Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes Recipe

This mashed sweet potato recipe is an all-time favorite, perfect for Thanksgiving. Plump vanilla beans, cream, orange zest, and butter are combined with sweet potatoes that have been roasted in the oven. A quick whirl in the food processor produces a smooth, creamy, subtly sweet puree haunted by the delicious vanilla and citrus undertones. The consistency is that of a thick frosting.

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This vanilla mashed sweet potato recipe has been cast in a regular role on our Thanksgiving table, but is great the rest of the season as well. I'll take this version over the one showered with marshmallows any day. Here's what you're in for: plump vanilla beans, cream, orange zest, and butter combined with sweet potatoes that have been roasted in the oven until they develop a beautiful, rich, flavor-concentrated flesh. A quick whirl in the food processor produces a smooth, creamy, subtly sweet puree haunted by the delicious vanilla and citrus undertones. The consistency was that of a thick frosting. You can also use the puree as a base for other recipes:

- thin it out with some vegetable stock for an autumn soup.
- add an egg or two, maybe some grated cheese for a tart filling.
- yum. Sweet potato raviolis.
- wrapped in phyllo or puff pastry dough.

The recipe comes from a new cookbook - Artisanal Cooking by Terrance Brennan. There are a couple other recipes from his book that I look forward to trying - Chestnut Spaetzle, Apple Tarte Tatin with Cheddar Cheese Crust, and also a Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar Croutons.

I topped the sweet potatoes with the Autumn Spice Oil (also in the book). A bunch of spices including juniper berries, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, cloves - toasted, freshly ground, and bathed in warm oil. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we have!

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Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe

(heidi notes: I used sea salt, and regular pepper)

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cleaned and left a bit damp
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt
white pepper in a mill

Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender to a fork tip, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cook until warm enough to handle, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and discard the skin. Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a 2-quart pot, add the vanilla bean and orange zest, if using, and set it over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use tongs to fish out and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the processor and add the butter.

Puree the potato mixture until smooth. Season with salt and 4 grinds of pepper, or to taste. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

Serves four.

Autumn Spice Oil

(heidi note: I think there is an ingredient omission in this recipe. The ingredient list leaves out the amount of oil to use. So, based on the other infused oils in this book I used the same amount, 1 cup.)

4 star anise
1/2 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon allspice
1 medium cinnamon stick, crushed, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
2 pieces dried orange peel, optional
1 cup oil (heidi note: I used olive oil - a mild tasting one) - He uses canola in some of his other recipes.

Put the star anise, juniper berries, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in an 8-inch saute pan and toast overmedium heat, shaking constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

Transfer the spices to a spice or coffee grinder and pulse for a few seconds.

Transfer the spices to a bowl, add the vanilla bean and orange peel, if using, and set aside.

Pour the oil into a small pot and heat it over medium-low heat until warm. Pour the oil over the spices and vanilla. Cover and let infuse at room temperature for 24 hours, periodically mixing the bowl. (heidi note: terrance says not to strain, but i strained anyways at this point - I think my spices were a bit on the chunky side of a fine grind).

Cover and keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Makes 1 cup.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Just a note for anyone who is thinking of trying this for Thanksgiving…DO IT!
I replaced the white pepper with cayenne, the bean with just a 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract and added some very “ungourmet” garlic salt (you could add a clove of garlic to the cream as it heats with possibly better results). I had a turkey breast going in my slow cooker, simmering in wine, broth and well-browned onions and the resulting cooking liquid made some of the best browned roux gravy I’ve ever produced. All that to say the puree’ was dreamy with the gravy on top in place of the spiced oil. Throw it on a plate with some turkey, with a side of unadored pomegranate and you’ve got bliss:)
Thank you Heidi, I’ve never gotten my husband to eat that large of helping of sweet potatoes before!


Yummmm! You can also use this type of puree to make biscuits. There’s a restaurant in Berkeley (Rick & Ann’s) that makes the most divine mini sweet potato biscuits which I’ve come close to duplicating at home.

Kung Foodie Kat

Sounds gorgeous! I had the same thought as Deborah – has anybody tried this and come up with ideas for how to use up the rest of the oil?


Yummy! Sweet potatos and vanilla all in one?? Those are definitely two of my all time favs…and put together.. just sounds heavenly! Finding a great new recipie is like finding a great deal on a new pair of shoes!

Ms. Zanotti

Oh honey, you KNOW me and vanilla. I’m all over this like white on effin’ rice!


I love this alternative to marshmallow sweet potatoes. Will add this my SP recipe file…
Yet another great photo too…


Wow! This looks great. I happen to have a few sweet potatoes in the pantry waiting for a recipe… Beautiful blog! I’ll be back for sure.

The Anonymous Mama

Wow. That looks amazing. I’m making this for Thanksgiving, no doubt about it!
And, juniper berries should be in the bulk spice section of your natural foods store. Or a European (Russian, German, etc.) grocery.


Thai spiced pumpking soup
It was creamy but too bland for my taste, till I added: crushed red pepper flakes, dry ginger, dry mustard, 1 small can concentrated orange juice. Added water to get the consistency I wanted. Then it was wonderful, a little sweet, a little spicy, and creamy.


I made this last night and it was fantastic!!
I add egg and grated Parmesan chees . Everyone in the family gobbled it up! Thank you for wonderful recipe!

come cook

Wow, the spice oil sounds so amazing (and the sweet potatoes sound like heaven). Does anyone have ideas where I could find juniper berries?


The sweet potato dish sounds wonderful, but I’m wondering about the Autumn Spice Oil, what do you use it for?


Yum that sounds so good! Would this work if you replaced the cream with evaporated milk? (i’m trying to think of how to lighten the recipe a bit)


I want to try this recipe it sounds really good.


This is so unbelievably good! Not just “wow, that’s good”, but “wow, I could eat that every day for the rest of my life” good. HUGE hit at our party, and made an awesome soup the next day. Thanks so much!


Heidi, I made this for a very veggie Thanksgiving this year and it was fantastic. The colour itself was out of this world. Loved it!


Heidi, I tried this with roasted butternut squash, and it was tremendous. In fact, so good that I put it on my weekly round–up of the best gluten-free recipes on the web. I’m certain thousands of us will be making this for Thanksgiving!


Thinking this would make a great base for a souffle! Looking forward to trying it.
Love the photos…


I tried this recipe tonight – added a bit of cinnamon and used orange juice instead of zest. It was delicious! Hubby said it tasted like ice cream. It’s all I can do not to pull out the ‘Nilla Wafers and use the left overs as a dip! This was my first exposure to your wonderful site, and I am looking forward to exploring and trying more recipes!


Ya know, a bit of crumbled spiced/candied pecan and a drizzle of maple surup woul dmake that puree even more decadent! I need to make that one for sure. Thanks for posting it!


I still have leftover sweet potato mash from Thanksgiving this past weekend but this recipe sounds so good that I’m going to have to try it anyway!


One of the last, and very strange, desserts i experimented with at Citizen cake is a “mousse” of white Japanese sweet potato at it’s base. I was obsessed with all those intriguing textures, colours and sweet tastes.
Your recipe and photograph make me want to start that private journey all over again…


I am experimenting with souffles lately as I am teaching myself to cook — I have made carrot and pumpkin souffles so far and I was wondering if this could be used as a souffle base as well.


Yummm! I love sweet potatoes and am always looking for a new and delicious way to enjoy them. Thanks!

Beth - The Zen Foodist

This looks gorgeous. Of course. It’s yours.
I adore whole vanilla beans. Try them in a simple fruit salad, and it all tastes far more gourmet.
Do you think this would work with butternut squash? I have some roasted at home….


Since I do make sweet potatoes for a baby with frequency, I have done some experimenting with them. I don’t think baking is required. Cubing and steaming them also readies them for pureeing and they come out the same. For the rich and lazy, Whole Foods sells pre-diced organic sweet potatoes in the frozen vegetable section and Trader Joes sells them pre-diced in a 1 lb bag refridgerated. Same could be done with butternut squash (Trader Joes sells bags pre-diced from Sept to Dec and Whole Foods has them next to the frozen sweet potato cubes)


Wow, that sounds amazing. i also found amazing the idea of using it as ravioli filling. I will definitely give it a go.


Using the puree in ravioli sounds divine. I had a wedding shower today and got LOTS of gadgets – can’t wait to try this and several other recipes you’ve posted.


Vanilla sweet potato puree sounds great — can’t wait to try it tonight — but wondering about how much orange zest you use (1 tsp?) as I don’t see it in the recipe. Thanks.


I’m a huge fan of fall and love all the orange dishes I get to enjoy now from sweet potatoes to pumpkins. Just had a fabulous pumpkin puree out at a restaurant in CT the other week, I think I’m going to have to try this puree you’ve posted here. Great picture!


Heidi, this recipe sounds super. I have been really into using vanilla beans in savory dishes lately. You always think of vanilla in custards, frostings, and other sweet items, but the perfume is lovely in heartier dishes as well.


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