Sweet potatoes have always been a popular addition to Thanksgiving dinner, but over the past few years this tasty tuber has gone from a seasonal treat to an everyday staple food. The average American eats almost twice as many sweet potatoes as they did 10 years ago, and restaurants offer a range of tempting sweet potato recipes, including the now-common option to upgrade to sweet potato fries.
The reason for sweet potato’s popularity isn’t hard to see. It is extremely versatile - in fact, it can be used in any way you might use a regular potato, but with that all-important touch of sweetness to add extra interest. What’s more, sweet potato is lower in carbohydrates than regular potato and packed full of essential nutrients, leading some to hail it as a ‘superfood’. It is an excellent source of antioxidants, potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese, with one cup providing over half of your daily value for vitamin C, and a whopping 7 times the daily value for vitamin A. This makes it an important plant-based source of vitamin A for vegetarians and vegans, and it is also one of the few sources of carbohydrate permitted on the paleo diet.
With sweet potato becoming a part of most people’s everyday diet, you’re likely to find yourself with leftovers every now and again. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious ways to use them up, with enough variety that you won’t feel like you’re eating the same thing twice. So next time you have sweet potato leftovers, make the most of them with one of these tasty and nutritious recipe ideas.
Sweet potato pancakes are an established part of the brunch scene. With their fluffy but substantial texture and savoury-sweet flavour, they’re perfect served with crispy bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup, and they also work just as well with chopped fruit and cream. Sweet potato pancakes topped with banana slices make a healthy breakfast that feels like a treat. Because they’re already sweet, there’s no need to add sugar, and they’re a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables.
We love these moist, fluffy sweet potato pancakes from Serious Eats. They’re quick and easy to make, so you can have brunch ready in minutes when friends drop over unannounced.
Sweet potato cakes are another brunch favourite, and they also make a tasty side dish for lunch or dinner. With just a few pantry staples and some seasonings required to make them, they represent a budget friendly option, and you can adapt them to include cheese or a few chilli flakes if you like.
These crispy cakes go great with all your favourite breakfast items, and they’re particularly great at soaking up the yolk from a poached or fried egg. We especially enjoy these decadent cheesy mashed potato cakes from Café Delites for their crispy breadcrumb coating and deliciously cheesy filling.
Turning your leftover sweet potatoes into soup couldn’t be simpler. In fact, leftovers are often considered best for soup-making, because they add extra seasonings from the first time they were cooked.
Sweet potatoes make a hearty and flavourful soup, and pair particularly well with earthy spices like cumin and garam masala or lighter, more fragrant Thai flavours like ginger and coconut milk. Their similarity to carrot means that the two are often used together for a subtly multilayered flavour.
One of our favourites is this curried sweet potato soup from Cityline. Rich and well-spiced, this recipe is especially designed to use up your sweet potato leftovers.
Fried to crispy perfection, sweet potato fritters are easy to make, and can be adapted to include your favourite ingredients. If you like your food spicy, turn up the heat with chilli flakes, Cajun pepper or harissa, or add some green veggies like kale or zucchini.
Sweet potato fritters are yet another popular brunch food - add them to a full cooked breakfast, or pair with poached eggs and avocado for the perfect vegetarian brunch. We love these sweet and spicy harissa sweet potato fritters from Taste of Home.
How to store leftover sweet potatoes
It’s important to store your leftovers properly, so they’re at their best when you come to reuse them. Once cooked, anything you’re not going to eat should be refrigerated within 2 hours. Use an airtight container, or a sealable freezer bag for bulky jackets if you can’t fit them easily into a container, and consume within 3 to 5 days.
If you want to keep your leftovers for longer, they will also keep well in the freezer. Jackets should be individually wrapped in foil and placed in a freezer bag, while boiled or mashed potatoes should be sprinkled with lemon juice to avoid discolouration and placed in an airtight container. Stored in this way, sweet potatoes should stay at their best for 10 to 12 months, and will remain safe to eat for even longer.
When you’re ready to use your frozen sweet potatoes, thaw them out by leaving them in the fridge overnight and use within 3 to 4 days. You can also thaw them out in the microwave, but only if you’re going to cook and eat them immediately.
When sweet potatoes are past their best, they may become discoloured, start to smell strange, or turn mushy. If your sweet potatoes are showing any of these signs, it’s time to throw them out.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to really show those sweet potatoes some love. Get your festive fix and create some more tasty and versatile leftovers with these 5 easy sweet potato sides for Thanksgiving that everyone will love.