How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes
I think I can safely say that mashed potatoes are my favorite food. I will eat them anywhere, at any time, for any meal. Even a spoonful, cold, from the fridge.
But there are times in everyone’s life when we are faced with the daunting prospect of reheating mashed potatoes. And feeling like this is an insurmountable task is not totally wrong. Most reheated mashed potatoes possess none of the original flavors and qualities that make them so appealing when freshly cooked. Part of this is a lack of moisture. And part is simply that there is nowhere to hide with mashed potatoes. A lot of reheated foods don’t taste quite as good as the original, but there are other flavors involved, so some of the “reheated” flavor is hidden. But in mashed potatoes, all you have is, really, just the wonderful taste and texture of potatoes and dairy.
I have, however, discovered that there are a few ways to reheat spuds that will make you as happy as you were when they were freshly mashed.
The first is an old trick of my mother’s. And I think, if you’re from the midwest, this will be familiar. Whenever she was tasked with bringing the mashed potatoes to a dinner, she would, as she said, “jazz them up.” This meant adding sour cream and cream cheese to them. I think it’s all of that extra fat and dairy that allowed them to reheat perfectly. One reheated, mashed potatoes loaded with these bonus ingredients are bright, rich, tangy, and taste almost exactly the same as when first made.
But what if you just want perfect classic mashed potatoes...not “jazzy” ones? Then you are in luck. Here are some methods that really work.
The Double Boiler Method
You can improvise a double boiler with a heat-proof bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. Place your cold mashed potatoes in the bowl and heat—stirring frequently, and adding judicious amounts of milk (or cream!) and butter. Don’t whip them constantly, as doing so will result in a gluey texture. (Not as gluey as using a food processor certainly, but just stir when needed).
The Oven Method
You can also add a bit of milk or cream to your cold mash, place them in a buttered oven-safe container, cover with foil, and heat in a 325-degree oven. I check frequently, stir occasionally, and add more dairy as needed, but this reheating method should take about 30 minutes total, give or take.
The Microwave Method
And now, I have an heretical method to offer. But this is only applicable if you are reheating a small amount… say for one to three people. Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, with a little extra dairy. Place a plate on top, and microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring in between. I know this sounds crazy, but if you really do short bursts, with only a small amount, it works like a charm.
The Make-Ahead Method
This last method is not, technically, reheating—but if you’re looking for a way to make your mashed potatoes ahead of time, this is a great trick. You can cook, rice, and refrigerate the potatoes the day before. And when you’re ready to serve, all you need to do is put them in a pan over low heat, and add in hot milk/cream/melted butter. Voila, fresh mashed potatoes.
Of course, any of these methods above will give you mashed potatoes that really taste like they’re freshly made, without any last-minute rush. So keep them in mind the next time you’re asked to bring the mashed potatoes.