These creamy mashed potatoes use less butter and lighter milk than traditional versions. Their smooth texture and browned Parmesan cheese topping will make an impressive showing on your Thanksgiving table.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that loves butter and cream. Admittedly, you can't beat a dish rich with butter. However, it is possible to make a traditional side dish lighter, such as mashed potatoes, without sacrificing flavor. One of the tricks to making the mashed potatoes smooth without adding extra butter is to use a potato ricer, food mill or hand-held mixer. Paired with a golden brown topping of crunchy breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, these potatoes are sure to be a hit at your Thanksgiving feast.

mashed potatoes with parmesan cheese collage

Make-Ahead^ Prepare the potatoes and breadcrumbs several hours in advance. Store them in the refrigerator covered, until 30 minutes before you are ready to bake them. Before serving, cover the potatoes with foil and reheat them in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Then, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the potatoes and bake as directed in the recipe.

Variations^ For a different flavor, replace the Parmesan cheese with goat cheese or Gorgonzola. Alternatively, replace the parsley with chopped fresh thyme or sage.

Mashed potatoes with Parmesan cheese topping

Serves 6 to 8


  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and set the saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes, return to the saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring the potatoes until dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep the potatoes warm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 7- by 11-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter, milk, remaining salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted. Reduce the heat to low.
  5. If you have a food mill or potato ricer, process the potatoes into the saucepan. Otherwise, beat the potatoes with a hand mixer in a large bowl, then add to the saucepan.
  6. Stir the potatoes into the milk mixture until completely combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish.
  7. In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture over the potatoes.
  8. Bake the potatoes until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.

mashed potatoes

Other Thanksgiving entertaining tips

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