I hate to play Friendsgiving favorites (but to play Friendsgiving favorites), Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes are the side dish most likely to steal my heart. Not only are sweet potatoes the superior Thanksgiving vegetable (biased much?), but this foolproof method of cooking mashed sweet potatoes in a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot is transformative when you are the one hosting the feast.
We’re in our fifth year of hosting Friendsgiving. Every year, we hit the same roadblock: I run out of space in the oven.
It’s not the mad chaos of 30 guests jockeying for seats at our table—and couch, card table, and when desperate, the stairs—that irks me (my friends are excellent sports) or even the fact that last year we drank wine out of empty jam jars because I ran out of glasses.
What does give me the hostess heebie jeebies? The side dishes my friends worked hard to prepare going cold.
Between the two turkeys and 15+ sides, there’s simply not space for my oven to keep everything warm, which is why I treasure Thanksgiving recipes like these Instant Pot mashed sweet potatoes. The cooking vessel itself keeps them warm, no oven required.
The first time I cooked potatoes in a pressure cooker was when I discovered these Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes. I completely fell in love with the results. The process is incredibly easy, I only had one pot to wash at the end, and the results are fantastic. They have the best texture and flavor of any mashed potatoes I’ve tried.
I decided to try the Instant Pot approach with sweet potatoes, and oh my. They are going to have to battle it out with Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole and Glazed Sweet Potatoes for my favorite Thanksgiving side.
If Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving is in your future this year, do yourself (and your host) a favor: make a side dish that doesn’t involve the oven.
If you’re the one hosting, using appliances like the Instant Pot will give you more flexibility to use your oven for other recipes or to keep dishes hot.
If you’re the guest, watch for the gratitude in your hostess’ eyes when she sees that you arrived with a dish in something that can stay hot without having to go into her oven. Bonus points if you remember your own serving spoon.
How to Make the Best Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
This recipe and the accompanying tips are an excellent place to start if you’d like classic, perfect Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes. For those looking to vary it up, I’ve also included a few of my favorite additions to give the recipe a more creative spin.
- Sweet Potatoes. The heart of fall flavor! I never grow weary of them, and even prefer them over regular white potatoes. Plus, they’re packed with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
- Fresh Herbs. A few tablespoons of fresh herbs instantly make these sweet potatoes taste special. Try ½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or ½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or a mix. I do not recommend dry herbs; their flavor simply will not be the same. Fresh is worth it here!
- Butter. I mean, it is the holidays. This recipe uses a moderate amount. You can taste it, but it won’t overwhelm the sweet potatoes or the other dishes on the plate.
- Garlic. Since these mashed sweet potatoes are on the lighter side, I find the additional level of complexity from the garlic works wonders to boost their flavor and keep them just as satisfying as classic recipes.
- Milk. I recommend a minimum of 2% milk fat to give the sweet potatoes richness. For an even richer flavor, use whole.
- Add about 3/4 cup very warm water to your Instant Pot. Stir in a pinch of salt until it dissolves, then place the sweet potatoes in the steamer basket. Cover and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Immediately release the pressure.
- Drain the potatoes, and remove the basket and any excess water.
- Place the insert back into the pot and turn to sauté. Melt the butter, add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Turn off the Instant Pot. Then, add the drained potatoes, milk, and spices.
- With a hand mixer to make life easy, beat the potatoes until combined and your desired consistency is reached. Place potatoes in a serving bowl, and add desired toppings. ENJOY!
Tips for Light, Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Do not overmix. Overmixing the sweet potatoes can cause them to become dense and lose their light, creamy texture. This is because as they are mixed, they release their starches. As soon as they reach your desired consistency, reduce the urge to fuss with them further.
- To make sure your mashed sweet potatoes don’t have a gummy texture, mash them while they’re hot. As the sweet potatoes cool, the starch is released, and released starch leads to a gummier mashed sweet potato.
The Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams
Because I ask myself this every Thanksgiving. Here’s the scoop.
- Sweet potatoes have a sweeter flavor and are typically thin with narrow ends. They can come in a variety of colors, including white and purple.
- Yams are not very sweet and are typically the size and shape of a small potato.
- It can be challenging to know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato, because many grocery stores may not refer to them as you’d expect. Grocery stores began to refer to the orange-skinned, firmer sweet potatoes as “yams” to differentiate them from the lighter-skinned, softer variety of sweet potatoes, even though they are not technically yams.
- Typically in North America, sweet potatoes will have a smooth, orange flesh. Yams, on the other hand, will have a dry, dark skin that resembles bark. Yams are not often sold in the U.S.
- For this recipe, you’ll want to find an orange, smooth-skinned sweet potato with brightly colored flesh, no matter what the grocery store calls it. These have the perfect sweet flavor and texture for this dish.
How to Make Ahead and Store Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- To Store. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- To Make Ahead & Reheat for a Party. For best results, make the recipe up to 1 day in advance. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, reheat gently in a bowl set over simmering water, thinning with a bit of milk as needed and stirring every 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with extra fresh herbs prior to serving.
- To Reheat a Single Serving Quickly. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove with a splash of milk to keep the sweet potatoes from drying out.
Recipe Variations & Dietary Notes
- Chipotle Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Stir ½ tablespoon diced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus ½ tablespoon adobo sauce (from the can of chiles) into the sweet potatoes. If you’d like them hotter, add an additional ½ tablespoon sauce.
- Orange Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Add the zest of 1 orange; swap half of the milk for the same amount of freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Vanilla Bean Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Stir the caviar scraped from 2 vanilla bean pods, 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract into the mashed sweet potatoes at the end.
- Vegan Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Use coconut milk in place of the regular milk and coconut oil in place of the butter.
- Paleo Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Use coconut milk in place of the regular milk and ghee in place of the butter.
- Mashed Butternut Squash. Prefer the flavor of butternut squash? Try this Mashed Butternut Squash recipe instead.
What to Serve with Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Turkey or Ham. Of course, the classic holiday mains like turkey and ham would pair wonderfully with this dish!
- Chicken. For a delicious weeknight dinner, serve these mashed sweet potatoes with Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Apples and Brussels Sprouts or Lemon Butter Chicken.
- Veggies. Serve this with Grilled Cauliflower Steaks or Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Kale for a yummy meat-free meal.
More Thanksgiving Sides That Don’t Require an Oven
- Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes
- Crock Pot Stuffing
- Slow Cooker Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup, Cranberries and Feta
- Crock Pot Creamed Corn
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Recommended Tools to Make Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Instant Pot. I own this one, and it’s great!
- Hand Mixer. Perfect for creating the creamy mashed sweet potato consistency (and way faster than a potato masher!)
In addition to making an easy-travel, stay-hot side for a special occasion, these Instant Pot mashed sweet potatoes are simple enough and healthy enough for an everyday side dish when you’re looking to add some vegetables to your plate. Give them a test run. I think you’ll agree!
Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks; about 3 large potatoes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or mix, plus additional for serving
- Any optional additions see blog post above for suggestions
- Let your tap run until the water is very warm. Add 3/4 cup to the bottom of an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. Stir in 2 teaspoons kosher salt until it dissolves. Insert the steamer basket and place the sweet potato chunks in the basket. Cover and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Immediately release the pressure.
- Drain the potatoes and remove the steamer basket and any excess liquid from the Instant Pot. Set aside.
- Immediately place the now empty Instant Pot insert back into the pot and turn to SAUTE. Melt the butter. As soon as the butter is melted add the garlic. Let cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot. Add the drained potatoes to the pot. Add the milk, pepper, herbs, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- With a hand mixer, beat the potatoes on medium speed until the ingredients are combined and your desired consistency is reached, being careful not to overmix. (You can also use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon). Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs as desired.
- To keep the potatoes warm before serving, place them in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and stir the potatoes occasionally to ensure that they heat evenly. You can also leave the potatoes in the Instant Pot on “keep warm.” Stir them periodically and add additional milk if they become too thick.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove with a splash of milk to keep the sweet potatoes from drying out.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: For best results, make the recipe up to 1 day in advance. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, reheat gently in a bowl set over simmering water, thinning with a bit of milk as needed and stirring every 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with extra fresh herbs prior to serving.
- TO MAKE ON THE STOVE: Peel and cut potatoes into 1 1/2-inch-thick round slices. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water so that you have at least 1 inch above the potatoes. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer to a low simmer and keep at a low simmer the whole time the potatoes cook, adjusting the heat as needed. At the 18-minute mark, start testing the potatoes for doneness. As soon as a paring knife slides into the middle of one of the potato slices easily, drain immediately. Proceed with the recipe as directed.
- The nutritional info is was calculated with half the amount of salt in the water (1 teaspoon), as some is lost when the potatoes drain. If you would like to calculate it differently, you can do so for free at myfitnesspal.com
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