato or two, but no way was this enough for 8 people even as soup.

    • — Ceil on December 23, 2021
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    • Would half and half work instead of heavy cream? I’ve made this before and we love it! But always used heavy cream and the grocery was out today so I bought half and half.

      • — Lauren on December 24, 2021
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      • Hi Lauren, A few readers had this same issue at Thanksgiving, and they reported back that the half and half worked. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on December 24, 2021
        • Reply
    • For those who have commented that they ended up with “soup” I wonder if they made the potatoes ahead and put them in the fridge to “set”. The mixture is very, very loose when first made but will thicken in the fridge. I would have had the same comment if I hadn’t made them ahead and allowed them to sit in the fridge for at least a few hours. The potatoes continue to absorb the liquid over the course of a bit of time, so give them some time!!! Once reheated, these potatoes were fabulous.

      • — Mindy on December 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can you make these with buttermilk instead of heavy cream – or would that make them too watery?

    • — Liz G on December 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Liz, I’d stick with the heavy cream here — sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks for your speedy reply. I’m just about to dive in and make these! Liz

        • — liz on December 23, 2021
        • Reply
  • Can you use Yukon instead?

    • — Laura Reiss on December 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, I wouldn’t recommend them here — sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • I needed to bring a dish to a potluck and wanted to make something the night before that I could reheat. This make ahead potato recipe is easy to make and delicious. I used a handheld mixer. My result was overall smooth with a few small lumps. I whipped the potatoes in smaller batches as the handheld mixer was having a bit of difficulty with the full batch of potatoes in one go. I then put all the whipped potato in a larger bowl and folded in the butter and cream mixture. Will definitely make this again.

    • — Danielle on December 10, 2021
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  • Amazingly easy and so delicious! My kids enjoyed them so much at Thanksgiving that I’m making them again tonight. Thanks Jenn for this recipe!

    • — Jane S. on December 10, 2021
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  • For years, for Thanksgiving, I have made a make-ahead baked potato casserole with butter, sour cream and cream cheese. This year I wanted make ahead, but “plain” potatoes. I had this recipe out but at the last minute did potatoes in my Instant Pot instead. They were OK but really didn’t hold that well on warm. Yesterday I decided to try Jenn’s recipe. Made half a recipe since there is only two of us. Oh my goodness!!! They were divine!!! I had made them earlier in the day and reheated as directed in the microwave. Perfect texture-just what good mashed potatoes should be. Since I made a smaller amount, I used my ricer and hand mixer instead of my stand mixer. Not one lump. I should have trusted Jenn in the beginning, and this will certainly be my “go to” recipe for make ahead mashed potatoes from now on!!!

    • — Mindy on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • OOPS!!!
    I hit the send button before clicking on the 5 stars!!!
    My apologies

    • — Wendy Schoenburg on December 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • I tried this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was wonderful I’m doing it for Christmas. Thank you for the recipe. I may have to try a second batch with only one cup of heavy cream and the other cup of half and half, wish me luck.

      • — Pat on December 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • I just read about heating these up in the crock pot, which I think is a great idea. For Thanksgiving, I quadrupled the recipe and it took forever to reheat in the microwave. Heavy cream is a must and don’t forget the chives!!
    If I were to reheat in the oven, would I need to stir it every so often…cover or uncovered?
    I think for Christmas I will only triple the recipe!! LOL!! Everyone loves this dish and leftovers heat up well in the microwave…always creamy…

    • — Wendy S. on December 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad these were a hit (and that’s a lot of mashed potatoes)! If you reheat them in the oven, I’d cover them and reheat at 350 degrees. It’s likely to take 30 – 40 min. (or longer if you’re tripling them). Just give it a stir halfway through.

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • I have a group of 12 for Christmas Dinner. could I reheat in a crockpot instead of the microwave? thank you!

    • — Cheryl on December 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Cheryl, that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love these potatoes! They are so easy to make and so creamy and delicious. I have made them just for myself and my husband for dinner just so we will have plenty of leftovers for the week – they reheat BEAUTIFULLY! Be careful – they are hard to stop eating!

    • — Paulette on December 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these two days before Thanksgiving and reheated just as the recipe said. They were delicious and a bit hit!

    • — Lynn on December 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • These were the bomb! Great texture and taste. Plus they saved me so much time on Thanksgiving. Thank you so much!

    • — Melinda on December 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I have to say it was delicious and just perfect! At first, it seems like there will be too much liquid, but the potatoes set up in the refrigerator. I didn’t notice any gluey or grainy texture that others mentioned at all. I followed the recipe with no changes – except I used light cream.

    It was a breeze to heat it up in the microwave just before Thanksgiving dinner. Very grateful to have one less complex recipe to follow on the big day. Thank you for this recipe!

    • — Tammy on December 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve always hated making mashed potatoes on the day of Thanksgiving. Too much work and mess, and they never seem to come out the way I want them to. These make-ahead mashed potatoes were the perfect solution! And they were so creamy and delicious!! They got rave reviews from my family and definitely earned a permanent spot on my Thanksgiving menu!! Thank you!!!

    • — Helen on December 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these for Thanksgiving and got so many complements on them!! They were a hit! I was worried once I poured the cream and butter mixture into the potatoes because it looked like too much, but they were perfect after folding! I served the mashed potatoes with your recipe for Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce and French Green Beans. Everyone LOVED it, and we fried the leftover potato skins the next morning for breakfast! Yum! Jenn, your recipes never disappoint!

    • — Megan on November 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I thought I made the best mashed potatoes but apparently I was wrong. These mashed potatoes were great. Everyone loved them and wanted the recipe. I doubled the recipe and followed the directions exactly except added a little garlic powder. There were no leftovers. I usually don’t write reviews but if you want a good make ahead mashed potato recipe I highly recommend this one. You won’t be disappointed.

    • — Liz on November 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these this year and the flavor was very good but, the amount of liquid made mine too runny. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen this as an issue with others. What could have gone wrong?

    • — Linda on November 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, sorry you found these to be too runny. Did you use heavy cream? And did you use the full 3-1/2 pounds Russets?

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    I like my mashed to have some structure so they hold the gravy and not be too thin/creamy.
    Should I add just enough cream until I get the texture I want? I’m just not sure if they will thicken up when heating in the microwave (in which case, I will stick to the recipe).

    Thanks in advance.

    • — Jay on November 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jay, these do thicken up a bit in the microwave, so I’d suggest sticking to the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • This has become a staple for holiday dinners. It is super easy to make ahead then heat the day of….we all love it.

    • — Linnea on November 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Forget what you think you know about mashed potatoes. Make this recipe and you’ll never use another. They were the hit of Thanksgiving dinner. Potatoes! We make them the night before, so we broiled the leftover skins with cheese, bacon, and chives for a nice snack. An added bonus!

    • — Mike Stamm on November 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these the past two years and they were excellent both times. I love not having to peel the potatoes. They are so hearty and stay together. We heat up leftover mashed potatoes for breakfast with chopped onion, eggs, and cheese. This year they were outstanding. Thanks for this great recipe.

    • — Lady Wharton on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • I weighed everything on my kitchen scale & somehow wound up with potatoes that were absolutely drowning in liquid. It was the consistency of a thin soup. I did steep the cream with some garlic, peppercorns & thyme before putting it back on the heat to add the butter, but I don’t think that small change would somehow affect the amount of liquid that drastically.

    Thankfully we were able to run to the bodega for more potatoes to save it, or else we would have been out of luck for thanksgiving dinner. Once we added the extra potato (an extra 3lb!), they were good and everyone seemed to like them. I did like the consistency and the baking method, so next time I guess I’ll just do more potato & less liquid.

    • — rachel on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Why is 2 days the limit to make a head. What happens if you made them 4 days ahead. Thanks

      • — Cheryl Batik on December 20, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Cheryl, I’ve only made these 2 days ahead of time. You likely can get away with pushing that a bit, but I always err on the conservative side when giving that guidance.

        • — Jenn on December 20, 2021
        • Reply
        • Thanks, since I asked this question my out of town company pushed back their arrival by a day. I think I will push my luck and go for three days out. Fingers crossed. I appreciate the quick response.
          Cheryl

          • — Cheryl Batik on December 20, 2021
          • Reply
          • I’m making 3 days out also since I have to travel! We’ll have to compare results. Someone mentioned eating them for a week so I think I’ll be good!

            • — Julie on December 22, 2021
  • I never comment on cooking sites but I had to comment on this recipe. It was fantastic! My family loved it! It came out so good – better than if I made it that day. I was pleasantly surprised. I had my doubts but was forced to try because I didn’t have enough time to cook everything for Thanksgiving and have us eat at a reasonable time so I made it the night before. Ha! I’m never going back to the way I used to cook mashed potatoes. Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Kimberly Y on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Perfect!

    • — Kelly on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • These were excellent! I tripled the recipe and mixed each batch separately so not to overwhelm my mixer. I was nervous about making mashed potatoes ahead of time but they were a hit and it was so nice not to deal with boiling and mashing while getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table. I’ll definitely make these again!

    • — Dominique on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are my go-to mashed potatoes – they are so easy (and convenient – I love recipes I can make ahead without sacrificing the final dish in any way), and they invariably turn out luxurious and smooth and full of flavor. I know it’s controversial and not recommended, but I used half and half, and they were still totally delicious. Another crowd-pleaser!

    • — Wendy on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • This one is a no for me. Some things you just need to make at the end; mashed potato is one of those things. I am admittedly a mashed potato snob. I normally use a mix of yukon golds and russets, boiled in either cream or water with plenty of salt, spin them while hot through the food mill, add the butter FIRST, and then incorporate cream or half and half and plenty of salt. We were going to someone else’s house, so I needed a recipe that could be reheated in her microwave. I figured, with this many good reviews, it must be great! Wrong. The only thing I did differently is put the hot potatoes through a ricer before hand mixing in the hot cream and butter mixture. Maybe the russets were stored improperly or were old, but the texture was grainy. They tasted good, of course, but the texture was off. I think the salt and liquid in the boiling method breaks down the potato for a smoother mash, and adding the butter first keeps them fluffy and prevents glueyness. Never again. But the bigger lesson is this: never make a new recipe on a Holiday that you haven’t tested first.

    • — E on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • AMEN!

      • — Dee on November 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • These potatoes were absolutely delicious and the hit of my Thanksgiving dinner. Multiple people commented that they were the best mashed potatoes they ever had (including me). And so wonderful to eliminate the stress of trying to make them right before dinner is served. A real game changer.

    I will say that I did 1.5 times all ingredients to serve 9 people and I had very few leftovers. Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe, Jenn!

    • — Paula on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these for Thanksgiving yesterday and they were by far the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made. I used 12 large russets for 9 people and there was hardly any leftovers! I will definitely make them again!

    • — Doreen Ryan on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Everyone loved these creamy mashed potatoes at our Thanksgiving meal! It was so easy preparing them the day before and heating them up in the oven while the other sides cooked. Thank you Jenn for another great and reliable recipe!

    • — Linda Halverson on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are brilliant. I just tripled the recipe for a large Thanksgiving gathering (made each batch separately) and it was so simple with great results. The only thing I did differently was to add a couple crushed garlic cloves to steep in the milk and then discarded them before adding to the potatoes. And a little bit of white pepper when I added the salt. Won’t ever make mashed potatoes any other way in the future. Thank you!

    • — Kirsten H. on November 26, 2021
    • Reply

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