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There is no more classic comfort food than potato and Thanksgiving would not be the same without this tuberous root vegetable. While it is doubtful that it the lowly potato made an appearance at the first Thanksgiving dinner in 1623, it has become virtually indispensable at the modern table.
While there are as many ways to serve potatoes as there are cooks, Thanksgiving calls for something special. For this celebration, throw dietary caution to the wind and indulge in this decadent baked potato casserole.
Filled with cheese, sauteed onions, bacon, and sour cream, leftovers of this delicious and filling side dish can be transformed into a full meal the next day by adding a few simple ingredients.
Thanksgiving Baked Potato Casserole
- 10 baking potatoes (use potatoes that are roughly the same shape and size so they will finish cooking at the same time and will cook evenly.)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 cups half-and-half cream
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- ½ lb thick cut bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups french fried onions
- Sour cream
- Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thoroughly scrub each potato and dry them. Using a fork, prick each potato four or five times on each side, about 1 inch apart.
- Place the potatoes on the middle or top rack of the oven and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Do not rub the skin with butter or oil, as the skin will become too soft.
- After 20 minutes, turn the potatoes over and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.
- Remove one potato from the oven and check for doneness. The skin should be crisp and the inside tender with a temperature of about 210 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the potatoes in half and use a fork to scrape the tender flesh out of the potato skins into a large bowl. Reserve the skins for later use.
- Add the butter, half-and-half, salt and pepper and mix together. It is perfectly fine if the potatoes have some small lumps in them. Cover the bowl and set aside.
- Cut the thick slab bacon into 2 inch pieces and fry in a skillet until the bacon is fully cooked and crisp, but not burned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and allow to drain.
- Discard the bacon grease, leaving 2 tablespoons of grease in the pan.
- Heat the skillet, add the yellow and red onions to the pan, and saute until the onions are melted and caramelized.
- Butter a large casserole dish, at least 9”x13”x3”
- Place half the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the casserole. Top with half the bacon, half the onions, a few sprinkles of chives, and 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese. Repeat layer, ending with the cheddar cheese.
- Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from oven, uncover, and top with ¾cup of French fried onions.
- Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve with sour cream, extra chives and extra French fried onions for garnish.
The day after Thanksgiving no one feels like cooking. This casserole can be remade by adding slices or chunks of leftover turkey and vegetables!
Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole
Smooth the leftover potato casserole onto the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Add a layer of leftover corn kernels, turnip, green beans, or even leftover green bean casserole. On top of this layer, place slices or chunks of leftover turkey. Heat up any leftover gravy (you can also use jarred gravy) and pour over the turkey, making sure some of the gravy seeps down into the rest of the casserole.
Sprinkle with some french fried onions, cover and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes until the layers are heated through and the flavors are combined. Remove cover and bake 10 more minutes until onions are crispy. Serve hot with leftover cranberry sauce for a delicious and easy meal.
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