Can You Make Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time?

Oh yes. You can. You can make mashed potatoes ahead of time.


Now, there are some things you’ll need to avoid. Here are two mashed potato tricks that do not work:

1. Do not boil potatoes with the plan to mash and serve them later.

While this seems like such a good idea, this will turn them into a sticky, gooey mess.

2. Do not make mashed potatoes and freeze them as-is.

I’ve never had success with this. Plain mashed potatoes freeze fine but thaw weird. They are always watery and unappetizing. These are not the kind of potatoes I want to include on my holiday table. If you do freeze them as-is, you must cook the frozen/thawed potatoes in a pot to steam off excess water that has formed in the freezing process. More info to come.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes ~ What Works, What Doesn't.

Ways to prepare this side dish favorite ahead of time:

1. Scrub or peel the potatoes and put them into a pot of cold water.

Want to get the prep work out of the way on a busy day filled with meal preparations? Typically I pull my family into the kitchen the night before the holiday meal. Together, we scrub and chop potatoes. We put them into a large pot, cover them with cold water, put on a lid, and leave them until boiling and mashing time the next day.


2. Make mashed potatoes, then use your crock pot to keep them warm.

What I find very helpful is to follow all the instructions detailed in #1 to prep the potatoes the night before. The next morning – hours before our meal – I cook, drain, and mash. I then put them into a crock pot (with butter, always) on the “keep warm” setting until serving time. In the meantime, I can wash and put away the potato pot, then focus on other meal prep that needs to be done.

3. Embellish the mashed potatoes before freezing them.

While mashed potatoes don’t freeze well as-is, they do freeze well if you add some goodies to them. Take a look at the recipe below for all the specifics! When made like that, they do freeze well. Or, at the very least, you can make them a few days before your holiday meal, refrigerate them, then bake them on serving day. This is the method I plan on using this holiday season.


Cheesy Mashed Potatoes are always a huge hit. You can’t go wrong with sour cream and cheese right?

Make-Ahead Cheesy Mashed Potatoes


5.0 from 1 reviews
Make-Ahead Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • 8 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 cup milk (more or less as needed)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  1. Scrub and cube potatoes.
  2. Boil them in water until tender.
  3. Drain water and mash potatoes with milk and salt until smooth.
  4. Stir together the mashed potatoes, butter, and sour cream.
  5. Spread into a 3 quart casserole dish.
  6. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  7. Refrigerate until you are ready to bake this dish.
  8. Bake in a 350° oven for 45 minutes.

Freezing Instructions:

Make the potatoes as directed in the recipe above. All it to cool completely. Cover and freeze for up to three months.

To bake and serve, thaw potatoes in the refrigerator and bake as directed. OR, cover the frozen dish with foil. Place the frozen dish of potatoes into a cold oven*. Turn the oven on to 250° and bake for 2 hours. Turn the oven up to 350° to continue baking to heat through.

*Be sure your oven is cold when you put in the frozen dish! Otherwise, the pan will crack because of the extreme temperature change.

What has been your experience with making potatoes ahead of time?

Here are the quick links to all the recipes we covered in this series:


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  1. Julie says

    I peel and cut my potatoes. Put them in the crockpot covered with water and let them cook. I put them on high overnight. But we eat at 9:30|10. They need 8 hours or so for a 10lb bag. Then I mash them right before we eat. Fresh potatoes when we are ready! I use the method everytime I make mashed potatoes.


    Kristin Reply:

    I did this last year – cooked them in the crockpot overnight to Thanksgiving day, then just mashed and kept them warm in the crockpot. i thought they came out more flavorful than if I had boiled them. I’m definitely dong this again this year, and going forward.


    Marie B. Reply:

    Did they stick to the pot or were they fine being warmed for a lot of the day?


    Marie B. Reply:

    Wow! Between Laura’s make ahead and put in water trick and your comments, potatoes will never be easier! Since I bring them to my MIL’s each year in the crockpot, this saves the transfer and only one pot to wash! Can’t wait to try this!!! Woo HOO!


  2. says

    The first on you list, peeling, chopping putting in water and leave it. Do you put it in a pan in the fridge? A glass bowl? If I peel and chop the night before, I don’t understand how to store them .


    Laura Reply:

    No need to put it in the fridge – the counter top or stove top is fine. I put them directly into the pot I will be cooking them. Then all I have to do is turn on the burner the next day. :)


  3. alexa says

    I’ve never tried making them ahead of time! I like the idea of doing all the prep the night before and then just turning on the burner when ready to make them.


  4. Sarah says

    I have frozen mashed potato and like you, thought they looked really watered down. However, by the time they finish reheating, they tasted almost normal. I found we prefer to bake it in the oven and it was more like a twice baked potato.


  5. Lisa says

    I like the crockpot, but I butter it and pour in whipping cream…maybe 3/4 cup and then add the freshly made mashed potatoes. Keeps them moist and doesn’t scorch the outside of them. Also, salt the water you boil them in.


  6. Suz says

    We love the crockpot method; it even allows mashed potatoes to become something you can bring when someone else is hosting, and best of all – frees up stove space!


  7. Helen Brindell says

    I have had wonderful results with making mashed potatoes the day before and reheating them in the crockpot. But I learned a lesson from the first try at this. #1 don’t add quite all the milk to desired consistency. Leave them a little stiff, allowing for the moistness that accumulates on the inside of the crockpot lid. You can always add milk or chicken broth later if needed. #2 place either 1 or 2 layers of paper towels over the top of the crockpot before putting the lid on. The paper towel absorbs the excess steam water. I then heat on low for 3-4 hours or as needed. Works like a charm. No sticky or gooey glob here.


    Marie B. Reply:

    I’m making mashing mine in the crockpot now and will bring to my MIL’s all day. Thanks for the tips!


  8. Leah says

    Homemade mashed potatoes have always intimidated me…. too many times as a kid I heard complaints about someone’s lumpy mashed ‘taters! Scarred me for life. Guess I’ll have to put aside my fear of failure and give these tips a try ;-) They have to be better than the Potato Buds my hubby was raised on.


  9. Kim says

    Boy-oh-boy! I may not make it to the holidays. That picture of cheese on the taters just looks absolutely delicious!! Cannot wait to try it!


  10. Amy Floyd says

    I’ve never made mashed potatoes ahead of time. In fact, I’ve only made mashed potatoes a very few times! But my family loves them, so I will give it a try this year. I like the crocked pot method.


  11. Rhoda says

    These sound lovely. Haven’t ever tried making tators ahead of time, but sounds very doable. Thank you for the recipes and tips.


  12. Mrs L says

    Some experiences were good and some not so good ???? We love mashed potatoes and with all these tips, I ought to be able to perfect my method!


  13. Julie C says

    We make our potatoes ahead of time and freeze them every year. They always turn out great and everyone loves them!


  14. Susan says

    I’m psyched to try this out but am starting to wonder– what will I do with all my extra time on Thanksgiving day?


  15. Brighid says

    I’ve also heard that adding cream cheese will make mashed potatoes freeze well. I do like the prepare overnight and cook in the crockpot the next day ideas.


  16. Sarah says

    I think I will do the crockpot mashed potatoes. Or mashed cauliflower cheesy casserole, unless I get two stove tops in the next three weeks, which is extremely unlikely. I think we are just doing Turkey breast and ham. !!!! So excited to have thanksgiving dinner in my new house! But a little sad because we always went to my mother in law’s and she passed away in February.


  17. Heather says

    When our huge bag of potato starts to sprout I make up a few huge batches of mashed potatoes and freeze them. They seem watery and broken when thawed, but are fine when they are reheated. And when I do the big batches up I use the water and a few potatoes and make soup….waste not, want not! We LOVE potatoes around here!


  18. Kimberly W. says

    Mashed potatoes is my husband’s favorite food. If our freezer was full of them he would not be disappointed!


  19. Cindy says

    I’ve made a similar cheesy mashed potato recipe the night before and they heat up in the oven wonderfully. I’ve never tried freezing them, but even making them the night before helps ease the stress on the big day!


  20. Dorthy M. says

    I’ve read in other places about adding cream cheese to mashed potatoes before freezing them, but your way sounds lot better to me, Laura. I can’t wait to try it.


  21. Rachel Anna says

    I always make my mashed potatoes a couple of days in advance, but I’ve never tried freezing them. My recipe calls for cream cheese and I always warm them in the crock pot for a few hours on low.


    Kristin Reply:

    My “Day Ahead Mashed Potato” recipe calls for cream cheese as well. I boil 5 lbs of potatoes, then mix in 1 package of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of milk with a hand mixer till smooth ( may need up to an additional 1/2 cup scalded milk). Then I pour it into a glass Pyrex dish and viola, potatoes ready to re-heat in the oven alongside my meat the next day. Especially nice since I don’t own a crock pot.


  22. Chelsea says

    2 part dairy to 1 part potato, that’s my kind of potatoes! These looks really yummy. I hadn’t considered making them a few days ahead before.


  23. Barb says

    I use a crock pot recipe similar to this I make them the day before and refrigerate in my crock pot container and reheat a couple hours before on low. If you cover with a clean dishcloth and then put the lid on it keeps the condensation from dripping back down and making them soupy. I also reheat with the cloth on


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