It’s about time I introduced you to my family’s mashed potato recipe! Meet the only mashed potatoes I ever want to eat.
Every Thanksgiving, my mom opens up a 1970s church cookbook called “Thyme to Cook” to make them. They’re called “Refrigerator Potatoes” and the recipe cites three authors, with my great-grandmother Lucille listed third. I call them Lucille’s mashed potatoes, so that’s what I’m calling them today.
For several years now, I’ve contemplated how to offer a “Cookie and Kate” version of these mashed potatoes (as in, a lighter version). But why mess with a good thing? We’re talking about a traditional holiday recipe that I enjoy twice a year, on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Let me tell you, these mashed potatoes are worth it. Lucille’s mashed potatoes are creamy and dense, tangy and irresistible. They are all of those things. Here’s what they are not: light, fluffy, milky or watery. Lucille’s potatoes are everything that I want mashed potatoes to be! Nothing more and nothing less.
Lucille’s recipe calls for cream cheese and sour cream, rather than milk or cream. The cream cheese helps fortify the mashed potatoes, so they reheat beautifully. That’s why the recipe struck church lady gold—it’s delicious and you can cross the mashed potatoes off your list a day or two in advance. Hence the name “refrigerator mashed potatoes.”
This year, I decided to share recipe as is, with some of my notes added for clarity. I’ll breakdown the ingredients, too. Ready to make the best mashed potatoes?!
Wait, can I tell you a little bit about my great-grandmother Lucille? She was a special lady. Brilliant, too.
Lucille was the oldest of six sisters. She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and college at 20, in 1924. Before the internet existed, she immersed herself in my family’s genealogy and wrote an entire book about our family’s history. She printed it for future generations, complete with a pull-out family tree. The names date back to Switzerland in the 1300s. Lucille was really something else.
She was older when I was born, but I remember her big laugh and the M&M’s she always kept in a fancy container on her coffee table.
Mashed Potato Considerations
Let’s break down the ingredients and methods used to make Lucille’s mashed potatoes.
First up? The potatoes. My family always uses Russet potatoes, which is how I like these mashed potatoes. They taste like the inside of a baked potato. I’m into that. Rumor has it that Yukon Golds are creamier, but Adrianna says they take longer to cook and break down.
Next up: To peel, or not to peel your potatoes? My mom and grandma always peel the potatoes before making these mashed potatoes. I love the flavor of potato skins and I like some texture to my mashed potatoes, so I didn’t peel mine. I’m also lazy. Peel your potatoes if you want smooth, skin-free mashed potatoes.
Do you like some texture in your mashed potatoes? For some texture (shown here), just use a potato masher and mash just until the potatoes are as chunky or creamy as you’d like them to be.
Or do you prefer smooth mashed potatoes? Be sure to peel your mashed potatoes before cooking. Then, either keep mashing with your potato masher, or use a hand mixer or stand mixer to blend them until smooth. For ultra super smooth mashed potatoes, use a ricer to process the potatoes and then a mixer to blend them until creamy (see Adrianna’s method here).
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Once your potatoes are mashed, stir in the remaining ingredients. Cream cheese and sour cream offer lots of flavor and extra creaminess (you can used reduced fat varieties if you want). The mashed potatoes aren’t complete without a little butter and some salt. Lucille’s secret ingredient? Onion powder. It gives these mashed potatoes a subtle, gimme-more-of-that quality. Don’t skip it.
Once everything’s stirred in, these mashed potatoes are delicious and ready to eat right away. However, you can let them cool and store them for later. Reheating them in the oven seems to concentrate the flavors even more, and I find them a little more irresistible after they’re baked. Holidays are hectic, so choose whichever option is most convenient.
To serve, you can dress them up with a garnish (or not). My grandma sprinkles a ground paprika on top for color (not the hot or smoked kind). You can also do finely chopped chives, or parsley, or just a pat of butter. They’re amazing no matter how you serve them! Now that I’ve made them for myself, I must say—mashed potatoes are really easy to make. Real, homemade mashed potatoes or bust!
Craving something different? Don’t miss my savory mashed sweet potatoes.
Please let me know how these mashed potatoes turn out for you in the comments! I hope they become your family’s favorite mashed potatoes, too.
Lucille’s Mashed Potatoes
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes (plus optional 30-minute reheat time)
- Yield: 8 to 12 servings 1x
- Category: Side
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
My family’s favorite mashed potatoes recipe! These mashed potatoes are creamy, rich and tangy, thanks to the cream cheese and sour cream. You can make these mashed potatoes ahead of time, too (see the final step for details). Recipe yields 8 large or 12 medium servings; I believe you could successfully halve the recipe for a smaller crowd.
- 5 pounds Russet potatoes, preferably organic*
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 6 ounces cream cheese (that’s ¾ of one brick)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- Optional garnishes: Finely sliced fresh chives, pat of butter, sprinkle of mild paprika (not the smoked kind) and/or freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare your potatoes, you can either scrub them clean and leave them unpeeled (like I did) or rinse and peel them (for smooth, skin-free mashed potatoes). Then cut the potatoes into even chunks about 2” in size (see photos).
- Place the potato chunks in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 to 2 inches.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Continue cooking, reducing the heat as necessary to prevent overflow, until the potatoes are easily pierced through by a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Carefully drain off all of the water and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash the potatoes until they reach your desired consistency (I like mine a little chunky, but you can mash them completely smooth if you prefer).
- Add the cream cheese, sour cream, butter, the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and the onion powder. Stir until everything is mixed together evenly. You can serve the mashed potatoes immediately at this point, with garnishes of your choice.
- If you’re making these mashed potatoes in advance, transfer them to a casserole dish with a lid (my Dutch oven is oven-safe so this was unnecessary). Smooth the top, cover, and store the mashed potatoes for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the mashed potatoes, covered, until warmed through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve with garnishes of your choice.
Leftover mashed potatoes? They will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.
There is vegan cream cheese. Do you still recommend only using the vegan sour cream.
Love your blog!
Personally, I would stick to the real thing to get everything out of this recipe. :) But if you are vegan and need the substitute, then I say sure. Thanks, Jeannie!
I am curious why you use Russet potatoes? Maybe there is an advantage to using Russet potatoes? I have always used Yukon Gold.
Russet potatoes are often used to make mashed potatoes. It doesn’t always have to be Yukon Gold.
dixya @food, pleasure, and health
Lucille sounds like a truly wonderful lady! I am always looking for new mashed potatoes version and this sounds fantastic!
She was pretty neat! Let me know what you think once you try them.
Kate these sound wonderful. I am going to give them a try for Thanksgiving. Thank you for passing the recipe on.
Welcome! Let me know what you think, Terri.
Enjoyed hearing about your great-grandmother; I wanted to hear more. She indeed sounds like an amazing trailblazer. Will definitely try her potatoes. Thank you for sharing her and her recipe.
Thank you! She was a pretty great woman. Let me know what you think about the recipe once you give it a shot!
Hello Kate – love the recipe – I also use Mayo in my mashed — works great. OH – one suggestion when your serving mashed for a dinner party – I put mine in the crock pot to say nice and warm for the late comers. thanks
That’s a great tip! Thanks, Tony!
Funny, my mother used to make
these with every turkey dinner. She cited “Star Weekly” as the source of the recipe back in the early 70’s. I have been making them for years, the only difference being our recipe calls for onion salt.
Quick sidebar, I made these for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner years ago. One woman tried them and said, OMG, I want to make love to these potatoes.
Hi Char! The original recipe called for onion salt. Maybe one of the ladies listed by the recipe found it in Star Weekly! Thank you for solving that mystery. And haha—I can see where that lady at your Thanksgiving was coming from.
Hi- I too use this recipe from long ago and without fail everyone loves them. It was a common recipe back in the 60’s and 70’s both on the West Coast and in the South as my MIL also knew of it. Some recipes offered the alternative of making these like twice baked potatoes, smothering each serving with bacon, cheese and more sour cream. I suppose people were more physical back in the day and could burn the calories from those bad boys when prepared as such? Or it would serve as an entree? Anyway we love this recipe but rarely do it because of the fats at our age- we simply don’t burn them off. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Was looking for a savory sweet potato recipe and will try your mashed ones.
Ah,ah.. I though I was the only one who did not like most mashed potatoes :).
I had requested that you share this recipe after you mentioned it in a previous post. I didn’t really think that you would. :) Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to try them!
I have been contemplating for awhile and finally decided… it was time! Let me know what you think :)
Lucille sounds like a wonderful and amazing woman! That’s quite a genealogy she recorded, very rare to go that far back! I was wondering if these mashed potatoes are good with gravy, or if the cream cheese and sour cream get in the way of that. They do sound yummy no matter what!
I like them as is because they are so good! I also stay away from gravy being vegetarian. But you can try it!
This is great and I really appreciate that you posted it as is without any healthified tweaks – some things just need to be honored and enjoyed as an occasional indulgence! My grandmother also used good old fashioned research to trace our genealogy back to Ireland – we always joked she had our family traced back to Adam and Eve. But her candy dish held circus peanuts! :) I look forward to trying this recipe soon!
Let me know what you think once you do try it!
I make a version of this that’s vegan – with Tofutti cream cheese (no sour cream, though). So I think you can just sub out vegan versions of everything and it would be amazing!
Glad to hear it! Thanks for confirming, Rachel!
I think that mashed potatoes are my favorite Thanksgiving food, yet I have never seen them made with cream cheese. I can tell you that I like where it is going with that! That looks beautiful and pretty sure I am going to have to try this.
Cream cheese is key here! Let me know what you think once you try them. Thanks for commenting, Ben!
Cute post. Your great grandma sounds like she was a cool lady and way ahead of her time. Haven’t made the potatoes yet, but plan to with holidays coming up. Love ya C + K.
She was pretty great! Let me know what you think once you give them a try. Thanks, Barbara!
GINGER BY CHOICE I FOOD & LIFESTYLE BLOG
I have to say: as soon as I saw the picture of your grandmother, I knew this recipe would be amazing. And it is! I’m so looking forward to making Lucille’s Mashed Potatoes for our Friendsgiving Dinner. It’s a fantastic idea to add sour cream and cream cheese. It’s just smart.
Thanks for sharing your family recipe with us.
Thank you! I hope you love them as much as I do.
Love the story about your great-grandmother!
Thank you, Gabrielle! :)
Made a half batch last night as a trial run prior to Thanksgiving. Left the skins on. Super easy and absolutely delicious!
Thank you, Ronda!
This is going to be a weird question, but I’ll ask anyway in case you have any thoughts! I am planning on making these for Thanksgiving, and one member of the crowd is on kidney dialysis. To make the potatoes dialysis-friendly, they have to be boiled, drained, and then boiled again before mashing. Do you foresee this causing any issues? Will they absorb too much water? Any thoughts are appreciated!
Hi Rebecca! I’m not sure to what extent that will effect the potatoes. I bet the mashed potatoes will still turn out well, though!
Just made them! The second boil didn’t hurt them a bit, and I will never make another mashed potato recipe. They are amazing! I can hardly wait for the feast tomorrow!
My family has also been making these potatoes (with the onion salt) for generations. Small world! We call them Party Potatoes. I love them! Actually, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only holidays we didn’t make them for– I guess the women in my family thought they were too rich with all of the other food that’s served at those times. I made them last year for Thanksgiving myself, and they were wonderful!
Classic traditional family recipe for sure! Thank you so much for your review, Liz.
Omg, I hate mashed potatoes normally, and these are life changing great! I followed the recipe exactly (may have added a smidge more onion powder and cream cheese), and they are heaven! Just in time for thanksgiving – thank you!!
You are welcome! They have always been a favorite. Happy to share :)
Good stuff. I don’t usually have onion powder, but bought some for this recipe and thought it was a worthwhile addition; it gave the mashed potatoes more savory depth.
Onion powder adds a nice touch, I agree! Thank you for trying it and for your review. I appreciate it!
Made these for Thanksgiving. No complaints. Actually they were very good and the perfect base for a loaded potato soup on the day after.
My family usually makes a similar recipe for Thanksgiving, but with peeled potatoes and without onion powder. I followed your recipe this year and the change was well-received. I thought the onion powder gave them great flavor, and felt a bit more virtuous knowing the peels were in there.
These potatoes are fabulous! I especially love that I can make them ahead, a day or 2 and avoid the last minute rush. Not being a crazy-for-mashed-potatoes gal, I loved the flavor. The onion powder is a great addition, adding to the complexity of flavor but in a subtle way.
Thank you, Kate and furry friend, for giving me this easy, go-to recipe!
P.S. Using organic Yukon Gold potatoes, it couldn’t be simpler to leave the skin on. A few slices here and there to cut them up and then off to the pot they go, wow!
Glad to hear that, Susana! They are so so good. :) I appreciate the review!
Sounds easy and delicious, I am going to make these mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner.
Let me know what you think, Teri!
Susan L. Fior
Hi Kate, I’m a fan and have recommended your site to friends. For Thanksgiving I made Lucille’s Mashed Potatoes. My family said they were the best they had ever eaten and they are hard to please. I only wish my Dad was still alive…he loved mashed potatoes and I would have liked to spoil him with Lucille’s recipe. And the chopped chives, by the way, are a perfect complement. (Making them for Christmas for my Italian family.)
Well, thank you Susan! I love these mashed potatoes so I am happy to hear they were a big hit with your family too. Have a happy holiday season!
You said that you don’t eat gravy since you’re vegetarian. I am also a vegetarian, but I eat gravy and love it. I fix it with coconut oil, baking mix (Granny Bundt) and either milk or water. Love your recipes and your blog.
I make the same recipe but with Garlic and Herb cream cheese and no onion powder. Very yummy!! I’m going to try it with the onion powder next. Thanks for sharing!
Let me know how you like it! Thanks, Deb.
These mashed potatoes are perfection! I love the consistency and they are so flavorful and tangy. I made them last year for the holidays and will make them every year from now on. Thank you!!!!
I’m glad you think so! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and review, Courtney.
It was a Cookie and Kate – inspired Thanksgiving this year, and we loved this dish. Kept on loving it on days two and three also.
That sounds like fun! Thanks for sharing Cookie + Kate with your loved ones. I appreciate the review, Anthony.
I’ve been making a variation of this recipe for over 35. I found it in a lovely book called the Canadian Living Christmas Book.
It is virtually the same except it calls for a cup of chopped green onions, a half cup of minced fresh parsley and a pinch of marjoram.
I use lower fat cream cheese and sour cream so it’s less rich.
For Christmas, I make the mashed potatoes a week ahead of time and freeze them. Then I defrost them for 24 hours. I reheat them in my slow cooker to free up oven space.
I’m making these potatoes tonight for about the 6th time. I’m so grateful for this recipe I did a quick check to see if I had reviewed this dish earlier. I can’t believe I forgot to, because these mashed potatoes are fantastic! My family, youngsters and oldsters, gobble these up every time! They are much healthier than an old recipe I used to follow, way easier, and seem to go over much better with my gang. I followed the recipe exactly with over the top results each time. It’s foolproof. Thanks Kate! (and Lucille!)
That’s awesome, Emily! Thanks for coming back to review.
Elizabeth A. Morgan MORGAN
I’m 89 so there are a lot of recipes that I have used. My d-i-l mashes her potatoes (Russets) with the skins on. I love eating her cooking, but mashed potatoes to me are smooth, creamy and have sour cream, butter, salt and white pepper and a tsp of horseradish. When I make them, I peel as many as I can stand at the sink for and cook them (boil) them ahead of time and mash and add ingredients while they are freshly mashed and hot. I serve them along with whatever else I have ready. (Usually a meat and vegetable) and hope to have enough left over to make potato soup. For this, I just add milk and parsley. My mother sewed in an attic room and this was my favourite meal at noon when I came home from school.
I could eat potato soup every day. I had two brothers and it was the thirties so there were not many meals of leftovers! That was when ‘hamburger’ meat was 25 cents a pound and wartime meant it was more expensive than usual. We had some rationing but never went hungry because my mother could make a meal out of very little.
As I recall mashed potatoes were a treat. I used to come home from school, peel a potato and slice it thin, soak it in vinegar and salt and that would be my snack. We didn’t have chips. Also ate ice cubes when we had the new electric one with ice cube trays! Needless to say, we were never overweight! Gum was 1 cent a stick and the storekeeper would open a pack to sell one. They did the same with cigarettes too. 1 cent each. When I was in my early teens and had a bicycle, my friends and I bought a “flat fifty” – and went into the woods and smoked the most of the thing in a day. We contributed a nickel each and as we were only 14 or so, we didn’t all get an equal amount. In fact we may have left some there. The can was a flat metal one so likely somebody found it like a treasure.
Thanks for your review, Elizabeth! It’s fun to hear how you grew up with them:)
This recipe has actually been in my family for many years as well. my Nana always made it for Christmas and Thanksgiving as did my mother and as do I .I’m so pleased to see it being revived! Being vegan I do use follow your heart sour cream and miyoko’s cream cheese, and as far as I’m concerned it’s just as good as the original.
Thank you for sharing, Katrina!
Kite Hill makes a very good Vegan Cream Cheese (with or without herbs) that I think would work quite well, though haven’t tried it yet. These look great!
Thanks for the tip, Kurt!
I’ve made this recipe a few times. Very good!
hi can you make these inadvance? if so what is the best way to reheat with drying out the potatoes?
Hi! Yes, these can be made in advance. See the full post for more details.
Does it really taste as good if you make it the day before? Would be so much easier to get this done today but worried won’t taste as fresh
Hi Jen, it might taste even better the next day! My mom often makes it the day before. It will just take some time to reheat.
I made this one in addition to your savory mashed sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Kinda felt like it was cheating to add the cream cheese and sour cream, but I guess it’s basically the same as milk, just better, hahaha. Thanks for helping me succeed at the first Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had to make by myself!
All the mashed potatoes, I love it! Thank you for sharing.
look yum! just making sure, by “mash” in step 4 do you mean like with a potato masher? i don’t have one at home, would a fork or a hand mixer work?
Hi! Yes, either one of those will work for you.
I’ve made these potatoes twice, now. The first time I peeled the potatoes, the second time I left them unpeeled. They were a big hit either way! Absolutely delicious!
Thank you for trying them, Kathryn! I’m glad you loved them.
Thanks for sharing mashed potatoes. Came out perfect. I used less of cream cheese and it still was great. Oh, the dirty dozen link does not work anymore.
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving today and it is PHENOMENAL. I usually make a different mashed potatoes recipe every Thanksgiving, but that ends now. This is THE one!! Thanks so much!
You’re welcome, Danielle!
Amazing recipe. But I made mine with zero cream cheese, added pepper and powdered garlic salt, and milk
Can I heat this up in a crock pot instead of the oven? How long do I heat it up for?
Just made these for Thanksgiving. They are declicious!! Thank you again for another great recipe.
This is the recipe my family uses as well, but without onion salt. Will have to give it a try this year! We got the recipe from family friends who will often reheat by baking with cheese and breadcrumbs on top – it’s fabulous!
I love that! Thank you for sharing, Emily.
This is the same way we do our mashed potatoes too. Occasionally I’ll add two bulbs of roasted garlic