What To Do With Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Bring new life to that leftover mash with these simple solutions.

After many years of practice, you've finally mastered the recipe for the perfect pot of mashed potatoes. You've discovered the optimal ratio of butter to milk to potato, and you've played around with added dairy elements to achieve extra creaminess (buttermilk? Yes please). Your holiday crowd overwhelmingly praises the dish—but when it comes time to pack up leftovers, the guests set their sights on the extra turkey legs and Nana's pumpkin pie, leaving the half-full pot of mashed potatoes largely untouched.

Although we often exalt the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, turkey isn't the only Thanksgiving mainstay to hold well for days on end. After all, sides are just as crucial to a Southern holiday as the starring bird. Some sides are simply best enjoyed the day of—that green bean casserole probably won't be looking so pretty two days after the feast—but, with a little creativity, some sides offer a lovely blank canvas for reinvention and reinvigoration. One of our top unsung leftover heroes? Mashed potatoes.

Potatoes, butter, and milk. These three core ingredients come together in one of America's favorite Thanksgiving sides—a creamy, silky-smooth mash that provides the ideal vehicle for sopping up gravy or cranberry sauce. You can stick to the classics or dress it up (have you tried adding goat cheese to your mash?); no matter the preparation, this dish is a sure-fire crowd pleaser. Mashed potatoes play an integral role on our Thanksgiving plate, promising to counterbalance a dry turkey and deliver that stick-to-your-bones indulgence that we savor on the food-centric holiday.

To run out of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving would be an unforgivable catastrophe, so we tend to make large batches of this starchy staple. That also means that, more often than not, we find ourselves with plenty of leftovers. Luckily, there are many beautiful concoctions to be made from this simple side. These creative uses for leftover mashed potatoes may just outshine your favorite leftover turkey sandwich.

Shepherd's Pie

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

1. Reheated Mashed Potatoes

If you want to enjoy mashed potatoes in their purest form, you're in luck: this dish is especially easy to return to all its Thanksgiving Day glory. Just put your leftover mash in a saucepan on the stovetop and let it reheat, mixing in a bit more milk and butter to help the potatoes regain moisture. They'll taste as good as new.

2. Mashed Potato Bake

To add a bit of pizzazz to your leftover mash, infuse it with new flavors in a mashed potato bake. One of the best ways to bring more moisture to your mash is to add cheese—from gruyere to pepper jack, freshly shredded cheese works wonders in packing flavor and a melty, creamy factor. Our Tex-Mex Mashed Potato Bake ramps up the flavor with green chile, chorizo, and pepper jack cheese. Mashed potatoes get a French makeover in our Caramelized Onion Mashed Potato Bake. Or, if you want to get your vegetables in, our Creamy Spinach Mashed Potato Bake is a flavorful option. With the help of the pre-prepared mashed potatoes, these weeknight supper staples will be on the table in minutes.

3. Dinnertime Hero

One of our favorite weeknight dinner solutions, Shepherd's Pie combines a meat-and-vegetable filling with a creamy, caramelized mashed potato topping. Especially satisfying in the cold winter months, this supremely hearty meal will feed the whole family. Our classic, comforting Shepherd's Pie comes together in just under an hour—and substituting leftover mashed potatoes for a freshly-made mash only expedites the process. For a slightly elevated version of the dish, try our Shepherd's Pie with lamb shanks and frozen peas—it's the sophisticated slow-cooker supper of your dreams. If you're looking for a quicker option, try our potato-topped Meatloaf Casserole. Nobody will even recognize the leftover mash in these stunning mains.

If you're looking to make use of more leftovers, try swapping ground beef for leftover turkey in a new spin on Shepherd's Pie. Once you try these recipes, you'll be topping all of your casseroles with mashed potatoes.

4. Total Transformation

You spend Thanksgiving Day with family, but the days after Thanksgiving are for friends. Make use of all your collective leftovers and throw a day-after-Thanksgiving dinner party. If you're feeling ambitious, try your hand at making homemade bread. You can even substitute leftover mashed potatoes for those fresh potatoes for optimal ease and decadence. This loaf is sure to come in handy when preparing lunches for the kids—or leftover turkey sandwiches. How full circle.

5. Fried to Perfection 

Turn mashed potatoes into a delicious snack or appetizer with a little bit of oil. Our Fried Mashed Potato Balls, filled with bacon, chives, and Cheddar, dress up extra mashed potatoes into something worthy of an entertaining spread. You could also try our Mashed Potato Cakes recipe that turns mashed potatoes into a flavorful new dish that no one will know started with leftovers. The addition of leeks, Gruyère, and crème fraîche infuse the potato cakes with a little French flavor.

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