Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes – Once Upon a Chef

The best make ahead recipes cook’s illustrated

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Perfect for busy holidays, this ultra-creamy mashed potatoes can be prepared two days in advance and reheated in the microwave.

As much as my family loves mashed potatoes with puddles of melted butter and gravy on Thanksgiving, I’m always reluctant to make them because the traditional recipe can’t be made ahead of time. For me, the thought of frantic mashed potatoes at the last minute, as I try to put a dozen other hot dishes on the table with guests of all ages hanging around the kitchen, is stressful. That’s why I was excited to discover a method of making mashed potatoes in Cooks Illustrated that works great. Not only is mashed potatoes ultra-creamy, but can also be made two days in advance and reheated in the microwave, a big plus when oven and burner space is tight during the holidays.

What you’ll need to make mashed

potatoes prepared

puree potatoes

Interestingly, the recipe calls for baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. In all my years of cooking, I’ve never seen a mashed potato recipe start with baked potatoes. But it makes sense: water is the enemy of perfect mashed potatoes. If the potatoes are too wet, they become dense and heavy. (That’s why most recipes tell you to “dry” boiled potatoes on the stove before adding butter and liquid.) In many ways, the recipe is similar to twice-baked potatoes, which can also be made mostly in advance.

Baking potatoes takes longer, but it’s a trade-off: you don’t have to peel or dry the potatoes and it’s completely hands-free. And since potatoes are cooked directly on the oven rack, you won’t even mess up a pan!

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to puree potatoes prepared

puree potatoes

To start, place the potatoes directly on a baking rack and bake until very soft, 50 to 60 minutes. While the potatoes are still hot, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Remove all the meat from each potato half in the bowl of a standing mixer equipped with the shoulder attachment (or the bowl of an electric mixer). Break cooked potato meat into small pieces with a fork, potato crusher, or rubber spatula.

puree potatoes

Beat at low speed until completely smooth and no lumps remain, stopping the mixer to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. It is important to do this while the potatoes are still hot, otherwise you will end up with lumps.

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Advance the mashed potatoes

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Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer the cream and butter


Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large rubber spatula, gradually incorporate the mixture of hot cream and butter. Bending (instead of stirring in the stand-up mixer) prevents potatoes from becoming sticky.

puree potatoes

It will take a few minutes to mix the liquid; keep doubling until the potatoes are soft and creamy. Mix the salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

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Transfer mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. To reheat, make plenty of holes in plastic wrap with a knife tip and microwave at medium-high power (75 percent) for about 14 minutes. Stir potatoes halfway through reheating to make sure they heat evenly. Season to taste, then transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and chives and serve hot.

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Video Tutorial


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