How Far In Advance Can You Make Mashed Potatoes?

Mashed potatoes are a centerpiece at any holiday gathering. They're a crowd-pleaser simple enough for kids and satisfyingly rich enough for adults. When you're planning a holiday feast, taking the time — not to mention stovetop and counter space — to craft that perfect puree along with your other goodies makes working ahead a tempting proposition. That might be a huge mistake when it comes to mashed potatoes, though. Thankfully, there are some tricks that can help lighten the cooking load on the big day.

Allrecipes notes that potatoes don't like to sit around long once they've finished cooking. They tend to seize up and get sticky, meaning that if you try to prepare your mashed potatoes too early, you might get stuck with a sticky, dense mash when reheating the crushed spuds. This is due to the starches present in the potatoes that get released when they are mashed (via Serious Eats). With some careful preparation, though, the starches can be carefully preserved.

Mashed potatoes can be ready days ahead of time.

If you aren't a gambler, the risk of ruining the mashed potatoes for a big meal might sound like a bit more than you can handle. The easiest way to reduce some of the labor on the big day is to pre-slice your potatoes. According to Allrecipes, cutting up your potatoes into even slices ahead of time is a great way to save time and effort. Once you're finished, store them in your cooking pot with plenty of water to keep them from browning, and place them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (via Allrecipes). When you're ready to cook, simply drain the storage water, replace it with a fresh bath, and follow the rest of your favorite recipe to completion. This way, the final mash won't seize up, and the big day will be saved.

Bon Appétit also recommends its own method for making mashed potatoes ahead of time. But it requires completing the recipe before putting them into storage. The key to Bon Appétit's method is to insulate the starches of the potatoes with butter. The site recommends using a ricer to break down the potatoes and adding a bit of butter to prevent the starches from seizing up. The potatoes are cooked as usual, stored safely, and reheated briefly before serving. This method allows the entire dish to be prepared days in advance.