Inside-Out Sweet Potatoes

Inside-out sweet potatoes are, quite simply, the best thing to happen to Thanksgiving since sweet potato casserole.

An inside-out sweet potato coated in corn flakes, with a marshmallow center.

Inside-out sweet potatoes are crazily clever little bombs of sweet, gooey deliciousness that are perhaps better suited to no other day of the year than Thanksgiving. They’re essentially an irreverent and savvily deconstructed approach to everyone’s favorite iconic sweet potato casserole. Not only are the gooey, crunchy, buttery little bursts of melted marshmallow irresistible to children, they’re also ridiculously tempting for adults. Never fails to impress.–David Leite

How To Make These Inside-Out Sweet Potatoes When You’re Also Juggling Everything Else On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving may not seem the ideal time to stand at the stove and deep-fry sweet potato-smothered marshmallows one by one. We realize that. Yet cookbook author Martha Hall Foose suggests a simple and savvy make-ahead strategy. She bakes and mashes the sweet potatoes early in the day (or even the night before) and then slathers the sweetly spicy sweet potato goo all over the marshmallows, plops them on a baking sheet, and refrigerates them for up to several hours. This means you can forget about them until after you take the turkey out of the oven and are waiting impatiently for it to rest, which is when you roll the sweet potatoes in the cornflake crumbs and get to frying. We’d even go so far as to suggest you snag a guest, hand him or her an apron, and ask him to do the honors. See how simple that can be?

Inside-Out Sweet Potatoes

An inside-out sweet potato coated in corn flakes, with a marshmallow center.
Inside-out sweet potatoes are, quite simply, the best thing to happen to Thanksgiving since sweet potato casserole.

Prep 40 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 1 hour
8 servings
380 kcal
4.84 / 6 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Screen Doors and Sweet Tea cookbook

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  • Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer


  • 6 sweet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter melted
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon, sherry, or vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 8 large or jumbo marshmallows
  • Canola oil for frying (1 1/2 cups)


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Grab a fork and pierce each sweet potato several times all over. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potatoes. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool in their skins. When cool enough to handle, use a knife to halve the potatoes lengthwise and then scoop out the insides from the skins into a bowl. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher until smooth.
  • Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, flour, orange juice, and bourbon, sherry, or vanilla extract.
  • Place the crushed cornflakes in a shallow dish or pie plate. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl.
  • Working with your hands, smother each marshmallow with some of the sweet potato mixture, forming a ball. If the sweet potato mixture seems too soft to hold its shape, stir in some of the cornflake crumbs to thicken it. (You can cover and refrigerate the sweet potato-smothered marshmallows for up to 24 hours.) Dip each ball in the egg and then roll it in the crumbs. Refrigerate just until the oil is hot.
  • Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until it registers 375°F (190°C) on a deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C).
  • Fry the inside-out sweet potatoes a couple at a time, turning as needed, until lightly browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the wire rack and transfer the entire baking sheet and wire rack to the oven to keep the inside-out sweet potatoes warm while you’re frying the rest. Serve warm.
Print RecipeBuy the Screen Doors and Sweet Tea cookbook

Want it? Click it.


Baked Inside-Out Sweet Potatoes Variation

If you have the oven space on Thanksgiving, you can skip the time-consuming deep-frying and bake these little lovelies instead. [Editor’s Note: We know, we know, everything is better fried. But we have this on good authority—actually, it’s from cookbook author Martha Hall Foose, who developed this recipe herself.] Simply follow steps 1 through 3 per the recipe above and then preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and generously spray the inside-out sweet potatoes with nonstick cooking spray. Bake until browned.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 380kcal (19%)Carbohydrates: 75g (25%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 39mg (13%)Sodium: 327mg (14%)Potassium: 665mg (19%)Fiber: 6g (25%)Sugar: 23g (26%)Vitamin A: 24798IU (496%)Vitamin C: 11mg (13%)Calcium: 73mg (7%)Iron: 10mg (56%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The flavors of this fantastic inside-out sweet potatoes recipe are amazing. The accompanying picture is a little misleading because it makes the balls look small—when you actually start to add sweet potato around the marshmallows, they become rather huge. Don’t skimp on the amount of sweet potato or cornflakes, though, or cracks may appear during or after frying and cause the marshmallow to ooze out before you get to eat them.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. Any suggestions to do these in an air fryer? I have them all ready for tomorrow and I think the air fryer might be my only option. I’ve been searching ways but nothing definitive.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Ann, we’ve never tried these in an air fryer, so we can’t say if it would work. If any of our readers have had experience doing this or something similar, we’d love to hear from you. If you try it, Ann, we’d love to hear from you as to what you did and how it worked.

  2. I had these in the 1960s, deep fried with syrup on them, made by my best friend’s family’s 80-something African-American maid. Years later I recalled them, and I searched cook-books trying to find the recipe, to no avail. Finally, someone asked if I’d checked any soul food cook-books,and voila. As with anything delicious and fired, or anything involving yams or sweet potatoes, the recipe comes down to us from Africans. Martha Hall Foose may be claiming to have invented this recipe, but it’s just another case of white people stealing from black people and collecting the royalties.

    1. Thanks for your comment, John. I’m certain that you are correct in that this recipe, like many Southern foods, can be traced back to an African-American origin. Martha is a recognized and respected Southern chef, and her recipes have garnered praise for their authenticity. Like you, many of the readers commented on remembering these from their youth, long before this book was published. It was never our intention to suggest that Martha invented the recipe, simply to showcase a wonderful Southern dish.

  3. 5 stars
    I’m 73 these were always on the table for Thanksgiving growing up. My Mom always baked them, just long enough to soften marshmallow.

  4. I would like to use this recipe for a fondue party. Do you think it would work. I think I should pre skewer them. Would wooden skewers work for deep frying?

  5. 4 stars
    I just finished making this for the first time. I was trying to make a test batch, to see what they’re like, before taking them to thanksgiving dinner. It’s a really good idea for something you can make ahead. I decided to bake them, not fry, it took about 8-10 minutes, but my oven light doesn’t work so I was opening the door every couple minutes after 5. My only problem was that the “recipe testers” must’ve been using some little sweet potatoes. I tried to halve the recipe so I only used 3, what I thought were normal sized, and still ended up using 8 marshmallows so in essence all I really did was halve the flavor. They were still good just not as flavorful as they should be. I think for thanksgiving I’m gonna use my 6 sweet potatoes and double everything else, fingers crossed.

    1. Deanna, that makes perfect sense. Sweet potatoes vary so incredibly dramatically in size, don’t they? We wish that when we’d tested the recipe we’d asked testers to weigh their potatoes. If you happen to have a scale, kindly let us know what you end up with. Otherwise, one of these days we’ll retest this and add the weight so that readers, like you, have a better barometer. We SO appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and thoughts. Thank you! And happy Thanksgiving!

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