As their name implies, sweet potatoes are naturally packed with sugar. Traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato recipes tend to double down on that sweetness, for dishes that have more in common with a dessert than a side. We've never understood it—does sweet potato casserole really need sugar and marshmallows?
The key to making best use of sweet potatoes is to cook them with ingredients that complement their sweetness, rather than amplify it. That means tossing roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary or chipotle powder, mashing sweet potatoes with savory carrots, and balancing the marshmallows in your sweet potato casserole with ginger and fresh herbs. Here are 12 of our favorite Turkey Day sweet potato recipes.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Even covered with marshmallows, there's no reason sweet potato casserole has to be sickly sweet. Most recipes call for adding sugar to the potatoes, but we've always felt that the marshmallows provide plenty of sweetness on their own. Instead, we flavor the sweet potatoes with savory ingredients like ginger, browned butter, and thyme or sage.
The Best Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Not a fan of marshmallows? Chances are you'll enjoy this simple, satisfying mash. Nutty brown butter and aromatic thyme add a little depth without overwhelming the potatoes. We mix in maple syrup, but not too much—slowly roasting the sweet potatoes brings out plenty of their natural sweetness.
Slow-Cooker Spiced Sweet Potato and Carrot Mash
This sweet potato mash gets its vegetal, savory complexity from carrots. There's plenty of dairy involved, but using just a quarter cup of brown sugar keeps this side dish from turning into a dessert. The whole thing can be made in the slow cooker, saving valuable oven and stovetop space.
The Best Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Like normal potatoes, sweet potatoes take very well to roasting. Par-cooking them in hot (but not boiling) water before roasting converts some of their starch into maltose, for extra-sweet flavor. We finish them in a hot oven for crisped, toasty edges.
Brown Butter Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Once you've mastered our basic roasted sweet potato technique, you can start thinking about different ways to flavor them. Here, we toss the spuds in an aromatic sauce made wtih browned butter, chicken stock, and rosemary.
Smoky Spiced-Pecan Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Pecans and sweet potatoes are a classic combination. Here we take that combo and spice it up with smoky chipotle powder, funky cumin, and citrusy coriander. We toast the spices in oil, crumble in the pecans, add a tablespoon of sugar to balance the spices, and fold the mixture in with the potatoes.
Miso-Scallion Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Japanese flavors play especially well with earthy and sugary sweet potatoes. For this recipe, we whisk up miso, mirin, sugar, oil, and water. Then we toss the dressing with the potatoes and fold in scallions. A dash of peppery, citrusy shichimi togarashi at the end certainly doesn't hurt.
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Chutney Vinaigrette
Ginger- and cumin-spiked sweet potatoes are the star of this savory salad, studded with cranberries, chopped scallion, and sliced almonds. A dressing of sweet-tart mango chutney, spicy mustard, honey, and garlic give it a warming, punchy finish. The salad can be served warm or at room temperature—the choice is yours.
Arugula, Sweet Potato, and Walnut Salad With Dashi "Vinaigrette"
The easiest way to cook sweet potatoes is to simply microwave them until tender. This salad combines microwaved sweet potatoes with peppery arugula and crunchy walnuts. The dressing is an unconventional take on a vinaigrette—we forgo the acid and make the dressing with olive oil and shoyu-dashi.
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup With Pistachio, Orange, and Mint Salsa
This simple soup is made with roasted sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, carrot, and chicken or vegetable stock. A splash of orange juice and tablespoon of zest give the soup a subtle, fragrant sweetness. What really brings the dish together is a pistachio, mint, and orange salsa that garnishes each bowl.
Mildly Sweet Sweet-Potato Biscuits
Once upon a time, wheat flour was expensive, so sweet potatoes were used to stretch it out. I'm not sure that sweet potato biscuits are that frugal today, but they are moist, tender, and flavorful. We roughly mash the potatoes by hand because we like to have little pockets of sweet potato in the finished biscuits.
Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges
Depending on where you live, it's totally possible that it's still grilling season. If you're going to have a warm Thanksgiving, you might as well take advantage of it with these grilled sweet potato wedges. We roast them over indirect heat before moving them to the hottest part of the grill to give them a creamy interior and well-charred exterior. Amp up the smokiness with a spice blend of paprika, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.