Updated: Jul 11, 2022
It's November, so my thoughts have almost exclusively been taken over by Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday, but only recently did I start HOSTING the festivities. My mom has been the hostess with the mostess for 40+ years, but after we moved to Tennessee a few years ago and my parents moved down here a year ago, I've taken over the reins and am enjoying starting my own traditions as a host.
With that, however, comes a lot of stress and need for planning (some may say over-planning....) But when you are making such a high-stakes meal with enough expectation to sink a ship, planning is your best friend. One of my best tips is to make as much "stuff" ahead of time as possible. This might not mean completing a dish, but prep things to the point where you're not doing it all day-of.
For most people, mashed potatoes are a forthright conclusion of inclusion in your Thanksgiving meal. But the problem with mashed potatoes has always been that they are so much better fresh. That means peeling, chopping, boiling, draining, mixing, mashing, and serving all right before you're ready to serve the biggest meal of the year. If you make them ahead of time and try to reheat them, for some reason they're just never as good. They dry out, they're flavorless, they are clumpy instead of creamy... you just can't win. UNTIL NOW.
This mashed potato casserole, for lack of a better term, is your ticket to success. You can make everything ahead of time, store it in the dish you're going to bake it in, then pop it in the oven 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, and you'll have what seem like totally fresh, velvety smooth, mashed potatoes of your dreams. Trust me when I say this will change your Thanksgiving game. And if you're attending at someone else's house, these are the perfect side for you to bring for all the reasons stated above. You're going to love them and so will your guests. Whether it's Thanksgiving or not, these taters are your ticket to the meal time success train.
Creamy Mashed Potato Bake (aka Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes) (Makes ~ 6-8 servings) Prep Time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 30-50 minutes
Click below to download and print the recipe
I recommend reading the recipe all the way through, including the recipe notes at the bottom, before you start cooking.
4 medium-size russet potatoes
6 TB butter cut into large cubes
1/2 C. sour cream
1 C. milk (any fat % will do, including skim)
1/2 C. half and half
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)*
1 tsp. pepper
First, cook your potatoes like you were making baked potatoes. I prefer the microwave because it's faster, but knock your socks off with baking them in the oven if that's what you prefer.
Once the potatoes are fully cooked, allow them to cool slightly, then cut them in half lengthwise to cool until you're able to handle them.
Scoop out all of the flesh of the potatoes into the bowl of your stand mixer. If you don't have a stand mixer, read the "Recipe Notes & Variations" below. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer to low and start to break up the potatoes, about 1 minute.
Turn the mixer off, then add the salt, pepper, butter, and sour cream. Turn the mixer back on low and mix to incorporate everything and get the butter mostly melted.
Turn the mixer off and add 1/4 cup of the half and half and 1/4 cup of the milk. Turn the mixer back on low and beat until the dairy is mostly mixed it.
Either turn the mixer back off or slowly drizzle in the rest of the half and half and another 1/4 cup of milk. Continue adding the milk until you have a creamy consistency. It should be a little loose, but not liquidy. It should still hold together on a spoon. If you get to this consistency before all the milk is gone, you can stop adding it. Depending on the size of your potatoes, you may need a little more or a little less than 1 cup of milk. Trust your gut here.
Once all of the ingredients are mixed in and you have the consistency you want, check for salt and pepper and add more as needed then turn the mixer up and whip the potatoes until they are velvety smooth, and the volume has expanded a bit. Then turn off the mixer.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray that's big enough to hold all of the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to the dish.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes until they are hot all the way through. Cover with foil to avoid too much browning.
If you are making these ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Add 20 minutes to baking time or take out of the fridge ahead of time to bring to room temperature or close to it and bake for 30 minutes.
*Recipe notes + Variations*
*The amount of salt you need will depend both on your personal taste and the size of your potatoes. Make sure to check for seasoning before transferring to your baking dish. Potatoes can need more salt that you expect.
TRUST ME on the baked potato method rather than boiling the potatoes. Something about this method helps them stay creamier in the oven.
If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer or mash and mix everything by hand. If you've never made mashed potatoes in your stand mixer, you're in for a real treat!
The amount of milk and half and half also depends on the size of your potatoes. If you use larger potatoes, you'll need more; smaller you'll need less.
When scooping the potato flesh, you can really go in and go down to the flesh. You're not making twice-baked potatoes, so you don't have to worry about keeping the skin in tact.
If you like skin in your mashed potatoes, go for it. I would recommend roughly chopping your baked potatoes instead of scooping so you don't get huge pieces of skin in your mixture.
I prefer a deeper baking dish rather than a shallow on (see recipe photos). If you bake in a shallower dish, you'll likely need to reduce the cooking time.