Potatoes,  Sides,  Thanksgiving,  Vegetables

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Thyme Butter

You have to serve mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.  There are all sorts of ways to prepare potatoes but on this turkey day, gravy poured over mashed potatoes is a must.  I know, I’ve tried in years past to serve au gratin, roasted, stuffed….and I see it in my family’s eyes, as they glance across the table searching for the mashed potatoes.  And even if the gravy is only poured over the turkey and stuffing, those creamy mountains of potatoes are still missed.

I’m more a purist in my mashed potatoes.  There are endless recipes out there with an assortment of add-ins to choose from… flavored butters, a drizzle of pesto, a small amount of fresh herbs, a soft, gentle cheese, caramelized shallots or bits of roasted garlic.  But please, not all at once!

The choice of potato for mashing is a matter of preference too.  I like Yukon gold for its buttery flavor.  It is less starchy and holds up to boiling better without absorbing a lot of water.  I find that Russets really fall apart when boiled making for oober creamy mashed potatoes and red skinned hold their shape for a fairly chunky mash.  And speaking of skin…leaving it on or off is the next question.  I prefer to peel my potatoes when serving with tender turkey but leave it on for a rustic dish when being served with steak or grilled meats.  And, if you want to surprise your guests with some WOW color, check out Sports Glutton for some purple potatoes!

Adding milk or cream?  I like organic cream; it gives the mash a rich creamy feel and taste.  Whole organic milk , 2% or buttermilk can be used but in my opinion non fat is definitely a no-no!  I have used a small amount of turkey stock to cut back on the cream in the past but regardless of what is used, warming it slightly is better than shocking the potatoes with a cold liquid. And start out adding the cream in slowly as you can always add more to get it to the right consistency.

Lots of organic butter, sour cream in some recipes, Kosher salt and white pepper, not black, unless you like specks of black pepper through your mash.  Taste as you go to season to your liking.

Lastly, what to use to mash.  A ricer is “known” to be the preferred choice, but if you’ve ever used one, it’s a lot of work especially with a big pot of potatoes!  I like to use a simple potato masher giving me the control of mashing to my desired creaminess.  Just be aware that over mashing or using a mixer could cause the potatoes to become gummy and heavy.

Mashed potatoes can be made up to 2 hours ahead and left at room temperature or if you prefer to make them the day before, gently reheat them in a large pan adding milk to adjust the consistency.

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Thyme Butter

Makes 10 servings

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, room temperature

4 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon minced lemon peel (yellow part only)

4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups organic cream, gently heated

1 roasted garlic bulb

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Mix butter, thyme, and lemon in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Butter can be made 3 days ahead or made a week ahead and frozen.  Wrap tightly and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Place potatoes in large pot. Add enough cold water to cover. Bring to boil. Cover partially and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes and roasted garlic (squeezed from cloves) to same pot and mash.  Stir warmed cream slowly into the potatoes, continuing to gently mash.  Set aside 2 tablespoons thyme-lemon butter to top later.  Mix in remaining butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mashed potatoes to large warmed bowl. Top with 2 tablespoons butter and serve.

These mashed potatoes are part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite appetizer potatoe dish for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools below.

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I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • Kristy

    Now I have another mashed potato recipe to try. I like the additions of lemon peel and thyme in this one. It sounds like it would match wonderfully with the turkey. 🙂 I hope you’re enjoying the time with your daughter this weekend!

  • Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

    You are so right. You just have to have mashed potatoes. One year we did scalloped and they were great, but it just wasn’t right. As to cream or milk, if we have cream on hand we use it and we usually have cream on hand over Thanksgiving. And yes, I love your recipe!

  • Charles

    Few things can be as wonderful as mashed potato when done well, and yet so many people seem to fail on an epic level at doing it. Cold, uncooked lumps of uncooked potato, complete absence of any flavouring or even salt and pepper (incidentally, plain mash with nothing added on its own is great if done well – it’s common in Sweden but they call it “pressed potatoes” and they use a press for it, so it comes out in long noodle shapes, and they serve it in a pile of big potato noodle type things, not in a cloud, all mashed together). I love me a bit of garlic in the mash – and salt, yummy! I never tried it with lemon though – I’ll put it on my to do list for next time – sounds like it would make a delicious addition!

  • Aimee@clevermuffin

    Oh, you had me at mashed potato. They are my secret weakness. These looks so creamy and delicious… I’m intrigued by the lemon thyme butter! I usually just make mine full of butter and milk, I need to get more creative!

  • France

    I’ve never added lemon to my potatoes and would have never thought of it on my own. But it sounds like a wonderful flavor to add to what is normally a bland side dish. Mashed with pizzazz.

  • ChgoJohn

    Another great recipe, Lynda, and (I’m laughing here) I’ll be posting a similar one this week! You’e so right about it not being Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and I know that first-hand. One year I covered the serving dish with the baking sheet used for the rolls and forgot the potatoes altogether. It wasn’t until a dinner guest said that he didn’t even miss having mashed potatoes that I realized mine were still in the kitchen. From bruschetta flambe to vanishing potatoes, people come to my dinner parties for the adventure!

    • spicegirlfla

      OMG…I can so see that happening! Really there are so many things going on at once to get this dinner on the table that it’s hard to keep track! Sounds like your Thanksgiving will be fun and what really makes everyone have a good time is that the host is able to relax and enjoy the day thru the good and and bad!

  • Chica Andaluza

    Lovely, lovely, lovely! And weird because last night I was telling some pals that I wouldn´t eat mashed potatoes until I was about 25 years old because I had horrible memories of the disgusting lumpy grey stuff they used to serve up at school lunches….now I adore them and make them often and yours sound sooooo good 🙂

    • spicegirlfla

      That is so true. My son had an awful first taste of salmon (at someone else’s home) and just can’t get over his initial dislike. His sister and I beg him to try mine but he won’t….maybe when he’s 25 he finally will!!

  • David

    Who doesn’t adore mashed potatoes? I especially like your tip about warming the milk before adding it. I usually warm the milk and butter togther. Definately makes for fluffier spuds than adding cold.

  • ceciliag

    I am all for the butter and milk, but I always steam the potatoes that i will mash.. they are just tastier.. and I LOVE garlic in there. I am a mashed potato fiend! I am so glad you like them too! c

  • Lisa @smartfoodandfit

    I’m glad you posted this recipe! I bet the roasted garlic and lemon zest give it a nice flavor. I’m boring w/ my potatoes, I just use olive oil (sometimes butter) with skim milk! But for the holidays you gotta change things up a bit to make it special!

  • sportsglutton

    Lemon thyme butter….ummmm that might be hard to top and I feel embarrassed that I have never tried that before!

    Thanks so much for the shut out and my apologies for being belated. It’s been one busy weekend. 🙂

  • Kelly

    Oh Linda, your lemon thyme butter has me licking my lips at 6:55 am!! Love the addition of the peel to these mashed wonders. I agree; so fitting at special dinners…I tend to use sweet potatoes but just love your recipe.

  • Food, Flowers, Herbs and Life!

    I confess to breaking two Thanksgiving traditions this year – gee, they keep piling up! Not only did I serve sweet potatoes without marshmallows (per my daughter!) – I didn’t make mashed potatoes! With only 5 people I just couldn’t make two potato dishes! Perhaps since my sweet potatoes were mashed it would could as both? 🙂 But your recipe sounds lovely – I’ll fix these with some leftover turkey tonight! They’ll be much more appreciated! Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Sissi

    Linda, you are incredibly productive! I have almost missed these luscious mashed potatoes! Lemon peel sounds incredible! Thank you for all other alternative ideas too.

  • Stefanie

    Amazing flavor combo!! These look like great mashed potatoes! And I completely agree with using a good ol’ masher instead of a ricer. They wouldn’t be mashed potatoes if they weren’t mashed! 🙂

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