Hundred-Year-Old Spiced Sweet Potato Balls Recipe


I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old winter vegetable recipes, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for Spiced Sweet Potato Balls.

The outside of the Spiced Sweet Potato balls were crisp and browned, while the inside was nutty, rich, and spicy with the warm blend of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. The balls contained ground nuts, which added a nice texture and flavor dimension when combined with sweet potatoes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spiced Sweet Potato Balls

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

3 large sweet potatoes (approximately 3 1/2 cups mashed)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup nuts, ground (I used walnuts.)



Place whole sweet potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (30-45 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Remove the skins from the potatoes then mash until smooth; mix in butter, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Add ground nuts, and stir to combine. Shape into 1-inch balls, then gently roll in flour.

Melt 1/2 inch of shortening in a large skillet.  Slip the sweet potato balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

Cook’s note: The mashed sweet potato mixture is very sticky. The key to success with this recipe  is shaping the balls, and then gently rolling the balls in the flour while continuing to shape.

41 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Spiced Sweet Potato Balls Recipe

  1. I can believe that these are wonderful! Sweet potatoes are used in so many ways. I have deep fried them like potato fries and they are good that way too.

  2. The sweet potato balls look marvelous. I won’t cook them, because we avoid fried foods. However, I am seriously thinking of putting them on my menu to dream about tonight.

  3. This is almost exactly the dish I make as a casserole. I whip cooked sweet potatoes with the same spices, a little butter, and some chopped pecans, then put them in a buttered casserole, topped with a little brown sugar or maple syrup and more chopped pecans. It’s just wonderful, and has been deemed an acceptable substitute for marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes.

    1. Sometimes I think that some people tend forget about sweet potatoes once the holidays are over, but to me they seem like a wonderful winter vegetable.

  4. These sound yummy. I’m surprised I’ve not seen something like that before…thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to give them a try.

    1. I think that you’d enjoy them. I never heard of them either until I saw the recipe in an old magazine. I think that making various kinds of vegetable balls and croquettes was more popular a hundred years ago than what it is now.

  5. These are close to a dish my daughter and I make called Kogumajan. It’s a Korean side dish, made with sweet potato slices (par boiled first), coated in egg and flour, and then pan fried. What makes these out of this world is the dipping sauce. These look great as well.

  6. Hi Sheryl, I just wanted to let you know that I am taking a break from my photo blog. I started a new knitting blog and that is where you can find me if you are interested. I will be following with my new blog the next time I sign in –

      1. Thanks, I am having some kind of tech problem posting to new blog, wordpress is checking it out, so I am back with photo blog tomorrow 🙂

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