Mashed Sweet Potato Brulée

Sweet potatoes are an absolute staple at most Thanksgiving tables, but some of the traditional sweet potato dishes just don’t do it for me. Especially that one with the canned yams and marshmallows? Blech. Can’t stomach it. I do like mashed sweet potatoes, but when you have traditional white mashed potatoes, sometimes you want to change things up a little bit. This recipe is a perfect hybrid of a classic dish with a bit of an easy, upbeat twist. Mashed sweet potatoes are spread in a gratin dish, topped with chopped walnuts and baked, and then sprinkled with brown sugar and placed under the broiler quickly to get a sweet, crackly crust reminiscent of some of the best crème brulée.

This is a great side dish for Thanksgiving, especially because you can make the potatoes ahead of time (even the day before), then just give them a quick zap in the microwave to heat them up, mash them with the butter, season and then throw into the oven. The bake time is super short, so you could pop it in the oven as soon as the turkey comes out and you’re carving.

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away! On Monday and Tuesday you’ll find recipes for some great (and different!) rolls and a traditional stuffing. Then make sure you check back next Friday for a great recipe to use up a lot of your leftovers!

One year ago: Thick and Hearty Chili

Mashed Sweet Potato Brulée

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


4 tablespoons butter
1½ to 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked in any manner
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup light brown sugar


1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a gratin dish (or shallow baking dish) with some of the butter.

2. Heat the potatoes if necessary and mash them with the butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Put the sweet potatoes in the gratin dish, and smooth the top.

3. Sprinkle the top with the chopped walnuts. Bake until the dish is hot and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Remove the dish from the oven. Sprinkle the top evenly with the brown sugar. Turn on the broiler and adjust the rack to about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil, watching carefully and turning the dish as necessary. When the sugar bubbles and browns, it's ready. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

(Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)


36 Responses to “Mashed Sweet Potato Brulée”

  1. Mc lån on November 19, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Caramelized sugar, the crunchiness and the fusion of flavors,heavenly.
    I think it’s clever to use light brown sugar, if we use muscovado this will look too dark. Thank you!


  2. Jane on November 19, 2010 at 7:03 am

    You have some really interesting recipes for Thanksgiving! I share your love of sweet potatoes and always have some in my vegetable bin, because they are a wonderful snack. This I have to try!


  3. Estela @ Weekly Bite on November 19, 2010 at 7:32 am

    I love mashed sweet potatoes! The brulee version sounds incredible!


  4. Lauren at KeepItSweet on November 19, 2010 at 7:57 am

    i do love sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, but i love this variation and idea to brulee the top !


  5. Katrina on November 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

    This looks amazing!


  6. Lisa on November 19, 2010 at 9:06 am

    That looks delicious! And I like your vintage Corningware pan.


    • Michelle on November 19th, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks Lisa! It’s an old one of my mom’s 🙂


  7. Jason Sandeman on November 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

    What a nice riff on sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. i am sure that using maple sugar would also ramp those babies to unknown heights! Thank you for the cool post!


  8. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on November 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve been on the lookout for some new sweet potato recipes this year… I’m sick of the “same old” candied yams that I usually make. Loving the look of this casserole… especially the bruleed top!


  9. Tammy on November 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve made a version similar to this for years – I use pecans instead of walnuts. Friends request the recipe and family always expect on the holiday table. Delicious!


  10. Tracy on November 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Looks amazing Michelle! Can’t wait to try it. 🙂


  11. Amanda on November 19, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    You just made me want sweet potatoes!! I think I might make this for my fam next weekend.


  12. Liz @ Blog is the New Black on November 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Looks great- love your spin on the SPs!


  13. Cookin' Canuck on November 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    If I was at the table, I would be caught with my finger in the casserole dish, picking off and eating all of that gorgeous topping!


  14. steph@stephsbitebybite on November 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I think I’m in love! This looks so devine!


  15. Annie on November 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I love the twist on the traditional sweet potato casserole. It is so hard to do anything but the classics on Thanksgiving without people throwing a hissy fit. I think that it is close enough to the original that people will like it. I found my side dish!


    • Michelle on November 19th, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      That’s so true Annie! I have found the same thing – people don’t like change much when it comes to food and the holidays 😉


  16. Heidi's Recipes on November 19, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Now I’m faced with a dilemma. . . my Slap Yo Mama Good Sweet Potatoes or these? Your topping is wooing me.


  17. abraham on November 20, 2010 at 2:15 am

    I love mashed sweet potatoes! I love to try this version. susan


  18. The Pie Guy on November 20, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Very creative idea with potatoes. I can’t wait to try this in a pie form.


  19. Courtney on November 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I think by the time Thanksgiving comes I’ll be full from trying out amazing recipes.
    This looks awesome!


  20. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having on November 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    That topping looks incredible! I think if that dish was at my end of the table no one else would get any!


  21. Jenny Flake on November 21, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Mmmm, looks fabulous as usual Michelle!! xoxo Have a great weekend!


  22. Alta on November 22, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I am SO making this.


  23. BIg Boys Oven on November 23, 2010 at 10:58 am

    i just love this, sweet potatoes can make magic deserts! 🙂


  24. Annie on November 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I would just like to thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it today to serve to my guests on Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! It was so easy to make and so delicious. This will be permanently replacing my sweet potato casserole. Thanks again and happy Turkey Day!


    • Michelle on November 29th, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      You are so welcome Annie, I’m glad you and your family enjoyed this. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  25. Jen @ How To: Simplify on December 11, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    These potatoes look so delicious. What a nice addition to the Thanksgiving dinner!


  26. Heide M. on December 30, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Clever idea for sweet potatoes.


  27. Nicole on November 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Michelle!
    I have canned sweet potatoes… Will these work?? And what about regular brown sugar?


    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Nicole, I have never used canned sweet potatoes but I think as long as it doesn’t include any other seasonings or anything they should work out okay. Regular brown sugar is light brown sugar, I just put “light” in there to differentiate from dark brown sugar, which contains more molasses.


  28. Nicole on November 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Hey Michelle! I have canned sweet potatoes, would those work?? Please help!


    • Michelle on November 23rd, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      Hi Nicole, I think you could use those, no problem.


  29. Melissa on December 9, 2011 at 12:38 am

    This is VERY similar to the Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe I grew up with…mash baked/boiled or canned sweet potatoes and mix with butter, eggs, vanilla, sugar milk then spread it all in a dish…then, and here’s MY sweet potato casserole tip, I put the casserole in the fridge for a while to allow it to firm up some. It really makes getting the topping spread on much much easier. The topping is a mix of chopped pecans (Southern girl here!), flour, butter and brown sugar and it’s spread or “plopped” on top. It makes a crispy crunchy sweet and salty bubbly amazingness over the light and fluffy sweet potatoes. Everytime there’s a potluck or family meal I’m asked to make this and many times it’s eaten as dessert instead of the side dish!


  30. Brenda on November 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I am taking this to the family gathering. Should I prepare it completely and warm it up at dinner time, or should I do the brown sugar part after I arrive?
    I hope you see this in time!


    • Michelle on November 23rd, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Hi Brenda, I’m sorry I didn’t get to this in time yesterday. You could really do it either way, whichever is more convenient for you.


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