If you’re often the one hosting the big Thanksgiving feast then you know how challenging it is to cook several dishes in a limited amount of time using four stove-top burners and an oven. Add multiple people in the kitchen area who’ve prepped their dishes but need to warm them up before serving and you have a recipe for a stress-filled gathering.

Today I have a great and easy recipe for using a slow-cooker to make mashed potatoes ahead of time. Not only does preparing this dish take up one less burner, it allows you to prepare the potatoes in advance (at least 4 hours before needing to serve them) and transport them in the pot while staying warm.


I personally love this recipe because it frees me up to prepare other dishes that not only require my constant attention it also gives me the option to plug my slow-cooker in somewhere else besides the kitchen so I have more counter space to prep food on. Once the actual dinner starts, I bring the cooker back into the kitchen and transfer the mashed potatoes to a nice serving bowl. When the bowl needs refilling I can easily refill the bowl from the slow-cooker knowing the potatoes are still warm.

This is one of those recipes that is great to bring to a gathering. With the mashed potatoes prepared in the slow-cooker it is not only transportable, the food is insulated and stays warm longer. When you arrive just find an outlet and the warming resumes immediately. It doesn’t get much easier than that!


Recipe: Classic Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

  • Prep Time: 15 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 4 hrs min(s)
  • Total Time: 4.25 hrs min(s)
  • Servings: 12

Free up the stove and make these make ahead mashed potatoes in a slow-cooker. Perfect for Thanksgiving and the holidays!


    5 pounds Russet or gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces

    1 cup water

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

    1/2 cup half and half

    1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

    1 teaspoon minced garlic

    1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

    1 cup warm whole milk (half and half, sour cream, or cream cheese also works)


    Spray the inside of the slow cooker insert with non-stick spray.

    Add the cubed potatoes, water, butter, half and half, salt, garlic, and pepper.

    Stir the potatoes.

    With the lid on, heat the potatoes on high for 4 hours until they are very soft and tender.

    Change the heat setting to warm.

    Using a potato masher, mash potatoes adding a little bit of warm milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency. *Some people like to use a hand mixer using the whisk attachment.  If you decide to use a mixer, be mindful of the speed.  If you over mix on a high speed, your potatoes may turn into an unpleasant glue-like texture.

    Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

    Optional: Top the potatoes off with additional pats of butter and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.

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9 Responses to “Classic Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes”

  1. Gabriel Henderson

    What do you use the 1 cup of water for? Didn’t see that in the instructions. Sounds yummy.

    • Linda Bailey

      My guess is you put it in at the beginning with the potatoes….but you’re right, not in the recipe.

      • JRR

        I was thinking the same, but why would you need the oil spray then?

    • Erma

      I’m thinking put the water in at the beginning instead of the half and half. Directions have you adding the half and half later when you mash them.

      • Christie Dickson

        You add it in the beginning. Its in the instructions.

  2. Mary Goodson

    Yukon Golds make the BEST mashed potatoes, and adding a bit of garlic and rosemary takes them over the top. Seriously.

    My personal preference is for mashed potatoes to have lots of small “lumps” left in them for texture. Perfect!

  3. Liggybee

    I’m gonna try this but since our family likes garlic flavored mashed potatoes, I will add some garlic at the beginning. I have made stove top mashed potatoes this way (with a teaspoon of chopped garlic cloves) and it’s pretty tasty.

  4. Teresa Enright Campbell

    I had my doubts and almost didn’t try this, but then decided that I would to free up space on the stove. I’m really bummed that I did. Eight hours later, my slow cooker still on high, dinner is done and gone and my potatoes are still not cooked enough to mash. It was, unfortunately, a fail for me.

    • headlight

      Me, too. I ended up straining the potatoes out and zapping them in the microwave. I thought otherwise it turned out okay, but if I was to do this the next time I make mashed potatoes, I’d parboil potatoes the day before.