Sweet Potato Mash with Mint

Side DishVegetarianSweet Potato

Sweet potatoes cooked and mashed with onions, mint, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil. Puerto Rican boniato recipe.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

If you’ve been following our Simply Recipes updates on Twitter then you know that I recently spent a week in the Bahamas with several other food bloggers at the Club Med Food and Wine Festival (more on that soon). As we were being wined and dined, and treated to amazing 6 and 7 course meals every night I kept my eye out for ideas and recipes that might work well for us at home. The first night’s dinner was spectacular (you can see a list of menus here on Jaden’s site), and included fresh caught wahoo fish served on top of a boniato mint mash. As good as the fish was, I could have skipped it completely and just had a huge plate of the sweet potatoes, they were so good.

Boniato is a sweet potato popular in the Caribbean, light in color, and fluffy when cooked. The chef who prepared the mash was Chef Sean Bernal of The Oceanaire Seafood Room Miami, who recalled to us how his grandmother in Puerto Rico would make him boniato sweet potato with onions and mint. Chef Sean generously shared with us how he prepared the mash, the trick he said was to roast the sweet potatoes so that you get the richness of flavor from the caramelization of the sugars in them. I prepared a couple batches, one boiled and one roasted, and I agree that the roasted approach produces more flavor, but it also takes longer to cook and uses more energy, so if you have time, yes, roast, but if not, boiling works fine too. The real surprise was the combination of the sweet potatoes, crunchy raw chopped onions, and mint. I never would have thought to put mint with sweet potatoes, but it’s a great combination.

Regarding the boniato sweet potato. I think they are pretty easy to come by in places like Florida, but our local Whole Foods doesn’t carry them. So I used a Japanese variety of a pale yellow sweet potato instead, which worked fine. (Apologies to Chef Sean, but we make do with what we have, right?) Another surprising touch was the addition of just a little bit of vanilla, it made the mash seem even creamier. I honestly can’t remember if Sean added sugar or not, but if you like your sweet potatoes to be sweet, you can add a little to taste (I think we added one teaspoon for the whole 3 lb batch.)

Sweet Potato Mash with Mint Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.


  • 3 lbs light yellow sweet potatoes (boniato if you can get them), peeled, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup (or more) water
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, packed, (about 30-40 leaves)
  • 2 Tbsp minced cliantro, packed
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 You can cook the sweet potatoes by either roasting or boiling. To roast, rub olive oil all over the pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt, and put them in a roasting pan, cook at 425°F for 40 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. To boil, put in a saucepan and cover with an inch or two of cold water. Bring to a boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the pieces.

2 Place cooked sweet potato pieces in a large bowl, add olive oil, mash with a potato masher until completely mashed. Slowly add water, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sweet potatoes reach desired consistency.

3 Stir in the onions, garlic, mint, and cilantro. Stir in vanilla extract. Add more salt, and maybe a little sugar if you want, to taste.

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Recipe method told to Elise by Chef Sean Bernal of The Oceanaire Seafood Room Miami.

Wahoo on top of mash photo that Deb of SmittenKitchen caught of the dish that inspired this post.

Showing 4 of 10 Comments / Reviews

  • Tina

    First of all, I love the new site! The thumbnails are a great idea; the definitely make it easier to look through recent posts.

    Now, as for the sweet potato recipe, what is the difference between a boniato and the traditional sweet potato (or yam) with the bright orange flesh? Are they similar in flavor? I’m not so sure about the mint and onion with the bright orange variety, but if this is an entirely different creature, I might be inclined to try it.

    Great question, though I think a little hard to answer unless you have several varieties in front of you to test. I think the garnet yams tend to be much sweeter than boniato or other lighter flesh varieties. Haven’t tried this recipe with garnets, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  • SAS

    Hi Elise! You are so on the ball after the trip – I’m still doing laundry ; ) Merci beaucoup for the amazing experience, and merci TRES beaucoup to your dad!!

    The sweet potato mash with mint was one of my hands down favorites from the week…I’m so glad you’ve already got it figured out for us! I recall Chef Sean saying there was no sugar in his version, and I think I recall that for the vanilla flavor, he shaved 1 bean into the mash.

    The site looks great!! I’m lighting a candle and hoping it’s an effortless and easy transition to the new domain.

    Thanks Steve-Anna! Yes, he did use some vanilla from a bean, but for this recipe (serving 6, not 50) if you were to use bean, just a little would suffice. Thanks for the reminder on the sugar, I couldn’t remember. I do think the longer or higher heat you roast the sweet potatoes, the more sweet caramelized flavor they will have. xoxo ~Elise

  • Dr C

    Briefly, the mirowave is the fastest way to cook sweet potatoes using the “large bowl” you will be mixing in. One less pot or roasting pan to clean.

  • Kate

    I love the idea of using mint — I think it gives such a nice hit of freshness to so many savory applications we don’t think about.

    Do you think the Boniato sweet potatoes could be prepared in the microwave as well? I’ve had good luck “baking” yams in the microwave. For whatever reason they work better than regular russets.

    Microwaving them will be similar to boiling them (just remember to peel and cut them first). The temperature you get when microwaving never goes above 212°F, the temp of boiling water, so you will not get the caramelization benefits that you would from roasting them at a higher temp. ~Elise

  • GRITS in C. WA

    I had afhgan food for 1st time while home in DC. Totally rocked by Kadu bouranee,”from wikipedia: a pumpkin dish made by frying pumpkin with different spices. It is topped with chaka/sour cream and dried mint. Kadu bouranee is eaten with bread or rice.” I never would have thought of mint with winter squash! Hooked! So not having any pumpkin and being a GRITS(girl raised in the southeast) I turned to swt taters (the red ones). cubed, drizzled with EVOO and allspice, roasted and garnished with fresh mint from garden. Amazing. of course sour cream is always nice… now I am thinking of using the sour cream/mint/cilantro to swt tater latkes!

    We have an Afhgan restaurant close by and I totally agree, love that pumpkin dish. ~Elise

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Sweet Potato Mash with Mint