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The Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving

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The Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving are filled with simple ingredients: butter, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper, and a secret ingredient.
thanksgiving mashed potatoes

The best-mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving are often the “prized” item on any buffet line. You just have to have a plop of these creamy, delicious, and smooth mashed potatoes. There is one ingredient that you won’t find in other recipes, but it’s the secret game changer that will have everyone asking “what’s in these potatoes?!” And you can tell them, or not — it’s up to YOU!

We make mashed potatoes often at my house, usually on Sunday’s for family lunch. But, to make the recipe extra special for this holiday season, I add a secret ingredient. One that I have to add when no one is looking… One that if people saw me add it, they would question my judgment, my moral stability, and my all-around good nature. (Just kidding. They would judge me beyond measure, and I would get all kinds of questions I don’t want to answer.) And, it’s not even pictured here — not because I am ashamed, just cause I didn’t have my pretty glass jar close by! Ready…

Duke’s Mayonnaise.


That’s right folks.

Just a big plop of mayo turns your ordinary mashed potatoes into a Thanksgiving worthy side dish, that will have everyone asking what you put in your potatoes. And, listen, you don’t have to tell them. “A little bit of love” is a perfect answer.

{[PS, don’t you love my Fire King baking dish?!]}

I do have one subtle detail you can’t miss when you make mashed potatoes.

After you’ve peeled your spuds, and quartered, place in COLD water. Do not boil your water first, don’t put them in hot tap water — plop them into cold water. Did y’all know that? I learned this when I was in a culinary class in college, and it’s THE way to get potatoes that are not mealy. Also, if you’re so inclined, you can salt the water ahead of time, like with pasta. A tablespoon or so, depending on how many potatoes you are cooking.

mashed potato recipe with a secret ingredient

Need a list of Mashed Potato Tips?

  1. Peel your potatoes and place in COLD water
  2. To cook more evenly and quicker, you can dice them up into 1-2 inch chunks.
  3. Salt your water with 1-2 tablespoons of salt, depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking.
  4. When the potatoes are FORK tender, drain into a colander.
  5. Put back into the pot and mash over medium heat to release any extra steam/moisture.
  6. Add melted butter and warm cream to the potatoes while continually mashing. (This is where you plop the mayo in, too!)
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.

the best mashed potatoes for thanksgiving

Let’s chat about potatoes for a minute…

For mashed potatoes, there are a few varieties that I recommend. My absolute favorite is Yukon Gold. They’re the slightly yellow-waxy skinned potatoes that don’t need to be peeled. For an unbelievably creamy mashed potato, peel them! The second variety I recommend is the tried and true Idaho Grown Russet potato. It’s what you use for baked potatoes, and the starchy potato holds up better to the long cooking time. Finally, I recommend any red-skinned potato. Don’t peel these, the skin is delicate and delicious, and gives a more rustic mashed potato recipe.

Mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving recipe

Can you make these mashed potatoes ahead of time?? You bet! In the recipe card, you can read in the notes section about making a few days before Thanksgiving. You can also subscribe to my email list and access my FREE Resource Library with TONS of holiday-centered printables. All the things you need to prepare for Thanksgiving ahead of time!

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The Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving

5 from 4 reviews
  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 8-10
  • Cook Time: 15-20ish
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 12-14 servings 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: cooking
  • Cuisine: american


The Best Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving are filled with simple ingredients: butter, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper, and a secret ingredient.


  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 1 +/- tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 +/- tablespoon fresh ground black pepper


Peel your potatoes and cut into 1-2 inch chunks.

Place in a large stock pot, covering with COLD water.

Pour 1 tablespoon of salt into water with potatoes and place on stovetop.

Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until fork tender.

In a separate sauce pan, heat butter and half & half together until butter is melted and half & half is warm. 

Drain potatoes into a colander and place back into pot.

Mash potatoes over medium heat to release extra moisture.

Pour in warm butter and half & half and mash to combine.

Add sour cream and mayo, continuing to mash and mix.

Taste potatoes and gauge how much salt and pepper will be needed. Add accordingly.

Serve immediately!

See notes if you are making a few days ahead of time.


If you would like to make this recipe ahead of time pour the mashed potatoes into a buttered baking dish (or a buttered foil pan for easy clean up!). Smooth the potatoes and allow to cool completely before covering with foil and storing in the fridge. When ready to cook, remove from fridge and peel back foil. Dot half a stick of butter on top and cover with foil. Place in a COLD oven, and turn to 350˚. If your oven space allows, place another baking dish on the below rack and pour water half way up. This will create steam in the oven to warm the potatoes with. Bake for 30 minutes, removing the foil with 5 minutes to go. Check to make sure potatoes are hot in the center. 

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the best mashed potatoes for thanksgiving





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