Okinawa Sweet Potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk)

Okinawa Sweet Potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk)

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
144 Calories
4g Fat
25g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 144
% 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 117%
Calcium 52mg 4%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 595mg 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 is essential to this recipe, or preferably Hawaiian sea salt if you can find it, but you can use kosher salt if you can't. They 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.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Okinawa sweet potatoes (Hawaiian Purple Potatoes With Coconut Milk) ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Peel the potatoes and boil in water for about 45 minutes, until soft. 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 / 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 / Christine Ma

  4. Add garlic and sea salt (kosher salt would also be ok) and a touch of black pepper, to taste. 

    Garlic, salt, and pepper added to the potatoes

    The Spruce / 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 / Christine Ma


  • Okinawa sweet potatoes are sometimes called Okinawan potatoes (with an "n" at the end) and also sometimes called just plain 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 a variety of 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 nearby. 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 3 to 5 days. If you would like to freeze them, you can; the addition of coconut milk will help them from being grainy upon reheating.

You can freeze them in a container for up to 3 months, or try this tip. Scoop them out into one cup increments on 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 coconut milk or vegan margarine, too, if it needs to be a little creamier.