Creamy, decadent Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are loaded with mellow garlic and fresh herbs and topped with a golden Parmesan crust for a perfect holiday side dish!
The holiday season is upon us! Are you busy getting your menus all set? Everyone always loves mashed potatoes, right? But I wanted to add a twist! A twist that, specifically, would make them easy to prepare for a holiday meal...you know, when you may be simultaneously working on half a dozen different recipes at the same time. So allow me to introduce you to Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes!
You may have noticed a trend when perusing the holiday recipes on my site...I've got a thing for garlic + herbs! My favorite Thanksgiving stuffing features garlic and herbs. My favorite shortcut dinner rolls are flavored with garlic and herbs. And guess what? My favorite Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes...are loaded with the same combo!
Can You Make Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time?
While I've been making these mashed potatoes for years, I only recently came across a method for making them ahead of time (thank you, Ina!). Because there's real beauty in a recipe that can be prepped up to a few days in advance, stored in the fridge, and then simply popped in the oven before mealtime.
As a result, these Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes would be perfect for Thanksgiving, it's true. But they'd also be ideal for Christmas...or Easter...or really any holiday meal. In addition, they'd also be excellent whether you're entertaining company or hosting a dinner party or you simply need a side dish to go with a meal that you're gifting to a family member or friend.
You're just a handful of ingredients away from delicious, decadent, flavor-packed mashed potatoes that would the perfect accompaniment to just about any meal.
- Potatoes. I prefer using Yukon Golds when it comes to mashed potatoes because they have a naturally buttery flavor. They also turn smooth and creamy upon mashing without turning "gluey."
- Garlic. When I cook my potatoes, I typically toss some whole garlic cloves into the water to soften and cook at the same time.
- The garlic becomes sweet and mellow. In other words, it doesn't end up overpowering the mashed potatoes the way raw garlic sometimes can.
- For a "normal" batch of potatoes, I use a couple cloves of garlic. But since these Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes with Garlic & Herbs are supposed to be, well, garlicky, I went for half a dozen cloves in this recipe. But again, the garlic flavor is there by the end but it's not overwhelming.
- Whole milk + real butter. This is how to make your mashed potatoes creamy and decadent without being overly rich. You may use salted or unsalted butter, depending on what you have on hand...this just may affect how much additional salt you'll need to add later.
- Parmesan cheese. Freshly grated. Adds an extra boost of flavor to make these already-yummy mashed potatoes even better, without necessarily being able to pinpoint the secret ingredient.
- Salt + freshly ground black pepper. Enough seasoning is a must.
- Fresh herbs. See below. 🙂
After your potatoes are all mashed and irresistible, you'll be folding in some fresh herbs. Truly, you can use whichever herbs you like and as much of them as you prefer, but I do have some recommendations.
For these very herby Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes, you'll want to measure your herbs loosely packed, before they are chopped. I recommend making parsley the predominant herb in your mashed potatoes. It's fresh-tasting but also neutral enough to not overpower the other flavors in the mashed potatoes. I measured ⅔ cup parsley leaves (without packing them down) and finely chopped them.
Next add two more tablespoons of other herbs that you enjoy, or even herbs you have leftover from other recipes that you're making at the same time. Chives, dill, thyme, and basil are all lovely in mashed potatoes. Just be careful not to use too much of a strongly flavored herb, such as sage. I added a few leaves of finely chopped sage to my mashed potatoes and that was plenty.
And of course, if parsley is all ya got, just use that exclusively and don't worry about incorporating different types of herbs.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time
The beauty of this recipe is that you start out by simply making mashed potatoes as you usually would.
- Peel and cube the potatoes. It's important to cut them into uniform chunks (think 1 ½- to 2-inch pieces) so that they cook evenly.
- Toss your potatoes and some garlic cloves into a large pot and cover with cold water.
- Bring to a boil, stir in salt, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain the cooked potatoes and garlic and return to the pot.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat together the milk and the butter until warm and melted.
- Pour the melted butter mixture over the top of the drained potatoes in the pot. Mash until smooth and creamy. To reduce the odds of overly worked potatoes, I always mash my potatoes with a good ol' potato masher. Plus, I figure that gives it another use in life besides getting stuck in my kitchen drawer... 😉
- Mix in salt, pepper, Parmesan, and chopped herbs until just combined.
- Now spread those warm 'taters in a baking dish and top them with more Parmesan cheese. Cover and pop them in the fridge for up to three days.
- When you're ready to reheat them, let your dish come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Then bake (uncovered) for 30 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes are hot and the cheese on top is melted. I actually like to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes to toast the melted Parm into a glorious golden crust. Yum!
- Garnish with additional fresh chopped herbs and serve immediately.
And that's it, y'all! Once out of the oven, these mashed potatoes are amazingly creamy and loaded with flavor. And the contrast of that crunchy Parmesan crust on top? Out of this world.
I hope this recipe helps with your holiday menu planning this year to the point that it becomes a new tradition! I mean, how can you beat a holiday side dish that's super easy to make ahead of time?
But most importantly, this Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe is definitely delicious enough to warrant making it year after year after year. 🙂
Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment
- I use regular table salt or Kosher salt in the water when I cook the potatoes, but my favorite salt for seasoning the final dish is Redmond RealSalt sea salt.
- Speaking of salt, it's important to make sure your mashed potatoes are well-seasoned. The potato chunks will be slightly salty after boiling, but you'll need to add additional salt to taste as you're mashing. I add salt gradually and taste frequently. Remember...you can always add more salt but it's impossible to take it away! Typically, I stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and then add an additional ¼ teaspoon at a time until I think the mashed potatoes are adequately seasoned. I ended up adding 2 teaspoons of salt total when I made this recipe. And of course, don't skimp on the freshly ground black pepper!
- For even richer, more decadent Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes, feel free to swap half-and-half or heavy cream for all or part of the milk.
- You can use either salted or unsalted butter...whatever you have on hand is fine.
- Instead of a potato masher, a potato ricer also works great for mashing potatoes if you've got one. However, I don't recommend using an electric mixer. It can easily overbeat the potatoes and result in that gluey texture that we're trying to avoid.
More Holiday Side Dishes
- Holiday Honeycrisp Salad
- Cream Cheese Corn Casserole
- Bacon Green Bean Casserole
- Slow Cooker Honey Cinnamon Carrots
- Brussels Sprouts Gratin
- Broccoli Cheese Casserole
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Cinnamon + Maple
- Savory Monkey Bread
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, DIVIDED
- ⅔ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons other herbs, such as a combination of chives, dill, thyme, basil, etc., finely chopped
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into equal-sized, 1 ½-inch chunks. Place the potatoes and the garlic cloves in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and stir in 2 heaping teaspoons of salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender (but not crumbly) when stabbed with a fork, around 20 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat together the milk and the butter (in a small pot on the stove or in a large glass measuring cup in the microwave) until warm and melted.
- Drain the cooked potatoes and garlic and return to the pot. Pour the milk/butter mixture on top and mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Mix in salt and pepper, to taste, making sure to add enough. Fold in ½ cup Parmesan plus all of the chopped herbs until just combined.
- Spread the mashed potatoes in a 9- by 13-inch (or equivalently sized) baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Bake immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- When you're ready to bake, place the uncovered dish in a preheated 375°F oven. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes are hot and the Parmesan on top is melted. For a golden crust, turn on the broiler for the last few minutes, watching closely the entire time. Garnish with additional fresh chopped herbs on top, if desired, and serve immediately.
- It's important to make sure your mashed potatoes are well-seasoned. The potato chunks will be slightly salty after boiling, but you'll need to add additional salt to taste as you're mashing. Add salt gradually and taste frequently...you can always add more salt but it's impossible to take it away! Typically, I stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and then add an additional ¼ teaspoon at a time until I think the mashed potatoes are adequately seasoned. I ended up adding 2 teaspoons of salt total when I made this recipe. And of course, don't skimp on the freshly ground black pepper!
- For even richer, more decadent Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes, you may swap half-and-half or heavy cream for all or part of the milk.
- Either salted or unsalted butter will work in this recipe.
- Instead of a potato masher, a potato ricer also works great for mashing potatoes. I don't recommend using an electric mixer, though. It can easily overbeat the potatoes and result in that gluey texture that is to be avoided.
Post originally published on November 9, 2018, and updated on December 4, 2020, March 24, 2021, and November 2, 2022.