Put simply, mashed potatoes are amazing. The starchy veggies, which are inedible when raw, are nourishing and mildly flavored when cooked. But when you crush them into a fine pulp and blend it with fat—cream or milk and butter — and a touch of salt, the whole thing turns into this absolutely sublime concoction that is somehow far greater than the sum of its parts.
What's best is that mashed potatoes, as good as they are with just three or four ingredients, can also be a template for a wide combination of ingredients. We have dozens of favorite mashed potato recipes, and love them spiced with horseradish, or swirled with an herby soft cheese. But no matter how you make them, they pair incredibly well with practically any meal. There's a reason "meat and potatoes" is such a cliché. You could serve a dollop of mashed potatoes next to almost any kind of beef or chicken dish, to say nothing of other proteins. You can whip some up to elevate a weeknight meal, and yet they're absolutely expected at most holiday feasts.
Mashed potatoes are like the little black dress of side dishes: They go with everything.
So you can be forgiven for deciding to save yourself a little time by just doubling your go-to recipe and saving the rest for another night. It's actually a decent strategy! But how you re-warm them makes all difference between clean plates after dinner, and scraping a bunch of half-eaten taters into the trash. So here's our tried-and-true best method for having hot, almost-as-good next day spuds, as well as a slightly quicker method for when you're pressed for time.
The Surprisingly Effective Stovetop Method for Reviving Mashed Potatoes
The trick to making really good leftover mashed potatoes is simply to make them even creamier. You do this by heating up a cup or two of milk or cream on the stove, and then stirring the cold potatoes right in. They'll absorb the cream, warming up in the process, and end up just as good as they were the day before.
In fact, this trick works well if you're making a big feast and you want to do a bit of the work ahead of time. Just boil and mash the potatoes a day or two in advance (we recommend using a potato ricer), then store them in a plastic bag in the fridge. You can add them to a pan with warm butter and cream and stir it all into fresh mashed potatoes at the last minute.
For every 2 cups of mashed potatoes just warm up 1/2 cup of cream, milk, or half-and-half, and if you like, a tablespoon of butter. Once the liquid is steaming, stir in the potatoes, remove from heat, and serve.
A Microwave Method That Will Also Work (Mostly)
Though it doesn't work quite as well, if you're determined to do this as fast as possible, and you're only reheating a small amount (say, just for you, for lunch), then you can reheat your mashed potatoes in the microwave. But you still want to add a little dairy fat to them. For this, we recommend cutting back on the ratio of potatoes to milk—closer to 1/4 cup milk for every 2 cups of potatoes. Add the cold spuds to a microwave safe bowl, and then douse them in the milk or cream. Cover the bowl with a lid or plate, and microwave on high for about 20 seconds. Give the spuds a stir, then microwave again for 20 seconds. Stir again, and microwave again. Repeat as necessary until they're ready. The small bursts of heat and stirring will help them cook evenly, spreading the warming liquid around, and will keep them from overcooking in some places, and undercooking others.
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