Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? If so, the slow cooker is your best friend. If you’ve never done the whole massive turkey dinner thing, you might not realize it, but one of the most difficult things about getting that awesome yumminess on the table is timing. It may seem like a silly thing to worry about—who cares if dinner is 15 minutes late—but it becomes problematic when dishes start coming off at different times. No one wants cold mashed potatoes!
This is where the Crock-Pot can rock your holiday. Will you be able to fit your 20-pound turkey into your slow cooker? No, but the slow cooker can take the always-important mashed potatoes off your to-do list while you work on everything else.
Can you make mashed potatoes in the Crock-pot?
Absolutely you can make mashed potatoes in the slow cooker! In fact, mashed potatoes are one of my very favorite Thanksgiving dishes to “hand off” to my Crock-Pot. It’s not just easier, but I also think the resulting mashed potatoes are some of the creamiest, most flavorful potatoes you can make! I started doing slow cooker mashed potatoes a few Thanksgivings ago, and I haven’t looked back since! My mashed potatoes are hot, creamy, and ready to go whenever I am. With barely any work or thought on my part.
How do I make mashed potatoes in the Crock-pot?
It really couldn’t be easier to make mashed potatoes in your slow cooker. Here’s the method:
- Place peeled, chopped potatoes in the crock of a slow cooker with butter, broth, salt, and garlic. Stir well to make sure all the potatoes are submerged under the broth.
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours, stirring regularly. Potatoes are ready when they are very tender—they should fall apart when you try to split one with a fork. Drain off the broth, and reserve for another use (it’s great for thickening and adding richness to soup).
- Add in additional butter, sour cream, milk, and additional salt to taste. Mash, mash, mash!
- Sprinkle on some chopped chives and serve!
How do you keep mashed potatoes warm in the slow cooker?
That’s the absolute beauty of cooking your mashed potatoes in your Crock-pot—no worries about whether the potatoes will be cold by the time dinner is ready! Once I’ve made my potatoes, I switch my slow cooker to the “warm” setting, and place the lid back on. The potatoes will sit there happily until I’m ready to scoop them into my serving dish.
What are the best potatoes to use for mashed potatoes?
The type of potato you choose for your mashed potatoes DOES matter! The best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had were made using German Butterball potatoes. They’re almost impossible to find in stores, but we grew them in our garden a few years back, and oh my gosh, they were amazing! Check for them at your farmers’ market.
If you can’t track down German Butterball, I recommend going with either Russet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, or a combination of the two. I much prefer the creamy texture of the Yukon Gold potatoes, but it does mean your mashed potatoes are yellow. If you prefer the white, fluffy, cloud-like mashed potatoes, go with all Russet potatoes or a combination of Russet and Yukon Gold.
Do you need to peel potatoes before making mashed potatoes?
If you want super creamy mashed potatoes, you need to peel them, but if you’re okay with more rustic “smashed” potatoes, you can leave the peel on. Russet potatoes do tend to have a tougher peel than potatoes like Yukon Gold, so I’d recommend peeling Russets.
Can you make slow cooker mashed potatoes ahead of time?
The beauty of the slow cooker is that you don’t really have to make them ahead of time—the Crock-pot makes them while you work on other dishes. But if you’d like to make them ahead of time, you can:
- Cook the mashed potatoes all the way through, including mashing.
- Either transfer into a food storage container, or cover the removable crock of your slow cooker (if it has one) and store in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
- When it’s time to reheat, place the potatoes back in the slow cooker on low, adding in an additional 1/2 cup of milk, and warm for 1-2 hours, stirring frequently.
How much mashed potatoes should you make per person?
The rule of thumb for mashed potatoes is 1/2 pound of potatoes per person. This recipe below calls for five pounds of potatoes, which will feed 10 people as a side dish (without any leftovers) for Thanksgiving dinner. A word of warning: these mashed potatoes are so delicious that you might want to bump up your estimates a bit more! Any time I make these, people come back for seconds and thirds.
How much mashed potatoes can I fit in my slow cooker?
A smaller size, 3-quart slow cooker will just fit this recipe as written below—which serves around 10 people. A larger size, 6- or 7-quart slow cooker will fit double this recipe—which can easily serve 20 people. If you’re having trouble getting the recipe to fit in your Crock-Pot, just cut the potatoes into slightly smaller pieces. They’ll be able to nestle into the crock better, and they’ll cook faster!
What’s the best way to mash mashed potatoes?
There are three ways that I’ve tested for the actual mashing of mashed potatoes, and let’s run through them:
- Using an electric mixer, food processor, or blender (NOT recommended): You might be tempted to bring out your small kitchen appliances to mash potatoes, but it is very easy to overmix potatoes—which is what turns them gummy or gluey. I don’t recommend it. This is a job for your muscles!
- A potato ricer: If you want incredibly smooth and consistent mashed potatoes, a potato ricer is going to be your best bet. I used to own one, but I realized I only used it once a year (on Thanksgiving!) and it wasn’t worth the storage space in my small kitchen, so instead I always use a…
- A hand masher (my favorite way!): And not just any hand masher—the best potato mashing comes from hand mashers that have a mashing plate. It’s the same idea as the potato ricer, but takes up a lot less storage space. Because you are doing it by hand, it’s hard to guarantee 100% smooth mashed potatoes, but there are bigger problems in life than a few lumps, right?
Why should you make mashed potatoes with sour cream?
Sour cream (or you could use plain, full-fat Greek yogurt) is one of my favorite secret ingredients to making super creamy, super flavorful mashed potatoes! I mix in just enough to add a touch of tang and some creamy texture. Trust me, don’t skip it!
Can you make these slow cooker mashed potatoes dairy-free and vegan?
I tested these mashed potatoes multiple times “fully loaded” with butter and whole milk, but I also did a test with vegetable broth, vegan margarine, cashew cream, and cashew sour cream with good results. It’s not exactly the same, but it’ll definitely do the trick!
Can I add garlic or other flavors to these Crock-pot mashed potatoes?
You can most definitely boost the flavor of the slow cooker mashed potatoes with whatever strikes your fancy! I will say that because of the cooking method (the potatoes are cooked in broth and butter), these mashed potatoes are inherently more flavorful than your standard boring mashed potatoes. But if you still want to punch up the flavor, here are some ideas:
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: The recipe already includes a couple cloves of garlic for base flavor, but adding in a whole head (or two) of roasted garlic will really take it over the top!
- Zesty Ranch Mashed Potatoes: Swap out the whole milk for either Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing, Cashew Ranch Dressing, or Coconut Milk Ranch Dressing for a zesty batch of mashed potatoes.
- Pesto Mashed Potatoes: Gently mix a couple tablespoons of basil or kale pesto into these Crock-pot mashed potatoes for a beautiful and flavorful green swirl.
Have a mashed potato problem? Let’s troubleshoot:
These slow cooker mashed potatoes are the easiest mashed potatoes on the planet, but sometimes life happens and something goes wrong, so let’s fix some mashed potato problems.
How do I fix mashed potatoes that are too thick?
This is the easiest mashed potato problem of them all to fix! Just mix in a small amount of extra milk until they are the consistency you like.
How do I fix watery/runny mashed potatoes?
There are a number of ways to fix watery or runny mashed potatoes. If they are just slightly runny, you can heat the potatoes uncovered over medium-low heat on the stove, stirring frequently, to cook off some of the liquid. If they are very soupy, I have the best luck with adding a thickening agent. You can add a tablespoon or two of instant mashed potato flakes, arrowroot powder, or cornstarch to the hot mashed potatoes to help them thicken up.
How do I fix lumpy potatoes?
The one caveat with making slow cooker mashed potatoes is that it can be easy for the potatoes to cook unevenly—which results in lumps when you mash. To prevent this, make sure to:
- Use enough broth.Because of the different sizes and shapes of Crock-Pots, you’ll need to add more or less broth to make sure the potatoes are covered in broth. This is the number one reason why you’d have lumpy mashed potatoes—not enough broth. Make sure everything is covered!
- Cut the potatoes evenly in small chunks. You’re looking for 1” chunks here—smaller than you would for regular stove-top potatoes. You also want your potatoes to be evenly cut so they cook in the same amount of time.
- Make sure that the potatoes are fully cooked through before mashing. Once you start mashing, it’s hard to go back, so make sure your potatoes are completely cooked through before mashing.
How do I fix gummy/gluey mashed potatoes?
Gummy or gluey mashed potatoes comes from the potatoes being overworked—which turns the starch in the potatoes into the gluey texture. This happens most frequently when people use electric mixers, food processors, or blenders to do their mashing (stick with the hand masher, friends!). Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to come back from gummy mashed potatoes. Your best plan of action is to turn the gluey mashed potatoes into something else—potato soup is a great option. All Recipes has a full video of ideas for how to repurpose gluey mashed potatoes.
Whatever you do, don’t make these two HUGE mashed potato mistakes!
There are two big rookie mistakes that people make when making mashed potatoes, and I really want you to avoid them:
- Don’t undersalt! Mashed potatoes require A LOT of salt to be flavorful. If your potatoes feel under seasoned, keep adding salt. You’d be amazed at how much salt it takes to make mashed potatoes really wonderful. Keep tasting, adding seasoning, and tasting again. Hey, maybe even bring in some of your family to be taste-testers, too!
- Don’t use a mixer/blender/food processor to mash! Hand-over-heart promise me you won’t use any of your small kitchen appliances to mash your slow cooker mashed potatoes. That’s a recipe for gluey, gummy mashed potatoes. This is a job for your biceps and a good hand masher.
My protips for perfect slow cooker mashed potatoes
- Cut your potato chunks small. Smaller potato chunks cook more evenly in the slow cooker, resulting in lump-free mashed potatoes.
- Don’t forget to drain the cooking broth! If you mash before draining, your potatoes will end up soupy.
- It’s hard to over salt mashed potatoes, but it’s easy to under season them! Keep adding salt until they taste flavorful and delicious.
- Mash the potatoes by hand to prevent the mashed potatoes from going gummy or gluey.
You’ll never go back to the regular way of doing mashed potatoes again! Enjoy.
Want more Thanksgiving recipes like this one?
- How to Dry Brine a Turkey. Once you’ve tried this method, you’ll never skip the turkey brine again!