When it comes to Thanksgiving sides, there's no question that mashed potatoes are an absolute must. And there's another thing to love about this crowd-pleasing dish: it's actually easier than you might think to make ahead. So get a jump on your Thanksgiving day prep by making your mashed potatoes now, freezing them, and then reheating on the big day.
While potatoes don't have a good track record for freezing well, mashed potatoes are the exception. As long as your potatoes are coated with plenty of butter and cream, they're perfectly freezer-friendly. This dairy duo is the key to making sure your potatoes freeze well, and most importantly, heat up creamy and flavorful. However, if the potatoes were made with only broth, skipping the extra butter and cream unfortunately means they won't hold up well.
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The Best Way to Freeze Mashed Potatoes
Cook your mashed potatoes just as you normally would, making sure to add plenty of cream and butter. Remember, that's the key to helping them freeze (and reheat) well, so no need to skimp. Then once the potatoes are completely cooled, use one of two easy methods for freezing them.
If you have ample space in your freezer (I know, a long shot for a lot of us), scoop one-cup portions of the mashed potatoes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, then transfer to the freezer for at least a few hours up to overnight, until the mashed potatoes are completely frozen. Transfer the individual servings to a large freezer bag or container, and store in the freezer until Thanksgiving.
You also don't have to store the potatoes as individual portions: After the mashed potatoes are cooked and cooled, transfer to a large freezer bag or container, and store in the freezer until Thanksgiving.
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The Best Way to Reheat Mashed Potatoes
When it comes to reheating the mashed potatoes, you have a few options. It's a good idea to thaw the potatoes in the refrigerator one to two days before reheating. However, if you don't have time, or prefer not to thaw them, you can reheat the potatoes directly from the freezer.
- Stovetop: Reheat the potatoes, thawed or straight from the freezer, in a large pot, over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once heated through, add additional seasoning and butter, as needed.
- Oven: Reheat the potatoes, thawed or straight from the freezer, in a covered dish at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely heated through.
- Slow cooker: Reheating with the slow cooker works best when the mashed potatoes have been thawed in the refrigerator. Add the potatoes to the slow cooker and heat on low for 2 to 4 hours.
- Microwave: Add the potatoes to a covered dish and heat them in the microwave at half-power for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Note: This time may vary based on the amount of potatoes to be cooked, and microwaves can also vary. Once cooked through, stir well, and add additional seasoning and butter, as needed.
Once reheated, if the potatoes seem to be on the watery side, go ahead and stir in some sour cream or cream cheese to give them a thicker, creamier consistency. Taste the potatoes, and add more butter, cream, and seasoning as necessary.