Despite hailing from the midwest and eating casseroles galore at most Thanksgivings, one dish that I somehow missed out on was the classic sweet potato casserole.  You know the one I’m talking about – mashed sweet potatoes topped with mini marshmallows and brown sugar.  I had never even heard of it until I met Ben, but my informal research concludes that people either love or hate it.  The idea of that casserole doesn’t appeal to me, partially because I don’t love sweet potatoes and partially because it just seems way to sweet for a side dish.  However, take the same concept in the form of a cupcake and naturally, that does interest me.  It is a cupcake, after all.

The first time I made these cupcakes it was for Ben’s sake because he loves sweet potatoes.  I certainly didn’t expect to love them, but love them I do.  The sweet potato cake is tender and lightly spiced with a hint of maple.  Pretty swirls of toasted marshmallow frosting and a light sprinkle of brown sugar are the perfect sweet finishing touch.  If you feel the urge to buck tradition, consider these for your holiday gathering.  Given the choice between the classic casserole or sweet potato pie and this cupcake, I think the cupcake wins every time.


For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups sweet potato puree*
6 tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract 


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir together with a fork and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Mix in the sweet potatoes, maple syrup and vanilla extract, beating just until combined.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.

  • 02

    Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, for about 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pan briefly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

  • 03

    To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of a few inches of simmering water. (Note: I use my clean, dry mixer bowl right off the bat to avoid dirtying two bowls.) Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the mixture to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined.

  • 04

    Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip (I used Wilton #21.)  Pipe swirls of frosting on top of each cupcake.  Brown the frosting with a kitchen torch**.  Sprinkle lightly with additional brown sugar, if desired.

  • 05

    *To make the sweet potatoes, I baked sweet potatoes wrapped in foil at 400˚ F until fork-tender through to the center.  Once cool enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh and mashed it until smooth.

    **People often ask if there is an alternative method to brown the frosting without a kitchen torch.  Is there?  Yes. Do I recommend it?  No.  If you absolutely must, you can use the broiler in your oven.  However, this offers far less control than a torch and it is a short moment of distraction can easily result in ruined frosting.  Kitchen torches are inexpensive and a fun and handy tool to have around.  If it is feasible, I highly recommend investing in one.


  • AimeeShugs

    These are beautiful cupcakes!

  • Abby@ The Frosted Vegan

    I didn’t grow up eating the sweet potato casserole either! Not my jam.

  • These are so pretty!!!

  • Liz

    nope, sorry, I just can’t do sweet potatoes.

  • The toasted marshmallow frosting looks like so much fun – yum!

  • This is a great idea, Annie. I loved the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top as a kid…but I think it was mostly just because it felt like being allowed to eat dessert in the middle of dinner. I suspect I’d prefer your version these days!

  • Oh, I would totally take this over the marshmallow casserole, which
    to me just tastes confusing. THESE on the other hand look moist,
    amazing, and like a sweet potato party on my plate. YUM! Thanks Annie

    (PS. I’m married to a sweet potato loving Ben too!)

  • Heck yes! Love this idea Annie. And that frosting looks insaaaane!

  • Jessica Stidham

    I just made your old recipe for these a few weeks ago and loved them! So did my entire Science Department. I’m sad the link for them is no longer available. Are these about the same? Better? I’m all for better, but I thought the others were perfect.
    P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your sweet family! Thank you for an amazing blog. You’ve changed our kitchen for the better :)

  • annieseats

    This is basically the exact same recipe with a few minor improvements. Glad you enjoyed them! Happy Thanksgiving to you too :)

  • Patti T.

    What a creative idea, no sweet potato casserole lovers here, but I am sure everyone would love these. Adding the kitchen torch to my list of must haves.

  • Celine

    These look great! I’m a huge fan of the sweet potato/marshmallow combo, since my grandmother has made a delicious sweet potato casserole since I will little involving sliced sweet potatoes with a butter, brown sugar, and spice sauce poured over, topped with marshmallows (I actually like this better than eating mashed sweet potatoes for the base. The texture is way better).

  • Caroline L.

    What a great take on a classic dish! The sweet potato casserole is the dish that my sister and I always make because it’s not too difficult to screw up, even for me- who shouldn’t be allowed in the kitchen. But I’d love to try this out – am sure it’ll be a great hit!

  • Christian Rene Friborg

    The toasted marshmallows sold this recipe for me.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    I love sweet potato anything. I still remember the first time I had sweet potato pie. I was convinced it was pumpkin until someone told me otherwise.

  • Nancy Caron

    Dumb question but do you eat these warm or cold? Do you eat them with dinner or as a dessert? Yipes! Never had sweet potato anything before. Can you tell??? LOL!

  • annieseats

    I just eat them at room temperature. I suppose you could eat them any time you wanted, but I consider cupcakes dessert. Enjoy!

  • Celine

    *was little

  • Stacy Wheeler

    Hi annie! I just made these last night and the frosting this morning to bring into the office! They tasted insanely amazing and got rave reviews!!!! The only thing was I don’t know what I did wrong with the frosting. It was not as stiff as yours in the picture and I heated the mixture till it was 160 degrees. It was just more runny than yours. Any tips on how to fix this?

  • annieseats

    The purpose of the heating is just to kill the bacteria and make the frosting safe to eat. It doesn’t affect the texture as stiffness goes. That is a result of how long you whipped it. It sounds like you just needed to whip it more, until stiff peaks formed. I hope that helps. Glad you enjoyed them anyway!

  • Stacy Wheeler

    Thanks Annie! I will try that on the next go around. I’m sure you get people saying this all the time but I have never made anything off of your site that people haven’t loved! Thanks for making baking so much fun!!!!!

  • Meg

    I’m another Midwesterner with no experience with sweet potato casserole, but I do love sweet potatoes. When I saw these, I instantly knew they were getting made in addition to the fruit pie I always make. Good thing we have extra family coming in this year.

    Thanks so much for the amazing blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you go through this difficult time.

  • Dissapointed once again

    Why did you delete the other one? they were my favorite :'( I just made them last week and now I have to try this one on THANKSGIVING?

  • Dissapointed once again

    Why did you delete the other one? they were my favorite :'( I just made them last week and now I have to try this one on THANKSGIVING?

  • annieseats

    This is the same recipe with very minor changes.

  • Lynn

    I made these for my son’s first birthday on Friday. I made some minor adjustments, adding nutmeg and cardamon, and they turned out very well. I used a different frosting since I have an egg allergy. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Lindsey Thoreson Hansen

    Does it matter if you use light brown sugar or dark brown sugar? The recipe doesn’t specify. Thanks!

  • sweetsugarbelle

    Genius moment, Annie!

  • annieseats

    I tend to use them interchangeably much of the time, so no, I don’t think it matters. Enjoy!

  • racheldurbin

    I just made these for my mom and brother. We all LOVED them. The melt-in-your-mouth marshmallow frosting is the perfect compliment to the cupcake, which isn’t super sweet on its own. Both parts are equally delicious and even better when you put them together!

  • Ann P.

    I love the idea of sweet potato cupcakes! A very novel feature ingredient for a cupcake :)

  • Thease look wonderful! I need to know if the frosting will hold up and not get sticky or icky if I make the the night befor I need to serve them? Thank you!

  • annieseats

    It will be fine. Enjoy!

  • Jackie Cooper

    Hi Annie

    Is there any way I can scale this recipe down to make 12 cupcakes. If so, what are the measurements, Thanks.

  • annieseats

    Sure, just divide everything in half. Enjoy :)

  • Tiffany Tott

    I’m looking for a healthy-ish cupcake for my baby’s first birthday. Could I swap out some of the butter called for in this cake recipe with applesauce?

  • annieseats

    You could certainly try it. Good luck!

  • annieseats

    You could certainly try it. Good luck!

  • Joellyn

    Hey Annie!

    How many sweet potatoes did you use? I’m not sure how many of them would make 2 cups..

    Thank you!

  • annieseats

    Potatoes vary widely in size so you’ll have to estimate what will yield at least two cups based on the size of potatoes you can find.

  • Katrina Iwen

    Where is the marshmallow you didn’t mention using it in the frosting?

  • annieseats

    By making the frosting as directed, you are making marshmallow :)

  • Therese O’Hara

    An even less expensive alternative to a kitchen torch can be found at the hardware store. (Home Depot/Lowe’s) Purchase a small welding torch handle that attaches to a small propane tank, similar to what you would hook up to a camping stove. It’s bigger than the kitchen torches you can find at the kitchen supply stores, but it’s cheaper and lasts a heck of a lot longer too. The Home Depot people might look at you funny, but it’s worth it! :)

  • Maria

    Can I sub the cooked sweet potato with canned?

  • annieseats

    Sure. Enjoy!

  • LGrant

    I just read a trick if you don’t have a kitchen torch. They said to use the fire lighter stick you use to light candles that you can purchase cheaply and easily. I’d never thought of using that. Would you agree that could be used? Great recipe!

  • annieseats

    Hmm, that’s a good idea. I think it would probably work, though you would probably have to invert the cupcake and hold near the candle to avoid any wax dripping on the frosting. Smart idea!

  • Angela

    These were so fun to make. I broke in my kitchen torch by toasting the frosting and it was rad. My family declared this their favorite cake. Thank you!