Thanksgiving Potatoes that Beat Boring Boiled or Mundane Mashed

Thanksgiving potatoes are boring. If you’re serving the same mashed potatoes year-after-year, you know what I’m talking about. Do you have relatives that insist on the same old menu each holiday? Will Aunt Francis refuse to attend if you don’t serve the family mashed potato recipe?

Face it, tradition always gets in the way of innovation. I want to share some ideas, inspirations, and methods from the professional kitchen that will become the start of a new holiday tradition this year.

As a child, my family tradition was the “twice baked” potato. This thanksgiving potato standard in my home was baked, mashed with butter, and returned to the skins to bake again. The thing I like about this type of potato dish is that it’s already mashed and flavored before the table.

I hate “potato surprise”. That’s when you cut an X in your baked potato; squeeze the sides, and surprise, the potato squishes out. Now, you have to wrestle with the butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, cheese, and other condiments to get them mashed on your plate. It’s a horrible mess!

My favorite “new” potato dish is actually hundreds of years old. Duchesse Potatoes are simply mashed potatoes stiffened with egg yolks and molded into forms with a pastry bag.

Start a new thanksgiving potato tradition by peeling, dicing, and simmering potatoes in liquid until they are very soft and crush easily under a fork. Drain the liquid and spread the potatoes on a baking sheet to be further dried in a 250F (121C) oven. Fully drying the potatoes is important to have them hold their shape when baked.

Duchesse Potatoes are special because they hold their shape. Egg yolks give them structure that makes this happen. I use 2 egg yolks per pound of cooked potatoes along with some salt and pepper.

The most important part of this procedure is that the potatoes must be fully cooled to below 165F (74C), the temperature at which the egg proteins will coagulate, making scrambled eggs. The cooled potatoes are pureed in a food processor, slowly adding the egg yolks to combine.

They should be sticky and look more like dough than mashed potatoes. If your Duchesse Potatoes are too wet, they won’t hold their shape on baking. Using a pastry bag, I pipe out spirals of potatoes on top of themselves that resemble small Christmas Trees. If I were to add green chives and red pimentos, I’d have a festive holiday plate-appeal.

The real advantage to Duchesse Potatoes as your new tradition is that you’ve created specific portions of thanksgiving potatoes instead of letting your guests shovel from a large, undefined bowl of mashed potatoes. This saves time, food, and money.

Duchesse Potatoes can be a new thanksgiving potato tradition in your household. They’re cooler than creamed, more magical than mashed, and beat baked any day of the year. You’ll just have to give Aunt Francis a big apology for the new inspirations on the table. The times-are-a-changin’, Aunt Francis.

What’s your family thanksgiving potato tradition? Leave a comment below:

Turn Holiday Cooking Stress into Holiday Cooking Success this year.

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About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.


  • Chef Todd
    Chef Todd
    7:05 PM - 28 November, 2012

    Thanks for the input Wally! You describe the traditional mashed potatoes. To add another level of flavor, try substituting chicken broth for the water that you steam them in. After all, nothing has less flavor than water.

    If your family are big eaters, you can also make a casserole out of the duchesse potatoes instead of piping them into shapes. The eggs will leaven the potatoes a bit, making a spud souffle!

    Happy holidays and happy cooking!

  • Wally
    5:32 PM - 28 November, 2012

    My family are all big eaters and each person would take at least a dozen of these things. So when I make mashed, I scrub about 5 to 8 pounds and remove the eyes and blemishes from each potato, then dice them - unpeeled - and cook in as little water as is practical. When done, drain them and reserve the liquid. Quickly, while they are still very warm, I beat them with the mixer, with about 1/2 pound of softened butter or margerine, 3/4 cup powdered coffee creamer, salt and pepper. To get the desired consistency, slowly add back the cooking liquid as needed. This salvages as much potato flavor and nutrients as possible and you can make them creamier to taste by adding more creamer.

  • cheftodd
    3:47 PM - 27 November, 2011

    Most potato dishes are baked at 350F.
    I can't really give you an amount of time for baking because every oven is different.
    Bake them until brown on the edges and soft and dry in the middle.

  • cheftodd
    3:45 PM - 27 November, 2011

    Hi Sally Anne!
    You cook the potatoes until they're done. That means when they are dry in the middle and brown on the edges. It should be obvious if you keep your eye on them.
    Yes, you can make them the day before and reheat them in the oven.

  • Sally Anne
    Sally Anne
    11:11 PM - 23 November, 2011

    How long to you cook it? Can you make it the day before? If so, how do you reheat?

  • Andrea
    5:26 PM - 22 November, 2011

    I oven roast yams until they're quite done and some of the sugars have actually burned through the poked holes in the skin. Cool down, scrape all the yam out of the skin, including the brown parts and mash with milk and butter, adding salt and pepper to taste. These can be served at once or refrigerated a day or two ahead of time and then reheated. When yams are on sale before Thanksgiving (we live in far western Montana where our growing season is much too short) I buy many pounds, prepare them, put into meal-sized portions and freeze to use during the rest of the year. Boy, do they taste great at Easter when yams are so expensive in this part of the country! They're another great go-to when the family wants something different.

  • Nancy
    3:08 PM - 22 November, 2011

    At what temperature do you bake the formed duchess potatoes? 250, as before , or ??? And for how long?

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  • Marlene
    11:44 PM - 26 November, 2010

    Hiya! Happy Thanksgiving!!! 🙂
    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and each yr I like to get into the mood-extend the holiday, since it were-by reading "Thanksgiving novels." Unsurprisingly, all these stories are mostly about family and friends, about coming together to heal old hurts and giving them thanks for the gift of love. ..... .. #
    Do You Think You're Better Off These days Than You Were 7 Yrs Ago?

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  • Ward
    2:43 PM - 5 November, 2010

    I understand the use of egg yolks, but why not whole egg(s)? What does adding the whites do to the mix?

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