Spicy Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Balls are seasoned, mashed sweet potatoes formed into balls, rolled in a spicy egg white mixture, then coated with pecans. Grain-free and gluten-free.
I am out of control in the grocery store the week preceding a big holiday. What can I say? The specials are irresistible. Doesn’t matter if nobody is coming to my house for dinner. Who can resist sweet potatoes for 33 or even 59 cents a pound?
Consequently, I find myself with an overabundance of sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving. It’s a great problem.
Several years ago, my friend Debbie came to my rescue with her recipe for Sweet Potato Balls. After making it her way for a few years, I completely revised the recipe. You may have noticed how I like to do that.
What Makes These Spicy Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Balls Special?
The technique for cooking the sweet potatoes comes from the Nov-Dec 2018 issue of Cooks Country. It’s a simple task on top of the stove but results in a rich and concentrated sweet potato flavor.
Marshmallows seem to find their way into many sweet potato casseroles served around the holidays but I finally decided to just say “no.” Instead, I use a little bit of Swerve (but you can use sugar or your favorite sweetener) to get the slightly “sweet” flavor in the sweet and spicy pecan coating. The “spicy” notes comes from Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and cayenne.
Admittedly, these sweet potato balls are a little trouble. Luckily, you can do most of the work ahead of time. Prepare balls and bake at your convenience. When cool, wrap sweet potato balls well and freeze. Allow to thaw and reheat in the oven before serving.
How To Make Spicy Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Balls:
Slice peeled sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Add 6 tablespoons water and sweet potatoes to medium pot and cover. Cook on medium-low for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are soft.
While sweet potatoes cook, make egg white dipping mixture. Start by whisking egg whites, salt and water in a small bowl until frothy. Add spices and whisk again.
Form balls between 1/4-1/2 cup size. I like to use a spring-loaded ice cream dipper and wear surgical gloves.
Use a slotted spoon to dip each sweet potato ball in egg white mixture.
Cover with chopped pecans.
Place balls on a prepared baking sheet. Brush with butter. Bake at 400 degrees F 15-20 minutes.
These mashed sweet potatoes are formed into balls, rolled in a spicy egg white mixture, and then rolled in chopped pecans. They are a delicious make-ahead alternative to marshmallow, butter, and sugar-laden sweet potato casseroles.
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or my fave sweetener, Swerve)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups finely chopped pecans
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Peel and cut sweet potatoes in 1/2-inch slices. Place in covered pot with 6 tablespoons water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until potatoes are soft. Usually takes 20-25 minutes.
- Mash with a fork or potato masher. (Do not use a mixer, food processor or immersion blender as they will cause sweet potatoes to be too soft.)
- Season with salt and cayenne.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with parchment paper, a silicone mat or greasing it well.
- Mix egg whites, water, and salt with a fork until frothy. Add Worcestershire sauce, paprika and cayenne. Mix well.
- Spread chopped pecans on a piece of wax paper or a plate.
- Make sweet potato balls using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop. I like balls between 1/8 to 1/4 cup size. (Surgical gloves are really helpful here.) Drop balls one at a time into egg white mixture with a slotted spoon making sure the whole ball gets coated. Then cover ball with finely-chopped pecans.
- Place on prepared cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nuts become toasty and balls are heated through.
- If you have any of the egg white mixture left over, here’s an idea. Add a tablespoon of melted butter to the mixture and stir. Add more pecans–maybe 1/2 cup. Pour onto a greased or silicone mat-covered baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until toasty. These are so good crumbled over a salad. Or…. you could just eat them straight up like I do.
- The nutritional estimates on this recipe may be a little high because you will probably have a little bit of the egg mixture and butter left over after making the balls.
- Serving Size: 1/8
- Calories: 315
- Sugar: 7.1 g
- Sodium: 299 mg
- Fat: 22 g
- Carbohydrates: 27 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Cholesterol: 11 mg
Keywords: Thanksgiving, Christmas, sweet potatoes, pecans, celebrations
A version of this recipe was originally published in December 2009. It has been updated with new pictures and the recipe has been revised to reflect how I make it in 2018.