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How Long Can Mashed Potatoes Sit out?

Posted in Food Safety on April 30, 2022

Mashed potatoes can sit out for two hours at room temperature. Any longer than that, they can enter the “danger zone,” which are unsafe temperatures that promote the growth of bacteria. If temperatures go above 90 °F, mashed potatoes can only sit out for one hour.

Why Can Mashed Potatoes Only Sit Out for Two Hours?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacteria that cause foodborne illness grow rapidly at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F (the danger zone). Therefore, limiting the time that food should sit out to two hours maximum is their recommendation for keeping food safe to consume. In the U.S., there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year that result in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. If you suffered serious complications, such as Guillain Barre Syndrome, from ingesting contaminated food, a food safety attorney can help.

Dairy Products

Dairy products such as butter and milk are often added to mashed potatoes. However, because dairy products have a lot of fat and very little water, bacteria can grow in them easily. That’s why butter, milk, cheese, etc. should be put back in the fridge as soon as possible because they spoil quickly.

How Long Can Mashed Potatoes Be Stored in the Fridge?

Mashed potatoes can last up to 3 to 5 days in the fridge when stored correctly. Placing them in an airtight container with a lid or a sealable plastic bag will help them last longer and stop bacteria from growing. Mashed potatoes can last anywhere from 10 to 12 months in the freezer if stored correctly. Use an airtight freezer-safe container to prevent freezer burn.

How to Tell if Mashed Potatoes Are Bad

There are a few ways to tell when mashed potatoes are spoiled:


When mashed potatoes are getting old, the liquid begins to separate from the solid. Initially, the liquid will look almost transparent, but with time, it will turn milky. In addition, the potatoes may change in color and texture.

Unpleasant Smell

Spoiled mashed potatoes might develop a sour odor. If this happens, they should be discarded.


The clearest sign that mashed potatoes are bad is if you see spots or patches of mold.

Because of the risks, a taste test is not recommended, especially if your mashed potatoes have been in the fridge longer than 3 to 5 days. However, if there are no other signs and you choose to taste them, throw them out if they taste sour.


Is it safe to eat mashed potatoes left out overnight?

No, mashed potatoes should be discarded if they are left out longer than two hours.

Why do mashed potatoes turn sour?

If you’ve added dairy to the mashed potatoes, they are at a heightened risk of turning sour. The dairy will turn and give them a sour flavor, and mold may even appear.

Why do mashed potatoes get sticky?

When you mash potatoes, starch is released in them, and the more you mash, the more starch there is. However, too much will make them sticky and unpleasant to eat.

Is it safe to reheat mashed potatoes?

You can reheat mashed potatoes before eating them. However, if they have sat out longer than two hours or are spoiled, reheating them will not kill off the bacteria.