You’ve been searching and searching for a good sweet potato stuffing recipe. Maybe you grew up eating potato stuffing in the Virgin Islands or you visited the islands and you had that sweet and savory side dish with the raisins and you just wish you had the recipe. Well, here’s an authentic tasting recipe for Virgin Islands Potato Stuffing that you just have to try. It’s healthier too.
Before we get into the recipe let me tell you a few things. It has been on my “to do list” to write this recipe for potato stuffing for years. When it comes to Caribbean recipes, I always want to do it better than right. So here I am.
This is not about dabbling in recipes for me. This is part of cultural preservation and, quite frankly, something that I grew up eating and that I yearned to make more health forward. As a holistic eating expert and wellness coach, it is my job to not only bring the flavor, but the nutrition and “healthy” with it too.
I’m personally vested in making sure that my people eat healthier, and live happier by eating life-giving meals. It’s not a small task, as I live with a Virgin Islands potato stuffing connoisseur. I mean, he would literally leave local restaurants if that aromatic sweet potato stuffing was not on the menu. So how do you maintain flavor and still keep the flavor as authentic as possible?
Like I said, I grew up eating my fare share of potato stuffing. Some I liked more than others and I’ve made my fare share as well. So this is not my first rodeo show.
So lets talk about what’s not missing from this potato stuffing recipe.
Flavor. Flavor. Flavor.
What you won’t find in this recipe is dairy, refined sugars or white foods like potatoes. The traditional Virgin Islands sweet potato recipes contains milk (usually evaporated milk, sugar-white or brown, butter and white potatoes). So needless to say, there were some healthier swaps made. Using techniques to maintain flavor, while keeping food honest was more important here.
What Type of Potatoes to Use?
Now I like white potatoes as much as the next guy or gyal, but they’re just not as nutritious as sweet potatoes. You can enjoy a bowl of mashed potatoes and at the end of meal have eaten lots of carbs but, ultimately consumed less nutrition and vitamins than if you had eaten sweet potatoes.
In addition, using sweet potatoes for this recipe means that you can skip the part of this recipe where you’re standing over a bowl of steaming mashed potatoes with a tube of tomato paste trying to get the right color of Virgin Islands potato stuffing.
So in the interest of health and nutrition, is was only right that I make a swap. The star of this recipe is the sweet potato. Now, if you’re in the Virgin Islands or grew up there, this is not what we grew up calling sweet potatoes. You may also see it labeled as yams.
Look for the garnet or jewel yams. They have a brown or orange color skin. While I will boil ingredients for things like boiled eggs and potato salad, I do try to keep boiling ingredients to a minimum as that technique does tend to zap the flavor and nutrition out of foods.
So I started with baked sweet potatoes for this recipe. If you’ve never done it before, just make sure you pierce them with a fork first and bake them for an hour at 350 degrees F. Then your potatoes will be ready to go. The fork should go right through them easily once cooked.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are far more nutritious than traditional white spuds. Not only do they have natural sweetness from the complex sugars inside, but with that you also get fiber and beta carotene. Sweet potatoes even have more vitamin A than carrots!
Who knew? The natural bright orange color of the inside of the sweet potato means that there no need to stand over a mixing bowl adding the right amount of tomato paste.
What Makes the Potato Stuffing Sweet?
In traditional stuffing, the sugar, raisins and tomato paste is what lends itself to the sweet flavor of this dish. Instead of white potatoes, I started with small sweet potatoes (sweeter), more raisins (naturally sweetened and you get some in every bite), and a little maple syrup.
My keen taste testers approved that this works really well.
The maple syrup is not over-powering and you don’t even know it’s there. It’s just doing it’s job in the background. Add subtle sweetness while adding antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, zinc and more.
No Dairy… So How do You Make the Potato Stuffing So Creamy?
Instead of evaporated milk or dairy milk, use your favorite unsweetened almond milk in this recipe. If you’re buying nut milk from the grocery store, please make sure that there is no added sugar.
If you’re feeling ambitious you can also use this recipe for homemade almond milk. That makes this a vegan potato stuffing recipe as well. All the plant-based eaters can rejoice to than one. But,, you can use any unsweetened nut milk you like.
Believe it or not, once you start with small baked sweet potatoes you can just mash them with a fork to get the right consistency. No blender needed. After that, it’s smooth sailing.
If You Like it Hot
When it comes to Caribbean cooking, a little spice makes it more nice. Of course, I lean on Scotch Bonnet peppers for some heat but it’s totally optional. Just half a Scotch Bonnet pepper is what you need.
If you can’t find a Scotch Bonnet pepper, you can also use Habanero or Serrano chile pepper.
Hint: Depending on where you live, you may need to go to the Caribbean or International Market to get the hot pepper.
What to Eat Virgin Islands Potato Stuffing With
Well, that’s easy. Whatever you want to eat it with. But seriously though, potato stuffing is a dish typically served for Thanksgiving or Christmas occasions. I mean, it’s not Thanksgiving unless potato stuffing is on the menu.
At the same time, potato stuffing is served at food fairs, food sales, around Carnival time and is a staple at local island restaurants.
Potato Stuffing is served alongside stew chicken, curry chicken, seafood, Thanksgiving turkey and more.
I highly recommend you try my Virgin Islands potato stuffing to go along with coconut curry shrimp and a cool glass of ginger beer. Don’t forget to pair some greens to go alongside and you’ll have a complete balanced meal. While you’re here, you may want to try this recipe for Virgin Islands coleslaw.
Special Tips and Tricks
Some people choose not to finish the sweet potato stuffing off by baking it in the oven after. I mean, it’s totally edible that way, but comes off more like sweet mashed potatoes.
I highly recommend you bake it for 45 to 60 minutes minutes at the end. Using a fork to lightly rake over the potato stuffing before putting it in the oven, gives it a nice texture and makes it look more pretty too. Let the color of the stuffing be your guide. You’re looking for a nice golden orange when it comes out. In my experience, that tends to be after 45-60 minutes. You can tell when it’s done as the edges of the potato stuffing will start to pull away from the pan some.
After you’ve tried this recipe, please rate it by using the star system in the recipe. It’s built in. I worked really hard on it, so your feedback means a lot. If you made substitutions to the recipe (which you’re welcome too), let me know before you start rattling that it wasn’t your speed.
Tag me with your potato stuffing recipes on Instagram. I love seeing you cook my healthy recipes and may even repost it in my stories too.
Important to Note
Don’t grab the biggest sweet potatoes in the store. The small to medium sized sweet potatoes tend to be sweeter. Also if you pack too many large sweet potatoes into this recipe there’s a possibility that things can end being too wet.
This will also affect your cooking time. If you do end up using larger sweet potatoes adjust the quantity of sweet potatoes in the recipe and/or the cooking time.
Lastly, the longer this stuffing stays in the fridge the better it gets. Meaning leftover are slamming as the flavors get even better the next day.
What to Do If You Don’t Have Fresh Thyme
While I love using fresh herbs in my cooking, they are not always available. The conversion for using fresh herbs to dry herbs is 1teaspoon dry herbs for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs as fresh herbs are more potent.
Can I Make the Potato Stuffing with Raisins Ahead of Time?
You sure can. To make this recipe up to one day ahead, prepare as described and then put everything in the pan that you’ll be baking it in. The next day, bake in the oven as described.
How to Store Leftovers
Store any leftover potato stuffing in a well covered container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Freeze leftover stuffing But, you’ll be hard-pressed to have it in your fridge that long. It mysteriously disappears if there are any leftovers.
You can also freeze this delicious sweet potato stuffing for up to 6 months.
And don’t forget to download my FREE e-cookbook, “10 Easy and Healthy Recipes that Your Family Will Enjoy“. You’ll definitely want these recipes on your Thanksgiving table.
- 6-8 small - medium sweet potatoes (baked)
- 1/2 red pepper (chopped)
- 1/2 green pepper (chopped)
- 1/2 Scotch Bonnet pepper
- 1/2 large yellow onion (chopped)
- 3 tbsp fresh thyme or 3 tsp dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp all-purpose seasoning
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove skin from baked sweet potatoes and mash well in a large bowl using a fork.
- To blender, add garlic, onions, red pepper, green pepper, Scotch bonnet pepper (if using) and thyme (stems removed). Tip: If you're having a hard time blending the sofrito (veggie seasoning), add a bit of the nut milk (take from 1 cup), to help blend).
- Blend until medium consistency.
- Put the pureed veggies in a small pan on low-medium heat.
- To sauce pan, add nut milk, salt, raisins, all-purpose seasoning, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Warm for a few minutes before removing from heat.
- Add the seasoned liquid along with black pepper and maple syrup to the mashed sweet potatoes.
- Mix well.
- In a lightly oiled 9x12 pan, pour in sweet potato mixture using a rubber scraper.
- Smooth over.
- If desired use the back of a fork to make "happy trails" on the sweet potatoes stuffing. Starting from end to the other.
- Bake for 45 minutes on middle rack.
- Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before cutting and enjoying.
Other healthy sweet potato recipes:
Other Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
Try These Other Healthy Caribbean Recipes
Original 9/16/20 Updated 11/14/21