Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

Oh you are going to need to drink some cheap Bourbon to get over the ugliness photographed here. 

Yes.  It looks like a pile of...well...mashy-mush. And yes, it is so very yucky looking.

But hey, don't judge a book by its cover. Ever.

I now know cheap Bourbon and sweet potatoes are a perfect foodie marriage.  

And as ugly and bad as it looks, it is one of those ridiculously good tasting dishes. 

Not all food photographs well.  

Now if it was ugly and tasted gross, well into the trash it would go, but I urge you to make this. It's pretty fabulous.  I wouldn't lead you astray.

Anyway, this sweet potato mash is full of decadent flavor (check out the ingredients). It's the perfect holiday side to pass around with the ham, turkey, prime rib, pork or whatever you are having. This will definitely grace my holiday table in all of its ugly glory. We don't discriminate against ugly food at the Noble Pig house. 

And don't worry, the bourbon addition does not give this an alcohol taste, it just enhances the flavor, making it complex and delicious.You wouldn't even know it was there unless you added it yourself. Bourbon is sneaky like that. Although, a few swigs of the stuff will help you get past the authentic looks of this dish.

Here's what you'll need: Sweet potatoes, bourbon, maple syrup, heavy cream, butter (budda'), ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and walnuts.

Roast 4 pounds of red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams) on a rimmed baking sheet at 375 degrees until tender; about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  You can leave your potatoes whole or slice them in half like I did.

Cool the potatoes slightly and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash them until a puree forms.

Heat 3/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally.  Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes.

Stir in 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, 2 Tablespoons bourbon, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground allspice and 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.  The recipe indicated to season with salt and pepper. I didn't but you can if you want.

You can also prepare this up to this point and refrigerate up until one day ahead.  Cover and chill.  Rewarm in the microwave.

Sprinkle with 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped; serve.  It's really, really delicious.  Really.

No, I'm the ugly duckling.  No I am.  No...I am.  No...I am.  I've had so many inquiries about my wooden ducks so here's...err....another one!  He totally wants the ugly mash, can you tell?

I promise, promise these are not weird hairs growing out of a's fiber! You can get past it. Now, open up for a bite, k?

Print Recipe

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

Recipe from: | Serves: 8-10


  • 4 lbs red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup walnuts toasted, chopped


  • Roast red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams) on a rimmed baking sheet at 375 degrees until tender; about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. You can leave your potatoes whole or slice them in half like I did.
  • Cool the potatoes slightly and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash them until a puree forms. Heat butter and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes.
  • Stir in pure maple syrup, bourbon, ground cinnamon, ground allspice and ground nutmeg.Season with salt and pepper if you like.
  • You can also prepare this up to this point and refrigerate up until one day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm in the microwave.
  • Sprinkle with walnuts, toasted and chopped; serve

Need more Bourbon in your Holiday menu? Check this out:

21 Bourbon-Spiked Holiday Recipes

Post a Comment


  1. HoneyB 1

    I’d eat it in a heartbeat!

  2. Philly 2

    I’ll close my eyes when eating it.


  3. Some of my ugliest foods have been my tastiest!

  4. Now that looks good!!!!

  5. I actually think it LOOKS good. But I love sweet potatoes and walnuts. And well, I don’t drink, so I’d probably just leave the bourbon out and I’m sure it will still be good, maybe not AS good, but I’d do it! (I make a similar dish anyway and use pecans.)

  6. Hi Cathy. I just found your terrific blog through Mary at One Perfect Bite. Are you an Oregonian? I enjoyed your photos of the coast, love all your photos actually. You’ve got some great reading here.

    Thanks for all the gift giving suggestions.

  7. Paula 7

    You had me at bourbon! I think it looks quite tasty!!

  8. I truet you, Cathy… I suspect that after one bite, I am assured it is really quite lovely indeed :)

    Would it work to put this in a pre-baked small fluted pastry shell for serving ?

    Hope that you have a great Sunday, and are enjoying your holidays so far…

    How is troublemaking fence neighbor ?

    Loving Annie

  9. Alisa 9

    You are making me so glad that I haven’t had time to do my holiday baking and meal planning yet. I am loving you!

  10. tipper 10

    Who cares what it looks like-taste is what matters!

  11. Hmmm. I happen to love mashy mush, and these potatoes look delish! A perfect side dish for any meal!

  12. melissa 12

    I love sweet potato’s with anything but marshmellow. The nuts sound yummy and I think I can find some cheap bourbon around here somewhere.

  13. I’m with Melissa…I love sweet potatoes but not with marshmallows (even though I love marshmallows by themselves). I might make this for Christmas dinner this year…my in-laws would love it!

  14. ELRA 14

    It doesn’t look that ugly, in fact it look pretty appetizing with all of those spices that you’ve added, plus the bourbon. I am sure it was delicious.
    I made Baeckaoffa for this month, and had submitted mine at the beginning of Dec.

  15. Sandie 15

    …proving once again, that not everything that looks great tastes good, and not everything that looks mashy-mush tastes bad. But honestly, I don’t think this looks unappealing at all—I love sweet potatoes and cheap whiskey or not, I’d give this recipe a whirl anytime.

  16. Bob 16

    Looks good to me! Of course, I’m not too fussy about appearance. You should see my stroganoff. :)

  17. Mary 17

    Bourbon improves one’s outlook. This doesn’t look at all bad. I think you’ve got a winner here. I’m, too, late to participate this month, but I’ll be with you in January.

  18. This looks really yummy! I love sweet potatoes, walnuts and maple syrup!

  19. Biz 19

    My mom puts pure maple syrup on her sweet potatoes all the time – not a huge fan of them, but maybe I’ll try this one!

  20. There ain’t nothin’ ugly about these beauties!

  21. marcy 21

    Looks yummy, not that ugly… might try it:)

  22. Maureen 22

    Ugly? I think it looks DEE-LICIOUS!! I am so making this on Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  23. KathyB. 23

    You’re right, this is not a pretty picture. As I don’t like potatoes, ( please don’t hate me )I asked my husband if he thought it looked good and he said YES!So I think we just might make it for him and a few of his friends.

    I have wondered about pictures and some recipes,some really don’t photograph well, but are tasty, like some people !

  24. M Ayers 24

    I dunno about this one. It should definitely win an ugly contest. Since I was little, I really hated mushy food. I can’t even eat mashed potatoes. Slime and mush in my mouth are definitely a no-no.

    If its any consolation, the ingredients sound delish.

  25. Linda 25

    This is exactly how I make it. And I use walnuts too, not pecans like in other recipes, because my dad has walnut trees, and they’re free. The taste is divine. And if you make a nice lemon-bourbon cocktail you won’t care if it’s an ugly dish!

  26. Harmony 26

    I don’t know…I bet that looks great on a prepared plate. What an amazing recipe..and I do love the colors (orange being one of my favorites).

    I am slowly coming back…things have been a mess with the move, don’t worry (hehe as if you would ;-) ) I will catch up on every post that I have missed!

  27. I don’t think it looks ugly! It looks good! I like your duck too…

  28. Now hold on a sec! You mean I am not the first one to come up with the idea of putting cheap bourbon whiskey in sweet potatoes? I did this on Thanksgiving on a whim, inspired by a few Pioneer Woman recipes…and the whiskey which I’d sampled in making them. I simply added a healthy splash to one of the dishes of sweet potatoes that gets topped with mini marshmallows. I figured what the heck, you can’t mess that up. So, sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little bit of cloves and nutmeg–there are no measurements for this recipe, you just know when it looks right–add in a splash of Jack Daniels and top with mini marshmallows during the last few minutes of baking. They were a hit and I’ve been meaning to make them again just to figure out measurements and document the whole process. But I’ve been too busy. And now this recipe looks even better. I think I’ll make it instead. Nothing perks up an ordinary dish like a little Jack Daniels. Try it in your morning coffee to help perk yourself up as well. It’s good to the last drop!

  29. It does look ugly. I think I’ll pass on this one.

  30. TSannie 30

    I adore sweet potatoes and those look delicious!

  31. Leslie 31

    I think your orange Mashy mush is delicious looking!

  32. I do not discriminate based on looks!! I would gobble this down anytime!

  33. Cath,
    I am going to have to disagree w/ you here.
    I don’t think this is ugly at all.
    In fact, the nuts make it very attractive!
    Stacey Snacks

  34. Sharon 34

    Wow, that looks so beautiful!! Amazing!!

  35. Louise 35

    With sweet potatoes, its all about the love, baby. And you’re certainly showing the love!

  36. You had me at Bourbon! I do love me some good Tennessee whiskey!

    But why “cheap bourbon” How’s about some decent stuff? They say that whenever cooking with alcohol (wine/spirits) to choose quality ingredients including the wine/spirits used.

    Gonna have to try this one!

  37. Booze and carbs – perfection! :P

  38. Lori 38

    This post is so funny. But it does look like it tastes good! :)

  39. Why don’t I find it ugly? I think it’s lovely! I must get back on spud track!

  40. megan 40

    With those ingredients, who cares what it looks like. That is my kind of mash!

  41. Daziano 41

    Yummy!!!! I like the idea of walnuts! I’d do that next time I make my ricotta mashed sweet potatoes!

  42. Pam 42

    Sometimes the tastiest foods don’t photograph well. These look amazing – I love the walnuts. YUM!

  43. grace 43

    i don’t think it’s ugly at all. anything with flecks of cinnamon is beautiful in my eyes. :)

  44. sweet potatoes are NEVER ugly. YUM. I make something very similar to this. I add baking powder (yes, I do) and fold in crushed pineapple. It’s our traditional Thanksgiving yam/yum dish. Haven’t ever added bourbon though…hmmm.

  45. dawn 45

    looks good to me…who cares what it looks like as long as it gets the job of satisfaction done. yeah!

  46. Well, I think this looks fantastic (though I’ll take the bourbon anyway…)
    Sweet potatoes are pretty much the best thing ever, and this dish looks like it odes them justice!

  47. absolutely amazing looking imho
    great dish
    very delicious looking
    the ingredient list is stellar

  48. Ugly is as Ugly does…Tee hee hee.
    This looks awesome…may have to take it to my mom’s house :)

    Don’t worry, NP – my potato ho entry is one of it’s step sisters…beautiful on the inside!!

  49. Deborah 49

    I don’t think there is such a thing as an ugly potato dish!!

  50. Kitarra 50

    Wanna know a secret?

    You can save yourself a fair bit of time and bother if instead of baking the sweet potatoes you cook them in the butter/cream mixture instead. This is what I do for thanksgivings.

    I slice the potatoes really thin and cook them in the mashing liquid until they are soft enough to mash. Takes about 15-20 minutes on the stove top.

    Cooking in the mashing liquid produces a creamier sweet potato. It also allows you to introduce flavors. Last year I steeped the cream with a little cilantro and garlic. This year I added a little thyme to the cream.

    Oh and BTW a fabulous addition to this is some chipotle. One or two finely chopped and their sauce is incredible.

  51. Jackie 51

    Hi Cathy

    I was wondering if I could add some more sweeteners (sugar, more maple syrup) to the mix because I like my sweet potato dish real sweet, that 1/4 cup of maple syrup is not enough to sweeten my 4 pounds of potatoes for me. It just want be sweet enough. Thank You.

  52. Hi,
    Ugly Is Only Skin Deep is an Achievement in Halo Wars that is worth 70 Gamerscore. It is obtained for beating Act 3 on any difficulty.[1] Act 3 consists of the missions Anders’ Signal, The Flood, Shield World and Cleansing. The name of the achievement is a famous adage, and is a reference to the flood, which are first encountered in this act.

  53. Greg Bright 53

    Leave it to me to nitpick, but what is the exact butter amount to be used. 6T is 3 oz., not 3/4 cup (6 oz.). Which is it? We’re having a pitch-in at work Tuesday, and I thought I’d bring this instead of the sweet potato pone (very complicated recipe) that I usually take.

  54. Noble Pig 54

    You are so right…thanks for noticing that!!  6 Tablespoons is the right amount.  Thanks again, I’ll change it.


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