Thanksgiving Must: Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

 
If you're like me, your head is swimming with worries when the dinner countdown starts ticking on Thanksgiving day.

Is the turkey cooked enough? Or even worse: Is it overcooked and dry? Wait, why is the gravy all lumpy? I need a sieve, stat! Oh no, are the rolls still frozen?

During all that last-minute chaos, the last thing I want to be doing is whipping—or more likely over-whipping—my potatoes into a gluey mess. And let's say I do whip them perfectly. Great, but are they still hot? Probably not as hot as I want them to be. Room temperature is more like it.

Well, this year, I'm taking the potatoes out of my final kitchen scramble, making them ahead and serving them creamy and lava-hot directly from the oven. Do I know it'll work? Yep, because I've tested these make-ahead mashed potatoes several times—at a potluck dinner party and for a weeknight family meal. Why these? Well, 130-plus glowing reviews couldn't wrong, right? The verdict from friends, family and Food.com members: These are the best, most crowd-pleasing mashed potatoes you'll ever have.

The Ingredients

It’s a dairy dream come true. Milk? Butter? Sour cream? AND cream cheese? Yep! That powerhouse combo ensures that these potatoes are super creamy. Over the top? You bet. But it’s Thanksgiving — this is the time to splurge. A tip: Be sure you let all these ingredients come to room temperature; it makes the mashing a little less arduous later.

As for the potatoes, everyone has their theory on the best potatoes to use. For these and all mashed potatoes, I turn to Yukon gold. Though the recipe says to boil the potatoes with skins on, I peeled mine first — it’s easier than handling hot potatoes later.
 

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MAKING THE POTATOES

Time for the spuds to take their steamy soak. If you’re a busy cook, odds are you’ll walk away from the stove and end up with a boiled-over pot. Try placing a wooden spoon across your pot as it comes to a boil or drop a tab of butter in there (no one’s going to notice that extra fat with these bad boys, promise).

After simmering for about 25 minutes (or until soft but not falling apart), it’s time to get them ready for their creamy, cheesy marriage of all things dairy. “Mmm…I take thee cream cheese, sour cream, butter and milk and promise to love thee till the last forkful.” Modes of mashing may vary but I went for the old-school hand masher. Make sure you test for seasoning, too. More salt? Yes, you have permission for extra this time.
 

SAVING THEM FOR LATER

Now here’s the best part. If you’re not ready to eat these right away, into the buttered casserole dish they go. (But I recommend a spoonful or two or three now, you know, just to taste test them. Oh and scrape the pot with a spatula so nothing goes to waste.) Finish them off with a little more butter on top and for a little fancy schmancy-ing, a sprinkling of paprika.

Let them cool a bit, cover ‘em up, stick the dish in your fridge and walk away till the next day. Thanksgiving day, take the casserole from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking to warm them to room temperature and then bake, uncovered, until they are slightly browned and all that butter on top is melted into little pools of golden promise. This will take about 30 minutes. Some reviewers also keep them warm in a Crock-Pot but keeping them in the casserole works just fine for me.
 

LET’S EAT!

You might think these spuds look naked without a drizzle of gravy. Well, these are so good that gravy is just, well, gravy. Of course, on Turkey Day, I plan to serve them with gravy. Tons of gravy. Douse yours with gravy, if you want. Add more butter. And dig in.

GET THE RECIPE: Kim D’s Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes »
 

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