Let me introduce you to a little magic called brown butter. If you thought butter makes everything better, wait until you try the nutty, caramel-scented version of butter. It takes just a few minutes to make, requires no fancy ingredients, and adds phenomenal flavor wherever it’s drizzled. So, if you want to take your sweet potatoes up a notch this Thanksgiving without having to buy even more specialty ingredients, these simple Maple Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes are the answer. ‘Cuz I know y’all are busy and can’t make another trip to the store for last-minute ingredients before the big day! Chances are you have everything you need for this already.
I paired the brown butter in this recipe with a little bit of real maple syrup because its flavor is unique and undeniably fall-like. The deep flavor of the maple syrups matches perfectly with the nutty brown butter. Real maple syrup is expensive though, and if you can’t spring for it this time around you can use a little brown sugar in its place (their sweetness levels are not equal, though, so add the brown sugar to your liking). The good news is that if you do spring for the real thing you can just pop the rest in the fridge and it’ll be there in the future, as good as new, to make your next recipe sparkle. There’s no hurry to use it up before it goes bad. Oh! And also, Whole Foods sometimes has maple syrup on tap (near the bulk goods) so you can buy just a small amount if needed.
Maple Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Maple Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Maple Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes are a simple way to add a little something extra special to your Thanksgiving table.
- 3 lbs sweet potatoes $3.00
- 6 Tbsp butter* $0.75
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup $1.33
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon $0.03
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg $0.02
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves $0.02
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans $0.56
Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Add them to a large pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they are very tender when pierced with a fork (5-10 minutes depending on the size of your sweet potato cubes). Drain the sweet potatoes and then mash until mostly smooth. Set the mashed sweet potatoes aside.
Cut the butter into equal-sized pieces. Place the butter in a light colored skillet or pot. Place the skillet over medium-low heat and let it melt and being to foam. Continue to cook the butter, stirring constantly, until the butter solids begin to brown. Watch the butter closely once it begins to change color and remove it from the heat when it reaches a deep brown color and smells nutty or caramel-like. Immediately pour the butter into a separate bowl to stop the cooking process.
Stir the maple syrup into the butter. Pour the maple syrup and butter mixture into the mashed sweet potatoes. Reserve 1-2 Tbsp of the maple brown butter to drizzle over top as a garnish. Also add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to the mashed potatoes, then stir to combine. Taste the sweet potatoes and adjust the syrup, spices, or salt if needed. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over top and drizzle the remaining maple brown butter just before serving.
*You can use salted or unsalted butter. If using unsalted butter, you may want to add a pinch of salt to the mashed potatoes to help the flavors pop.
Step by Step Photos
Peel and cut 3 large sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs.) into one-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large pot and add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat on to high. Bring the pot to a boil and continue to boil until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with a fork. They cook fairly quickly but the total time will depend on how large your cubes are.
Drain the sweet potatoes and mash until they are fairly smooth. Set the sweet potatoes aside.
Cut 6 Tbsp butter into equal-sized pieces and place them in a light-colored skillet or pot (if you use a dark skillet like cast iron or teflon you will not be able to see the color change in the butter). Place the skillet over medium-low heat and let the butter begin to melt.
As the butter cooks it will become foamy and the solids will sink to the bottom. Stir the butter constantly as it cooks so the butter solids cook evenly.
After a minute or two the foam will begin to subside and the butter solids will begin to darken to a deep golden color. Keep cooking and stirring…
And then you’ll see the color begin to change rapidly. When it reaches a deep golden brown color stop. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the butter into a separate bowl to prevent residual heat from continuing to brown the butter past the magic point. The butter should smell wonderfully nutty and almost caramel-like.
Stir 1/4 cup real maple syrup (not pancake syrup) into your brown butter. If you can’t afford real maple syrup, you can go with brown sugar. Start with 2 Tbsp. and add more later if you see fit.
Now, pour most of the maple brown butter into the mashed sweet potatoes. I like to save a tablespoon or two to drizzle on top before serving.
Also add 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp ground cloves. Mix everything up well and then give it a taste. You may want to add a pinch of salt, or adjust the sweetness to your liking. I kept the spices subtle so the flavor of the maple and brown butter would take center stage.
Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish, drizzle with the remaining maple brown butter, then sprinkle some chopped pecans over top. Totally simple, but totally elegant. You got this.
Maple Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes don’t need no marshmallows to feel special. ;)