Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes: an easy, healthy, smoky, spicy, delicious side

by Terry B on December 5, 2012

Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce bring smoke and a little heat to this quick, sweet/savory side dish. Sliced scallions add brightness. Recipe below.

I know what you’re thinking. Sweet potatoes? Isn’t Thanksgiving over? But how can you not love a good-for-you root vegetable that actually gets healthier when you add fat to it? According to Whole Foods, “Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.”

Sweet potatoes aren’t just kinda healthy—they top the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Best 10 Foods list. The Center calls them a “nutritional All-Star—one of the best vegetables you can eat.” They’re rich in antioxidants, which may help prevent cancer. They may fight heart disease too. And asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases related to inflammation. And despite the name, they’re actually low in sugar and can help regulate blood sugar level in diabetics.

They’re also delicious, versatile and easy to work with. Here at Blue Kitchen, we cook with them a lot. We’ve used them in everything from sweet/savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Shallots to Sweet Potato and Pork Pierogi made with wonton wrappers, Sweet Potato Sage Pasta with Chicken and an absolute given at our Thanksgiving table, Marion’s Sweet Potato Vichyssoise. These weeknight-quick, smoky mashed sweet potatoes are destined to become part of the regular rotation here, I think.

The smoke comes from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers; adobo sauce is a marinade popular throughout Latin America, usually made with chile peppers, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar and a variety of herbs and spices. The chipotle pepper brings the smoke, and the adobo sauce adds a nice tang. Both pack heat, but not a lot.

For this recipe, I used one chopped up pepper and a teaspoon of the adobo sauce with two medium sweet potatoes, about one pound. The resulting taste is nicely smoky, but not overpoweringly so, and the heat sneaks up on you without taking over. This would make a perfect side for grilled or pan seared pork chops. They would also be great with steaks or even roast chicken. I served them with tilapia fillets, cooked as I do them for Tilapia Fish Tacos, but served whole.

Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
1 canned chipotle pepper, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can (see Kitchen Notes)
1 scallion, green parts only, sliced (see Kitchen Notes)

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold, salted water by an inch or so. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the chipotle pepper.

Drain sweet potatoes, add butter and mash with a hand masher. Add chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and mash to combine completely. Can be made ahead up to this point and left covered on the stove while you finish other dishes. Reheat gently before serving. Transfer to a serving dish or divide between two dinner plates. Garnish with sliced scallions and serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

One pepper? But I bought a whole can! I know. This is typical of most recipes that call for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The thing is, a little of their smokiness goes a long way. Readers over at Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn have a number of suggestions for storing leftover peppers for later use. One blends them with the adobo sauce in a food processor, then freezes the mixture. About a tablespoon equals one pepper, so you just slice off what you need.

Don’t skip the scallion. In researching chipotle mashed potatoes to make this recipe, I found (as Marion did when she was researching shortbread cookie recipes) that there were really only a few variations. One thing I didn’t see anywhere, though, was the addition of sliced scallions as a garnish. I consider this my major contribution to the oeuvre. As Marion long ago discovered with her sweet potato vichyssoise, the green oniony bite of the scallion tops balance the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, pulling them back into side dish territory from dessertland. The also add a pleasant crunch. Chives will also work, but I wouldn’t use chopped onion—that would be overpowering.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

kitchenriffs December 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Sweet potatoes are so great! My wife and I used to eat them only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every year we’d ask ourselves why we didn’t eat them more often — they’re so wonderful. It’s only a couple of years ago that I began trying to use them throughout the year. Try adding them to chili sometime (put them in for the last half hour or so — just enough time so they cook through). They’re wonderful! And this dish looks wonderful, too — sweet potatoes combine so well with spicy flavors. If you don’t want to open a can of chipotle peppers, you could use ground dried chipotle powder; good, but not as good as using the canned chipotles. Plus you don’t get any of that terrific adobo sauce. Great tip on blending and freezing the leftover chipotles — I hadn’t thought of that, and it makes so much sense. Good stuff — thanks so much.

randi December 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This looks like a nice change from the usual sweet potato which we eat a lot of. Never knew just how nutritious they were!
That’s a great idea for the chipotle. Even though those tins are so small there is always way too much in there.

Terry B December 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Kitchenriffs, I thought about getting dried chipotle peppers, but as you said, I wouldn’t have had the nice adobo sauce. Haven’t frozen the leftover pepper yet. Last night, I added one to a pot of chili and got a nice, smoky hit. Will have to try a sweet potato in my next pot of chili. Thanks!

Randi, if you eat a lot of sweet potatoes, you should also try these spicy roasted potatoes. They’re kind of oven-roasted fries. I make them with both sweet and baking potatoes, but you could do strictly sweet potatoes too.

Lena N December 6, 2012 at 12:45 am

Sir! I bought a couple of sweet potatoes today and wondered what I was going to do with them. Thank you.

On another note, who won the cookbook?

jeri December 6, 2012 at 2:43 am

The other great thing about sweet potatoes is they are super inexpensive. 59 cents/pound! And I live in NYC where food prices are just insane. I love sweet and spicy together, so I can’t wait to try this. If you’re a fan of the sweet/spicy combo, try tossing a dried chipotle into a basic cranberry sauce recipe. So good.

[email protected] December 6, 2012 at 3:42 am

I love your excitement for the sweet potatoes. We love them too and and we are always looking for new ways to make them. I’m also happy to know I should add a little fat to my sweet potato.

squidsoup December 6, 2012 at 4:04 am

We have loved chipotle since our honeymoon in Mexico 18 years ago. This recipe sounds fabulous, since we are crazy about sweet potatoes (and don’t eat them just for holidays, for sure) and like them savory. Most people have never tasted a sweet potato without it being overwhelmed with bad flavors! Thank you, thank you, thank you for not adding sugar to these. Sugar is a sin against sweet potato. Their natural sweetness and nuanced elements are obliterated by an additive stripped to only one element: sweet. Goodbye umami!
By the way, you can save chipotle in adobo for a long time by taking it out of the can and saving in plastic. I saved a small plastic mustard jar years ago and it says “Chipotle in Adobo” on top in Sharpie. I put the whole can in the mini food processor (or chop on a clean board) and put in the little jar. It keeps for a year or more – I’ve never had it mold. You’ll want plastic because there are acidic elements that will corrode a metal top (tomatoes, vinegar).

Terry B December 6, 2012 at 4:48 am

Lena N—Dang, I did it again. What an idiot. Emmie H. won Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. Congratulations, Emmie!

Jeri, shhhh! If stores hear that people like sweet potatoes and they’re healthy, the price will jump.

Angela, it really is nice that fat doesn’t always equal bad these days, isn’t it?

Squidsoup, I just did a little searching. You’re right, they will last a good while in the fridge as long as you get them out of the can. Thanks!

Sprigs of Rosemary December 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I love sweet potatoes any time of year; just wish I could convince Mr. Rosemary that there’s more than one way to eat them. I trust your advice about the scallions and thank you for your contribution!

Christina December 9, 2012 at 2:37 am

Sweet potatoes are a regular winter side around here ‘cuz we grow them and they taste so good roasted with butter, but mashed?! with chipotle?! You’ve made my taste buds do a few loopity loops!

Tonight, we are having grilled hot wings. Unfortunately, I think chipotle mashed sweets might be too much heat for one meal, so this recipe will have to wait until next week. Mmmm. I’m already looking forward to it.

Karen December 10, 2012 at 2:23 am

Thanks for this recipe, will definitely try it! I’ve been using both sweet potatoes and chipotle/adobo sauce in my homemade vegetable soup – I stir one finely diced pepper and one tsp adobo in with sauteed celery and onions, then build the soup from there. The pepper adds a nice zing to it! And I, too, just transfer the remaining peppers and adobo to plastic with no problems – it lasts for ages!

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