Okinawa Sweet Potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk)

Okinawa Sweet Potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk)

The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
142 Calories
4g Fat
25g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 142
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 218mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 23mg 115%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 589mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe calls for purple Okinawa sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk, garlic, sea salt, and a dash of black pepper and—to top it all off—a dash of traditional Hawaiian aloha, a sense of warmth and happiness essential in any Hawaiian meal. If you can't find these special potatoes, which are grown in Hawaii and also go by the name beni imo, you could swap them out for any kind of sweet potatoes. Regardless, you'll still have a delicious vegetarian and vegan side dish that also happens to be gluten free.

Sea salt should be used in this recipe, preferably Hawaiian sea salt if you can find it, but you can use kosher salt. Okinawa sweet potatoes are denser in texture than most sweet potatoes, and have a mild, honey-like taste. With their vibrant purple color, these potatoes make for a beautiful presentation at the table.

“Coconut milk and minced garlic add flavor nuances that are usually not usually found in your standard mashed sweet potato side dish. I used Japanese sweet potatoes, but if you can find the brilliant purple hued Okinawa sweet potato you’ll have a feast for the eye as well as the palate.” —Joan Velush

Okinawa Sweet Potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk)/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Okinawa sweet potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk) recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  2. Peel and quarter the potatoes. In a medium saucepan, boil in water until tender, about 45 minutes. Okinawa sweet potatoes take longer than regular potatoes to cook, so make sure they are quite soft.

    Peel the purple sweet potatoes and boil in water

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  3. Drain the water and mash with coconut milk. Add more coconut milk until the desired consistency is reached.

    Drain the water and mash the purple potatoes with coconut milk

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  4. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. 

    Garlic, salt, and pepper added to the potatoes

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  5. As a traditional Kauaian recipe, this is to be served with a little bit of aloha. Enjoy!

    Okinawa Sweet Potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk) in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma


  • Okinawa sweet potatoes are sometimes called Okinawan sweet potatoes (with an "n" at the end) or Hawaiian sweet potatoes. They look like normal sweet potatoes on the outside, but the interior is magenta to purple, and the color deepens with cooking. They're also used in sweets, such as cakes, ice cream, and chocolates.
  • If you don't live in Hawaii, check out the largest Asian import grocery or gourmet foods store in your area. They're most likely to carry these potatoes.

How to Store and Freeze Okinawa Sweet Potatoes

These sweet potatoes will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for three to five days. If you would like to freeze them, you can; the addition of coconut milk will help prevent them from being grainy upon reheating.

You can freeze them in a container for up to three months, or try this tip: Scoop them out in one-cup increments onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to a zip-close freezer bag and reheat on the stovetop on low to medium heat, or in the oven, covered in foil, until hot. You may need to add some coconut milk or vegan margarine if it needs to be a little creamier.