The combination of buttery Yukon gold potatoes, cream cheese, and a crunchy cheesy browned topping makes a delicious and fancy holiday side dish. This vegetarian Mashed Potato Casserole is a great make ahead dish that’s also great as leftovers!
It’s a fancy mashed potatoes side dish that’s great to serve at holiday dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s also just as welcome on the weeknight dinner table! This dish will end up being the highlight of any meal!
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Holiday side dish
Mashed potatoes are a requirement on the Thanksgiving table. So why not make it easy on yourself and make it ahead of time. And, make it delicious!
I think that it’s important to serve the right kind of mashed potatoes on thanksgiving.
They should be creamy and delicious enough to stand on their own, but not so overpowering that they don’t go with turkey and gravy. And this casserole is just that – perfectly balanced for the holiday table.
Healthy lower calorie side dish
This easy to make casserole is lower in calories than many mashed potato recipes because it uses the potato cooking liquid as the main liquid for the mashed potatoes.
And you can feel better about this one because there’s no heavy cream or saturated fat filled butter to weigh it down either.
How to make this dish
Be sure to scroll down for to the recipe card for detailed amounts and instructions.
Peel and slice the potatoes. Slicing the potatoes, rather than cutting them into cubes, allows them to cook more evenly.
Place peeled and sliced potatoes and salt in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until tender. Drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
Press cooked potato through a potato ricer or a food mill into a large bowl. Or mash the potatoes with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Stir in reserved ½ cup cooking liquid, garlic powder, remaining salt, and cream cheese.
Now is the time to taste the potatoes. Are they salty enough for you? Should you add salt and maybe a little white pepper for more spice? Remember, you can always add more salt but you can never take it out, so the recipe is written for everyone.
Are the potatoes moist enough? Some spuds are naturally just dryer than others, so the amount of potato cooking liquid you may want can vary. If they are not moist enough, mix in a little more potato cooking liquid.
Place the mashed potatoes in a casserole dish that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake, uncovered until thoroughly heated.
Combine shredded cheese and panko; sprinkle evenly over top of potatoes. Broil 4 minutes or until golden brown. Keep a close eye on the casserole under the broiler, it can burn quickly.
Sprinkle with chives or chopped green onion.
Make it your own Potato Casserole
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Do you prefer lumpy mashed potatoes? Or smooth ones? Go with your choice here.
Everyone seems to have preferences in terms of how they mash theirs.
You can also use a hand mixer or stand mixer as long as you don’t overbeat the potatoes. The more you work the potatoes, the more starch gets released. When too much starch gets released, the potatoes become gummy or gluey. And never use a food processor (far too powerful and will overwork the potatoes).
Mix up the topping
Feel free to use Asiago or Parmesan on top. Or, use whatever you have in your fridge. Cheddar, Manchego, Romano, Granada Padano, the choice is yours. Smoked Gouda would be a fun twist as well!
Toss some green onions, chives, or fresh oregano on the top to garnish.
Try mixing in some green onions, bacon, bacos, or pancetta into the potatoes themselves before baking to make it more of a main dish.
Want to make a loaded mashed potato casserole? Simply top the casserole with some bacon and those green onions. Maybe add a dollop of sour cream on each serving!
Can I prepare this Mashed Potato Casserole Ahead of Time?
The holidays can get a little hectic (and that’s putting it mildly). So, making this simple Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole can help out.
You can prepare this dish a day or two before. Cook and mash the potatoes, add them to the casserole dish, allow it to cool completely. Then cover it and pop it in the fridge. Mix the cheese and panko together and store them in a ziptop bag in the fridge so it’s ready to go as well.
Before you’re ready to serve, take the casserole out of the fridge, uncover it, and pop it in the oven.
If you’re starting from a cold casserole, you’ll want to add about 10-15 minutes to the bake time.
Sprinkle the panko-cheese mixture on top and broil as directed.
This casserole also reheats great as leftovers, and everyone love thanksgiving leftovers! Reheat the leftovers in the microwave or in the oven.
Potato Side Dish
I made this casserole the other day to serve with my husband’s Braised Beef with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes. He had dinner and a couple days’ worth of great lunches out of it. It was a great meal!
Meat and Potatoes, I guess. But this simple little potato casserole has a fancy little shine to it. That crispy cheesy crust on the top just makes it so special.
I’ve also made this Casserole for a simple dinner with seared tofu and Caramelized Broccoli.
Make it a meal
Fancy casserole recipes
Looking for other fancy casserole recipes or fancy potato recipes?
These dishes will be welcome on any table! Try my Roasted Potato Stacks, Fancy Green bean casserole made with fresh green beans and homemade cream of mushroom soup, Potato broccoli casserole, and zucchini stuffing casserole.
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Mashed Potato Casserole Recipe
Mashed Potato Casserole
- 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt divided use
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 ounces Asiago or Parmesan cheese grated (about 1/2 cup)
- ½ cup panko Japanese breadcrumbs
- thinly sliced chives or green onions for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander over a 2-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup, or similar sized bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
- Press cooked potato through a potato ricer or a food mill into a large bowl. Or mash the potatoes with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Stir in reserved ½ cup cooking liquid, garlic powder, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cream cheese.
- Taste mashed potatoes for salt and moisture content, adding more salt or cooking liquid if desired.
- Spoon potato mixture into a broiler-safe 2.5 liter casserole dish or ceramic baking dish that's been sprayed with cooking spray, and bake, uncovered, at 350° F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
- Preheat broiler to 450° F.
- Combine Asiago and panko; sprinkle evenly over top of potatoes. Broil 4 minutes or until golden brown. Keep a close eye on the casserole under the broiler, it can burn quickly. Sprinkle with chives.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.