Enjoy the savory side of sweet potatoes with this creamy mashed sweet potato side dish infused with butter and seasoned with garlic, onion, and fresh herbs.

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Side view of a bow filled with savory mashed sweet potatoes, topped with a dollop of butter and fresh herbs.

About Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a classic food during fall weather, and these luscious mashed sweet potatoes are no different – except this particular recipe goes against the grain and is on the savory side, highlighting the versatility of this delicious vegetable.

What’s in savory mashed sweet potatoes?

  • Sweet potatoes – The star of the show! Their tender texture, bright orange color, and semi-sweet flavor are what make this side dish so popular. But if you ever need a substitution for sweet potatoes, try using an equal portion of garnet potatoes (a type of red potato with a purple hue), pumpkin, butternut squash, or acorn squash.
  • Unsalted butter, whole milk, and sour cream – Adds delicious flavor and creaminess. You can use half and half cream in place of the milk for creamier potatoes. You can also omit the sour cream if you’d like.
  • Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder – Tasty seasonings that really make these mashed potatoes pop.
  • Fresh parsley, chives, and thyme – Delicious garnishes for a touch of earthiness. Any or all of these can be omitted if you’d like.

Sweet potatoes vs yams

Although sometimes used interchangeably, there are quite a few differences between sweet potatoes and true yams that can impact your cooking. And notice I said “true yams”, as many American grocery stores add to the confusion by labeling some sweet potatoes “yams” despite the fact that true yams are nothing like sweet potatoes at all.

Confused? You and me both!

In short, this is the Cliff Notes version of what’s going on with these potatoes and how to tell them apart:

  • True yams – These are more like a russet sweet potato. They have white flesh with brown scaly skin and a dry, starchy taste. They’re typically grown outside of the United States, making them difficult to find in American grocery stores.
  • Sweet potatoes – A firm sweet potato with golden skin and light or purple flesh. This is the type of sweet potato that was originally grown in the United States.
  • Sweet potatoes that grocery stores call yams – A soft sweet potato with copper skin and golden flesh. Odds are, this is the type of sweet potato you see most often, simply because the soft texture works so well with many of the sweet potato dishes Americans traditionally make. And as for why they’re called yams, it comes down to marketing. The softer sweet potato was the second type of potato grown in the United States, and grocery stores wanted to differentiate this somehow to their customers… and instead of simply calling them firm or soft, they decided to call them yams – a vegetable they are nothing like, but since the “true” form is not commonly sold in the US, the name was seen as “available.”

There are other differences (nutritional value, various names, etc) but the above three points are the ones you need to consider when making substitutions in your cooking.

Given the above, a sweet potato (or a vegetable that looks like a sweet potato but has been labeled a yam) would be a better fit for dishes that use ingredients like brown sugar or maple syrup, while either true yams or sweet potatoes can be used for more savory dishes. The only real difference is that true yams may have a flavor and consistency closer to a white potato than a sweet potato.

So, in conclusion: In most cases, true yams can be substituted for sweet potatoes in savory dishes, but the taste and flavor may remind you more of white potatoes than sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes (and vegetables that look like sweet potatoes but have been labeled yams) are still preferred.

Top down view of a bowl full of mashed sweet potatoes, surrounded by herbs, a serving spoon, and a kitchen towel.

Do you have to use kosher salt?

There are a few key differences between kosher salt and table salt, but overall, kosher salt is known to enhance the flavor of food while table salt tends to make them saltier. Kosher salt is also not as potent, meaning you would use more kosher salt than table salt in seasoning or baking.

Some recipes – like the one featured here – are tailed with kosher salt in mind, playing into the mild way it magnifies flavors. However, you can still substitute kosher salt for table salt – you just need to reduce the total amount of salt content by half. For example, this means that instead of using 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt you would use 3/4 teaspoon table salt.

Can you make this dish sweeter?

While you can add a little sweetness to this recipe, it should be kept mild. There are already many savory-friendly ingredients in these mashed potatoes (such as black pepper, garlic, onion, parsley, chives, and thyme) that wouldn’t be a good complement to a lot of sugar.

For best results, only add enough sweetness to accentuate the sweet potato, such as a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar.

Close up top down view of a bowl of mashed sweet potatoes, showing off the creamy texture and vibrant orange color.

Can you make this in advance?

Certainly! Sweet potatoes are great for making in advance, freeing up time and space for busy holiday cooking.

Prepare the mashed sweet potatoes per the recipe instructions, then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator (for best presentation, this should be no more than 48 hours in advance). When ready to eat, mashed sweet potatoes can be warmed in the microwave or placed in a covered casserole dish and heated in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

How long are mashed sweet potatoes good for?

Once prepared and cooled, mashed sweet potatoes can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Can you freeze mashed sweet potatoes?

Yes, you totally can!

Once prepared and cooled, mashed sweet potatoes can be stored in a sealed container or freezer bag for up to three months.

Notes & tips for mashed sweet potatoes

  • While this is not a sweet potato recipe with added sweetness, it will still pair beautifully with all your traditional holiday main dishes such as turkey, ham, or Salisbury steak.
  • To make this recipe, it helps to have a large stockpot (6-quart should do) and a potato masher for mixing.
Close up side view of the top of a bowl of mashed sweet potatoes, pictured with a wooden spoon inserted that's about to lift up a serving.

More delicious side dishes

How to make mashed sweet potatoes

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Prepare the sweet potatoes by peeling, chopping, and rinsing thoroughly with cold water.

Step 2 – Add sweet potatoes to a stockpot, then fill the pot with cold water until the sweet potatoes are covered. Bring water to a boil and cook sweet potatoes until nice and tender. TIP: Sweet potatoes are done once you feel no resistance when they’re pierced with a fork.

Step 3 – While sweet potatoes boil, add the milk and butter to a small saucepan. Cook on low until the butter has melted, then remove from heat.

Step 4 – Drain the sweet potatoes, then place them back into the still-warm stockpot. Let them rest for about five minutes, giving them time to release any excess steam.

Step 5 – Pour the milk mixture in with the sweet potatoes, then use a potato masher to mix until the consistency is smooth and the liquid has been absorbed.

Step 6 – Add sour cream to the stockpot and season with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder, then mix well. Do a quick taste test to ensure the flavor is to your liking.

Step 7 – When ready to eat, mix in the fresh herbs: parsley, chives, and thyme.

Step 8 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Side view of a bow filled with savory mashed sweet potatoes, topped with a dollop of butter and fresh herbs.
5 from 1 vote

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

20 mins prep + 30 mins cook
433 kcal
Yields: 8 servings
Enjoy the savory side of sweet potatoes with this creamy mashed sweet potato side dish infused with butter and seasoned with garlic, onion, and fresh herbs.

Ingredients 

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • In a large stockpot filled with water, add sweet potatoes. Swirl potatoes around in water to rinse, then drain water off.
    4 pounds sweet potatoes
  • Fill more cold water back into stockpot until potatoes are covered. Cover stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are soft, about 25-30 minutes. TIP: Do a fork test; potato flesh should have no resistance when speared.
  • While potatoes cook, heat butter and milk in a small saucepan over low heat, cooking just until butter has melted. Remove saucepan from heat, then set aside.
    1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup whole milk
  • Once sweet potatoes have cooked, remove stockpot from heat. Drain well and return potatoes to stockpot, allowing them to rest in stockpot with lid off for 5 minutes so excess steam can escape.
  • Pour prepared milk mixture into stockpot and mix with a potato masher until consistency is smooth.
  • Add sour cream, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to stockpot, then mix until incorporated. Taste test and adjust as needed.
    1/4 cup sour cream, 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Just before serving, stir in parsley, chives, and thyme.
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 1450mg | Potassium: 838mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 33051IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 2mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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