Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Side DishThanksgivingSlow CookerMashed Potato

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes are so easy and they free up some much-needed stovetop space for Thanksgiving and other holidays!

Photography Credit: Lisa Lin

When it comes to modern updates to classic dishes, I feel that it’s fine to change the technique, but the finished product should be as good as the original, if not better.

I wanted to figure out a slow cooker version of classic Thanksgiving mashed potatoes so that I could save some space on my stovetop, but all my attempts kept turning out beige.

Beige mashed potatoes on my holiday table won’t do. I was determined to find a solution.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes in serving dish with slab of butter and chives

Dilemma: How to Avoid Beige Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

The root of the problem is that cooking potatoes in the slow cooker requires less liquid than the traditional stovetop method, which means the potatoes are exposed to air. Which in turn means that they oxidize and brown.

There’s not much you can do to avoid this dilemma if you (like me) have your heart set on crock pot mashed potatoes. But tinkering with the type and amount of cooking liquid and the way the potatoes are cut can help mitigate the browning.

Perfecting My Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

I tried various combinations of broth, buttermilk, whole milk, and heavy cream for the cooking liquid for my slow cooker mashed potatoes. Here’s what I found:

  • Broth and buttermilk seemed to only contribute to the beige potatoes, so they were out (although I loved the flavor of buttermilk).
  • Whole milk and heavy cream both had good results, and I settled on heavy cream for the richness and creaminess it gave the finished potatoes.

Next, I tested the shape of the potato chunks for my crock pot mashed potatoes:

  • I tried haphazard pieces, 1-inch cubes, and 1/2-inch cubes.
  • The smaller 1/2-inch cubes of potatoes cooked the quickest and released their liquid faster, so they sat above the liquid for a shorter period of time. This resulted in less oxidation. They were my winner.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes diced potatoes on a cutting board

The Key to “Pretty” Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

So, it turns out that the key to creamy, fluffy non-beige slow cooker mashed potatoes has everything to do with the liquid used for cooking and the size of your potatoes! For me, it was heavy cream and smaller 1/2-inch cubes of potatoes. I finally have my ideal slow cooker mashed potatoes – just as good as Grandma used to make.

How to Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm in a Slow Cooker

The beauty of using a slow cooker is that you can keep foods warm for a while while you’re prepping other parts of a meal. You can hold them on the “warm” setting for up to two hours without noticeable loss of flavor or texture. How, note that the color does begin to deepen the longer you hold them.

How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes in a Crock Pot

Reheated mashed potatoes are always a bit tricky since the potatoes seem absorb more butter and cream. Plan on adding a little more butter and cream the next day as the potatoes warm – just eyeball it (too much cream and butter is rarely a problem!). Once warmed, whip the potatoes with a hand mixer for about 45 seconds to recreate your desired consistency.

Can You Make These Ahead of Time and Freeze Them?

Yes! You can make ahead and freeze mashed potatoes. Don’t skimp on the butter or cream because the fat that helps the potatoes reheat well.

You can also put them back into the slow cooker for a couple of hours on low, or reheat in the oven or on the stovetop. Just stir occasionally, and add more butter and seasoning if needed to serve.

MORE WAYS TO LOVE MASHED POTATOES!

Updated October 29, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Slow Cooker time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings

When you first combine the milk and potatoes, the potatoes won’t be completely covered by the liquid. The butter will eventually melt, and as the potatoes heat up they will release their own liquid, eventually covering the potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Chopped chives, to garnish (optional)

Special equipment:

Method

1 Combine the potatoes, cream and water in the slow cooker. Stir to coat. Dot the top of the potatoes with butter and sprinkle with the salt.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

2 Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

3 Mash the potatoes: Mash with a potato masher for chunkier potatoes, use a ricer, or whip with a hand mixer. Add more salt or pepper to your liking and serve.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

4 Serve warm: Potatoes are best if served soon after mashing them. However, you can also do this:

Hold Potatoes on "Warm": Mashed potatoes can be held on the "warm" setting of your slow cooker for up to two hours or so without noticeable loss of flavor or texture. However, note that the color does begin to deepen the longer you hold them.

Reheat Potatoes Later: Reheated mashed potatoes are always a bit tricky since the potatoes seem absorb more butter and cream. Plan on adding a little more butter and cream the next day as the potatoes warm – just eyeball it (too much cream and butter is rarely a problem!). Once warmed, whip the potatoes with a hand mixer for about 45 seconds to recreate your desired consistency.

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is the Senior Editor for Simply Recipes based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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21 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jim

    Tried these potatoes today at Thanksgiving Dinner. My wife absolutely loved how creamy they were. I was also impressed. I just need to figure out a way to make smaller servings. They are going to be my go to mashed potatoes for now on.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Mary

    I made this last night. Genius! I made it in my old 70’s round crockpot. It took longer. I will make this again in my newer oval shaped crockpot — more of the potatoes will be in the liquid. This recipes will be a good one to share with my fellow Airstreamers! Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  3. Leslie

    I made my potatoes this way for the first time this week!!! What a genius way to do it!!! They were yummy, and required NO attention! I am going to definitely do it this way for Thanksgiving…frees up a burner!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  4. Lana

    I have made crock pot mashed potatoes for over 20 years by just covering the cubed potatoes with water and cooking on high until done. Then I drain them and proceed just as if they had been coked on the stove top. This was a real life saver on Sundays with 5 starving kids. They were always done when we came in from church. I had a crock pot with the meat, one with the potatoes and a small one with a veggie going most weeks.

  5. Betty Haniotakis

    I’m with Ellen , though I mash the potatoes with a potato masher, and then keep them warm in my 4or 5 liter slow-cooker. They’re always delicious. I use my 7 liter slow cooker for dressing, as I prefer not to cook it in the turkey. Finally, I have my smallest slow cooker to keep the gravy warm..

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