Vegan Black Bean Sweet Potato Balls

February 7, 2011


I have to credit my coworker for this recipe idea. She came by my office (more like an over-sized cubicle) the other day and mentioned that she’d mashed together sweet potatoes and black beans, rolled them into balls and baked them for dinner the night before. I’m a big fan of bite-sized balls. Whoa- that sounds bad, but I loved the idea of black beans and sweet potatoes mashed together in crispy bites and decided to try making my own vegan version.

It took a bit of experimentation to get the consistency right- and I think there are probably a variety of ways you could make these. Here’s how I did it.


1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

2 sweet potatoes (cooked)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

salt (to taste)

2 cups panko crumbs (or whatever breadcrumbs you like)

1/4 cup flour (optional)

vegetable oil (for frying)


Scoop the insides out of two well-cooked sweet potatoes. You could cook these by roasting them in the oven, but it’s much easier and quicker to zap them in the microwave.


Blend the sweet potato and black beans together. You could mash them with a potato masher (or fork), or blend in a food processor. I blended mine, but I think I’ll try mashing them together next time for a bit more texture. Leaving some of the beans whole adds to the texture as well.  Also, the sugars in the sweet potato release when blended which makes it a bit sticky to work with.

Add the spices and a bit of flour (if needed) to the mix to make it easier to work with (a bit like working with dough).


Form the mixture into bite-sized balls and roll it into the panko crumbs.

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Heat your oil in a skillet, about a 1/4 inch in the bottom and drop the balls in when the oil is nice and hot.


Fry them until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the hot oil and place on a paper towel to drain.


You could eat these plain or with a dipping sauce of sour cream (vegan or non-vegan) mixed with a bit of lemon juice, which contrasts nicely with the spiciness of the balls.


Dip and crunch!


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Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito
  2. Curried Black Bean, Coconut, and Sweet Potato Soup
  3. Spicy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup
  4. Mexican Black Bean and Cheese Dip
  5. Black and Pinto Bean Salad with Lime and Cilantro Dressing


JudyK October 2, 2015 at 10:28 am

Sounds delicious…going to go make some now!

Shane Treadway February 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Let me say the food ‘ball’ concept is brilliant for getting people out of the patty/burger mindset which just has way too many subconscious links to hamburgers.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Thank you! And I agree.

Lauren at KeepItSweet February 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hmm these look so interesting! I wonder how they’d be baked instead.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I think a baked version would be awesome!

Biz February 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Hee hee and I had to laugh that you like bite sized balls! (that’s what she said!)

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm

haha! I totally made that same joke in my falafel post. it never gets old.

Biz February 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I was wondering if those would be dry, but with a dipping sauce they’d be good – except I’d add hot sauce to my dipping sauce – that’s how I roll! :D

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

They actually aren’t dry at all because the sweet potato is so moist. I love the idea of a spicy dipping sauce. Yum!

Nicole @ Of Cookies & Carrots February 9, 2011 at 2:15 am

I’m brand new to your blog but oh my goodness do those ever look delicious!

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 9, 2011 at 8:55 am

Thank you, Nicole! Hope you come back soon! :)

Jodie February 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

This looks yummy. I am going to try it. By the way just found your blog. Looking forward to reading more.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Thanks, Jodie! Glad to have you as a reader. There’s lots more good stuff to come.

Katie @ The Content Life February 8, 2011 at 7:28 pm

These look amazing and combine two of my favorite ingredients! Sweet potatoes and black beans are staples in my diet as I am a vegetarian. They are vegan too which makes me want them even more – can’t wait to try it!!

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for your comment, Katie! These are so easy to make, are veggie/vegan friendly, and are just plain delicious. Let me know how you like them!

Lisa {Smart Food and Fit} February 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Very creative, I bet it tastes amazing! Also a great source of dietary fiber too.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods February 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Thanks Lisa! These are really delicious and pretty healthy too!

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