Slow-Cooker Mashed Potatoes

updated Oct 13, 2023
thanksgiving

These rich, buttery mashed potatoes are made entirely in the slow cooker, and you don't even have to drain them.

Serves8 to 10

Prep10 minutes

Cook4 hours to 5 hours

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Mashed potatoes are a requirement on the Thanksgiving table, and a hearty side dish for any meal throughout the fall and winter. But they do require some labor — peeling, chopping, boiling, mashing.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving tips has always been to do all the hard work ahead and keep the potatoes warm for hours in the slow cooker. But then it hit me: Why not use the slow cooker from start to finish? Are slow-cooker mashed potatoes as good as mashed potatoes made on the stovetop?

Turns out, you can make excellent mashed potatoes in the slow cooker — and guess what? I’m never going back. Here’s a step-by-step recipe for the best slow-cooker mashed potatoes, made from start to finish in the slow cooker.

Credit: Faith Durand

How to Make Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

The slow cooker, it turns out, is the magic pot when it comes to mashed potatoes. Here’s how it works:

  1. Prep the potatoes. Just cut up your potatoes after peeling them (if you like them peeled!). We like russets because it’s a potato variety that mashes up beautifully.
  2. Slow cook the potatoes. Add a small amount of milk or dairy. Cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Mash the potatoes. Mash the potatoes right in the slow cooker with a potato masher and stir in warmed milk and melted butter.

When the mashed potatoes are ready, put the lid back on and turn the slow cooker to warm, and your potatoes are ready whenever you are. No big pot for boiling water or steaming the potatoes, and the whole thing is much more hands-off. (The same is true for Instant Pot mashed potatoes!)

Credit: Faith Durand

How to Make the Mashed Potatoes on Thanksgiving Morning

From now on, this is how I’m doing this on Thanksgiving morning. I’ll start my potatoes first thing, right after breakfast, and then mash whenever I have a spare minute in the afternoon. The timeline is so much more forgiving; you don’t have to remember to start water boiling or align your schedule to when the potatoes should be made.

If You’re Making Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes, Some Tips

  • There might be some browning. Depending on how long you cook the mashed potatoes, the milk will probably begin to caramelize and brown around the edges of the pot, the way it does on top of a baked potato gratin. I scraped away this browned milk, but you can also leave it in (it’s actually quite delicious; it just changes the color, and not everyone wants little brown specks in their potatoes!).
  • Cook on low. You could also probably cook the potatoes overnight on low, but I did not test this. During all my testing runs I cooked the potatoes on high for about four hours. I had the best final result when the potatoes really got soft and fell apart; don’t skimp on the cooking time.

The beauty of this recipe is the ease in which you can make creamy, rich, classic mashed potatoes with minimal work. If you feel like having flavored mashed potatoes or want to see all the other ways you can make mashed potatoes, check out this comprehensive list of mashed potatoes recipes for all the other ways you can cook taters.

Slow-Cooker Mashed Potatoes

These rich, buttery mashed potatoes are made entirely in the slow cooker, and you don't even have to drain them.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 4 hours to 5 hours

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Butter or cooking spray, for coating the slow cooker

  • 5 pounds

    russet potatoes

  • 3 to 4 cloves

    garlic (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups

    whole milk, half-and-half, or a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream, divided

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

Equipment

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Chef's knife

  • Cutting board

  • 4-quart or larger slow cooker

  • Medium saucepan

  • Potato masher or ricer

  • Wooden spoon or spatula

Instructions

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  1. Peel and chop the potatoes. Lightly coat a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with butter or cooking spray. Peel 5 pounds russet potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice. Transfer the potatoes to the slow cooker.

  2. Add the seasonings. Smash and peel 3 to 4 garlic cloves, if using, and drop on top of the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a generous quantity of freshly ground black black pepper if desired.

  3. Pour in 1 1/2 cups dairy. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of the whole milk, half-and-half, or a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream. Stir to combine.

  4. Cook until tender. Cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender and soft, 4 to 5 hours on the HIGH setting.

  5. Melt the butter. When the potatoes are done, turn the slow cooker off or onto the warm setting. Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.

  6. Warm the dairy. Add 2 cups of the whole milk or other dairy to the butter and heat until just warmed through.

  7. Mash the potatoes. If you used garlic but don't want the potatoes super garlicky, remove the garlic cloves and discard. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard any browned bits on the sides of the pot. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes right in the slow cooker, or scoop the potatoes out into a large bowl and pass the potatoes through a ricer back into the slow cooker.

  8. Slowly stir in the dairy. When the potatoes are as smooth as you like, slowly stir in the warmed dairy and butter. The potatoes will look soupy at first, but the potatoes will quickly soak up the liquid. Add up to 1/2 cup more milk if you want them to be even creamier.

  9. Taste and season. Taste and season with more kosher salt or black pepper as needed.

  10. Keep warm. To keep the potatoes warm, cover and keep on the WARM setting for up to 4 hours.

Recipe Notes

Dairy-free potatoes: To make dairy-free potatoes, substitute the same amount of chicken or vegetable broth for the milk.

Lighter Mashed Potatoes: This recipe is based on our Perfect Mashed Potatoes and they are quite rich and creamy. But of course you don't need to add the butter, milk, or cream — you can simply cook the potatoes in milk and then mash them without additional dairy.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.