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Sweet Potato Balls Rolled in Pecans: A Holiday Favorite

Preview: These Sweet Potato Balls are mashed sweet potatoes formed into balls and covered with chopped pecans, then baked–an impressive side dish, for sure.

Pecan Crusted Sweet Potato Balls-ready to serve

When certain produce like sweet potatoes go on sale, how do you resist buying too many? I can’t. Then I find myself with an overabundance of sweet potatoes and few ideas for how to prepare them.

Several years ago, my friend Debbie came to the rescue with her Baked Sweet Potato Balls recipe. So now I’m sharing my version of her recipe.

Sweet Potato Balls with a Pecan Crust are seasoned, mashed sweet potatoes formed into balls, rolled in a spicy egg white mixture, then coated with pecans. Make these a tradition on your Thanksgiving menu.

What makes these 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 that results in a rich, concentrated sweet potato flavor.

Marshmallows seem to find their way into many sweet potato casseroles served around the holidays, but I finally decided to say “no” to vegetable desserts.

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 come from Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and cayenne.

 Sweet Potato Balls--single one on a small plate

Can this sweet potato recipe be made ahead?

Admittedly, these sweet potato balls are a little trouble. But, 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 Sweet Potato Balls:

raw sweet potatotes
Slice peeled sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Then, add six tablespoons of water and sweet potatoes to a medium pot. Cover. Cook on medium-low for 25-30 minutes, occasionally stirring until the potatoes are soft.
making the egg white dipping mixture
While sweet potatoes cook, make an egg white dipping mixture. Start by whisking egg whites, salt, and water in a small bowl until frothy. Then, add spices and whisk again.
preparing the pecans to coat Sweet Potato Balls
Form balls between 1/4-1/2 cup size. I like to use a spring-loaded ice cream dipper and wear surgical gloves.
dipping the balls in a spicy sauce
Use a slotted spoon to dip each sweet potato ball in the egg white mixture.
covering the Sweet Potato Balls with nuts
Cover with chopped pecans.
brushing the sweet potatoes with a glaze.
Place balls on a prepared baking sheet. Brush with butter. Bake at 400˚ F for 15-20 minutes.

More Sweet Potato Recipes

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Pecan Crusted Sweet Potato Balls

Spicy Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Balls Recipe

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.
Paula Rhodes
4.5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Vegetables and Side Dishes
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes - fresh
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Egg White Coating

  • 2 egg whites - from large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar - granulated
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons butter - melted


  • Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a 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˚ F. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with parchment paper, a silicone mat, or grease it well.
  • Mix egg whites, water, sugar, 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 the egg white mixture with a slotted spoon making sure the whole ball gets coated. Then cover each ball with finely-chopped pecans.
  • Place on a 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: 1gCalories: 341kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 5gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 564mgPotassium: 527mgFiber: 6gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 16376IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 1mg
Keyword celebrations, Christmas, holiday vegetables, pecans, Thanksgiving
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Updated May 2020

Recipe Rating

Mai Solutions

Monday 7th of January 2019

These look amazing!

Mai Solutions

Friday 14th of December 2018

These look amazing!


Tuesday 20th of November 2018

I have never heard of Swerve. Where do you buy it? Cannot wait to make this for my family. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday 20th of November 2018

You can get it at places like Whole Foods and Sprouts in our area. It's also available on Amazon (usually cheaper) here. It is a little pricey so I save it for special occasions.


Thursday 14th of October 2010

Oh my gosh, this looks amazing! I tell you your site always makes me so hungry when I'm done visiting it. Anyway, I'm making these ASAP.

Linda K. Gill

Saturday 26th of December 2009

Our son-in-law is the only one in our family who likes sweet potatoes as much I do. Actually, he likes them better since he orders sweet potato fries instead of french fries (are they only in Louisiana?) Anyway, he will be surprised when I make these!