Thanksgiving dessert or side dish – you decide.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many are already trying to decide what they’re going to make this year. Perhaps you’re ready to mix it up and try something new. These Sweet Potato Balls are a perfect example of how you don’t have to add a ton of sugar to make sweet potatoes tasty. Their natural sweetness in this dish is enhanced by the coconut and pecans. It’s a little bit like Sweet Potato Pie…without the marshmallows!

Sweet Potato Balls

2-3 large sweet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs)
1 TB orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake or steam sweet potatoes until tender. If baking, pierce each potato a few times with a fork and wrap tightly in aluminum foil, shiny side out. Bake at least 1 hour or until soft. Remove from oven, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and discard skins. Cut potatoes into smaller pieces. If steaming, cook 25-30 minutes or according to your steamer’s directions.

Put potatoes and orange juice in a food processor or blender, and purée until smooth. Add orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir well.

Lightly spray a baking sheet and set aside. Place coconut and pecans in a shallow dish. Wet hands slightly and roll potato mixture into a small ball (about the size of a golf ball). Roll in coconut and pecans, and place on baking sheet. You should be able to make 10-12 balls.
Bake 15 minutes, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • To simplify this recipe, you can spread cooked and pureed sweet potato mixture into an 8×8 baking dish that has been lightly sprayed or oiled. Top with coconut and pecans, and bake 15 minutes. 
  • You can purchase pecans in “cookie pieces,” which means that they are already finely chopped for you.
  • Add 1/4 cup raisins before rolling into balls.
  • Mix in 1/2 cup finely ground oats.