Whether you have leftover canned pumpkin to use or are looking for an easy Thanksgiving side dish, Cheddar Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes with rosemary is total comfort food in a bowl.
Have you started planning your Thanksgiving menu yet? Do you stick to the same recipes year after year or do you incorporate 1-2 new dishes?
My family and I usually stick to the same recipes, although sometimes we may rotate the meat choice between stuffed Cornish hen and turkey legs.
After talking with friends about Thanksgiving traditions, I’ve concluded most people don’t like to stray too far from the classics.
However, they are open to trying a variation of their favorite classic.
Take mashed potatoes for example. Every household has mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.
Although they taste wonderful and comforting on their own with butter, and cream, they are a blank canvas for introducing other flavors, especially when cleaning out the fridge.
The idea for these Cheddar Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes came when I had some leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge.
I swear no matter how hard I plan, every time I open a small can, I almost always have leftover pumpkin puree.
As much as I’d love to bake another pumpkin dessert, sometimes I need to, you know, actually eat real food.
Since there will be pumpkin pie for dessert, might as well have a pumpkin side dish too.
This Cheddar Pumpkin Mashed Potato recipe makes 4 servings, enough to cook Thanksgiving for two.
You certainly don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving either to enjoy these mashed potatoes. Cheddar pumpkin mashed potatoes make a great comforting side dish any day of the week.
Which potato is best for mashed potatoes?
Russet Burbank potatoes are the best choice when making mashed potatoes because they are high in starch, which results in a light and fluffy texture that easily soaks up butter and milk.
How To Make The Best Mashed Potatoes
Here are my tips for making the best mashed potatoes for two:
1. Add your potatoes to your pot before bringing to a boil.
One question I often get from my parents at what feels like every Thanksgiving – do you add the potatoes to the pot before or after the water comes to a boil?
The answer is before.
The reason you add potatoes to your pot then fill with cold water and bring to a boil rather than adding potatoes to boiling water is to evenly cook the potatoes.
If you add potatoes to boiling water, the outside will overcook while the inside won’t cook enough. You want both the water and the potatoes to come to temperature at the same time.
Add your potatoes to your pot, cover with cold water, then bring to a boil.
Don’t forget to salt your water! The potatoes will absorb the salt as they cook, resulting in not bland potatoes. I usually add about a handful of kosher salt.
Once you bring your water to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer.
Rolling boiling water will move the potatoes around too fast, resulting in disintegrated potatoes. Simmering means the water won’t move as fast but still be hot enough to cook them through.
3. Drain and let your potatoes dry.
Once drained, let your potatoes air dry for about 5 minutes. If you transfer them straight to the bowl for mashing, you’ll end up with watery mashed potatoes.
4. Mash by hand or your lowest setting on your mixer.
For the fluffiest mashed potatoes, mash using a potato ricer or a hand masher.
However, I’m lazy and will often use my stand mixer on the lowest setting. If you go this route, you need to be gentle and not overmash.
Overmashing will result in gluey and gummy mashed potatoes.
I turn the mixer on in spurts. Let it mash for 30 seconds, turn off, add the ingredients, turn back on for 30 seconds, turn off, check, repeat as necessary.
You should still get creamy mashed potatoes, but sometimes I’ll leave it on the slightly chunky side in order to not accidentally overmash.
5. Use room temperature milk and butter.
The temperature of your ingredients matters when making mashed potatoes.
Using cold milk and butter will bring the temperature of the potatoes down, resulting in cold mashed potatoes.
Make sure your milk and butter are at room temperature.
If you accidentally added too much milk, don’t fret! To thicken mashed potatoes, put them in a dry pot and cook over low heat until they start to dry out, stirring often so they don’t burn.
How To Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm
Mashed potatoes are synonymous with Thanksgiving. However, the one problem I have when making such a large dinner is keeping them warm while working on other dishes.
Luckily there are several ways to keep mashed potatoes warm until you’re ready to serve.
If you only need to keep them warm for 15-20 minutes, usually a dish towel covering the bowl keeps in enough heat.
However, if you need to keep them warm longer, say an hour or so, set the (heatproof) bowl of mashed potatoes over a pot of simmering water (like a makeshift double boiler), cover it with a dish towel, and stir every 15 minutes or so.
When you’re ready to eat – voila! Warm mashed potatoes.
Recipes To Serve With Mashed Potatoes
Now that you made mashed potatoes, what do you serve with it? Here are some more Thanksgiving recipes:
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (roughly 2 large potatoes)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 8 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste (preferably kosher)
- Add the potatoes, garlic, and a handful of salt to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain. Let cool for 5 minutes
- Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large mixing bowl. Mash by hand with a ricer or masher or beat on the lowest speed possible with a mixer.
- Add the pumpkin, cheese, butter, milk, rosemary, and salt. Mash/beat until melted and smooth. Taste and adjust for salt.
To keep mashed potatoes warm until you're ready to serve:
- To keep them warm for 15-20 minutes, cover the bowl with a dish towel. This should keep in enough heat.
- To keep them warm longer, set a heatproof bowl of mashed potatoes over a pot of simmering water (like a makeshift double boiler), cover it with a dish towel, and stir every 15 minutes or so.