Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Sage

Mashed sweet potatoes are a holiday favorite in the USA. Although it is sweetened lightly with maple syrup, this version is more savory than sweet and incorporates fried sage leaves into the mash.

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Looking down into a white bowl with mashed sweet potatoes decorated with fried sage leaves, a soon and an orange plaid kitchen towel.How to Make Mashed Sweet Potatoes

It’s not hard to make mashed sweet potatoes. They are basically a cooked sweet potato that you mash into mush. How you cook those sweet potatoes is up to you. You can boil them (as I do here), steam them, bake them, air-fry them, pressure cook them or even microwave them. Once cooked, the most important part is how you season them and that’s where a recipe might help. In this recipe for mashed sweet potatoes I fall back on a solid rule that covers all my recipes – keep it simple.

Ingredients on a cutting board - sweet potatoes, sage, butter, cream and maple syrup with an orange kitchen towel in the background.

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Contrary to many, I am not a fan of the overly sweet sweet potato dish that lands on so many Thanksgiving tables. I like to keep my savory side dishes savory and that’s what you’ll find here. I do like to add a little maple syrup because it enhances the natural sweetness of the sweet potato and the flavor pairs so nicely, but there’s not enough to make this recipe really sweet. A little fried sage adds a nice herb note, and the heavy cream and butter give it a decadence making it a go-to side dish on the table. 

fried sage leaves on a paper towel-lined plate.

Sage and Options

I fried the sage leaves in this recipe to give them a little texture in the potato mash. Fry them a few at a time, for just a few seconds before pulling them out and draining on a paper towel. They should still have a nice green color. The leaves in the photo above on the left have cooked too long. If this happens to you, it’s not a crisis, just fry the next batch for less time. If you don’t want to fry the sage, you can absolutely chop the fresh sage and stir that into your sweet potatoes once mashed. If you’re not a fan of sage, try fresh thyme.

Looking down into a stainless steel stockpot with cooked sweet potato chunks inside, butter, maple syrup, a wooden spoon and a hand mixer next to it.

How to Mash Sweet Potatoes

You also have options on how to mash your sweet potatoes. You can use a standard potato masher, bash them around with a good wooden spoon, push them through a potato ricer or food mill or you could use your hand mixer for the task. Now, I’m not usually a proponent of using a hand mixer to mash potatoes, but that’s when you’re dealing with Russets or Yukon Gold potatoes. The starch content is much higher in a regular potato and using a hand mixer can make those potatoes gluey. With a sweet potato and less starch, you don’t run this risk, so grab that hand mixer and save your arm strength for when it’s time to eat!

A hand using a hand mixer to mash sweet potatoes in a stainless steel stockpot.

Making Mashed Sweet Potatoes Ahead

You can absolutely make mashed sweet potatoes ahead of time. Go ahead and store them in an airtight container in your refrigerator. When it’s time for dinner, you can re-heat these potatoes in the microwave, giving them a stir a couple of times during the re-heat. You can also re-heat them in a pot, stirring regularly and adding a little more butter and cream. Or, you could re-heat them in a covered casserole in the oven at 325˚F for about 20 minutes, stirring them halfway through.

Looking down into a pot of mashed sweet potatoes with crumbled fried sage leaves in it.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Sage

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 25 m
  • Servings:
    to 8 people


  • pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves about 1 cup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup heavy cream optional
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a 6-quart stock pot and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium, season the water with salt and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender to a knife point.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, pre-heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and fry the sage leaves until they are fragrant and slightly crispy – about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fried sage leaves to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain well. Return the potatoes to the pot and immediately add the butter and ¼ cup of the maple syrup.
  4. Using a potato masher, food mill or an electric hand mixer, mash the potatoes until smooth. If desired, add the heavy cream for creamier sweet potatoes.
  5. Reserve the prettiest fried sage leaves for the final garnish. Break up the remaining sage leaves and fold them into the mashed sweet potatoes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and more of the remaining maple syrup. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining sage leaves.
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