How Much Mashed Potatoes Do You Need for 30 People?


Mashed potato with butter and milk on table
Mashed potatoes with butter and milk on a table.

Mashed potatoes are an easy-to-make side dish that’s loved by all. However, because mashed potatoes are so well-loved, making enough for a large group gets complicated.

When catering to large groups, plan on each person eating about half a pound of mashed potatoes as a side dish. To serve 30 people, about 15 pounds of mashed potatoes will be needed. If mashed potatoes are the main dish, then the serving sizes may need to be doubled.

Preparing a meal for a large group can be very stressful. It is nearly impossible to perfectly predict how much mashed potatoes each guest will eat, and no one wants to deal with the stress of running out or having too many leftovers. Learn the perfect amount of mashed potatoes to bring to your next gathering by reading below:

How Much Mashed Potatoes Per Person

Mashed potatoes are often the star of the meal. Because people like mashed potatoes so much, they frequently go back for seconds or even thirds. Because of this, no one wants to be the host who ran out of mashed potatoes. This combination complicates meal planning. Too little and guests may complain, too much, and you will be stuck with the leftovers!

Avoid these problems by serving the perfect (or nearly perfect) amount of mashed potatoes. When serving mashed potatoes as a side dish to a large group, assume each person will eat about half a pound (one cup). While this may not sound like enough to prepare, the mashed potatoes are merely a side dish. In most cases, mashed potatoes are an addition to the main course, not the other way around.

So how many potatoes do you need to buy to serve mashed potatoes to a group of 30? Check out the following table to find the number of potatoes needed for various group sizes.

Group SizeAmount of Potatoes Needed
10 people5 pounds
15 people7.5 pounds
20 people10 pounds
25 people12.5 pounds
30 people15 pounds
Source: Calculate ThisOpens in a new tab.

As you can see, for 30 people you need about 15 pounds of potatoes. With this number in mind, you may be dreading your trip to the grocery store. Do not fret! Potatoes are often on sale or listed as the grocery store’s loss-leader (a product sold below cost to get you to purchase other items). The low price of potatoes means you do not have to break the bank to make this meal!

If your group of 30 is known to eat lots of mashed potatoes, consider adding a few extra potatoes to the mix. It is also wise to account for about five or so additional people. You never know when someone will bring a guest of their own. Planning for these situations will reduce the risk of running out. Increasing your group size by five will not significantly increase the cost of your mashed potatoes either. As mentioned earlier, potatoes are one of the cheaper items at the grocery store.

Depending on the type of event, you may even ask guests to pitch in towards the cost of food. Having others pay for parts of the meal will further reduce your grocery costs.

While at the grocery store, it is easy to pick out a 10 pound and a 5-pound bag of potatoes to get the perfect amount. But what should you do if they only sell 10 pound or 20 bound bags? What if you are using potatoes from your garden?

Chances are, you do not have a scale to calculate the proper weight of potatoes. In this instance, you will need to estimate the weight you are using by the number of potatoes. It takes about three medium-sized russet potatoes to equal one pound. So how many potatoes do you need to serve your large group? Take a look at the chart below.

Group SizeNumber of Potatoes Needed
10 people15 potatoes
15 people23 potatoes
20 people30 potatoes
25 people38 potatoes
30 people45 potatoes

This measurement will not be exact since each potato will not weigh the same amount. If you are using smaller potatoes, the number per pound will increase.

You may be wondering, “should I adjust the amount of mashed potatoes if kids are coming?” In short, no. Children usually eat about the same amount of mashed potatoes as an adult would. Sometimes the kids even eat more if they are not fans of the main course.

Whether or not you peel the potatoes for your mashed potatoes is up to you. Each guest will have their personal preference. Leaving the skins on the potatoes will reduce the amount of cooking time you need, plus some people like the appearance and the texture. However, peeled potatoes will make a smoother, creamier batch of mashed potatoes.

Think about the main course of the meal. Would a smoother texture compliment it or not? Would it taste better with a more rustic style of potatoes?

Not interested in cooking from scratch? No worries, you can still prep mashed potatoes for your group of 30 people with instant mashed potatoes. But how much instant mashed potatoes do you need for a group of 30? Surely you do not need 15 pounds. Check out the table to find out how much instant mashed potatoes you need for groups of varying sizes.

Group SizeAmount of Instant Mashed Potatoes Needed
10 people6.6 oz (0.42 pounds)
15 people9.9 oz (0.62 pounds)
20 people13.2 oz (0.83 pounds)
25 people16.5 oz (1.04 pounds)
30 people19.8 oz (1.24 pounds)
Source: Calculate ThisOpens in a new tab.

As you can see, you need significantly fewer instant mashed potatoes than you would fresh potatoes. Fifteen pounds of instant mashed potatoes could make enough to serve almost 400 people!

If serving multiple types of starches (ex. fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, etc.), you will not need 1/2 pound of each item. Instead, divide the 15 pounds of potatoes over your various potato items. While we all do our best to prepare the perfect amount, you may end up with some leftovers. You do not have to throw these leftover potatoes out. Use leftover potatoes to make other recipes such as shepherd’s pie or pierogies.

Need some new recipes for your party’s leftover mashed potatoes? Check out these 35 recipes from Taste of HomeOpens in a new tab..

If you are not ready to eat the leftover mashed potatoes, place them in a Ziploc bag. Once cool, seal the bag and store them in the freezer. The mashed potatoes will last for up to 2 months before expiration.

Serving Mashed Potatoes to a Large Group

Mashed potatoes in a big wooden bowl.
Mashed potatoes in a big wooden bowl.

Now that you know how much mashed potatoes you need to prepare for your group of 30, you may be left wondering how to serve it all. While it would be easy to present the mashed potatoes from their cook pot, this will not keep them warm for long, nor does it look very professional.

Many choose to serve their mashed potatoes out of a crockpot. Crockpots allow guests to dish their food and keep the mashed potatoes warm throughout the entire dinner. You can even cook your mashed potatoes early and keep them warm until mealtime in a crockpot.

If you do not have access to a crockpot, there are other ways to keep the potatoes warm until serving time. After the mashed potatoes finish cooking, scrape them into their serving bowl (this should be metal or glass).

Place a small pot of water on the stove to simmer. Cover the mashed potatoes with plastic wrap and set the bowl on top of the heated saucepan. The steam will heat the potatoes. Stir your potatoes occasionally until serving.

If you do not want to cook the entire meal in one day, cook the mashed potatoes a few days in advance. As mentioned earlier, mashed potatoes stored in the freezer last for up to 2 months. All you need to do on the day of the event is reheat the mashed potatoes.

Reheat frozen mashed potatoes in the oven. Set the range to 375°F. While the oven warms, pour the mashed potatoes into a casserole dish and cover with foil. After 25 minutes, remove the foil and stir the potatoes. If the potatoes look a little dry, add some milk. The mashed potatoes will finish cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes.

You can also reheat the frozen mashed potatoes in a pot of boiling cream or milk. Add butter and spices (we prefer garlic and salt) to the heated mashed potatoes. Follow these cooking methods, and your mashed potatoes are sure to be a hit!

No matter what method you use to serve your mashed potatoes, only start them about an hour before the meal. If the mashed potatoes are left to warm for several hours, they can dry out. Once guests start to arrive, you need to decide how they will get their food. Will all dishes be self-served? Will some items be self-served while you monitor the serving size of others? Are the mashed potatoes and gravy going to be self-served?

If you are worried about running out of mashed potatoes, it is best to serve guests yourself. Use a measuring cup to ensure every guest gets the same amount. After every guest has received their first serving, you can leave the mashed potatoes to be self-served.

If you think you made too much-mashed potatoes, allow guests to serve themselves throughout the entire meal. Each guest will take a larger or smaller serving their first time around (chances are they will get a larger serving and still come back for a smaller serving). You can also offer to send leftovers home with guests if they really loved it!

What to Serve with Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes with gravy as a side dish.

As mentioned earlier, mashed potatoes are usually used as a complement to the main dish. But what main dishes should you serve alongside mashed potatoes? You can serve mashed potatoes with most forms of protein, including turkey breasts, meatloaf, roast hams, chicken, pork chops, and steaks. Other side dishes to compliment mashed potatoes include corn (classic or cream style), steamed peas, salad, stuffing,

That is right. Mashed potatoes are good for more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas. Serve your mashed potatoes alongside many different entrees and side dishes. Regardless of the main dish and side dishes, another item must be present when serving mashed potatoes. This item is gravy.

Mashed potatoes and gravy are a no-brainer. Not only does gravy give flavor to the mashed potatoes, but it can help the meal stretch further. In other words, you can serve less to more people.

Plan on serving about 1/3 cup of gravy for each person. What does this amount to for your large group? Check out the table below to find out!

Group SizeAmount of Gravy Needed
10 people3.13 Cups
15 people5 Cups
20 people6.25 Cups
25 people8 Cups
30 people9.4 Cups
Source: Calculate ThisOpens in a new tab.

For a group of 30, you will need about nine and a half cups of gravy. You can always make extra gravy to be served on top of the meal’s protein as well. While mashed potatoes and gravy are a delicious combination, not everyone will choose to combine the two. If you end up with leftover gravy, you can use it on top of your protein as well. You can also use leftover gravy on top of your meat source to add extra flavor and moisture. You can also freeze it and reheat it for use in a variety of other recipes.

The type of gravy you make will depend on the main course. If you are serving country fried steak, serve country gravy on the mashed potatoes. However, if your main course is meatloaf, use beef gravy instead.

You could also serve your mashed potatoes more like a baked potato with a mashed potato bar. Include toppings such as butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, cheese, and more. This mashed potato bar allows each guest to customize their meal. Mashed potato bars can be served as a main dish or as a side to a larger entree.

In general, mashed potatoes are just a side dish. However, this does not mean they are not a crucial part of the meal. Making enough mashed potatoes for a group as large as 30 may seem like a hassle; however, with the advice above, you can rest assured there will be plenty of potatoes for each guest.

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