These ultra creamy mashed potatoes with a golden crisp top can be prepped up to two days ahead to save time (and dishes!) on the day of serving.
There are so many great things about hosting a meal for a crowd. Running around trying to pull everything together at the last minute is not one of them.
Throughout the year, but especially at the holidays, make ahead dishes are key. And perfectly light, creamy mashed potatoes are one of the best kept make-ahead secrets. Why make your mashed potatoes in advance you might ask? Because they use. so. many. dishes.
For this recipe, the only thing to wash on the day of serving is this serving dish. Creamy potatoes with a golden crisp top can and should be served at the holidays or any meal. Just look at the result…
These make-ahead mashed potatoes are even more creamy than most mashed potatoes that are made right before serving. They also use slightly less butter than other versions because the butter hardens in the fridge and makes the potatoes more stiff. Instead, half and half is added at two different points to make sure these stay super creamy even after a couple days in a cold, dry fridge.
Here’s how this is done:
Peel, Dice, Boil
These start like most any other mashed potato recipe. Peel and dice the potatoes into even chunks. Simmer them in lightly salted water until tender.
Steam and “Rice”
When the potatoes are tender, drain them through a colander and then cover the colander with a lid. This step steams the potatoes, drawing out water. It will prevent the potatoes from being watery when mashed. You’ll add the moisture back in in the forms of butter and half and half!
The other key to these super creamy potatoes is a potato ricer. Frank and I have been making our mashed potatoes this way for years, and swear by it. We only use our ricer a couple times a year, but it’s worth keeping it around just for the potatoes. (You can also use a potato masher if you prefer, though I really do think a ricer gets everything more evenly mashed and fluffy.)
Stir in Melted Butter / Half and Half
To those riced potatoes, add butter and half and half. The most important thing here is to melt the butter and warm the half and half before combining them with potatoes. The warm liquids will easily incorporate into the potatoes. Seasoned with some salt, these potatoes could be eaten just like this. And I’m not going to lie….I do get tempted.
But we’re making these ahead right? So cover them tightly and refrigerate.
Warm Up and Top with Crust
On the day of serving, warm the potatoes back up and stir in more half and half (warm it up first) until the potatoes are again smooth and very creamy. The amount of liquid they need will vary a bit, but the half and half will make up for any moisture lost in the cold, dry refrigerator.
Then comes what I believe might be the best part. Melt some butter and add some parmesan. Spread it over top.
Then bake the potatoes uncovered until warmed through and run them under the broiler to get the top extra crisp.
The result is golden and crisp on top. Super creamy inside.
Mashed potatoes that everyone will love. And only one dish to clean.
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- 5 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes (I prefer Russet for the most classic, white mashed potatoes)
- 5 Tbsp Butter
- 2 cups + 1 cup Half and Half
- Salt, to taste
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
- Up to two days before serving. Fill a large pot about 3/4 full with water. Stir in about 1 Tbsp of salt. Peel the potatoes and cut into even pieces (I make these about 2 inches wide; any size is fine, but make sure the pieces are roughly the same size). Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork,15 to 25 minutes (depending on size of potatoes).
- When potatoes are finished, drain in a colander. Cover the colander with the lid from the pot you used to boil them. Let the potatoes sit in the colander, covered, for 10 minutes (the potatoes will lightly steam; this will draw out the moisture and prevent watery mashed potatoes).
- While potatoes are steaming, combine butter and 2 cups half and half (reserve the other 1 cup) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring frequently, until butter is melted. Set aside.
- Mash the potatoes with a masher or by running them through a ricer. (I prefer the ricer for the most light and fluffy potatoes.) Return the potatoes to the pan used to boil them and stir in the melted butter and 2 cups of half and half a little at a time until the potatoes are very smooth and creamy (if needed to get the potatoes smooth, warm up a bit more half and half and continue adding it; very starchy potatoes might need a bit extra). Taste and season with salt.
- Transfer potatoes to a broiler-safe casserole dish (make sure there is enough room to stir the potatoes with some extra half and half before cooking).
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- The day of serving. Heat oven to 350 F / 177 C.
- About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve the potatoes, heat 1 cup of half and half in the microwave until warm to the touch. Reheat the potatoes in the microwave just until warm, stirring every 30 seconds.
- Gradually stir the warm half and half into the warm potatoes until creamy. (The amount you need to add will depend on how much the potatoes dried out in the fridge.)
- Make the topping by melting 4 Tbsp of butter. Stir in the parmesan cheese and pour over the top of the potatoes. Use the back of a spoon to spread the butter-parmesan evenly over the top of the potatoes.
- Bake potatoes, uncovered, until hot, ~30 minutes. For an extra golden crust on top, turn on the oven's broiler and place the potatoes under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes (watch them very closely to prevent burning).
- Serve immediately.
It’s that time of year! The floor is covered in flour, we’re keeping our supply of butter and sugar stocked, and my two helpers are becoming awesome Christmas cookie bakers!
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