With sour cream and cream cheese mixed in, these Crock Pot mashed potatoes are delicious, rich, and creamy. Thanks to the slow cooker, they are easy to make ahead and simply heat on the holiday morning - couldn't be easier!
You will not ever make creamier mashed potatoes than these. The sour cream and cream cheese give them a smooth texture and and give them a rich flavor.
The very first time we ever made this recipe (on Thanksgiving day - always try the recipe before the holiday!), we made a giant mistake: we didn't pre-cook the onion, thinking that it would cook in the slow cooker. Unfortunately, that meant that our rich and creamy slow cooker mashed potatoes had crunchy raw onion in them.
Mashed potato fail.
We learned our lesson that Thanksgiving and always sauté the onions ahead of time.
And our onion-hating kids don't even know that these have onions in them because the onions sort of disappear.
What you'll need to make slow cooker mashed potatoes
You will need standard kitchen equipment for this recipe, including a sharp knife and cutting board, a small skillet, and a 6-quart Crockpot or other slow cooker. You'll also need a potato masher, of course.
- Chicken broth - Enough to cover the potatoes in the pot, for 3 pounds of potatoes, about 2 quarts of broth.
- Potatoes - I think yellow Yukon Golds are the best potatoes for this recipe because they are creamier than white potatoes, but a lot of people prefer classic russet potatoes because they're starchier and hold up better.
- Cream cheese - You'll soften this before you use it, so it would be okay to leave it out on the counter for a couple of hours before you need it.
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt - Greek yogurt tastes almost exactly the same as sour cream, so I go with the lower calorie and lower fat yogurt.
- Evaporated skim milk - This is half of a small can.
- 1 small onion - You want to dice this onion as small as possible (mince it even, if you can), and you will also pre-cook it in some butter before adding it to the potatoes.
- Kosher salt & pepper to taste
- Milk & unsalted butter - This is to thin the potatoes after they've been in the slow cooker for a few hours.
How to use the slow cooker for mashed potatoes
You have two options here, make the potatoes on the stovetop and use the slow cooker to keep them warm or to make the potatoes entirely in the Crockpot.
It doesn't matter which way you go. Both work really well. This mashed potatoes recipe is so awesome that you can't go wrong either way.
To make the mashed potatoes on the stove top and use the slow cooker to keep them warm
- Add the diced potatoes to a large pot of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash.
- In the meantime, sauté the diced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet until onion is translucent and beginning to brown. If you skip this step, the onions will be crunchy in your finished potatoes, and nobody wants crunchy onions in their potatoes.
- In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, evaporated milk, cooked onion, salt, and black pepper until blended. Add to mashed potatoes and mix well.
- Transfer mashed potato mixture to the crock pot. We use a 6-quart crock pot, and the potatoes half fill it.
- Can be cooked on low up to 4 hours or on the keep warm setting for longer. Re-moisten with milk and butter if needed.
To make the mashed potatoes directly in the Crockpot
- Add the potatoes to the slow cooker with plenty of chicken broth to cover them.
- Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
- Drain the water from the potatoes and mash right in the crockpot.
- Sauté the diced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet until onion is translucent and beginning to brown. If you skip this step, the onions will be crunchy in your finished potatoes, and nobody wants crunchy potatoes.
- In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, evaporated milk, cooked onion, salt, and pepper until blended. Add to mashed potatoes in the slow cooker, mix well, and cover with the lid.
- Can be cooked on low an additional 4 hours or use the keep warm setting for longer. Re-moisten with milk and butter as needed.
One additional note about using the CrockPot for mashed potatoes
When you put mashed potatoes in the CrockPot, they tend to get thick. Be prepared to thin them back out with heavy cream or half and half (whole milk will work in a pinch) and melted butter. I've also heard of people thinning them with chicken broth, but I prefer cream.
What kind of potatoes should you use for Crockpot mashed potatoes?
I love Yukon Gold potatoes, and that's what I use for mashed potatoes any time I make them. You can certainly use russets or another type of potato, although I don't think red potatoes or fingerling potatoes would mash as well. You can peel Yukon golds if you want to, but I wash mine thoroughly and leave the skins on. If you're using russets, make sure to peel them.
Do you have to peel the potatoes for Crock pot mashed potatoes?
If you want the lightest and creamiest potatoes, then yes, you will need to peel them.
If you're using Yukon Gold potatoes, you can leave the skins on as long as you don't mind the slightly chewy texture they'll give the finished mashed potatoes. You'll notice the skins, but they are soft and easy to chew. I personally don't mind them.
If you're using Russet potatoes, you will definitely want to peel them. Russets have a tough outer skin that isn't very pleasant, especially in mashed potatoes.
Tips for the best Crockpot mashed potatoes
Make sure all of the potato pieces are cut the same size and cut them small. When the potatoes are different sizes, they will cook at different rates, and some will end up being overcooked while others may be undercooked. Keeping them all the same size ensures even cooking and a nicer consistency.
Make sure you drain the chicken broth before mashing the potatoes! If you don't, they will be soupy.
I know that some people use a hand mixer to mash their potatoes, but this typically results in a gummy potato mess because it mucks up the starch. Stick to the potato masher for smashing the potatoes. You can do this right in your Crockpot.
Make sure you're using enough salt. Potatoes soak up salt and need a lot more than you think to make them taste good. Add some salt, taste test, and add some more if you think they need it. You might have to add it 3-4 times or more. Undersalted potatoes are bland and sort of flavorless.
How much mashed potatoes should you plan per person?
When serving a big holiday meal, the general rule of thumb is ½ pound of potatoes per person with no leftovers. However, these potatoes are really really good, and in my experience, people eat more than that, so you should probably plan for a bit extra so that you don't run out.
How many potatoes can I fit into my slow cooker?
5 pound of potatoes will completely fill a smaller 3-quart slow cooker to the top. 10 pounds of potatoes will completely fill a larger 6-quart slow cooker to the top.
As I said above, I put 5 pounds of potatoes in my 6-quart slow cooker because then I have room to stir without spilling potatoes over the edge.
Can this recipe be made ahead?
Absolutely! You can make these mashed potatoes up to 3 days ahead of time. Simply store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and toss them back into the Crockpot about 4 hours before it's time to serve. As I've said above, you will likely need to thin them with milk and melted butter as mashed potatoes get thicker when they sit.
You can also freeze mashed potatoes. Again, store them in an airtight container, and they should stay fresh for 2-3 months. To serve, you'll need to let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then you can heat on the stovetop or in the slow cooker (again, on low for 4 hours).
Can you use an electric mixer to whip the potatoes?
I guess you technically can, but it's going to make your potatoes have a gummy and weird texture as opposed to the fluffy and creamy texture the recipe intends. Yukon gold potatoes get nice and soft after cooking, and they are not hard to mash with a regular potato masher like this one.
How do you store leftover Crockpot mashed potatoes?
You can keep these potatoes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You will most likely need to add additional milk and/or melted butter to thin them for reheating. Mashed potatoes get kind of thick and clumpy when they're kept in the refrigerator. This can't be helped.
Slow cooker mashed potato variations
I love this recipe just the way it is, but you can also doctor it up a bit.
Garlic mashed potatoes - Add 6 cloves of garlic to the potatoes when you first put them into the Crockpot. Mash the cooked garlic with the cooked potatoes, and stir well to ensure the garlic is evenly distributed.
Ranch mashed potatoes - Mix a few tablespoons of ranch dressing mix with the potatoes right after mashing. Alternately, you can leave out the sour cream and evaporated milk and replace them with one cup of prepared ranch dressing.
Loaded mashed potatoes - Top the potatoes with shredded cheddar, crumbled cooked bacon, and chives.
Parmesan mashed potatoes - Add a couple of handfuls of Parmesan cheese to the mashed potatoes, either as a topping or after mashing.
Mix-ins - You can stir in any number of different goodies: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, chives, or cubed ham.
Add herbs - You can add fresh parsley, dill, or chives to the mashed potatoes or simply sprinkle one or more over the the top when you serve.
What's wrong with my Crockpot mashed potatoes?
What should I do if my mashed potatoes are too thick?
This is the easiest problem to fix. Just mix in sour cream or milk, a little at a time, until the potatoes are the consistency you want.
What should I do if my mashed potatoes are too runny?
If your potatoes are just a little runny, you can cook them in your crockpot on high for an hour or so. That will cook off some of the excess liquid. If you need to do it in a hurry, you could put them in a large pot on the stove and do the same thing. Just be sure to stir them a lot so that they don't burn on the bottom.
If the potatoes are really soupy, you're going to have to add a thickener. Instant mashed potato flakes are nice because they won't change the flavor of the potatoes. If you don't have any, make a slurry of cornstarch and water in a 3:1 ratio and mix that in until the potatoes are the right consistency.
What should I do if my potatoes are lumpy?
There's not a lot you can do about lumpy potatoes once they're mashed (although I personally prefer my potatoes lumpy), but you can prevent lumpiness by making sure all of the potatoes are cooked equally. Do this by:
- Using enough chicken broth - It is absolutely necessary that all of the potatoes are totally submerged in broth when you cook them. Depending on the size and shape of your slow cooker, you may need more than 2-3 quarts of broth.
- Make sure the potatoes are small and evenly cut - You really need to cut the potatoes into very small (1-inch) chunks, and it's really important that they're all the same size. If some are bigger, they won't be as tender and will make lumps in the mashed potatoes.
- Make sure the potatoes are fully cooked before mashing - If the potatoes aren't tender enough, they won't mash properly and will have lumps.
How do I fix gummy or gluey mashed potatoes?
The short answer is you can't. Gummy potatoes happen when you overwork the starch in the potatoes, and you can't unwork it. Most of the time, gummy or overly sticky mashed potatoes are the result of trying to shortcut the process by using an electric hand mixer, blender, or food processor to do the mashing.
Your best bet is to use those potatoes to make potato pancakes or potato soup because there's nothing you can do to improve them. Here's a YouTube video on how to repurpose gluey mashed potatoes.
THE REST OF OUR THANKSGIVING MENU
We don't get creative with our Thanksgiving menu. We like routines. We like the comfort of the same old food.
- Roast Turkey
- Creamy Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
- Candied Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Vegetable & Cornbread Stuffing
- Old-Fashioned Chestnut Stuffing Recipe
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole
- Traditional Green Bean Casserole
- Fluffy Cranberry Fruit Salad with Pineapple
- Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce
- Praline Pumpkin Pecan Pie
- The Worlds' Best Pecan Pie
- Couldn't Be Easier Cherry Pie
- No Church Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
And for the leftovers, try one of these delights:
You can read more about my easy and traditional Thanksgiving menu.