It's hard to find a Thanksgiving table that doesn't have potatoes on it, but all too often that means a bowl of dry mashed potatoes or bland roasted ones. But as easy as it is to mess up potatoes, with a little technique it's almost as easy to make them one of the most delicious parts of the meal. Instead of settling for mediocre spuds on Turkey Day, wow your guests with dishes like super-gooey mashed potatoes packed with cheese, the crispiest roast potatoes you've ever had, or a comforting Polish-style potato and cabbage casserole.
Rich and Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Come Thanksgiving, my family is more likely to fight over how to make the mashed potatoes than anything else. I like them to be super creamy—if you feel the same, then boil Yukon Golds in their skin until tender, pass them through a ricer, and finish with lots of butter and cream. I'll be serving vegetarians on Thanksgiving, but if I weren't I would add savory chicken stock, too.
Ultra-Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
Prefer your mashed potatoes fluffy? Starch is your enemy—dicing the spuds and rinsing them well before and after cooking will get rid of excess starch and make the mashed potatoes super light. While I usually like creamier mashed potatoes, this recipe is the best for making gravy volcanoes.
Caramelized Vidalia Onion Mashed Potatoes
These mashed potatoes lean heavily to the creamy side—we pack them with butter, milk, sour cream, and cream cheese. But what sets them apart are caramelized Vidalia onions, which add textural contrast and a subtle sweetness. Your Thanksgiving prep schedule might be too packed for you to fit in the time to slowly caramelize onions, but fortunately our 15-minute technique works fine here.
Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes)
Thanksgiving is a time for excess, and if our rich and creamy mashed potatoes still aren't quite luxurious enough for you, then you have to check out pommes aligot. This traditional French dish packs potatoes with so much melted cheese that it practically looks like fondue. For the most interesting flavor we like to use a mix of Alpine cheeses like Swiss, Gruyère, and Comté.
Roasted, Fried, and More
The Best Roast Potatoes Ever
We have lots of roast potato recipes, but if you're just going to try one then this is it. We par-boil the potatoes in alkaline water and toss them in fat aggressively before roasting, which builds up a starchy slurry on their exteriors. You end up with potatoes that are creamy on the inside and ridiculously crispy on the outside.
Colombian-Style Salt-Crusted New Potatoes
I have a few relatives who always want more salt on their food, so to make them happy I might bring out this recipe come Turkey Day. All you have to do is simmer small new potatoes in very salty water until all the water has evaporated—you are left with tender potatoes with crispy salt crusts.
Extra-Crispy Herb-Roasted New Potatoes
Trying to keep your sodium intake (somewhat) in check? This recipe starts with the same technique of simmering the potatoes in salty water until the pot is dry, but then we rinse off the excess salt and finish the potatoes in the oven. We flavor the potatoes with herb butter twice—once before roasting and again right after they come out of the oven.
Ultra-Crispy New Potatoes With Garlic, Herbs, and Lemon
One of the hardest parts of roasting potatoes is dealing with the skins—at their best, potato skins should be super crispy, but they often come out papery or tough. The former issue can be dealt with by parboiling the potatoes in vinegar-spiked water (the acidity helps build up starch) and the toughness issue is just a matter of tossing the potatoes with enough fat before roasting.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes
If you're looking for an easy potato recipe, this isn't it—parboiling the potatoes, smashing them with a skillet, and frying them slowly in small batches is sort of a pain. But the results—incredibly crispy potatoes—are worth it, and fortunately you can do most of the work Wednesday evening and reheat the potatoes in the oven without sacrificing crispness.
Crispy Potatoes With Garlic-Parmesan Butter
Once you've mastered a few basic potato-cooking techniques, you can start experimenting with flavors. We use a simple parboil-then-fry method here, but give the spuds extra flavor by cooking them in duck fat (which is my go-to for almost all potato recipes) and tossing them with garlic-Parmesan butter.
Skillet Potatoes With Cajun Blackening Spices and Buttermilk-Herb Sauce
Looking for a potato recipe that will really stand out on your Thanksgiving table? These potatoes make a serious statement thanks to an intense Cajun-style blackening rub made with spices like smoked paprika and cumin. To tame the rub slightly, serve the spuds with a creamy buttermilk sauce flavored with garlic, dill, chives, and parsley.
Ultimate Baked Potato
I've never made baked potatoes on Thanksgiving, but I'm not here to tell you how to live your life. If you do want to serve baked potatoes you should do it right—you should poke holes in the potatoes for steam to escape, rub them with oil, and cook them unwrapped in a medium oven. From there you can serve with classic toppings or experiment with more exciting options like spinach and artichoke dip or nacho cheese.
Casseroles and Gratins
Hasselback Potato Gratin
Remember Hasselback potatoes? I barely do—the gimmicky recipe never really worked well enough to be memorable. This recipe keeps the best part of the idea (crispy potato edges) by making what is essentially a sideways gratin—we arrange sliced potatoes in a casserole dish and cover them only partially with a mixture of cream and cheese, leaving the tops exposed to get crispy.
Cheesy Onion, Bacon, and New Potato Gratin
If you don't want to go to the trouble of peeling and slicing potatoes, you can make a gratin using whole, skin-on new potatoes instead. In this recipe we combine the potatoes with pearl onions (also left whole) and lardons of bacon and cook with a rich mixture of heavy cream and cheese.
Crispy Mashed Potato Casserole With Bacon, Cheese, and Scallions
Mashed potatoes don't really reheat well, meaning you need to time your Thanksgiving prep to finish them right before serving dinner. There is a workaround, though—mixing in sour cream gives the potatoes enough extra moisture that they can stay good in the fridge for a few days—all you need to do before serving is top with a mix of bacon, cheese, bread crumbs, and scallions and bake.
Polish Cabbage, Potato, and Bacon Casserole
Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a day of stressful cooking—if you want to spend more time with your loved ones and less time in the kitchen, then this simple, comforting casserole is a great way to go. Just cook cabbage and onion in bacon fat, mix them with potatoes, and bake with plenty of cheese.