These Spicy Sweet Potato Pancakes are gluten-free and loaded with sweet and savory flavors and a touch of heat. Crispy on the outside with tender bites of potato and melting cheese inside, this deliciousness takes less than 20 minutes to prep and they're absolutely incredible!
Take one bite of these amazing sweet potato pancakes and you'll be obsessed! It'll likely become one of your favorite recipes.
With melting cheese and crispy bits of sweet potato in every bite, these subtly spicy pancakes are a fantastic side dish or vegetarian main course. And, you can make them bite-sized for an appetizer, too.
They contain no flour or baking soda, and as a result they have a rustic look, which I love.
- sweet potato - Orange sweet potatoes are best for this recipe. Choose those that are firm, smooth and free of sprouts.
- onion - Try to get onions that are heavy for their size and without bruises.
- Monterey Jack cheese - This goes into the recipe grated.
- chipotles in adobo sauce - Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce are jalapeño chiles that have been dried, smoked and packed in a sauce made of tomatoes and spices. They come in a can and you should be able to find it in any major grocery store.
- garlic - Look for firm heads of garlic without any soft spots or green shoots, which are an indication it's old. (Raw garlic cloves should be firm without any dark spots.)
- kosher salt - I cook with Kosher salt. I prefer it because of its larger flake size, it usually doesn't contain additives, and it does a great job enhancing the flavor of foods without making them taste salty. (If you use table salt, use half the amount.)
- black pepper - Preferably freshly ground.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
Substitutions and Variations
- Monterey Jack. You can substitute this cheese with many different firm cheeses. To spice it up more, use Pepper Jack. You can also use Gruyère, Colby Jack, Mozzarella or white Cheddar. I wouldn't recommend Parmesan because the flavor is strong enough that less of the sweet potato flavor will shine through.
- Chipotles in adobo sauce. Chipotles in adobo can be substituted with chili paste plus ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika. And if you don't want any heat, you can omit it all together -- though the spicy flavor is so delicious with the sweetness from the potatoes.
- Garlic. If you want to skip the garlic, that's okay and the recipe will still be great. No need to substitute it with anything.
- While this recipe is all about the sweet potatoes, you can totally change it up by using Russet potatoes. This will be more like a traditional potato pancake. However, unlike the sweet potatoes and like the onions, you will need to squeeze excess liquid from grated Russet potatoes.
- Try omitting the chipotles and replacing it with 2 teaspoons of curry powder for a different flavor profile.
- And if keeping it vegetarian isn't important to you, add crumbled cooked bacon when you mix all of the ingredients together. It's scrumptious!
- Note that I do not peel the sweet potato. I don't peel it because once it's grated, the skin is barely noticeable, it holds a lot of nutrients and adds to the rustic vibe. If you want to peel the potato, feel free.
- It's really important to remove as much liquid as possible from the onions after they're grated. You should squeeze them with your hands. The more liquid you can remove, the crispier the pancakes will be.
- Be sure the pan is super hot when you add the pancake mixture. You should hear a sizzling sound when the "batter" hits the pan.
- The sweet potato pancakes are far from deep fried, but you'll want to use a generous enough portion of oil that they'll flip easily.
- I highly recommend a nonstick skillet and a firm, heat-resistant rubber spatula. However, a cast iron or another "stick" pan will work as long as you oil it really well and use a very firm metal spatula to flip them.
- Unless you're super speedy, which there's no need to be, the sweet potato mixture might become more liquidy as you work. (Even though you've squeezed the liquid out of the onions, they'll continue to release more as they sit.) If this is the case, very gently squeeze each bundle before adding it to the pan.
- Use a wire baking rack to let the pancakes cool and to let any excess oil drip off. Alternately, you can place them on a double layer of paper towels.
How to Make Them
- Use a food processor to grate the sweet potato and onion. Grate each one separately and then use your hands to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the onions. Add both to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the cheese, egg, chipotles in adobo sauce, garlic, salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper to the gated sweet potatoes and drained onion. Mix thoroughly.
- Generously coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and once it's very hot, shape the sweet potato mixture into approximately ¼ cup-sized bundles, placing them in the hot skillet as you go. There should be at least an inch or so between them. Gently press each one with a flat-bottomed spatula to flatten them slightly, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook until they are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Repeat this a few times until you've used up the mixture.
- Let them cool and drain a bit on a baking rack for a few minutes and then serve.
An appetizer, a side dish, a main course, these spicy sweet potato pancakes with can be whatever you want them to be!
If you make the pancakes about half the size (about 2 tablespoons), or even smaller, they're adorable bite-sized hors d'oeuvres. They're flavorful enough that any sort of dipping sauce isn't necessary.
As a side dish, they're excellent alongside pork, chicken and steak. Here are a few ideas:
- Rosemary Pork Chops
- Simple Honey-Lemon Roasted Chicken
- Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad
- Spicy Sriracha Burgers
Spicy sweet potato pancakes are also fun to serve for breakfast with fried eggs.
Other Delicious Sweet Potato Recipes
- Rosemary Baked Sweet Potato Slices
- Basil-Bacon Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Easy Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Skillet Chicken
Can you make them ahead?
- Sweet potato pancakes are best when they're eaten soon after they come out of the pan.
- Of course, you should save leftovers! Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and reheat them on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 400℉ oven for 10 minutes.
- They're still super tasty when made ahead -- they're even good cold! -- but they lose their crispiness.
I hope you love them!
And if you happen to celebrate Chanukah, how fun would it be to serve sweet potato latkes?
Spicy Potato Pancakes Recipe
- 1 (approx. 1-pound) sweet potato, washed, dried and grated (you should have 5 cups)
- 1 pound yellow onion, grated (once grated and well drained, you should have about 1 cup)
- ¾ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- a few turns freshly ground black pepper
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- olive oil
- Grate potato and onion. Use a food processor with the grater attachment to grate the sweet potato and onion. Grate each one separately and then use your hands to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the onions. Add both to a large mixing bowl.
- Combine all of the ingredients. Add the cheese, egg, chipotles in adobo sauce, garlic, salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper to the grated sweet potatoes and drained onion. Mix thoroughly.
- Sauté the pancakes. Generously coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Once the pan is very hot, shape the potato mixture into approximately ¼ cup -sized bundles, placing them in the hot pan as you go. There should be a sizzling sound when they hit the pan, and at least an inch or so between them. Gently press each one with a flat-bottomed spatula to flatten them and turn the heat to medium. Cook until they are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Cool and serve. Let them cool and drain a bit on a baking rack for a few minutes and then serve.
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