Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

My mom and I would like to know if we can make mashed potatoes ahead of time and keep them in a slow cooker until serving. —J.H., Quakertown, Pennsylvania

With the holidays just around the corner, we thought this sounded like a great idea—so our Test Kitchen staff put your idea to the test! We cooked 5 pounds of potatoes and mashed them with milk and butter. Then we put them in the slow cooker while they were still hot and turned the setting to low. As each hour passed, we checked them for flavor, appearance and textural differences.

After the first and second hours, the mashed potatoes were still piping hot, stayed creamy and had great flavor. We would have been delighted to serve them to company. But after 3 hours, the potatoes began to have an overcooked appearance and flavor, plus some browning around the edges. After 4 hours they had a definite overcooked flavor and appearance. So, to save on last-minute meal preparation time, we suggest preparing mashed potatoes and keeping them warm in a slow cooker on the low setting for up to 2 hours before serving.