Recipe: Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk & Vanilla Bean

published Oct 4, 2012
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk & Vanilla Bean
Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

These whipped sweet potatoes are a great recipe when you need to get out of a vegetable rut. They’re a little more dressed up than the average weeknight side so think of them as a minimalist dish for your holiday feast. With coconut milk for interest and richness, and a swirl of vanilla bean paste, consider adding this to the Thanksgiving table when you want something on the sweeter side that still leaves the marshmallows out of the equation.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

A Just Rich Enough Recipe For Sweet Potatoes

These whipped sweet potatoes stand right between the holiday potatoes covered with marshmallows and the simpler dishes we save for weekday dinner. First you roast them to bring out their natural sweetness, and then you add layers of flavor to bring a bit more complexity. But that’s where you stop — no marshmallows, cornflakes, or pecan streusels in sight. This recipe meets right in the middle of my extremes. I played around with a few unexpected ingredients in order to reach maximum flavor potential. So instead of regular milk or heavy cream, I used more-interesting coconut milk. It doesn’t bring big coconut flavor to the sweet potatoes, it just adds a little something extra.

The other unusual addition is vanilla bean paste, instead of plain old vanilla extract. My addiction to this magical product is showing no signs of stopping, and with the brand new quart that recently arrived on my doorstep, I might as well put it in everything! Lastly, the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt are there to round out the flavors; use your judgement when seasoning. I suggest tasting the cooked sweet potatoes before settling on a sugar amount — some are often much sweeter than others. The cinnamon shouldn’t overwhelm the dish, and the salt should go unnoticed. Basically, just follow your instincts.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk & Vanilla Bean

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds

    sweet potatoes (about 4 to 5 medium)

  • 1/2 cup

    coconut milk (or whole milk or cream)

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons

    packed brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)

  • Ground cinnamon, to taste

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves or coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes a few times with a sharp knife. Place them on the baking sheet and roast until tender and a knife easily pricks through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside to cool until cool enough to handle.

  3. Halve the potatoes lengthwise, scoop of the flesh, and run the flesh through a potato ricer or food mill into a large bowl.

  4. Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, butter, vanilla bean paste, a few dashes of cinnamon, and a generous pinch of salt in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

  5. Add the warmed milk mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, into the potatoes, and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth and fluffy. (You may not use all of the milk mixture.)

  6. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sugar, cinnamon, or salt as needed. Serve immediately. Garnish with the parsley or coconut flakes if using.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: This recipe can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat (or keep warm), place the bowl of potatoes over a bowl of simmering water, stirring occasionally.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.