Reduce Stress at Thanksgiving with Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

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Thanksgiving Before Slow Cookers

For most of my adult life my husband and I visited family for Thanksgiving, happily bringing a dish to share. It was great. I did not have to clean the house before everyone arrived or after they left, or stress over planning a Thanksgiving menu, or trying to execute it so all the food was hot and on the table at the same time.

Then one year it was finally my turn to host Thanksgiving, and I learned that hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is a whole different ballgame than just showing up at someone’s house with a dish. The first year I hosted was stressful trying to plan everything so all the food was hot and ready to serve at the same time. People arrived late. We were microwaving some foods at the last minute. It was not pretty.

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Slow Cooker Thanksgiving

Then one year, I decided to use slow cookers for most of the side dishes. This included mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cornbread dressing. That was the easiest, least stressful Thanksgiving I had ever hosted. I promised I would do the same every year. Why? Because it freed up valuable oven space, which is always limited at Thanksgiving, and it kept the food warm in case another dish was taking longer than expected, or in case we had to hold dinner for guests running late.

The other reason I loved it was because all the dishes tasted fantastic! I was worried that they might either get dried out or turn soggy, but they didn’t. Everything was turned out perfectly.

Now I have people asking me for my Slow Cooker Thanksgiving recipes. So I am sharing my Easy Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes recipe with you, as well as some tried and true tips to ensure you have delicious, creamy mashed potatoes for your Thanksgiving dinner.
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Tips for Perfect Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Best potatoes for mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes are often recommended for mashed potatoes because they have a higher starch content. However, I prefer the buttery flavor of the Yukon potatoes for mashed potatoes. You could also mix the two types together to get both the starch of the russets and flavor of the Yukons.

To peel or not to peel. Should you leave the peel on or peel the potatoes? It is entirely your choice. I prefer to leave the peels on because it makes the potatoes more nutritious and it saves you time from having to peel potatoes.
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Avoid gluey, gummy mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes may turn gummy or gluey if overbeaten, causing the potatoes to release the starch, which creates a paste. I recommend using a  hand mixer to beat the potatoes for only two minutes. Don’t worry about every little lump.  An alternative method, if you don’t want to take a chance with possibly overbeating the potatoes, is to parboil the potatoes first in a large  pot on top of the  stove at 140 degrees F. This process allows the starch to stay within the cells of the potatoes. The potatoes will not release the starch again even if you beat them forever. If you choose to parboil, then you would not need to cook the potatoes in the slow cooker before mashing. You can drain them and then mash them and use the slow cooker to keep them warm until the rest of the dinner is ready.

Avoid soggy potatoes. To avoid the potatoes having too much moisture in the slow cooker, place a  towel across the top of the slow cooker under the lid.
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Cooking times for the potatoes. If you have an older slow cooker, it is possible that it will take longer to cook the potatoes. In a  newer slow cooker, the potatoes should be ready to mash after cooking 3 or 4 hours in the slow cooker.

Lighten Up. With real butter and heavy cream, these are creamy, fluffy potatoes, but not figure friendly. If you would like to reduce fat and calories, you could use light butter or margarine and half and half or milk. However, the potatoes may not be as creamy.

Now you have all the tips you need to get started on making these delicious Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

(Serves 8 to 10)

Equipment Needed: Ingredients:
  • 5 pounds russet or yukon potatoes, peeled (optional) and cut lengthwise and quartered
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups heavy cream, or a mixture of milk and cream
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  1. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Place the quartered potatoes in the slow cooker, and cook on high for 3 hours.
  3. Add salt, pepper, garlic, cream and butter to the potatoes. Using a hand mixer, mix the potatoes until smooth and creamy.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and set to warm.
  5. Leave the potatoes in the slow cooker on warm until ready to serve.

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