Rich, creamy, mashed sweet potatoes, this incredibly simple foil packet side can be made right on the campfire or grill.
We love mashed potatoes. Especially mashed sweet potatoes. But, we’ve always been reluctant to make them while camping.
The idea of boiling potatoes in a huge pot of water (for upwards of 30 minutes) and then having to find a place to dump out it all is just a little too much effort for what is ultimately a side dish. But what if there was a better way?
Enter: Foil Packet Mashed Potatoes!
Instead of boiling the potatoes in a pot, this method calls for you to wrap them up in a foil packet and let them slowly cook over the fire. If kept over medium heat, these potatoes require almost zero attention and are virtually impossible to overcook. This method also imbues the potatoes with a slightly smoky flavor that is delightfully unique.
When they are done cooking, just dump them out into a bowl, add in some butter/milk and salt, and mash away to your preferred consistency. Easy-peasy.
So if you are looking for a simple camping side dish, or want to round out your Campsgiving menu, then you will definitely want to give these foil packet mashed sweet potatoes a try!
Why We Love Them:
- No large quantities of water to boil or drain
- Nearly impossible to screw up
- Adds a nice, subtle smoky flavor
- Totally vegan-friendly! Just use vegan butter and non-diary milk
Sweet Potatoes: Peel the skin for sweet potatoes, but if you’re using another type of potato you can consider leaving it on.
Butter: We used Earth Balance plant-based vegan butter for this recipe and it works great. Dairy butter or a neutral-flavored cooking oil would also work well too.
Milk: Unflavored oat milk works great for a vegan dish. You can also use dairy milk.
Maple Syrup: We wouldn’t use this for ordinary potatoes, but for sweet potatoes, we really like leaning into the sweetness with a small amount of high-quality 100% pure maple syrup.
Chives: We love topping our mashed potatoes with some chopped chives. Not only do they give a great garlic-y, onion-y pop, but they provide a nice dazzle of color. Green onions would also be great.
Essential Equipment :
Peeler: If you’re using sweet potatoes you will want to use a peeler. We have been using this one from Opinel for years and love it.
Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil: Try to find the heavy-duty aluminum foil if it’s available. But if not, just double up the lightweight stuff.
Parchment Paper: Lining the inside of your foil packet is a good idea for two reasons. 1.) It eliminates the potential for the potatoes to stick 2.) It separates the food from the reactive aluminum metal.
Heat Resistant Glove: We use these gloves anytime we cook over the fire. It makes handling hot foil packets, repositioning wood, or adjusting the grill grate so much easier (and obviously much safer)
Tips on How to Make Foil Packet Mash Potatoes
- Peeling the skin for sweet potatoes is kind of mandatory, but if you are using a different type of potatoes like Yukon golds or red potatoes, then we actually prefer to leave the skins on.
- Start cooking early, keep them over medium to medium-low heat. They’ll be done in roughly 20-30 minutes, but they can hold for quite some time
- Use a layer of parchment paper between the potatoes and the aluminum foil to reduce sticking (as well as concerns about cooking in a reactive metal)
- Oversize your aluminum foil and really crimp those edges to make a tight seal. Sloppily crimped edges will allow precious moisture to escape in the form of steam.
- Use heat-resistant gloves when handling the hot foil packet. The aluminum foil might cool quickly, but the potatoes on the inside will keep the packet very hot for quite a while.
How to Make Mashed Sweet Potatoes – Step by Step
If you are using sweet potatoes, you will want to start by peeling the skin off the potatoes. Chop the sweet potatoes into approximately 1-1½” inch chunks. They don’t need to be perfect, but keeping the pieces roughly the same size will ensure they all finish cooking at the same time.
Roll out your aluminum foil with the understanding you will be filling one half with the potatoes and foiling the other half on top to cover it. Err on the side of too much aluminum foil.
If you are using parchment paper, roll out a sheet that roughly matches the size of your aluminum foil.
Place the potatoes on one-half of the parchment/foil sheet. Cut in a few slices of butter or drizzle a little neutral-flavored cooking oil on top of the potatoes.
Then foil the parchment/foil on top of the potatoes. Using a pinching motion, seal up the three edges by folding the foil over on itself. Make sure these seams are really tight, as you don’t want any steam to escape.
On your campfires grill grate, place the foil packet in an area that’s receiving medium-low to medium heat. Avoid placing it directly on the charcoals or directly in the flames, as the high heat will blacken the potatoes before they are able to cook all the way through.
Allow the foil packet to cook for 15 minutes, then flip it over and allow it to cook for another 10 minutes. If the rest of your meal isn’t ready yet and want to keep it warming for a while, just move it to an area receiving lower heat. It can hold for upwards of an hour.
Remove from the heat, and unseal the foil, and check the potatoes. Find one of the larger chunks, and if it mashes when pressed with a fork, then the whole packet is ready.
Empty the contents into a large bowl. Sweet potatoes are naturally creamier than other types of potatoes like russets, but they can still use a little softening up.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter and begin to mash with a fork. Once everything is mashed pretty well, start drizzling in a little milk (or oat milk in our case). We added about ½ cup of milk to get the potatoes to our desired consistency, but this comes down entirely to personal preference, so feel free to add as much or as little as you like.
Note: Be sure to bring the milk to room temp so it doesn’t rapidly cool down your potatoes.
Also, if you are using sweet potatoes, you can also consider adding a tablespoon (or two) of maple syrup. We find that it adds another unique dimension to the potatoes’ already natural sweetness.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- 1 ½ lb sweet potatoes
- ½ cup milk, (Oat milk for vegan)
- 2 tablespoons butter, (plant based for vegan)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, optional
- Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into approximately 1-1½” inch chunks.
- Tear off an 18" long piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. If you are using parchment paper, roll out a sheet that roughly matches the size of your aluminum foil and place on top of the foil sheet.
- Place the potatoes on one-half of the parchment/foil sheet. Cut in a few slices of butter or drizzle a little neutral-flavored cooking oil on top of the potatoes.
- Fold the parchment/foil on top of the potatoes. Using a pinching motion, seal up the three edges by folding the foil over on itself. Make sure these seams are really tight!
- Place the packet on the grill over your campfire and cook for 15 minutes, then flip and cook 10 minutes more. Check for doneness – the potoatoes should be very soft.
- Remove from the heat and CAFEFULLY open the foil packet–there will be lots of hot steam so don't lean over the packet as you open in.
- Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and add the remaining butter. Start mashing with a fork, then add the milk, maple syrup, and salt and mash until smooth. Serve with freshly chopped chives.