Mashed Sweet Potatoes need only herbs, butter, and just a touch of brown sugar to really shine. This one-pot recipe always delivers delicious results, and is a perfect side to work into your weeknight routine.
This recipe lets the natural flavor and texture of sweet potatoes come through, without a lot of added sugar, which is why I love it. Of course, it’s perfect for holiday dinners, but it’s also easy enough to make on any given Tuesday or Wednesday, too.
They really do give regular mashed potatoes a run for their money. One taste, and you’ll be buying big bags of sweet potatoes instead of just one or two, every once in awhile.
- Sweet potatoes: Use orange, white or purple sweet potatoes. What about yams? At most grocery stores, yams and sweet potatoes are the same. Years ago, farmers renamed the potatoes to “yams” as a marketing schtick. True yams have bark-like skin and much more starch content similar to a Russet potato. They are found in specialty grocery stores and used in Caribbean and West African cooking.
- First, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1/2” thick slices. Add them to a large saucepan with a little water, fresh thyme, salt, and brown sugar.
- Cook them covered over low heat until the potatoes are fork tender and even falling apart at the edges—25 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye out–the water should be mostly absorbed when they’re finished. Remove the potatoes from the heat and mash them (a masher or fork is fine) until you get your desired consistency.
- Stir in the half-and-half and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Recipe tips and variations:
- Peel before boiling: They’ll cook much faster without the peel. Boiling sweet potatoes whole with skin takes a lot longer, and needs more water. I also slice them to speed up the cooking time.
- Make ahead: Make them a day or two ahead and store in the refrigerator until you need them. To reheat, bake in the oven at 325 degrees until hot throughout. Stir in a little extra cream or butter, and serve.
- Reheating: Place the potatoes into a microwave-safe container. Stir a little extra cream into the potatoes, and microwave at 50% power for 2 to 3 minutes until hot throughout.
More mashed potatoes:
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 4 small, see note 1)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (see note 2)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar packed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons half-and-half warmed (see note 3)
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- In a large saucepan over low heat, add sweet potatoes, water, thyme, sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until the potatoes fall apart easily and all the water has been absorbed, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Mash the potatoes until just a few lumps remain. Stir in the half-and-half and butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Sweet potatoes: Use orange, white or purple sweet potatoes. What about yams? At most grocery stores, yams and sweet potatoes are the same. Years ago, farmers renamed the potatoes to "yams" as a marketing schtick. True yams have bark-like skin and much more starch content similar to a Russet potato.
- Thyme: Fresh (or dried) thyme taste great with sweet potatoes. You could also try garlic, parsley, rosemary, or sage.
- Half-and-half: I recommend half-and-half for this recipe, and not substituting sour cream.
- Yield: This recipe makes about 5 cups of mashed sweet potatoes, enough for 4 generous servings, 1 ¼ cups each.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Make ahead: Peel and cube the raw potatoes up to 24 hours in advance. Cover with water and chill in the refrigerator.
- Freezer: Cool the mashed sweet potatoes completely, then spoon them into a freezer-safe container. Label, date, and freeze for up to 1 month.
- Meal prep: Mashed sweet potatoes make a great side dish for weekly meal prep, if you're into that (you may want to omit the sugar).
- Peel before boiling: They'll cook much faster without the peel. Boiling sweet potatoes whole with skin takes a lot longer, and needs more water. I also slice them to speed up the cooking time.
- For chunky, rustic-style mashed sweet potatoes: Use a basic potato masher. A waffle-head masher will mash the potatoes into a smoother consistency, if you like them somewhere in-between.
- For super-smooth mashed sweet potatoes: Use a potato ricer (peeled potatoes) or food mill (unpeeled potatoes). These gadgets make the smallest, finest pieces of cooked potato, which fluff up beautifully.
- Classic mashed potatoes: For the classic version without the secrets, try my best mashed potatoes recipe.
- Garlic mashed potatoes: Toast garlic in a skillet (or roast whole bulbs of garlic in the oven), peel, mince, and add to your mashed potatoes. You’ll need about 1 bulbs of garlic (20 cloves) for every 2 pounds of potatoes.
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes: For a low carb, highly satisfying side dish, try cauliflower mashed potatoes (without a potato in sight).
- Boursin mashed potatoes: Soft-skinned small red potatoes mixed with fresh herbs and a block of Boursin cheese. You don’t even have to peel the potatoes!
- Slow cooker: Once the mashed sweet potatoes are ready, you can put them in a crock pot and heat on the LOW setting to keep them warm and fluffy throughout your feast. I have never found a mashed potato recipe MADE in a slow cooker that I thought tasted good.