Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes and Gravy


I know what you’re thinking: Make the mashed potatoes AND gravy ahead of time—up to several days before the big day? Like serve leftovers for the biggest best meal of the year? You have got to be kidding!

Well, yes that is exactly what I am suggesting and will be doing myself, but let me be clear—this is not leftovers. What you are about to learn is so amazing—and I’m not talking about only the recipes, but also the how-tos and full instructions. This can completely transform your Thanksgiving dinner prep by moving the two big last-minute tedious kitchen tasks—mashed potatoes and gravy—from the last minute to days ahead.

You have to trust me on this. Once ready to serve, the flavors will have melded in ways you could not have predicted.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

(Full printable recipe card follows)

You can make these fool-proof mashed potatoes several days before serving them. Don’t worry. No one will ever detect your secret. In fact, fabulous mashed potatoes just might become your signature dish.

Ingredients

  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • cream cheese
  • sour cream
  • whole milk
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • butter, chives, or green onions for optional garnish

Instructions

Several days ahead …

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large cubes.
  2. Place potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender, erring on the side of too tender.
  3. Drain. Move potatoes to a large bowl and mash using a potato masher or standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add cream cheese, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper. Mix well until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Transfer to a large casserole dish for oven method, or to slow cooker inner removable pot. Cover and refrigerate.

On serving day…

Oven method

On the day of serving, remove potatoes from the refrigerator and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C). Bake covered casserole in the preheated oven for 35-50 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the dish. Garnish as desired. Serve hot.

Slow cooker method

Four to 6 hours before mealtime, move the slow cooker pot holding the mashed potatoes to the slow cooker unit. Set to Low. Cover. Stir every 2 hours or so, adding a bit of heavy cream. Once thoroughly heated through, move the slow cooker to Warm. Garnish as desired. Serve hot.

 

 

Make-Ahead Gravy

(Full printable recipe card follows)

Ingredients

  • butter
  • all-purpose flour
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • chicken stock
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • turkey (chicken, beef)  drippings

Instructions

Several days ahead…

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over med-high heat.
  • Whisk in the flour until well incorporated
  • Cook, frequently whisking until this roux is golden brown
  • Add the chicken stock and whisk until combined.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until the gravy is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the salt, ground pepper, and [optional] Worcestershire sauce
  • Cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container.

On serving day

  1. Transfer refrigerated gravy to a saucepan set over low heat.
  2. Pour turkey drippings into a fat separator (or measuring cup and spoon off the fat),
  3. Add the drippings to the gravy.
  4. Stir until well combined and hot.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

Updated 11-19-22

 

mashed potatoes with melted butter and chives
Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Let me be clear—but this is not about serving leftovers. This has the potential to completely transform your Thanksgiving dinner prep by moving the two big last-minute tedious kitchen tasks—mashed potatoes and gravy—from the last minute to days ahead.
Once ready to serve, the flavors will have melded in ways you could have not predicted. So good!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Reheating in oven50 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Calories: 189kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes Russet or red-skin potatoes are also good
  • 2 (3-oz) cream cheese softened
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tspns salt or onion salt (See notes)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • butter, chives, green onion for optional garnish at time of serving
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream for slow cooker method, or as needed on serving day

Instructions

Several days ahead ...

  • Peel the potatoes and cut into large cubes.
  • Place potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain.
  • Move potatoes to large bowl and mash using a potato masher or standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Add cream cheese, sour cream, milk, onion salt, and pepper. Mix well until everything is well incorporated.
  • Transfer to a large casserole dish for oven method, or to slow cooker inner removable pot. Cover and refrigerate.

On serving day: Oven method

  • On the day of serving, remove potatoes from the refrigerator and allow to stand for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 325 F (165 C). Bake covered casserole in the preheated oven for 35-50 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the dish. Garnish as desired. Serve hot.

On serving day: Slow cooker method

  • On the day of serving at least 4 hours before mealtime, move the slow cooker pot holding the mashed potatoes to the slow cooker unit. Set to Low. Cover. Gently stir every 2 hours or so, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream each time. Once thoroughly heated through, turn the slow cooker to Warm. Garnish as desired. Serve hot.

Notes

  1. Feeling adventurous? Substitute some or all of the salt with onion salt! 

Nutrition

Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 96mg | Potassium: 836mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 134IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 2mg

 

Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

Make-Ahead Gravy

Such a great way to make homemade gravy with the last-minute hassle and mess
Prep Time25 mins
At time of serving15 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Calories: 107kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce, (optional, but delicious!)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tspn Kosher salt, or to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • Turkey drippings or beef, chicken; about 1 cup is ideal but use what you have

Instructions

Several days ahead ...

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over med-high heat.
  • Whisk in the flour until well incorporated
  • Cook, whisking frequently until this roux is golden brown or about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and whisk until combined.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until the gravy is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and ground pepper.
  • Cool then refrigerate in an airtight container.

On serving day ...

  • Transfer refrigerated gravy to saucepan set over low heat.
  • Pour turkey (beef, chicken) drippings into a fat separator (or measuring cup and spoon off the fat),
  • Add the drippings to the gravy.
  • Stir until well combined and hot.
  • Pour into a gravy boat and serve immediately. Yum!

Nutrition

Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 260mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

 

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18 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Janice says:

    5 stars
    Been making the crockpot potatoes for years. It is great! I actually make it up Thanksgiving day and just put in the crockpot to stay warm. The only difference in our recipes is I don’t use the heavy whipping cream. I add a stick of butter to the middle of the potatoes. At serving time, I just stir it all up. I also use the handy crockpot liners which makes clean up a breeze.

    Reply
  2. Judy says:

    This comment is re your intro, enjoying the beautiful CO weather. You asked how it is where we live. In AZ it is absolutely perfect: entire sky is blue, sun is shining, there is no wind, and at 5500 feet altitude the Nov. temp is just 52 degrees. Did I say Perfect??? Indeed. The best part is we came here from Buffalo, NY, 20 years ago – and have you heard on the news (and/or seen pictures on the live reporting?) what we’re missing out on today? Yikes! Don’t miss or need 6 feet of that white precipitation. Ever so happy here in AZ!

    Reply
  3. Jackie B says:

    5 stars
    Mary, these are GREAT! You are so right, no one knew on Thanksgiving Day that I made these on Tuesday. They were perfect and really are going to be my new signature dish 😉 Thank you so much for saving me stress; may blessings return to you!

    Reply
  4. Bake Up, Little Suzy says:

    5 stars
    We didn’t try the recipes (there’s no straying from Mom’s famous mashed potatoes and gravy), but we did use your make-ahead and re-warm in the slow cooker method, and it worked beautifully! Things get sooo hectic when the turkey comes out and the gravy needs to be made, that it was just wonderful to free up a stovetop burner (and our time and energy!) having the mashed potatoes piping hot and ready to serve in the crockpot. We were a little late in getting the mashed potatoes out of the fridge, so we turned it up to high for part of the time and we were just delighted by the little golden brown patches along the bottom and sides. This is a new Thanksgiving tradition for our family. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  5. Ligeia says:

    I got this potato recipe from your newsletter years ago, and it’s become a staple around here. Everyone who tries it loves it, and demands the recipe when they find out how convenient it is to make it ahead. I already have the ingredients for tomorrow’s batch!

    Haven’t tried the gravy; I apparently lack the gene required for successful sauces/gravies…lol.

    Thanks for all your recipes!

    Reply
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