Mashed potatoes are more than a Thanksgiving essential; they act as a useful base or side dish for countless meals. It's safe and delicious to freeze mashed potatoes when properly prepared (following the tips below).
This Thanksgiving, many home chefs are thankful for the versatility of this adaptable ingredient, which can last up to a year in the freezer!
Let us show you how to freeze mashed potatoes the right way.
Should You Freeze Mashed Potatoes?
Is it Worth it?
Mashed potatoes can conform to suit any number of main dishes. They are highly functional, acting as a flavor carrier and augmenting the texture of a recipe.
They are also calorie-dense, not to mention an easy way to fill out the protein-to-carbohydrate balance of a meal. Frozen mashed potatoes thaw quickly (and can even be thawed in the microwave), making them an easy accompaniment to a speedy weeknight dinner.
The flavor and texture of mashed potatoes should be mostly unaffected by the process of freezing as long as you follow one simple rule: use plenty of fat!
Fat creates a “protective coating” around the food components, preventing them from becoming susceptible to the grainy, mushy texture that plagues most frozen food. Usually, a combination of butter and cream is ideal for mashed potatoes that you intend to freeze, but other components containing dairy fats will also work well.
Mashed potatoes made with only broth may taste lovely when fresh, but they will not freeze well. The added water content of the broth will cause the expansion of ice crystals during freezing, causing the potato components to shatter and resulting in a grainy texture.
How to Freeze Mashed Potatoes
For frozen mashed potatoes, prepare the dish as you normally would, with two caveats. First, substitute Yukon Gold potatoes for the potatoes you would normally use (if it's too late, don't worry about it). Yukon Gold potatoes maintain their texture best during time in the freezer.
Second, make sure the mashed potatoes contain plenty of fat. A good rule of thumb is to check that the recipe calls for at least two dairy fat components (these include, but are not limited to, butter, cheese, cream, half-and-half, milk, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, or buttermilk).
Use the highest-fat dairy option you have available (for example, if your recipe calls for milk, use whole milk instead of skim). Don't skimp on these flavorsome fats! They are the key to maintaining smooth, creamy mashed potatoes in the freezer.
Allow the finished potatoes to cool completely. Then, decide whether you prefer to freeze the entire quantity or set aside individual portions. A large freezer bag will suffice to freeze all the potatoes; make sure it is well-sealed and labeled with the date.
If you plan to freeze portions, line a cookie sheet with wax paper, then use a spoon or ice cream scoop to place your preferred portion size on the cookie sheet one inch apart. When the portions have frozen solid, you can transfer them to a labeled freezer bag.
Frozen mashed potatoes store well for up to a year in the freezer. They will remain safe after that time, but beyond 12 months, you may notice the taste of oxidation or other obvious quality defects.
How to Thaw Mashed Potatoes
There are several techniques you may use to thaw frozen mashed potatoes. In all of these cases, you can use potatoes directly from the freezer or ones that have first been thawed in the fridge.
In a covered, microwave-safe container, heat the potatoes on 50% power, stirring every 3-4 minutes until they are heated through.
Heat the potatoes on medium-low heat with a small amount of liquid (milk or cream works best). Stir frequently until potatoes are warm all the way through.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and heat potatoes in an oven-safe container until they are warm in the middle. It is best to test this with a thermometer rather than your finger!
No matter how you choose to reheat your mashed potatoes, make sure you taste them once they have warmed up. Give them a good stir to reincorporate any water or fat that has separated; you may find that you want to add a little broth, cream, or butter to adjust the consistency. At this point, you can also fine-tune the seasoning with an additional sprinkle of salt or spices.
Uses for Frozen Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes rarely stand alone, but they are an essential component of many dishes. From Shepherd’s pie to potato pancakes, mashed potatoes make a meal visually and texturally interesting.
They can be a simple scoop next to roast beef or a hidden ingredient in your dinner rolls. No matter how you use them, a supply in the freezer is sure to be welcome when you find yourself short on time.
Many home chefs have found that the secret to a speedy weeknight dinner is a ready-made portion of this handy side dish already prepared in the freezer. Just take a look at the instructions above to find out how to have a supply of Thanksgiving-worthy mashed potatoes any night of the year!
If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to leave a note below.