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+ Make Ahead Loaded Mashed Potatoes to Feed a Crowd (Gluten Free)
Can you freeze mashed potatoes? Raw potatoes are impossible to freeze as the potatoes drastically change in texture. Cooked potatoes are doable, but they usually become watery and a little grainy. Here’s a failsafe method of making loaded mashed potatoes in advance without any change in texture. Did I mention they contain three amazingly delicious ingredients? They’re perfect for holidays or special occasions.
What Makes Freezing Possible in This Mashed Potatoes Recipe?
Typically, loaded mashed potatoes contain cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Instead of sour cream, use cream cheese and milk. Most brands of cream cheese contain gum, which gives mashed potatoes structure and prevents that grainy, watery texture after freezing. However, after defrosting when you first begin to reheat the mashed potatoes, they will appear watery. Keep warming past that point and they become fluffy once again.
I apologize for not showing the entire 15 pounds of mashed potatoes in the casserole dish that I recently served. My daughter ran the kitchen that day (lucky me) and I completely forgot! So, I have included a leftover shot, which indicates that they were frozen twice and reheated twice.
Freezable Loaded Mashed Potatoes
- 15 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4x3/4-inch pieces (Costco), divided
- 2 8-ounce packages gluten free cream cheese (Philadelphia or Tofutti or Daiya for dairy-free), cut into 8 pieces
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 ounces/1 stick, cut into pieces (or dairy-free margarine - Smart Balance or Earth Balance)
- 1-1/4 cups non-fat milk or dairy-free substitute
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese or dairy-free substitute
- 1 pound gluten free bacon fried to a crisp and chopped (Applegate Farms, Hormel Natural Choice, Hormel Black Label, etc.)
Working in three separate batches, peel and cut 5 pounds of potatoes at a time. Add them to a large pot full of water. Drain and rinse. Then cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and test after about 12 - 20 minutes. You want a steak knife to easily pierce through the potatoes without break apart. If most of them break apart, they are overcooked and will require less milk when beating.
Drain the cooked potatoes and transfer to a large heat-proof bowl.
Add one-third each of the cream cheese (5-1/3 ounces), butter (2-1/2+ tablespoons), and milk (1/3 cup + 1+ tablespoon). Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Add additional milk to reach your desired consistency. Just realize that when they are hot, they are a little thinner.
Transfer to a large, deep casserole dish, cover, and refrigerate. Repeat the above two more times. Combine all three batches of potatoes and add more milk, as desired. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil over the plastic wrap. Freeze until the day before your event.
Fry the bacon, chop, and allow to cool completely. Freeze in a quart-size zipper freezer bag.
Defrost the mashed potatoes and bacon in the refrigerator 24 hours prior. The morning of your event, leave the potatoes out at room temperature if not fully defrosted. You'll be able to tell by piercing the center with a long knife.
To reheat, warm in a preheated 350⁰F for 2 hours. Top with cheese and bacon the last 30 minutes. The easiest and fastest way of reheating is to scoop a portion into a large casserole dish or bowl that will fit into your microwave. Then, reheat on high until thoroughly warm, about 5 minutes. You can stir the cheese and bacon into the mashed potatoes if desired.
Feel free to stir in some chives or thinly slice or minced green onion/scallions.