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 the traditional recipe cannot be made ahead of time. For 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 about the kitchen, is nerve-wracking. That’s why I was thrilled to discover a method for make-ahead mashed potatoes on Cooks Illustrated 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
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.) In many ways, the recipe is similar to twice-baked potatoes, which can also be made mostly ahead.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 3½ pounds Russet potatoes
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1½ 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 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.)
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Excellent recipe! Using baked potatoes is genius and adds a baked flavour that, to many of my guests, is superior to the boiled method. I have limited stovetop space and a small oven so I really like this for large dinner parties and holidays where I have many dishes finishing at once. A perfect “cheat”.
I grew up with my mom’s mashed potatoes, full of bacon, garlic, potato skins, sour cream, etc. I was initially skeptical to try this recipe – so few ingredients! But so pleased I did. It was elegant and fantastic in its simplicity. All those extra add-ons I’m used to in mashed potatoes were definitely not needed. Paired with steak – chef’s kiss!
I have never made mashed potatoes out of baked so I was reluctant to try, but they turned out absolutely perfect. So delicious. Thanks.
If I only make half the recipe, how long do I reheat them in the microwave? Guessing it should be a shorter time.
Hi Anne, I’m not sure exactly how long it will take, so I’d start checking at the halfway mark.
Admittedly, I was hesitant to make creamy mashed potatoes from baked potatoes. But, I’m sure glad I did! They are the best make-ahead mashed potatoes we’ve ever had. They retain their flavor and, more importantly, creamy texture. Delightful!
Thank you! Mashed potatoes are usually the last messy thing I make. This is sooo much better! I adore using my potato ricer with baked potatoes. I used to peel, chop, boil and then dry them out in the oven! So many steps skipped and completely delicious!
Yes, these were SOOOO yummy!
I made these for the first time this Christmas. They are so delicious and creamy and perfect – not to mention that they warm up beautifully. I warmed them up in the oven. Mashed potatoes are part of our traditional Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, but to me, although they are good, they pale in comparison to the full flavour stuffing and turkey. But these! Well, they are fabulous and can hold their own alongside the other Christmas dinner selections. Probably my favourite mashed potatoes. Thank you for sharing:)
Excellent! Made these for Christmas dinner, the Family loved them. I will be making them again on future dinners. Thank you!
My plan on Boxing Day, is to use the potato skins with bacon, cheese, green onion and a sour cream dip as one the appetizer on our appetizer night dinner.
What a great idea and thanks for sharing, with the idea of the potato skins.!will definitely try this recipe, we love mashed potatoes but never have made them this way! 👍
Oh my, I will never boil potatoes again. I ended up using ten pounds of potatoes. Made 8 twice baked potatoes with the skins and a 9×9 pan of mashed potatoes. They were so easy to make and so delicious. Everyone enjoyed them so much. The potatoes came out so smooth. At Easter, my husband likes horseradish mashed potatoes so I’m making them this way from now on!
This is my go to recipe for mashed potatoes. More work than boiling potatoes but well worth it in the end. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Really, probably the best-tasting make ahead classic mashed potatoes I’ve had. But it was pretty labor intensive for me, and I’m debating whether I’d rather just make the potatoes the day of the event instead or do a less-stellar crock pot version or the baked sour cream/cream cheese version for less effort. My potatoes were all different sizes, but that actually worked to my advantage, because I would take one potato out of the oven at the time to halve and scrape out the meat. I’m also in the tropics, so dealing with hot baked potatoes and a hot oven wasn’t very fun; if it were cooler this would probably be more doable.
Wonderful. I struggled at first with the imperial measurements (I am in the UK). And first time around, I used a beater that was too fast, and it was a little starchy. But then I mashed by hand next time and got the measurements right…perfect! thank you.
So glad you enjoyed them! And the great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you.
Do you cover the mashed potatoes when they’re still hot? Thank you!
Would this recipe work with Yukon Golds? I’d like to try it but have already bought my potatoes. Looks delicious!
Hi Susan, I wouldn’t recommend Yukons here — sorry!
These potatoes are always a hit at Christmas and demanded by the kids. Thank you for what is now a family holiday tradition side!
I made these for the first time on Thanksgiving ’22. Making again for Xmas Eve. They were excellent and knowing they were prepared and ready to go 2 days out was a gift to myself.
Can these be tripled? I am thinking of tripling this since I have 26 (which includes 5 young children) for dinner. I didn’t really want to use cream but making mashed potatoes ahead would really help. I assume you can’t use milk? I love your recipes and always had success with all that I have made. Thank you! You are the best!
So glad you’ve had success with the recipes! For the best results here, I’d stick with the cream. Hope everyone enjoys!
Can these be made with just milk? I am having 26 for Christmas dinner and I am trying to figure out how to make ahead the mashed potatoes!
I don’t recommend milk here — sorry!
I have lactose intolerant people, can these be made with dairy free substitute.
Hi Amber, For a non-dairy option, some readers have commented that they’ve used Rich’s non-dairy coffee creamer (frozen) and Trader Joe’s unflavored non-dairy creamer. (Please keep in mind that I haven’t tried either of these.) I’d love to hear how the potatoes come out if you make them with one of these alternatives!
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving this year and it was perfect. No mess at the last minute, and tasted just as good as fresh.
Jenn, I made the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and will be making them again for the Christmas holiday. I followed your recipe exactly as written and they turned out perfectly. Thank you for sharing such wonderful recipes. I look forward to receiving your email!
The mashed potatoes came out perfect for Thanksgiving. I love that you can make them the night before. Thanks for the recipe!
These did not disappoint! Flavor was awesome & they were super easy to heat up the day of thanksgiving. I did add a little garlic & left some potato skins on because my husband likes them that way.
These potatoes were a HUGE hit! I made two Thanksgiving dinner this year, and went through a 10 lb bag of potatoes! There are none left! Everyone LOVED THEM! I reheated both in a crockpot and in the oven – one of my guests was at both dinners and she preferred the ones from the oven which had a firmer texture vs. the crock pot (makes sense…). I personally preferred the creamier ones from the crock pot, but both were amazing!
Hi! How long and at what temp did you reheat in the oven? TY!
PERFECT TATERS! I had a crowd of 18 and ended up doing ten lbs of potatoes, a quart of heavy cream, one T salt and 1/2 c. unsalted butter. I wont make ANY OTHER make aheads! These were the bomb!
I made these the day before Thanksgiving. They were wonderful, both when I taste tested them right away and reheated the next day. This is how I will always make mashed potatoes going forward. FWIW, I used half-and-half (because it’s what I had) instead of heavy cream, and they were delicious.
Wow I will never boil potatoes again. This recipe is spectacular thank you so much. Actually all your recipes are spectacular . You’ve got it dialed in. Thank you.
These were delicious and so easy to make ahead. I doubled the recipe but didn’t use quite double the cream and butter and they turned out creamy and delicious. I did put them through a ricer so there were absolutely no lumps. Delicious!!
This recipe is delicious. I put them in the refrigerator for about 6 hours and reheated in the microwave, I did use a ricer after I scooped each half of the potatoes, so I could almost skip the mix master step and just fold in the cream. I may try that next time, although using the mixer bowl to add and fold the cream worked perfectly.
Made these mashed potatoes, as well as gravy, a day ahead of Thanksgiving. What a game changer! Much less stress, and so much easier to get the big meal on the table. I was hesitant to try it, but they were delicious! From now on this is the mashed potato recipe I will use.
Another winner from your website! So nice to be able to make ahead and just reheat in the microwave. Creamy and delicious! We served at Thanksgiving and everyone liked them a lot.
They really turned out well. I don’t think I mixed them long enough at first. The texture was a little off. I added a little more cream and milk, then used an immersion blender before serving. They were perfect.
Everyone loved them. I will make them again.
The dogs ate the skins and loved them too!
Ok this recipe is a pain, way easier to boil potatoes. Some were done in 50 minutes, some 60, others longer. Even some of the smaller ones do not have the soft, consistent texture you get when boiling. And scooping out is a mess. Never again! Will do my usual make ahead boiled and mashed and add more milk and butter day of.
So good! And making it the night before made Thanksgiving day a breeze.
GREAT recipe! The flavor and texture were really excellent. I increased the recipe from 3 1/2 lbs of potatoes to 6 lbs and was still able to reheat in microwave. Love recipes that reduce the stress level on Thanksgiving day!
Did you double the other ingredients too?
I made these the day before Thanksgiving and reheated using my slow cooker on low a few hours before, stirred once or twice through that process for even heating. They were a huge hit! I was serving 12 people and adjusted recipe for 6 lbs. of potatoes. I did use 1.5 lbs. of Yukon, 4.5 lbs of Russet. I’m guessing the person with the gluey experience may have used all Yukon or similar variety or continued using mixer instead of folding in cream as recommended? I had about a cup left over. My family all enjoy cooking and made a point to tell me these were decadently amazing! I saved the skins to try making a potato skin appetizer today. I would definitely make again, thank you!