How To Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm: The 4 Best Methods

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

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So you're making Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people and you're wondering whether you can make the mashed potatoes ahead of time and keep them warm. The answer is yes!

Here are four foolproof methods to keep your mashed potatoes warm (or reheat the ones you made yesterday). The method you use is up to you; use the one that works best for you and your schedule.

Mashed potatoes do get stiff and gluey once they sit for too long. And while, to be honest, we'll eat them cold and hard straight from the refrigerator, obviously you want them to be fluffy and creamy on your Thanksgiving table. But making them at the last minute isn't always an option, and they cool down fast.

We like to make mashed potatoes first thing on Thanksgiving, and keep them warm throughout the day. (If you'd like to make them the day before, check out the first alternate method below.)

For our first, and favorite, method for keeping mashed potatoes warm and delicious, the secret, as you may have guessed, is the slow cooker.

How To Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm in the Slow Cooker

What You Need

Ingredients
Mashed potatoes
Butter
Cream

Equipment
Slow cooker
Spatula or spoon

Instructions

  1. You'll need extra butter and cream, along with your finished mashed potatoes.
  2. Butter the slow cooker and add extra cream. Butter the insert of the slow cooker. Drizzle a small amount of cream in the bottom.
  3. Keep warm on LOW for up to 4 hours. Transfer the mashed potatoes to the slow cooker, and set to LOW. Keep warm for up to 4 hours, stirring once an hour.
  4. Stir before serving. The mashed potatoes will stay warm and creamy. Keep stirring in any cream that separates out; you may find that the potatoes get a little thinner as they sit.

Notes

  • This method isn't recommended for rewarming potatoes that are cold from the refrigerator. Technically, it's not safe food practice to reheat food in a slow cooker, because it won't get into the safe temperature zone quickly enough.

No Slow Cooker? Three More Methods

If You Want to Make Potatoes a Day Ahead & Reheat Them

We've made mashed potatoes the day before Thanksgiving and re-warmed them with great success.

Add a healthy extra dose of cream and butter, so that the potatoes are almost soupy. You want them to just about drip off the end of a spoon. Put them in a deep casserole or soufflé dish—even a Dutch oven will do—and store in the fridge overnight. Then warm them up in the oven the next day, uncovered, with a little butter on top. The extra moisture will evaporate and you'll have creamy potatoes. If you're really nervous about the outcome, do a test run to see how much extra liquid you need to add to get the consistency you want.

If You Just Need to Keep Them Warm for an Hour

Another tip that we've used before is to set your bowl of potatoes over a pot of simmering water, just like a double boiler. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap or (our choice) a dish towel. Give it a stir every 15 minutes or so to keep the mixture well heated.

If You Just Need to Keep Them Warm for 20 Minutes

If you only need to keep the potatoes warm for about 20 minutes, we've simply covered the bowl with a dishtowel and let it sit. We usually make our mashed potatoes in our standing mixer, so we just throw a towel over the top of the mixing bowl and the potatoes stay plenty warm for up to half an hour.

Do you ever make your mashed potatoes ahead of time? What's your best tip for keeping them fluffy and creamy?

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(Image credits: Rachel Joy Baransi)