The Ingenious Method You Need To Know For Reheating Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes: Just saying (and typing) those words brings comfort. Add a big pat of butter and a stream of rich, well-seasoned gravy from the pan drippings of a roasted turkey or chicken and you've got comfort upon comfort. How much does America love mashed potatoes? According to YouGovAmerica, a United Kingdom-based research and data company that studies brands, beliefs, trends, and behaviors, mashed potatoes are the exalted ruler of Thanksgiving side dishes, beating stuffing (also known as dressing) by a hair and decisively edging out rolls and bread and sweet potatoes.

Mashed potatoes are carbo-licious, but let's be honest: Thanksgiving isn't the only time to enjoy these super spuds. If you live in cool-climate regions like the Northeast and Midwest, mashed potatoes are always welcome at the table. If you're wise, you have potatoes and other storage produce in your pantry (per Food Network). In the event of a blizzard, mashed potatoes can go from side dish to hearty main. Wherever you are, they're stick-to-your-ribs fare that can be made ahead and reheated — no need to whip them up on the spot. This day-before "hack” is so simple you might find yourself saying: "Genius! Why didn't I think of that?”

Mash potatoes in advance and pour on the cream

If you're a fan of mashed potatoes that are the edible equivalent of a fluffy white (or yellow) cloud, you'll appreciate this "eureka!” prep ahead-and-reheat technique from The Kitchn and Rachel Dolfi. This method likely goes against the traditional gospel of mashed potatoes you've been hearing your entire life: that these spuds absolutely must be prepared moments before being set on the dinner table or buffet.

Wrong. Dolfi, a New York City based culinary producer and food writer, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Despite her considerable kitchen skills, she is an advocate for a "do less” and do-ahead approach to holiday meals. The whole point is to enjoy family and friends, right? But back to the mashed potatoes. At the CIA, Dolfi recalls being tasked with preparing 20 pounds of mashed potatoes to feed her hungry classmates. One chef instructed students to wash, peel, cube, and cook the potatoes a day ahead, dump them in a casserole or casseroles, smooth the top like icing on a cake, and pour on enough heavy cream to cover the top.

For a scaled-back version of this at home, Dolfi recommends putting mashed potatoes in a deep ceramic dish and flooding the top with heavy cream. The potatoes will soak up the cream, creating pillowy soft mashed potatoes on reheating, which can be done in a low oven or in the microwave.

Leftover mashed potatoes save time on other dishes

Mashed potatoes are such a crowd-pleaser it seems unlikely that any would be left over for another day. Should you find yourself with a bounty of leftover mashed potatoes, this is what you do: Think like a chef and get creative. 

British chef Jamie Oliver has no shortage of ideas for getting extra mileage out of mashed potatoes in subsequent meals. Americans tend to think of pies as having sweet fillings, but the British are known for savory pies made with meats and vegetables, including potatoes. Oliver's attitude seems to be that the advantage of having "lovely leftovers” like mashed potatoes is that you're one step of the way there towards other dishes like bubble and squeak (an iconic British dish that is heavy on potatoes and also can include any other leftover vegetables at hand) or beef and Guinness pie crowned with mashed potatoes.

Ree Drummond, "The Pioneer Woman,” isn't one to send leftover mashed potatoes to the trash or compost pile, either -– there are too many good ways to work with them (per The Pioneer Woman). Her recipes for Twice-Baked Potato Casserole (with bacon and cheese), shepherd's pie, biscuits made with leftover mashed potatoes, and a casserole featuring meatloaf and loaded leftover mashed potatoes (among others) sound super comforting.