Turkey may be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast, but for many it’s the side dishes that hold the real appeal. And while green beans, stuffing and cranberry sauce are more than worthy of their place at the table, it’s the mashed potatoes we deeply crave — and it's the mashed potatoes we want to enjoy as leftovers the next day.
Classic mashed potatoes, made with nothing more than milk or cream, butter and possibly sour cream or cream cheese, are delightfully rich and decadently delicious, but they’re also quite simple, which means they’re a perfect dish to put a creative spin on this holiday season. Whether it’s adding roasted garlic and horseradish, using the slow cooker or turning mashed potatoes into a make-ahead casserole, these five recipes offer easy ways to give your favorite Thanksgiving side dish a guaranteed-to-please makeover.
Make-ahead mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes that can be made two days in advance and then warmed in the oven (while the turkey rests) mean less last-minute prep. Plus, baking this casserole-style dish gives the potatoes a beautiful and buttery golden-brown crust. Take the spuds out of the fridge a couple hours before dinner, so they’ll heat up more quickly.
Mashed potatoes with bacon and caramelized onions: Made with low- or non-fat milk, this is a slightly healthier take on mashed potatoes, but thanks to a modest sprinkling of crisp, crumbled bacon and a generous helping of caramelized onions, this dish is addictively flavorful. Use a food mill, potato ricer or an electric hand mixer to achieve the most luscious and velvety texture.
Slow cooker mashed potatoes: These slow cooker mashed potatoes require no peeling or boiling and don’t take up valuable real estate in the oven or on the stove-top. Once the potatoes are cooked, use a hand mixer or potato masher to blend in sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), milk and garlic, then top the finished dish with cheese, herbs or your favorite mashed potato topping.
Buttermilk bacon blue smashed potatoes: If you’re tired of the traditional, look no further than these unconventional mashed potatoes, made with buttermilk and studded with bacon, blue cheese and green onions. To get a jump-start on the recipe, cook the bacon a few hours in advance and store it, in an airtight container, at room temperature.
Roasted garlic horseradish mashed potatoes: Dressed up with both roasted garlic and fresh or prepared horseradish, these mashed potatoes get their over-the-top creaminess from crème fraîche, but you can use sour cream instead. And if you don’t have a food mill or potato ricer, it’s fine to use a potato masher — just be gentle and don’t over-mash.
For more turkey day recipes, see our Make-ahead Thanksgiving menu.