Potatoes are simultaneously ubiquitous and overlooked when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. No Turkey Day spread would be complete without them, but all too often they come in the form of a mealy mash or a bowl dry, bland roasted spuds. That's a shame, because it doesn't take a lot of work to make potatoes the star of your meal. Give them the respect they deserve come Thanksgiving with these 14 dishes, like mashed potatoes done both light and fluffy, and rich and creamy; tender roasted potatoes with shatteringly crisp skin; and a crispy, cheesy casserole studded with bacon.
Rich and Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Forget politics—the most important debate come Thanksgiving is whether you like your mashed potatoes thick and fluffy or rich and creamy. I tend to prefer the latter, which means boiling waxy-medium potatoes like Yukon Golds until tender, ricing them, and whisking in tons of butter and cream. A little chicken stock makes them extra savory.
Ultra-Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
As much as I love creamy mashed potatoes, light and fluffy ones are best for serving with gravy. The key to making them super airy is keeping the starch under control—dicing the potatoes and rinsing them thoroughly both before and after cooking does the trick. You still need some richness, though, so we add in butter and milk at the end.
Caramelized Vidalia Onion Mashed Potatoes
These super-creamy mashed potatoes are made with butter, milk, sour cream, and cream cheese. They're also a little sweet thanks to the addition of caramelized Vidalia onions. The potatoes come out best with slowly caramelized onions, but I wouldn't blame you for cutting corners with our 15-minute technique.
Aligot (Mashed Potatoes With Melted Cheese)
If you want to go all-out with your creamy mashed potatoes, the traditional French dish aligot is for you. It's made by whipping potatoes with melted cheese until they're ridiculously gooey. Raclette is one of the most accessible cheeses to use, but Cantal or Tomme would also be great.
Roasted, Fried, and More
Colombian-Style Salt-Crusted New Potatoes
For some, potatoes are first and foremost a vehicle for salt, and this recipe takes that saltiness to the extreme. Small new potatoes are simmered in heavily salted water until all the water has evaporated, leaving behind tender potatoes with super-crispy crusts. They'll taste good with whatever's on your Thanksgiving table, but bright Colombian ají is a traditional, flavorful way to go.
Extra-Crispy Herb-Roasted New Potatoes
Even if the full salt-crust route is too intense for you, cooking potatoes in salty water is still a good way to make their interiors extra tender. Here, we par-cook the potatoes until they're nice and creamy, toss them with herb butter, and roast them in the oven until crispy.
Ultra-Crispy New Potatoes With Garlic, Herbs, and Lemon
There are two main issues that can ruin roasted potatoes: skin that's too papery or skin that's too tough. Parboiling the potatoes in acidic water (a tablespoon of vinegar is enough for 4.5 pounds of spuds) prevents them from getting papery. As for the toughness, just toss the potatoes with plenty of fat before roasting.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes
I'll be honest, this isn't the easiest potato recipe. You have to parboil the potatoes, smash them with a heavy skillet, and fry them slowly in small batches. But the results are totally worth the effort—they come out ridiculously crispy. And fortunately, you can do most of the prep ahead of time and re-crisp them in the oven before serving.
Crispy Potatoes With Garlic-Parmesan Butter
This dish starts with the same techniques that we favor in our other crispy potato recipes, but we experiment a little bit more with the flavor. For starters, we cook the potatoes in duck fat (all potatoes—if not all things, period—are delicious when cooked in duck fat), then toss them with garlic-Parmesan butter.
Skillet Potatoes With Cajun Blackening Spices and Buttermilk-Herb Sauce
These potatoes are way too exciting to get lost among more typical Thanksgiving sides. An intense Cajun-style blackening rub adds layers of smoke and heat. We serve the crisp-skinned baby potatoes with a creamy, herb-laden buttermilk sauce.
Casseroles and Gratins
Hasselback Potato Gratin
You've probably forgotten about Hasselback potatoes by now, and to be honest that's fine by us. This gratin is way better than Hasselback potatoes—by lining up slices of potato in a casserole dish and covering them partially with a mixture of heavy cream and cheese, you get Hasselback-style crispiness with some gratin-level creaminess: the best of both worlds.
Cheesy Onion, Bacon, and New Potato Gratin
Gratin is usually made with sliced spuds, but whole, small new potatoes work just as well. Here we combine them with whole pearl onions and thick lardons of bacon, plus heavy cream and cheese. Any nutty, melty, Swiss alpine-style cheese will work well—Comté is a solid choice.
Crispy Mashed Potato Casserole With Bacon, Cheese, and Scallions
I like to do as much Thanksgiving prep as possible ahead of time, but mashed potatoes don't tend to reheat well. Mixing sour cream into mashed potatoes adds enough moisture to let them keep in the fridge for a few days without drying out. And since potatoes and sour cream made us think of baked potatoes, we top these with bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions before reheating.
Polish Cabbage, Potato, and Bacon Casserole
Thanksgiving is a time for simple, hearty foods, like this cabbage, onion, potato, and bacon casserole. We cook the vegetables down in the bacon fat, mix them with potatoes, and bake it all under a generous layer of cheese.