Sweet Potato Balls

What You'll Need

  • large mixing bowl
  • fork
  • good kitchen knife and cutting surface
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • cast iron skillet
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small white onion, minced fine
  • 1 TBS milk
  • 1 TBS butter, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh turmeric root
  • 2 TBS unbleached white flour
  • 1 TBS chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • unrefined coconut oil for frying, about 1/2 cup total

aka Mom and Mollie’s Jamaican Yam Balls

Mollie Katzen’s luscious, hand-lettered cookbooks have been a source of inspiration for generations, with their whimsical drawings and well-crafted recipes.The seed for this recipe came from her “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant” though, as is so often the case with beloved recipes passed from hand to hand, it has already undergone transformations from each subsequent cook who has made it their own. Although I own several of Mollie’s cookbooks, I don’t own this one; however, a version of this recipe in my mother’s handwriting is tucked in my book of favorite recipes. Over the years I’ve made my own adjustments; perhaps you will do the same. A standout winter recipe that practically reinvents the sweet potato.

Any variety of sweet potato may be used, but Garnet is preferred for its rich orange color. (The original recipe calls for parsley instead of cilantro, omits the turmeric, and uses vegetable oil for frying. In case you’re curious…)

Makes about 20 balls.


1) Prep your sweet potato

Roast the sweet potato in a 350° F oven until a fork pierces the skin and flesh easily. Let them cool. Peel the cooled, roasted sweet potatoes, discarding peels.

2) Mash the sweet potatoes

In a large bowl, blend the sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth.

3) Combine ingredients

Add the onion, milk, butter, ginger and turmeric, flour, and cilantro.
Blend the mixture until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste; if the breadcrumbs are salted, reduce the amount of salt.

4) Roll out your balls

Put 2 cups bread crumbs onto a plate or in a shallow bowl.
Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of sweet potato mixture into the breadcrumbs and roll until fully coated; repeat until all the sweet potato mixture is used up.

5) Fry the balls

Heat 1/4 cup coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Drop the sweet potato balls into the hot oil. Brown on all sides and set aside to drain.

Keep the finished balls warm in oven until all are ready.


Over to You

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