Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

5 from 4 votes

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Spoon bread is a soft and comforting sweet potato casserole perfect for holiday meals.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

I can’t think of a lovelier Thanksgiving side dish than this orange-hued spoonbread. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and savory and a good compromise for team Sweet Potato Casserole and team Corn Pudding during the holidays.

Sweet potato spoon bread is a winner alongside a Roasted Turkey and a classic Turkey Gravy with some Roasted Honey Mustard Brussels Sprouts. (Leave room for Apple Streusel Pie for dessert!).

But don’t stop there! Sweet potato spoonbread would turn a Roast Chicken into feast, with a green salad to round things off. Maybe even a rotisserie chicken carted home from the supermarket. Who says you have to make the whole meal? You’re busy, I know. I love the concept of going “halfsies” with a meal — make the side dishes, buy the main course. Make the main course, pick up a few sides from the market, or that cute specialty food store that has such a great display of salads.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread in a white baking pan.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread: A soft, fluffy, and comforting sweet potato casserole, perfect for holiday meals (hello, Thanksgiving!).

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Ingredients

Sweet potatoes, maple syrup, spices, cornmeal, and other ingredients on marble surfact.
  • Butter – The butter is split up in this recipe: 1 tablespoon is used to grease the pan and make sure nothing sticks, and 3 tablespoons are melted into the batter.
  • Sweet potatoes – The sweet potatoes are baked until sweet and soft and then mashed before adding to the batter.
  • Whole milk – Makes this spoon bread creamy and soft.
  • Maple syrup – Amplifies the natural sweetness in the potatoes. Use real maple syrup, if possible, not the fake stuff!
  • Cloves – Feel free to add more cloves and/or cinnamon and nutmeg if you’re looking for a more pronounced autumnal flavor like you would find in a sweet potato pie.
  • Cayenne – I love adding a little kick of heat to balance out the sweetness in this casserole.
  • Finely ground cornmeal – Make sure to use the finely ground stuff, as coarser cornmeal will make the spoon bread too heavy.
  • Eggs – The yolks get stirred into the batter for extra richness, while the egg whites are beaten until fluffy and folded into the batter to make it light and airy.
  • Baking powder – Adds extra lift and airiness to this dish.
Sweet Potato Spoon Bread in a pan with a scoop removed.

How to Make Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

  1. Bake the potatoes: Bake the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for about 55 to 60 minutes, until they are very soft. Cool the potatoes. Meanwhile, butter a baking dish.
  2. Make the cornmeal mixture: Combine the milk, molasses, salt, pepper, cloves, and cayenne in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Sprinkle in the cornmeal slowly, whisking all the while, until the mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Mash the potatoes: Peel off the skins and place the sweet potatoes in a bowl. Mash them with a potato masher until fairly smooth (or use a ricer or a fork if that’s what you have).
Woman peeling cooked sweet potatoes.
  1. Make the batter: Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons of the butter and the mashed sweet potatoes into the cornmeal mixture. Stir in the baking powder and the egg yolks.
  2. Whisk the egg whites: In a bowl and using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they just form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the sweet-potato cornmeal mixture, just until barely incorporated.
Mixing whipped egg whites into sweet potato cornbread batter.
  1. Bake: Transfer the batter to the buttered baking dish and bake for 25 to 35 minutes until puffed and golden brown. The middle will still have the slightest jiggle when you wiggle the pan. Serve hot.
Pouring spoonbread batter into dish and holding baked sweet potato spoon bread.

Tips

  • When you whip the egg whites, don’t beat them too much, as it will start to break down the whites.
  • Take your time folding the beaten egg whites into the potato mixture. Stir about ¼ of the mixture into the potatoes first to lighten them up, then gently fold the rest into the sweet potatoes. This allows them to stay fluffy and not deflate once blended into the heavier sweet potato and cornmeal mixture.
  • Serve the spoonbread as soon as possible once you take it from the oven to preserve as much puffiness as possible (but know that it will fall fairly quickly; that’s ok!).
Sweet Potato Spoon Bread on a plate with other Thanksgiving dishes.

FAQs

What is spoon bread?

Spoonbread is a wonderfully old-fashioned dish that should not be relegated to the tables of old-fashioned cooks. It’s a perfect holiday side, a pudding-esque interpretation of grits, a softer version of cornbread, and perfect alongside a roast of any kind. I didn’t grow up with it (it’s enjoyed most in the South of the U.S. and probably has roots in Native American cooking), but I’m definitely bringing it into the family repertoire now!

Why did my spoon bread fall?

When the spoon bread first comes out of the oven, it will be lovely and puffed. It will settle fairly quickly, and that’s ok — it’s not meant to be served like a soufflé, where time is of the essence. If you can get it to the table straight from the oven when it is at its most majestic, great! But really, by the time you serve it up it will have settled into its delicious self anyway. And yes, serve it hot, but second helpings at room temperature are delicious.

What is the difference between spoon bread and cornbread?

The ingredient lists for spoon bread and cornbread may look very similar, but the process is different. Spoon bread is lightened by the addition of beaten egg whites, which makes it softer and more similar to a soufflé. Cornbread is often lightened only by baking powder or baking soda, resulting in a denser texture.

What to Serve With Sweet Potato Spoonbread

Serving of Sweet Potato Spoon Bread.

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5 from 4 votes

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

Spoon bread is a soft and comforting sweet potato casserole perfect for holiday meals.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8 People

Ingredients 

  • 4 tablespoons butter, (divided)
  • 3 sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds)
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 4 large eggs (separated)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a rectangular or oval 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake them for about 55 to 60 minutes, until they are very soft. Remove the potatoes from the oven, and let sit on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
  • While the potatoes are cooling, combine the milk, maple syrup, salt, pepper, cloves, and cayenne in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Sprinkle in the cornmeal slowly, whisking all the while, until the cornmeal is all added. Continue to whisk over the heat until the mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool for about 10 minutes, until almost room temperature.
  • Peel off the skins and place the potatoes in a bowl. Mash them with a potato masher until fairly smooth (or use a ricer or a fork if that’s what you have). Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and the mashed sweet potatoes into the cornmeal mixture. Stir in the baking powder, and then stir in the egg yolks. The batter will be quite thick.
  • In a bowl, using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they just form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the sweet-potato cornmeal mixture, just until barely incorporated (you should still see a steak or two of egg white).
  • Gently transfer the batter to the prepared dish and bake for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on how deep the dish is) until puffed and golden brown. The middle will still have the slightest jiggle when you wiggle the pan. Serve hot.

Notes

  • When you whip the egg whites, don’t beat them too much which will allow the whites to start to break down.
  • Take your time folding the beaten egg whites into the potato mixture. Stir in about ¼ of the mixture into the potatoes first to lighten them up, then gently fold the rest into the sweet potatoes. This allows them to stay fluffy and not deflate once blended into the heavier sweet potato and cornmeal mixture.
  • Serve the spoonbread as soon as possible once you take it from the oven to preserve as much puffiness as possible (but know that it will fall fairly quickly; that’s ok!).

Nutrition

Calories: 242kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 105mg, Sodium: 433mg, Potassium: 456mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 7333IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 164mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. I made this once and it was wonderful. Hot or cold. I was wondering if you thought it might freeze well?

    1. I think the texture wouldn’t hold up so well….but I haven[t tried it so I don’t know for sure. Maybe experiment with some leftovers, and see how they do!