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Sweet Potato Balls Rolled in Pecans: A Holiday Favorite

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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.

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 recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Balls.  This is my version.

Pecan Crusted Sweet Potato Balls-ready to serve

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 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 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. 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. 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.
making the egg white dipping mixture
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.
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 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 degrees F 15-20 minutes.

More Sweet Potato Recipes

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Hope to see you again soon!

p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: paula at

Yield: 8 servings

Spicy Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Balls Recipe

Pecan Crusted Sweet Potato Balls

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.

Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Season with salt and cayenne.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with parchment paper, a silicone mat or greasing it well.
  5. Mix egg whites, water, and salt with a fork until frothy. Add Worcestershire sauce, paprika and cayenne. Mix well.
  6. Spread chopped pecans on a piece of wax paper or a plate.
  7. 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.
  8. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter.
  9. 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 334Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 490mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 5g

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Updated May 2020

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