I am about to share with you my biggest Thanksgiving secret.
Foolproof, richly creamy, and completely make-ahead mashed potatoes!
I don’t know about you, but getting the mashed potatoes on the table is always a last-minute, stressful part of serving Thanksgiving dinner. They need to be hot and creamy, and making them too early can totally ruin the potato experience.
And we can’t have that.
I’ve been using this crock pot method for several years now, and I will never make mashed potatoes for a crowd any other way. It is so dang easy, and you can make them hours before you are ready to serve. Thanks to the humble crock pot!
I must say, I was very skeptical of this cooking technique, mostly because the mashed potatoes are hugely important in my family. They are my dad’s absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, and he’s very picky about them. So, a few years back when I offered to host Thanksgiving for 16-20 people, I knew I needed to nail the potatoes. How to do it exactly was something I still needed to figure out.
I did research for a few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and came across several crock pot mashed potato recipes. This is my version, tweaked and perfected over the past few years. I’m finally ready to share it with you.
You will never go back, my friends!
All it takes is a little bit of planning. But so does everything on Thanksgiving, right? The potatoes will take 4 hours to cook in the crock pot, in addition to the time it takes to peel the potatoes and mash/cream them after they’ve cooked. The good news is that you can do them at any point on Thanksgiving day. In fact, they are one of the first things I do that morning. I start the potatoes in the crock pot and forget about them for a few hours.
After they’ve cooked, you mash them to your desired consistency with cream cheese (TRUST), milk, and butter. But not any old butter! Garlic-sage brown butter!!!
It IS the holidays after all, and my table isn’t complete without some brown butter.
This is not the time, by the way, to cut corners. If you are going to do mashed potatoes right, just embrace the decadence. Add the cream cheese. The whole milk. And the butter. Oh, and don’t go light on the salt, either, because potatoes can take it. They NEED a lot of salt to taste good – just like pasta!
I like to brown the butter while the potatoes are cooking and just set it aside until I’m ready to add it in. I like to reserve the garlic cloves and crispy sage leaves, along with some of the browned butter, for serving. It makes for the most elegant and mouthwatering presentation!
And as good as these look, I promise you this: they taste even better!
No one will know that you made them ahead or in a crock pot. They are so, so good and pretty much goof proof!
Crock Pot Garlic-Sage Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
These Crock Pot Garlic-Sage Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes are a foolproof, make-ahead, ultra-rich version of mashed potatoes. This recipe takes the stress and fuss out of getting hot and creamy mashed potatoes on your holiday table! The flavors of sage, garlic, and brown butter take them over the top!
For the Browned Butter:
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (leave whole)
- ½ cup fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Potatoes:
- 5–6 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 stick of butter, cubed
- 3 cups chicken stock (use veggie stock if you want to keep this vegetarian)
- 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened and cubed
- ¼–½ cup whole milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Browned Butter:
- Add the butter to a skillet set over medium heat and cook until melted. Once the butter is melted, reduce the heat to low and swirl the pan constantly for a few minutes until the butter turns golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic cloves and sage. Season with the salt. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature with the garlic/sage steeping.
- Remove the garlic and sage before adding the butter to the potatoes (save for optional garnish).
- This step can be done while the potatoes are cooking in the crock pot.
For the Potatoes:
- Place the peeled and diced potatoes into a crock pot.
- Place the cubed butter over top of the potatoes, distributing it evenly.
- Pour in the broth along with a generous pinch of salt. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 HOURS. The potatoes are ready when very fork tender.
- Drain off any excess broth and return the potatoes to the crock pot.
- Add in most of the garlic-sage browned butter (I like to save a little bit for drizzling over top when serving), cream cheese, ¼ cup of the milk, and a good bit of salt and pepper.
- Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer to beat the potatoes. Add more milk, if needed, until it gets to a consistency you prefer. Season, to taste, with more salt and pepper.
- Cover and keep potatoes on the warm setting until ready to serve. Stir every 30-45 minutes to keep the potatoes creamy.
- Just before serving, drizzle with the reserved browned butter, crispy sage, and whole garlic cloves.
- If you make these far in advance (3+ hours), it is inevitable that the mashed potatoes will thicken up a little bit in the crock pot. I recommend stirring them every 30-45 minutes to keep them creamy and moist. If they dry out too much, mix in a splash of milk here and there.
- The longest I’ve had these stay mashed in a crock pot before serving is 4 hours. I am sure longer would be fine, as long as you are stirring regularly and monitoring the liquid level.
- The garlic-sage aspect of this recipe is totally optional (but definitely recommended). Feel free to use plain butter, or all garlic butter, or all sage butter, or any other flavor you want.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: side dishes
Keywords: crock pot mashed potatoes, make ahead mashed potatoes, garlic sage brown butter, brown butter mashed potatoes, mashed potato recipes, foolproof mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving recipes, holiday recipes
This sounds so good! I have some frozen minced garlic cubes. Would that work for the butter? (What is the reason for keeping the garlic cloves whole?)
You certainly could use minced garlic. The idea behind leaving them whole is so they just infuse the butter without adding actual pieces of garlic to the potatoes. BUT! Minced would work. Just watch it carefully so that the garlic doesn’t burn – the finer garlic is chopped/minced, the faster and easier it burns. You might want to brown the butter almost entirely before adding the garlic so that it doesn’t burn. Allow it to steep for a bit off the heat to infuse that garlic flavor. Hope this helps!
These are the BEST and easiest mashed potatoes! We have a very foodie family so I’m constantly trying new things to change it up and wow everyone. These were hands down the favorite for Thanksgiving dinner. Will absolutely be making them every time mashed potatoes are called for!
Woo hoo! This makes me so happy to hear! Thanks for the feedback, Jacqueline!
Carly Melchert says
These mashed potatoes are heaven in a dish! This year (2020) we only had 4 for Thanksgiving instead of our normal 25-30 guests. To brighten the day we tried new recipes and I knew without a doubt these were a must and boy was I right. There was just the right amount of flavor and are also delicious without the garlic. We’ll be making these again and again.
SO happy to hear this! Thank you for the feedback! 🙂
This recipe was great! The potatoes turned out amazing and removed the stress of finding the right time to put the potatoes on the stovetop. We made these for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and this is the only way I’ll make mashed potatoes in the future!
This makes me so happy! I always make mashed potatoes this way now as well, and I’m so glad to hear that others are enjoying the method! Thanks for the feedback, Allison!
Our go to mashed potato recipe! Delicious!