Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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, and still super festive.

Mashed sweet potatoes with brown butter and vanilla is not just a side dish; it’s a comforting and flavorful twist on a classic favorite. This delightful combination elevates the humble sweet potato to a whole new level.

Bowl of brown butter mashed sweet potatoes on a folded white towel

What do I need to make this mashed sweet potato recipe?

To make this Thanksgiving side dish, you’ll need:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk (cow’s milk or your favorite plant-based milk)
  • Salt and black pepper

Uh…vanilla in mashed sweet potatoes?

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. The vanilla’s aromatic warmth complements the earthy sweetness of the sweet potatoes.

You can use a different vanilla extract, but I promise you won’t be sorry if you opt for the real stuff over imitation! The flavor is better, and a little real vanilla extract will go a long way!

A spoon holds a bite of mashed sweet potatoes over a bowl.

What’s this about brown butter?

Brown butter is simply butter that has been cooked until its milk solids turn golden brown, imparting a toasty and nutty essence to the dish. The brown butter adds a layer of complexity to the flavor of this side dish.

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 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. 

How do I cook and mash 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 (whole milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.), and salt. Serve.

Bowl of mashed sweet potatoes topped with a pat of butter

How long are the leftovers good for?

Store any leftover mashed sweet potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Want more easy Thanksgiving sides like this one?

 
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

Brown butter adds a touch of nuttiness to sweet potatoes. And that pairing makes for very tasty Mashed Sweet Potatoes—in only four ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2–1 cup milk (animal or plant)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  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 use a potato masher to 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 the desired consistency.

Notes

  • 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.

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9 Comments

  1. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I WILL BE MAKING SWEET POTATOES. I LOVE TO BAKE & COOK, SO THIS SHOULD BE REALLY EASY. THIS IS HOW I MAKE MASHED POTATOES, EXCEPT I DON’T BROWN THE BUTTER OR USE VANILLA. THANK YOU FOR THIS RECIPE. I AM EXCITED TO MAKE THIS ! I LOVE POTATOES!

  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!