Here’s a Foolproof Way to Prep Mashed Potatoes So They Reheat Perfectly Soft

published Dec 9, 2022
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Credit: Maria Do

A good friend of mine once told me years ago that people would rather spend time with you than watch you cook for hours on end, no matter how delicious the meal is. I decided to take that to heart. And so my motto for holiday cooking has become “do less.” That means when it comes to prepping, I do my very best to have 90% of the meal done before any of my guests show up. 

Many people make mashed potatoes the day of so they can avoid that stiff, stodgy texture you get from reheating the spud side dish the day after you make it. It’s understandable, as it’s one of the most popular recipes on the table. However, I’ve got a simple hack that will let you cook your mashed potatoes ahead of time and prevent any dry taters from hitting the table. 

When I was in culinary school, we would cook huge batches of food to feed the entire student body. We would peel over 20 pounds of potatoes a day for the hungry masses that came to eat in between classes. It’s fairly challenging to make 20 pounds of mashed potatoes, along with searing hundreds of chicken breasts and assembling a variety of other side dishes. Our chef always directed us to make the potatoes the day before, smooth out the top, and add a generous glug of heavy cream right over the surface. It made reheating a breeze the next day and kept the mashed potatoes smooth and creamy. From then on, it’s been my go-to mashed potato trick. 

Credit: Rachel Dolfi

Once your mashed potatoes are made to your liking, transfer them into an oven- and/or microwave-safe bowl (I usually use a deep ceramic dish) and allow them to cool to room temperature. Then add enough heavy cream to just cover the surface of the mashed potatoes, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and refrigerate. This allows some of the heavy cream to soak into the potatoes, saturating them with extra liquid. The next morning there should still be a thin layer of cream left that will add even more fat and moisture while reheating. 

For reheating, you can go one of two ways. If you have an unoccupied oven, preheat it to 300°F and place the covered dish of mashed potatoes inside. Leave it for an hour, stirring halfway through. The gentle reheating process ensures there will be no stodgy, sad potatoes on the table. Or, if you’re in a rush, remove the foil, cover the dish with a damp paper towel, and microwave the potatoes in one-minute intervals, stirring between each minute. 

Once you’ve done this potato trick, you’ll never go back to cooking spuds the same day. Follow the “do less” mentality and enjoy a glass of something on the other side of the kitchen island.