Chances are you’ll be making mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. Not only are they crowd-satisfying, but the starchy, absorbent blend also functions wonderfully as a gravy moat, a buttery spread for dry turkey gone-wrong and a sponge for every flavor on a full plate, from cranberry sauce to maple-y yam jus. But is that all a potato can do—blur into the holiday spread? The F&W Test Kitchen doesn’t think so. Here, five easy upgrades to this classic side that are still as comforting as ever.

By Justin Chapple
Updated June 16, 2017

Fold in mayonnaise.
Whether you mash with a ricer or smash potatoes with a fork, there’s one surefire way to make them even creamier: mayo. Even the store-bought stuff, when folded in, lends an irresistible richness and luscious texture. If you’re down with that, try these crazy-good Rich & Creamy Mashed Potatoes.

Swap the potato.
The buttery texture and sweetness of sweet potatoes make them an ideal accompaniment to traditional and nontraditional Thanksgiving menus. They’re often found covered in marshmallows or drizzled with maple syrup, which is perfectly delicious. But this version is a little more elegant: Vanilla Bean-Whipped Sweet Potatoes.

Punch up the heat.
From spicy chiles to Sriracha, Americans love heat. Smoked hot paprika (a.k.a. pimentón de la Vera) will add that, along with a subtle smoky flavor. It can be stirred in or sprinkled on top. Hot sauce, like Tabasco, blends easily with room-temperature butter to serve at the table. But if you’re looking for something a little more interesting, these phenomenal sweet potatoes are whipped with harissa, a fiery Tunisian spice paste.

Top them with something crunchy.
Even if you’re set on the classic blend of white potatoes and butter, or if you’ve saved a little time by picking them up at the deli—try accessorizing mashed potatoes with chopped crispy bacon or fried shallots. The toppings are familiar but add fantastic texture. Here, try these ultra-fluffy Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallots.

Add a root.
Combining various root vegetables in one pan has long been a tradition when roasting, but incorporating them into mashed potatoes adds flavor and health benefits. Think parsnips, celery root and turnips. Just enough will magnify the earthy flavor of the potatoes, while keeping the dish totally classic and nostalgic.