Mashed Sweet Potatoes

updated Sep 20, 2023
christmas

An easy, step-by-step guide to making creamy mashed sweet potatoes sweetened with maple syrup.

Serves8 to 10

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 30 minutes

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Pumpkin and butternut squash seem to hog all the attention this time of year, but when it comes to orange-hued vegetables, I actually prefer the humble sweet potato. I’ll take sweet potatoes any which way, but at my Thanksgiving table I prefer mashed sweet potatoes.

Actually, a step beyond mashed: I like ’em whipped until they’re impossibly creamy and fluffy, which is the method I’m sharing here. Cooking them in plenty of toasty brown butter and rich dairy (and finishing them with maple syrup) doesn’t hurt either. Here’s how to make the very best mashed sweet potatoes.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

For Easier (and Better) Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Skip the Oven

Some mashed sweet potato recipes call for baking the potatoes in the oven first, then slipping them out of their skins and mashing them. This recipe comes together entirely on the stovetop, which not only frees up space in the oven, but also makes for superior results.

Cooking the potatoes on the stove in a Dutch oven rather than baking them in the oven means you get to flavor the liquid they’re simmered in. Here, we’re cooking the potatoes in a cozy bath of nutty brown butter and half-and-half or whole milk until they’re meltingly tender. Instead of being water-logged, they’re infused with butter and dairy, which only means creamier, more flavorful results. And you don’t even have to drain them. As soon as they’re tender, you mash them directly in the cooking liquid.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

3 Keys to Superior Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is naturally unfussy, but a few smart tips ensure this mash is the best of the best.

  1. Choose your dairy based on occasion. For an everyday mash, I prefer whole milk. The results are perfectly creamy but not over the top. If you’re preparing this recipe for the holidays, however, half-and-half will give you the rich decadence you crave.
  2. No, you don’t need a ricer. Ricing white potatoes ensures they won’t end up gummy when mashed. But for less-starchy sweet potatoes, a regular potato masher works perfectly. Here, a whisk also helps create a light and airy texture.
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors. Maple syrup adds signature fall flavor to these mashed sweet potatoes, but if you’d rather let the natural sweetness of the vegetable shine, feel free to omit it. The mash is wonderful with just butter, dairy, salt, and pepper alone, or you could lean more savory and add a few pinches of ground cumin or several generous gratings of Parmesan cheese.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes Recipe

An easy, step-by-step guide to making creamy mashed sweet potatoes sweetened with maple syrup.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds

    sweet potatoes (5 to 6 medium or 4 large)

  • 6 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    half-and-half or whole milk, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Equipment

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Chef's knife and cutting board

  • Large pot

  • Potato masher

  • Whisk or wooden spoon or spatula

Instructions

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  1. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes. Peel 4 pounds sweet potatoes, then cut them into chunks that are no larger than 1-inch.

  2. Sauté the sweet potatoes in butter. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and sauté until glossy, more vibrant in color, and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

  3. Simmer the sweet potatoes. Add 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer gently, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or burning, until the sweet potatoes are very tender and beginning to fall apart, 20 to 25 minutes. The half-and-half or milk may curdle in this process but that’s okay — it will smooth out with mashing.

  4. Mash the sweet potatoes. Remove the pot from the heat. Use a potato masher to mash the sweet potatoes in the pot until mostly smooth with a few small chunks remaining.

  5. Whip the sweet potatoes. Add 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Switch to a sturdy whisk and whisk vigorously until whipped and lightened in texture, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The mashed sweet potatoes can be made up to a few days ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat over medium-low heat, adding a splash or two of milk as needed to bring them back to their creaminess. While this post is written for regular mashed potatoes, the same tips can be applied to reheating and keeping warm mashed sweet potatoes.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. This post is a great guide to freezer storage instructions.

Flavor options: Honey can be substituted for the maple syrup. For a more savory mash, skip the sweetener and add spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, etc) or grated Parmesan cheese.