One of the most stressful things about Thanksgiving is having everything ready at the same time. In a perfect world, you’d always be able to make every single dish—roast turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes—on Thanksgiving day. It turns out that not even Ina Garten, the queen of ease, tries this unrealistic feat.
“Whatever you need to do to get Thanksgiving dinner on the table is OK,” she once said when asked about taking shortcuts and planning for the big day. And she meant it. Ina collected her best tricks for how to prepare, assemble, and cook many dishes, including Thanksgiving favorites, ahead of time in her cookbook, Make It Ahead. There’s one nugget of advice I’ve used again and again for making my favorite mashed potatoes before Thanksgiving.
Not only can mashed potatoes be made ahead and reheated without tasting worse, but they’ll actually end up creamier—their starches firm up when chilled, and when gently reheated, they relax into a silkier texture. The key is to reheat them properly.
Ina’s tip is so easy and Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes’ founder, uses the same trick. You place the cooked mashed potatoes in a baking dish (I’ve been eyeing this cute oval baker), tightly cover it with plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge for up to three days or the freezer for up to two weeks.
On Thanksgiving, pull the baking dish out of the fridge about two hours before you plan to serve dinner. Then pop it into a 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes as the turkey rests. (According to Ina, you can make most vegetables in advance and reheat them together in the oven while the turkey’s resting. That way everything goes on the dinner table warm at the same time.)
If you freeze the mashed potatoes, you can either thaw them overnight in the fridge or reheat them from frozen. They’ll take a little longer to warm through.
Ina suggests sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top of the mashed potatoes and baking them uncovered so that you get a nice golden crust. You could skip the cheese and dollop butter on top, as Elise does. I prefer to cover the baking dish with foil to prevent the mashed potatoes from forming a crust and keep them from drying out. If they do dry out, stir in a little warmed heavy cream or milk and pads of butter. Your mashed potatoes will be creamy and ready for Thanksgiving without any last-minute scrambling.
Our Favorite Mashed Potatoes Recipes
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- Vegan Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- Green Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes Recipe