When you are making a huge spread for dinner and are trying to juggle cooking up several dishes at once, you may have trouble keeping everything warm until dinner is ready to serve. How do you keep mashed potatoes warm while the fried chicken is cooking? Some dishes simply take longer than others.
When dinner is finally finished cooking, you don’t want to have to reheat some items and put all of that freshly made food through the microwave. That’s especially true if you are trying to preserve the taste and nutrient value of the food, since microwaving can kill nutrients and harm the flavour of your food. You need a different heating method and some means of keeping the food warm right through.
The Simmer Method for Keeping Mashed Potatoes Warm
We want to show you how to keep mashed potatoes warm in a simple way, so you won’t need a crockpot for this method. No matter how you made your mashed potatoes, you can place them into a cooking pot or pan on the stove that has a cover. Any kind of heat resistant bowl will work, really.
Just place that on the stove and simmer it for a few minutes. This keeps your potatoes warm, and a cover will keep the heat trapped inside. Add a little water to the bowl and make sure the heat is set to very low. The water will simmer the potatoes and ensure that they don’t dry out. If the water begins to evaporate, you can add a bit more or just turn off the heat and keep the potatoes covered.
Even after you turn off the heat, keep the potatoes resting in the covered bowl on the burner on your stove. The heat from the burner will ensure that the potatoes stay warm, and they can continue to stay warm for hours this way. You may want to put a little heat under them from time to time if they are going to be resting there for a while. The trick is to ensure there is a little water in the bowl when you set the potatoes to simmer.
If you keep your balance of heat and water right, then your potatoes will be good for a long time and will stay hot until you are ready to use them. You may not have to keep heating for long if you are making a simple meal, but if you are preparing food for a large group or making a holiday dinner, you may end up cooking for hours. Why worry about the potatoes going cold during that time? You don’t need to worry if you know how to keep mashed potatoes warm for long periods of time without drying them out or burning them.
How to Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm in Crock Pot
If you have a crock pot, it’s even easier to keep the mashed potatoes nice and hot. The big difference between keeping mashed potatoes warm on the stove and how you keep mashed potatoes warm in the crock pot is what you use to keep them moist. Instead of adding water for slow cooking/warming, you can use butter and either cream or milk. Cream will make your mashed potatoes thicker, heavier and richer, while milk will make them a bit thinner and runnier but will not add as many calories.
You can keep your mashed potatoes in the slow cooker/crock pot for up to four hours on low heat. Remember to check that the crock pot is set on low heat, otherwise you will end up with dry mashed potatoes. You can add more cream and butter every hour or so, if the potatoes are looking dry, and then stir that in to spread it around evenly. Before you serve the mashed potatoes from the crock pot, give them a little stir.
That’s how to keep mashed potatoes warm in crock pot or slow cooker methods. This will give you the longest continually warm potatoes possible.
Short Term Warming
If you only need to keep the mashed potatoes warm for a short while, like 20 minutes or less, you don’t have to dirty a new dish like a pan or crock pot. You can keep the dish the mashed potatoes are already in and just cover that with a towel until you are ready to serve them. You don’t need to add any water or butter for this method, but keep in mind that it will only keep the potatoes warm for about 20 minutes.
Using a Water Bath
Another method you might not have heard of for keeping mashed potatoes hot and ready to eat is by using a water bath. This is actually how to keep mashed potatoes warm Rachael Ray’s way, and she recommends that you set your pot of mashed potatoes inside a large pot of water that is simmering on the stove.
The advantage to this method is that it doesn’t add any ingredients to the mashed potatoes. So, once you have made up your potatoes just the way you like them, you don’t run the risk of potentially spoiling them by adding some water, cream, or butter. You won’t accidentally make your potatoes too rich or too runny.
Heating in the two pot method also keeps your second dish clean. You can simply dump out the water when you are ready to serve your potatoes. You aren’t dirtying a second dish. This is a conduction heating method that you might remember from science class. The stove heats the water inside the first pot, which then heats the second pot and its contents- the mashed potatoes.
The heat doesn’t come into contact with the potatoes, and neither does the water. It’s a pretty nifty method and quite possibly the best way to keep mashed potatoes warm. However, not everyone will have enough pots and the right size of pots to make this work, so it won’t be for everyone.
Rewarming Mashed Potatoes
If you don’t want to put mashed potatoes in a crock pot to keep warm, but you are taking hours to make your dinner, you may need to reheat the potatoes. What’s the best way to reheat mashed potatoes?
First of all, you should never reheat mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. Why is that? It’s because the slow cooker won’t be able to get the potatoes up to the safe eating temperature fast enough. Reheated mashed potatoes can become a great home for kitchen bacteria if you are not careful. This is why you should reheat them in the microwave or by putting them on the stove in a little water or milk.
Just reheat the potatoes for a few minutes on a low heat. Once they are hot, they are good to eat. Watch the liquid levels and ensure the potatoes don’t dry out or burn as they simmer. You probably don’t want to use the Rachel Ray conduction method, though, as that won’t heat the potatoes up to the right temperature in a timely manner. That is a heating method that works best for something that is already hot. Stick to heating directly on the stove with some added liquid.
Yes, adding some water or milk to the potatoes to reheat them isn’t ideal. You can throw off the perfect balance of creaminess and flavour this way, but it is the safest way to reheat and still retain as much of the flavour and nutrients as possible. The microwave is faster and easier, but it’s not the best reheating method.
How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes
We will leave you with a recipe for making mashed potatoes that will help you to create some creamy, rich potatoes your family will love.
Start by boiling some water on the stove. You need enough water to cover all the potatoes you will be using.
Then, wash and scrub clean your potatoes. You can peel the potatoes if you like or keep the skins on. The skins add some texture and fibre to your meal. Next, cut them in half and then dice each half into small pieces- about 1-inch cubes. They don’t have to be perfect cubes at all, but cutting them to be about one inch on each side allows them to cook faster.
Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and keep the heat on high. A low heat isn’t necessary for the small potato pieces. You can leave the pot uncovered. Add some salt to the water and cook for about 20 minutes. Test the potatoes with a fork to see if they are done. If the fork sinks easily into the potatoes with no resistance, then they are finished cooking.
Next, drain the potatoes and add them to a bowl with some milk and butter. Use a ratio of about 1:3 for milk to potatoes to make your mashed potatoes very creamy. Use one teaspoon of butter for each potato you cut up.
Using a hand mixer, blend the potatoes on a high setting until they are all creamy. Make sure all the chunks have been smoothed out (unless you want chunky mashed potatoes, which works well if you left the skins on). Once the potatoes are creamy and smooth, you can add salt and pepper to taste.