Spicy Sweet Potato Cakes

  • Serves

    serves 4


In desolate northern Nevada, the massive festival Burning Man conjures a weeklong city from thin air, bringing pop-up restaurants, bakeries, and bars. Marketing consultant Victoria Davies created these easy pancakes for her tropical-inspired pop-up at the festival; made from a mash of roasted sweet potatoes, they get a fiery kick from Thai chiles and a crispy crust from a coating of panko. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2014 issue with Kevin Farrell's story "Fire in the Desert."


  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled, and mashed
  • 2 cups panko
  • 12 cup flour
  • 13 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus leaves for serving
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 2 small red Thai chiles or 1/2 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 egg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 13 cup canola oil, plus more


Step 1

Mix potatoes, 1 cup panko, the flour, chopped cilantro, scallions, chiles, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Using oiled hands, divide potato mixture into eight 4-oz. patties about 1⁄2" thick; coat in remaining panko. Working in batches, fry, flipping once, until golden and crisp, 2–3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper; garnish with cilantro leaves.

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