How long are leftover mashed potatoes good for?

Mashed or smashed potatoes, however you like to call them, are super delicious dishes to pair up with meat or vegetables. You can even incorporate them as ingredients in dumplings and gnocchi. And whichever variety you’re making, whether the French or non-diary, Indian or British, mashed potatoes will always retain their signature consistency and heartiness, which is everything that i love about them.

Despite all the good about mashed potatoes, they still never store nearly as long as i would’ve wanted them to in the refrigerator, which is something that always puts me off. Here’s how long left over mashed potatoes are good for.

Leftover mashed potatoes are good for no more than four days in the refrigerator when packaged in an airtight container and popped inside within two hours of cooking (bringing down from the heat). In the freezer however, mashed potatoes can last nearly indefinitely, yet, they’re best purposed within one month of storage as that’s when they’ll taste anything near their former self without any extra fortification during thawing.

Storing mashed potatoes in the refrigerator

Whatever kind of cook you are, either a minimalist or a crowd-pleaser, i believe a leftover mashed potato is something you’ll always run into so long you make them in your house. Keeping them on the counter isn’t really an option just so you know. Because pathogenic bacteria can easily thrive inside the potato as it cools and may present their health effects whenever you consume them.

So the best place to store mashed potatoes is inside the refrigerator, or the freezer, and the best time to do so is within two hours after bringing them down from the heat. At this stage, the pathogenic bacteria are yet to multiply in a scary number that has the potential of making you go green around the gills.

Whenever you pop mashed potatoes inside the fridge, there are a couple of things that you need to note. First is that the potatoes storage time is a function of the ingredients in the potato. So a diary based mashed potato, by virtue of its diary contents, wouldn’t last nearly as long and then preserve flavor as the non-diary variation that employs the use of soup stock or broth. Just as mashed potato made with raw eggs wouldn’t either.

Second is that there might be a change in texture and flavor of the potato depending on quality of potatoes you started with and also of other ingredients? So make sure to put that at the back of your mind prior to storing mashed potatoes.

So with all the preliminaries aside, how do you store leftover mashed potatoes in the refrigerator?

  1. First, it has to be within the first two hours after cooking. Anything outside that, and chances are you’ll be freezing with a whole load of bacteria willing to enter into coma and then revive back during thawing!
  2. Turn on the temperature setting of the fridge to the lowest (coldest) to facilitate faster cooling of the food and thus preventing bacterial growth.
  3. Transfer the mashed potatoes into shallow containers no deeper than 3 inches or airtight Ziploc bags. This ensures faster cooling.
  4. Use the sink cooling method to cool the mashed potatoes faster within the two hours threshold you have. To do that, fill quarter of the sink with iced water and transfer the shallow container into it. Only transfer the bottom and not the entire container and its content! Then, use a ladle or spoon to constantly whirl the mashed potatoes to release heat faster, until potato is at or below 70 F. For Ziploc bags, transfer everything except the seal area. Alternatively, you can use a cooling paddle to cool mashed potatoes in a shallow container.
  5. Transfer mashed potatoes in shallow containers without their cover inside the refrigerator until the internal temperature of the food reaches 40F. Then cover the lid very well and then let it to continue cooling. For mashed potatoes inside Ziploc bags, just store them as they are.
  6. Store mashed potatoes inside the refrigerator for no longer than 4 days, but makes sure to consistently check on your mashed potatoes and discard them when you notice your mashed potatoes growing mold or smelling funny even before expiration of the 4 days period.

Storing mashed potatoes in the freezer

Mashed potatoes in the freezer store indefinitely when kept below 0F, except that they lose on some of their quality with time. So the longer you store them inside the freezer, the more work you’ll have to do to revive the mashed potato when it’s thawing time. And all efforts could prove fruitless in the end. Everything depends on what quality you started with and also on the type of ingredients you employed in the first place.

To store mashed potatoes in the freezer, you have to work with the two hour rule also. Cool those using the procedures outlined for refrigeration above, and then stuff inside a Ziploc bag and flatten the out for space. Store in the freezer not stacked on top of the other first to turn them to blocks, then stack one on top of the other to minimize space.

Keep mashed potatoes indefinitely but use within first month for best results.

How to reheat mashed potatoes

It’s one thing to know how to store leftover mashed potatoes and it’s another to know how to properly reheat them.

For the golden rule, always reheat mashed potatoes from frozen, and ensure its done on the stove top. You can do it in the oven but I don’t see why to do so there when you have a stove top to make things easier. Whatever you end up doing however, make sure you’re not using the microwave for the purpose, especially for mashed potatoes that have been frozen for long and have lost which can develop a dry texture due to loss of water and also a gluey texture due to overheating or high temperature heating.

To reheat, thaw frozen mashed potatoes in the refrigerator overnight, (or for six hours) depending on how thick you loaded them in the Ziploc bag. Transfer to a pan heated on a stove top and make sure it’s on medium heat.  Add liquids like broth, stock, milk, cream, half and half or butter milk butter to attempt to revive the dish and prevent drying. A good rule of thumb is to start with ½ cups for every 4 cups mashed potatoes and stir in gently until you arrive at the consistency you like, definitely not potato soup. Make sure to stir consistently to prevent sticking and ensure even heat distribution.

For oven, mix in the liquids, then spread the mashed potato on a baking dish. Reheat at 350 F until potatoes reach 165F internal temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if mashed potatoes are bad?

  1. Spoilt mashed potato will definitely have an off taste to them. Now, no one is ever advised to have a taste of any mashed potato that looks nothing like the real deal.
  2. A spoilt mashed potato will look bad or moldy.
  3. A spoilt mashed potato will smell nothing like the catchy aroma of a healthy mashed potato.

What happens if you eat bad mashed potatoes?

When you eat bad mashed potatoes, there is a chance you could get sick. But it’s minimal since most spoilage bacteria found in food items aren’t harmful. When you eat a mashed potato colonized by pathogenic bacteria however, which by the way, wouldn’t show any visible signs of spoilage, then your chances of getting sick is pretty high as pathogenic bacteria are known to cause food poisoning.

Can mashed potatoes cause food poisoning?

Yes, mashed potatoes can cause food poisoning when left to sit out for longer than two hours. This give enough time for pathogenic bacteria to quickly multiply which can cause serious side effects when ingested.

How long can mashed potatoes stay out?

Mashed potatoes should only be allowed ot stay out after cooking for no more than 2 hours. This is a preventive measure to keep the population of pathogenic bacteria in the food from exploding to health threatening levels.

How long are mashed sweet potatoes good for?

Sweet mashed potatoes are good for no longer than 3 to 4 day in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer. As with mashed potatoes, sweet mashed potatoes should also not be allowed to sit on the counter for more than 2 hours.

Can I eat a week old mashed potato?

No, avoid eating a week old mashed potatoes as it can already have a thriving population of pathogenic bacteria that will cause you food poisoning. And a week old mashed potato will likely be already spoilt anyways!

Final Verdict

Leftover mashed potatoes are only good for less than 2 hours on the counter and no more than 4 hours in the fridge. Inside the freezer however, mashed potatoes can be kept indefinitely but the texture and flavor will be affected.

How bad they’ll be affected depends on the quality of potatoes you began with and also the ingredients in the food. Diary based mashed potatoes tend to lose the most flavor whereas stock based mashed potatoes are quite manageable even after long time of freezer storage.

To store mashed potatoes in the fridge

  1. Cool them on the counter for no more than 2 hours. Use cooling techniques like cooling paddle or ice bath to achieve faster results.
  2. Transfer mashed potatoes to shallow containers no more than 3 inches deep and store in the fridge for no more than 4 days.

To store mashed potatoes in the freezer:

  1. Transfer mashed potatoes into Ziploc bags and make sure the sealing is air tight.
  2. Flatten bags and store indefinitely.