Sweet Potato Buns

This bread recipe incorporates mashed white potatoes, spices and sugar. It is a potato bun that is sweet, not a sweet potato bun. Though not a typical white bread, it is moist. When toasted, resembles an english muffin.

18th Century

Boil and mash a potato, rub in as much flour as will make it like bread; add spice and sugar to your taste, with a spoonful of yeast; when it has risen well, work in a piece of butter, bake it in small rolls, to be eaten hot with butter, either for breakfast or tea.

Randolph, Mary, “The Virginia Housewife,” 1827.


  • 2 large white potatoes (should yield around 2 cups or so of cooked mashed potatoes)
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp. each of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon
  • 1/2  cup sugar (sweeten more if you like)
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¼ to 1/2  stick of butter, softened
  1. Preheat oven to 360°
  2. Peel and boil your potatoes in a medium stew pan with enough water to cover them. Test them with a fork to make sure they are done. Drain them in a colander and let them cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mash your potatoes with a hand masher or electric mixer. Add 1 cup of flour to the potatoes and blend well with your hands.
  4. Add the yeast to the warm water and stir in 1 tsp of your sugar. Stir well until yeast is blended. Set aside for around ten to fifteen minutes until the yeast foams, or activates.
  5. Add the rest of your sugar and spice to the potato mixture. Blend this well with your hands.
  6. After the yeast has become foamy, add it into the main mixture and again blend well with your hands.
  7. Add flour as you need to in reaching a nice bread dough consistency. It should be bouncy, not too stiff and not flowing everywhere.
  8. Allow the dough to rise about a half an hour, then take the butter and work it into the dough in small bits at a time.
  9. Form into rolls a little bigger than a golf ball and let them rise on a floured sheet tin in a draft-free space until they near double in size.
  10. Bake them at 360° for about 25 minutes. Remember they will be moist and chewy.
  11. Eat with butter, jam or just plain — you make the choice.

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15 Responses to “Sweet Potato Buns”

  1. May 2nd, 2013

    Dan says:

    FYI – For those that don’t use prepackaged yeast (like myself), one “1 package” is typically 2-1/4 tsp.

  2. May 3rd, 2013

    I love this! Breads made with potato in the mix have such a nice texture and crumb. Here is another “sweet, potato” bread–this one Portuguese, from 35 years back. http://lostrecipesfound.com/recipe/portuguese-sweet-bread/

    • October 12th, 2013

      Helen FitzGerald says:

      Many thanks for this link. I would love to hear more about family or regional or ethnic recipes.
      Helen FitzG.

  3. May 6th, 2013

    Barb says:

    I am trying to go gluten-free and just wondering if it would work to substitute a rice flour for the wheat flour?

    • October 12th, 2013

      Helen FitzGerald says:

      I have noted that Bob’s Red Mill has started to offer a low gluten flour. You might need to add a natural product like Xanthum Gum…. I can check again when I’m home.

      I assume you know that rice flour is not necessarily gluten free.


      • October 12th, 2013

        Barb says:

        Helen, I did NOT know that rice flour was not necessarily gluten free! I have used the BOB’S Red Mill and it does say gluten-free on it, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t contain the can’t hum gum so I have to add that.

        • October 13th, 2013

          Helen FitzGerald says:

          Hi Barb,
          If it says gluten free, I’m sure it must be. I use glutinous rice flour for dumplings and desserts. It must depend on the type of rice or processing.


  4. May 7th, 2013

    I never thaught the cinnamon, nutmeg,and ginger would work but it did.

  5. September 25th, 2013

    Sierra says:

    Does anyone know how many buns this recipe makes?

    • October 12th, 2013

      Helen FitzGerald says:

      I got 10 nicely sized rolls. I will try to post my photo in a bit.

  6. October 12th, 2013

    Helen FitzGerald says:

    It took me two tries to get a decently risen roll. I think the flour measure was a bit low in the recipe. I also went for savory rather than sweet / spiced. Quite delicious with cultured butter to bring out the potato.

    This recipe could be quite nicely baked in a Dutch oven for historical cooking purposes.

    Regards always to the team,
    Helen FitzG.

  7. October 18th, 2014

    Laurel Hayden says:

    I think this maybe the recipe that my mom use to make then bread and top with candied cherry. It was the best.

  8. December 3rd, 2014

    Ann says:

    Just discovered this website! Thank you so much! Regards the gluten free discussion above: You will need to do more than just sub cup for cup with rice flour. America’s Test Kitchen just published a new gluten free cookbook. Great discussion on gluten free baking and adapting your own recipes. They offer a gluten free flour mix recipe with both brown and white rice flour, plus potato starch (NOT potato flour!) and tapioca starch as a starting point. Then they recommend the addition of extra eggs (for protein to support the rise) and psyllium husks for texture and structure, as well as other ingredients. I’m a beginner at the GF baking thing, but have learned you cannot just sub cup for cup. Baking is a science.

  9. January 31st, 2016

    Don says:

    The recipe on my computer indicates “â…“ cup sugar (sweeten more if you like” How much sugar does the recipe use?

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