Make it easy on yourself with this make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe! So fluffy & buttery, and they can be made up to 2 days ahead!

Make-ahead mashed potatoes served in a stoneware bowl with butter.

The Thanksgiving countdown is on!

Have you started planning your menu yet? I know mine will definitely include a few year-after-year favorites, like this Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, this homemade cranberry sauce, and this perfect apple pie (my nephew’s favorite!).

And as of last year, we have a new favorite: make-ahead mashed potatoes!

I know the idea of not serving mashed potatoes freshly made may sound a little crazy, but I promise you- it really works!

I was very dubious last year when I tried this method, but honestly, it blew me away. The mashed potatoes cook up so incredibly fluffy, velvety-smooth, and buttery tasting.

Never again will I stress myself out waiting until the last minute to make mashed potatoes! These keep for up to 2 days and reheat beautifully, without a trace of gumminess!

Overhead view of a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes, with a text overlay that reads "Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes."

CAN MASHED POTATOES BE MADE AHEAD?

For the longest time, I would never even consider making mashed potatoes ahead of time. I was convinced that in order to have fluffy mashed potatoes, they would have to be made just before serving. I had seen first-hand how they stiffen and clump up as they sit, becoming heavy and leaden.

Then last year I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at a relative’s house. I asked them what I could bring and they said mashed potatoes.

Uh-oh.

What do I do? Do I tell them that mashed potatoes should never be made ahead? That would seem so rude!

So I started searching around and discovered a make-ahead mashed potato recipe on Bon Appetit. I gave it a try, and guess what? It worked! Brilliantly!

For the recipe you see here, I made a few tweaks to the original, to accommodate my own family’s personal tastes. It’s a little less runny and it contains a bit less fat (but still tastes so incredibly rich and flavorful!). I’ve also halved the recipe because we always end up with a ridiculous amount of leftovers, especially on Thanksgiving when there are so many other side dishes to sample. That said, feel free to double this recipe if you’re serving a really big crowd!

HOW TO MAKE THIS MASHED POTATO RECIPE

It’s all about the method with this recipe. Normal mashed potato recipes would clump up as they sit and become gummy and heavy, but because of this special technique, these stay velvety and light for days.

The most important thing to remember is to work quickly, so everything stays hot as it’s being mixed together. I’ll explain more as we move along through the steps!

Start by filling a large pot with cold water. Then add a handful of salt and slip in the potatoes.

Placing potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water.

Make sure you’re using lots of water and plenty of salt! It should taste like seawater.

Place the pot over medium-high heat and allow it to come up to a simmer.

Potatoes simmering in a large pot of salted water.

While that is going, pour milk and cream into a small pot and keep it warm over the lowest possible heat.

Warming milk and cream in a small pot.

Cook the potatoes until the tip of a sharp knife slides in and out easily, without any resistance. They should be tender but not falling apart or crumbly. This typically takes about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how big they are.

Testing potatoes for doneness with the tip of a sharp knife.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the heated pot to keep warm (off the heat).

Now this is key: pass them through a ricer. If you don’t have a ricer, I highly recommend you invest in one. They only cost about $20, and they will yield THE MOST light and fluffy mash you’ll ever taste. I promise you!!

Passing cooked potatoes through a ricer.

A ricer serves a 3 in 1 purpose: not only does it mash but it also aerates and removes the skins. Trust me, this is a must-have kitchen tool! Here’s a link to buy one, if you don’t already have: ricer.

Now here is another key: you don’t just want to rice all the potatoes at once. You want to alternate, a few potatoes, then a hunk of butter, then a few potatoes, and another hunk of butter. This way, the butter is stacked between layers of potato. The hot potatoes melt the butter, and every particle of potato gets coated in butterfat. This layer of fat sort of “seals” the potatoes from the liquid, preventing them from swelling up and becoming overly thick and gluey.

Once you’ve got all the potatoes and butter riced together, give it a toss to combine and make sure that every molecule of potato is coated with melted butter.

Then add the warm milk and cream mixture along with a little bit of sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. I like 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt for this amount of potatoes, but feel free to tweak that to your own personal taste.

Seasoning with freshly ground black pepper.

Stir it gently together until combined, and that’s your make-ahead mashed potatoes made!

Serving make-ahead mashed potatoes from a crockpot.

These can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, OR if you’re making them the morning of, you can just slip them into a crockpot (set to the lowest heat) and keep them warm until you’re ready to serve them.

WHAT KIND OF POTATOES TO USE

I used Yukon gold potatoes for what you see here. They have a pretty butter-yellow color, a rich taste, and a nice, glossy quality.

You could probably substitute another type of potato, such as red-skinned or russets, but I honestly haven’t tried that myself so I can’t say for sure how they would turn out.

Close-up image of mashed potato recipe, prepared and presented in a stoneware bowl and garnished with fresh chives.

TROUBLESHOOTING

The most disappointing mashed potatoes tend to be:

  • gluey
  • sticky
  • gummy
  • grainy
  • lumpy, or
  • heavy

I can assure you, you won’t have any of these issues with this recipe.

There are 2 reasons why:

  1. Because the ricer mashes so finely, while also aerating the mixture.
  2. Because when every particle of potato gets coated in butterfat before adding the liquid, it “seals” the potato from absorbing too much and becoming heavy or sticky.

Just be sure to boil the potatoes until tender, or else it will be really hard to pass them through the ricer and they could come out grainy. You also want to work quickly and get everything mixed together while still hot.

HOW LONG WILL THEY KEEP?

Keep these make-ahead mashed potatoes warm in the slow cooker for several hours, or refrigerat them for up to two days.

They also freeze very well. They’ll last in the freezer for several months. Thaw them in the fridge the day before you plan to serve them.

HOW TO REHEAT MASHED POTATOES

To reheat, place the make-ahead mashed potatoes in a large pot over medium-low heat. Warm them gently, stirring, until heated through.

You may need to add a little more milk and/or cream to thin them back out, as they do tend to become stiffer as they sit.

Buttery mashed potatoes in a serving bowl with a wooden spoon.

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Overhead view of make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe, served in a gray ceramic bowl with melted butter and fresh chives.

Overhead view of make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe, served in a gray ceramic bowl with melted butter and fresh chives.

Overhead view of make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe, served in a gray ceramic bowl with melted butter and fresh chives.

5 from 1 vote
Make-ahead mashed potatoes served in a stoneware bowl with butter.
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Make it easy on yourself, and try this make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe! So fluffy & buttery, and they can be made up to 2 days ahead!

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: can you make mashed potatoes ahead of time, how to make mashed potatoes, make ahead mashed potatoes, mashed potato recipe, mashed potatoes
Servings: 6
Calories: 161 kcal
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 cup milk (whatever kind you keep on hand)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (buttermilk can be substituted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot with cold water and add about 3 1/2 tablespoons of salt.

  2. Add the potatoes (unpeeled) to the pot and place it over medium-high heat (covered) until it comes to a simmer.

  3. While the potatoes are cooking, warm the milk and cream in a small pot over low heat.

  4. Simmer the potatoes until very tender but not waterlogged or crumbly (approx. 30 to 40 minutes), drain, and return to the heated pot to dry.

  5. Pass the hot potatoes and softened butter through a ricer (alternating potatoes and butter so the butter melts over each layer of riced potato), removing the potato skins in the process (see video).

  6. Toss the riced potatoes together with the butter, allowing the fat to cover every particle of potato.

  7. Pour in the hot milk & cream mixture, add the sour cream, and season with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper.

  8. Stir the mashed potatoes until all the liquid is incorporated.

  9. Mashed potatoes can be kept warm in a crockpot (if serving later the same day) OR refrigerated for up to 2 days. To reheat, place them in a large pot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and adding additional milk/cream as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)
Calories 161 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 31mg10%
Sodium 2409mg105%
Potassium 349mg10%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 361IU7%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.