Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Answer a question for me: do you guys have sweet potatoes (or yams, which are actually something completely different) at your Thanksgiving table? And if you do, are they the kind that have three cups of sugar and mini marshmallows on top?

We do in my family. Minus the marshmallows. Our turkey day sweet potatoes have a pecan brown sugar streusel on top (it’s just as amazing as it sounds), but other than that, they are the same sugar-bomb that most folks have on their tables. I’m not exactly sure who decided that sweet potatoes spiked with more sugar than a pumpkin pie isn’t a dessert, but we serve those sweet spuds as a side dish right alongside our turkey.

Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

That particular recipe for sweet potatoes is a well-loved family heirloom (I can’t believe I haven’t shared it with you guys—I will!), and you’ll never be able to pry it off of our Thanksgiving table. Traditions.

But if you have a family that is a bit more amenable to change, might I suggest a different way to serve sweet potatoes this Turkey Day? Skip the mashed white potatoes. Skip the sweet potato casserole. And instead, knock out two birds with one delicious stone, and make yourself a beautiful bowl of mashed sweet potatoes! Easy, delicious, healthy, and still super festive.

Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes come together in pretty much the same fashion as regular mashed potatoes. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes. Boil until tender. Mash and add in butter, milk (animal, soy, nut, etc.), and salt. Serve.

One of my favorite things about sweet potatoes is that they straddle the line between savory and sweet. That independent spirit is what makes sweet potatoes a wonderful pair to all kinds of flavors. Here, I used nutty, rich browned butter and high-quality Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract to make the sweet potatoes sing.

Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I think investing in high quality extracts is one of the best things you can do to improve your cooking—especially during the holidays. Good quality vanilla will totally transform your holiday baking! It might seem like a big chunk to invest (especially when the imitation stuff is just a fraction of the cost), but I think you can really taste the difference.

I used to be one of those folks that scoffed at paying $10+ for a tiny bottle of real vanilla extract when I could get a jug of the imitation stuff for $2. But then I was gifted a tiny glass bottle of good quality pure vanilla extract years ago, and after my first batch of sugar cookies, I was a total convert. I had no idea such a small volume of ingredient could make such a difference in my food. I also discovered that, in my kitchen, the real stuff seemed to stretch a lot further than the imitation stuff. I had to use 2-3 times the amount of the stuff in the jug! Which didn’t make that $10+ price tag so bad.

Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Enough of me preaching about vanilla extract (but seriously, if you can swing it, go get yourself a good bottle). Let’s talk about brown butter.

If you’ve never browned butter before, it’s one of those kitchen things that sounds really fancy and complicated, but is super simple (and honestly, super impressive). Butter is amazing “raw,” but when cooked over a low heat until it starts to brown, it gets this nutty, rich, toasty, and caramel flavor to it that is out. of. this. world.

You can add it to sweet or savory dishes to give a nice slow-roasted flavor—without slow-roasting. Yes, browning butter adds an extra step (and lordy, if you’re pressed for time and stressed on turkey day, skip it – no one will know!), but the added flavor is totally worth it in my opinion. Enjoy!

Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

These mashed sweet potatoes straddle the line between sweet and savory. They are the perfect alternative to the sweet potato casseroles normally served for Thanksgiving.


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract {recommended: Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon}
  • 1/2–1 cup milk (animal or plant)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and continue boiling until fork tender—about 10 minutes. Drain sweet potatoes.
  2. Return the empty pot to the stove over medium-low heat. Add in the butter. Cook butter until it is a light caramel color, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes back into the pot, and mash until smooth. Remove from heat. Add in the vanilla, 1/2 cup of the milk, plus salt and pepper to taste. Continue mashing. Add in more milk if necessary to achieve desired creaminess.


  • Unsalted and salted butter both work just fine for the recipe, just adjust your seasoning accordingly when mashing the sweet potatoes.
  • If you're using a dark pot, you might need to spoon out a bit of the butter into a white dish to check the color while it is browning.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 78mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



  2. This is a perfect side for me – I don’t like my sweet potatoes overly swet, but I love the little pop of vanilla flavor!

  3. NVM is the only vanilla I have at home and I think it would taste great with sweet potatoes! Although we are boring on thanksgiving and just have a bunch of baked sweet potatoes on the table. I think this could change my mind.

  4. Oh yum. Trader Joes has been selling these bags of frozen sweet potatoes (only ingredient is sweet potatoes!) and I’m going to have try this with them (since we basically bought out their supply).

  5. I ADORE the vanilla paste by Nielsen-Massey. It’s expensive yes, but so amazing.
    However, I recently discovered that I could buy a 32fl oz bottle on Amazon for just over $30. I bought it, finished using my small bottle and just refilled it (for ease over handling the large bottle).
    Side note, just looked the the price has gone up since I bought it – it’s now just over $45. The liquid extract is just over $33 right now. I prefer the paste, but I might just be a vanilla snob.

  6. Drooling!! and I’m not waiting for Thanksgiving to make these!! Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste is one of my favorites that I put in everything I can – never thought to add vanilla to sweet potatoes!

  7. The. Best. Stuff. EVER!!! I love that you featured it here. I need Santa to stick a bottle in my stocking this year I’ve been out for ages!