Side dish

Sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans

Sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans DSC1221

“What are you cooking this week?” asked my grandma. I told her I was making sweet potatoes. “They’re good for your eyes!” she said.

My grandma loves her sweet potatoes, as does most of my family. I, however, only eat them when they’re mashed or pureed as in soups or pies. Other preparations—such as sweet potatoes with marshmallows or sweet potato fries—are just a bit too much for me. I can’t explain it.

But at my cousin’s wedding in August I had a revelation. My cousin Lisa, like everyone in my family, loves to cook. And when her daughter Sarah announced her wedding, Lisa said, “I’m catering it.” It was a huge party and preparing a dinner for so many folks was a herculean task, but Lisa gathered up her friends and with their help she pulled it off with grace and elegance.

Sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans | Homesick Texan

It was a fine feast made all the better because it was prepared with love. Everything was delicious, but there was one salad that stood out on a table overflowing with goodness. The salad was nutty, creamy, earthy yet sweet and was the sort of dish that made you pause because you weren’t quite sure what you’d eaten, but you quickly took another bite because you knew you wanted more. I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was, but I loved it anyway.

Then it hit me.

“Wait. Are these sweet potatoes?” I asked the people sitting at my table. My mom said that they were. “But it tastes so good and I don’t like sweet potatoes!” I said. She agreed that it was one incredible dish. In fact the whole table was chatting about this simple salad comprised of sweet potatoes, crunchy pecans and tart dried cranberries tossed in a curry-laced dressing. It was quite the surprise.

The next day, I insisted that Lisa give me the recipe. It turned out to be one of her friend’s recipes and she promised to send it to me. “This would be perfect for Thanksgiving!” I said.

Now, while this is a cold salad, sweet potatoes, pecans and cranberries are in season and this dish still says autumn to me. Even if you’re the kind of person that often finds sweet potatoes a bit cloying I know you’ll enjoy this.

Sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans | Homesick Texan

Plus, as my grandma says, sweet potatoes are good for your eyes!

Sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans DSC1221
5 from 2 votes

Sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans

Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain


  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, about 2 or 3 large, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse-ground mustard
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup roughly chopped pecans, lightly toasted
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet. Place the cubed sweet potatoes on the sheet and bake until cooked but firm, about 35-40 minutes.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, curry powder and mustard. Stir in the green onions, cranberries, pecans and cooked sweet potatoes. Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Recipe Notes

My cousin adds 1 tablespoon of brown sugar when she makes this, but I find it’s plenty sweet with the sweet potatoes and cranberries. If you want it to be sweeter, you might try it that way.

  1. doing thanksgiving early this year. I'll have to make this so add some variety to the mix.

  2. bioknitkitty

    This sounds delicious. I'm adding this to my Thanksgiving for two menu.

  3. you've just saved my thanksgiving. i'm so looking forward to this.

  4. Tuscan foodie in America

    This looks amazingly good! My Italian family is coming to the US for Thanksgiving, so this will be the first time i cook a Thanksgiving meal…and I had been looking at options for sweet potatoes. I love them, they don't. So this will be PERFECT!

    Thank you!

  5. allieeatsmeat

    Wow this looks so good! I think I'll try it with a butternut squash this weekend as I have one lingering in my cupboard which needs a good recipe.

  6. Heather @ chiknpastry

    I'd eat sweet potatoes any way you gave them to me – YUM. But this salad you've made – it has two of my other faves (cranberries and pecans) so it's a for sure hit!

  7. Stephanie

    Oooh, it's like a cross between sweet potato casserole and curried chicken salad! It looks amaaaaazing. We are definitely not waiting till Thanksgiving to try this!!

  8. The sweet potato salad looks amazing. Congrats on the book, Lisa. I saw it at B&N the other day.

  9. Andrea the Kitchen Witch

    What a different way to enjoy sweet potatoes. I happen to have 2 just begging to be made into this. Yay!

  10. This is too perfect. I was saying to my friends last week that I wanted to make something different for Thanksgiving and the example I gave was "maybe something like sweet potatoes with curry spices.". I didn't think of serving them cold, but it sounds exactly right. Something like this might just do the trick. Maybe I'll replace the mayo with yogurt for the vegans' sake and throw in that brown sugar to regain the sweetness. Thanks for this and for all your great recipes. I'm so glad I found this blog.

  11. I love the idea of this salad for Thanksgiving, but a few people in my family despise curry. Any suggestions for a curry-free dressing?

  12. Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    This sounds awesome — I'm a sweet-potatoholic, so I can't wait to try them with cranberries, curry and mustard. What an interesting combo!

  13. Lisa Fain

    Nicole–it does add variety!

    bioknitkitty–Hope you enjoy it!

    odc–Happy to help!

    Tuscan foodie–It's a good compromise for those who aren't the biggest fans.

    allieeatsmeat–What a great substitution. Can't wait to hear how it is with the butternut squash.

    Heather–I throw cranberries and pecans into just about everything this time of year.

    Stephanie–That's a great description–love it!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Nisrene–Thank you!

    Andrea the Kitchen Witch–What a coincidence!

    Greg M.–Yogurt would be a great substitution for the mayonnaise. Enjoy!

  15. Anonymous

    Will definitely try it. I don't like mayonnaise….do you think plain yogurt/Greek yogurt could be substituted?

    Thanks! Judy Houston, Tx

  16. Lisa Fain

    Renée–Unfortunately, the curry dressing is what makes this dish so good and it's the thing that brings it all together. I'm not sure of a good substitution, though maybe tossing it in some yogurt with chipotle powder.

    Meister @ The Nervous Cook–It sounds strange, but it's wonderful how all the flavors come together.

  17. Lisa Fain

    Judy–Yogurt would make a great substitution. If it's too tangy, you might think about adding back in the brown sugar.

  18. Anonymous

    This looks fantastic. However, my family has an aversion to curry. Any suggestions for substitutions?

  19. Melanie Holmes

    I've been dipping sweet potato fries in curried mayo for a while… also a surprise hit with company!

  20. Lisa Fain

    Anon–The curry is what makes this dish, but maybe you could do something with chipotle powder instead.

    Melanie–That sounds fantastic!

  21. gypsytoo

    Have enjoyed your blog for quite some time. This sounds delicious. I make something similar/different using 1/4 Yukon Gold and 3/4 sweet potatoes, craisins, pecans, red onion and cilantro. Dressing is half mayo and half yogurt with a chopped chipotle with sauce and a bit of mexican oregano. The smokiness of the chipotle plays well with the sweetness of the craisins.

  22. Lisa Fain

    Gypsytoo–That sounds wonderful and thank you for sharing how you make your chipotle dressing.

  23. Do you dress the potatoes hot or let them cool first.

  24. Steff @ The Kitchen Trials

    This recipe sounds intriguing enough that I'm wondering if I could convince my parents to go for this dish instead of sweet potato casserole this year for Thanksgiving. I'm betting not, but I'm sure I'll have to try this nonetheless.

  25. Thanks for sharing this! I'm looking forward to giving the recipe a try.

  26. Anonymous

    Beatrice Peltre had a recipe for sweet potato soup in the Boston Globe that is absolutely to DIE for. It has coriander and fennel seed in it. I am also a huge (huge) fan of using sweet potatoes in gratin with normal potatoes and rutabegas or turnips or whatever else I have: you just slice everything really thin, and then you alternate slices and stand them all up at a 45 degree angle in a casserole dish and make a coil out of them. It's so pretty! Put a little butter in the bottom, pour a little cream over the top, add a grating of hard cheese over it and a touch of thyme. . . . .

    Lately, I'm a threat to sweet potatoes everywhere! But not a marshmallow in sight. 😉

    I'm definitely trying your salad!

  27. Anonymous

    Sounds perfect for the office add-a-dish this week. Easy to prepare and no re-heating required.

  28. modernworkinggirl

    Sweet potatoes are good for the soul! Not just the eyes 🙂

  29. This sounds yummy.

    I have to tell you about some sweet potatoes I had once that were wonderful. They were just peeled and cubed, and tossed with Jamaican jerk seasoning, and oven roasted. I really think you'd like them, and they are super easy to make.

  30. Lisa Fain

    Rob–My cousin recommends cooling them first, but I've tried it both hot and cold with success.

    Steph–Even if you don't have it on the big day, you should definitely try it.

    Josie–You're very welcome!

    Anon–Bea's salad sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

    Anon–Yep, it's great for potlucks.

    Modernworkinggirl–They are indeed!

    Celeste–Oh! That sounds amazing!

  31. MyInnerCheerleader

    The husband thought he hated sweet potatoes, but I told him they were good for him and now he is tolerating them. This recipe looks delicious!

  32. Lisa, I forgot to say that those cubes of sweet potatoes should also be tossed with a little OIL and the seasoning. Whoops! And they are amazing–sort of a sweet-hot-warm kind of thing going on, with a little crust and tender centers…a very good side dish.

  33. ingredientswechoose

    Wow this looks tasty! I just discovered your blog via Shauna @ Gluten Free Girl. I can't have any grain except rice, but I LOVE good mexican food. I am looking forward to getting your cookbook! ^.^

  34. AMAZING. Other than almost cutting off fingers trying to chop raw sweet potatoes, LOL, I just can't say how much I liked this dish. Not as into it /cold/ – but room temperature works well for me. It's just the ideal use of curry.

    thank you 🙂

  35. Steff @ The Kitchen Trials

    Very excited. I'm making this tonight for my office's Thanksgiving Potluck tomorrow. Two toaster ovens & one microwave means warming things up is going to be tough tomorrow. So a salad with all the Thanksgiving flavors, but now heating requirements is going to be just right. Yay!

  36. Miss Meat and Potatoes

    This. Is. Thanksgiving. Holy cow what a great one. Glad you pilfered the recipe. I'll be sure to eat triple servings since they're good for your eyes & all.

  37. Lisa Fain

    MyInnerCheerleader–Good work spreading the sweet-potato love!

    Celeste–Love it!

    ingredientswechoose–Thank you, hope you enjoy it!

    ali–Aren't sweet potatoes tough to chop? I'd forgotten that! Glad y'all enjoyed it!

  38. Lisa Fain

    Steff–Hope y'all enjoy it!

    Miss Meat and Potatoes–That's exactly what it is!

  39. Anonymous

    My family doesn't like curry, but I experimented with some other spices because I so much like the idea of this salad. I used plain yogurt with the suggested addition of brown sugar and then used a mixture of ginger powder, allspice, chili powder, and cumin to taste. It was delicious. I'll definitely make this again.

  40. I made half a batch of this salad today for my husband and I to have for dinner tonight, but ate almost the entire bowl before he got home from work! We are headed to Magnolia, TX for Thanksgiving with his family this year. This will be an easy dish to take on the road. Thanks!

  41. Anonymous

    This looks and sounds so wonderful that it will be our contribution to the Thanksgiving table this year. Thinking very seriously about roasting the potatoes, maybe even the dressing ingredients, today then mixing them in the morning. Hmm. Maybe just get potatoes, and everything else ready. Hmm. Maybe wait to cut the onions. Hmm.

    It's going to be wonderful!


  42. As someone who does not like sweet potatoes, I believe I will try this one… maybe it will convert me! I am a fairly new cook, but I LOVE doing it, and I really would like to thank you for making recipes so easy for me to understand! You make my new hobby much easier!

  43. Anonymous

    Oh, YEAH!! This was a winner, and a hit.

    I screwed up and grabbed the Miracle Whip instead of the mayo, and tasting the dressing before adding to the sweet potatoes, I nearly threw it out! (Dipped a hunk of potato into it and it tasted OK, so used it) Had also reduced the amount of curry powder by about 1/4 since there were several children at table.

    WOW! After chilling, it was WONDERFUL! Will try it using the correct ingredients next time.

    Served in a big glass bowl, garnished with some whole green onions – beautiful!


  44. mikeskamo

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was even better than I imagined. Thanks so much for the recipe. As a fellow homesick Texan I really look forward to all of your posts.
    Thanks again!

  45. This is similar to something I make occasionally. But mine doesn't have the creamy sauce and that sounds like it would make it 10x better. Thanks for the idea!

  46. garymporter

    I am so glad to have discovered your blog. I considered myself a pretty good Texas and Southern cook till now. The sweet potato, cranberry, pecan dish has bowled me over. So simple–why has no one thought of this before?

    I clipped and filed a tamale dressing recipe years ago, and then forgot all about it. The very idea of it makes my mouth water. The recipe I have is, I believe, from Dean Fearing's kitchen during his early days at The Mansion, but you may want to fact-check that. Anyway, great, super blog.

  47. Anonymous

    Your sweet grandmother hand-delivered your book to me last weekend….what a wonderful Christmas surprise!! I read cookbooks like novels so I am super excited. I am also a native Texan and appreciate the authenticity of your recipes. Jill and Grant Byrd

  48. True Texan

    I just received your GREAT book late last night. My sister who lives in Manhattan sent it to me for my birthday. I live in Dallas, TX. She wrote inside "May you never be lonesome for Texas" I sat up for hours reading every single page with a growling stomach looking at the great photos! As soon as I finish my holiday baking, I will most definitely try out many of your recipes.

  49. HZ in DF

    I made this as a side for Christmas dinner and everyone liked it. My dad even asked for the recipe. And then I opened my presents and was thrilled to receive your cookbook as one of them! It is back in Mexico City with me, ready to help me feel less homesick in 2012! Here's to a happy and healthy New Year!

  50. I just made this salad for dinner tonight, and it was fantastic! I substituted raisins and Dijon mustard, and the salad received rave reviews from everyone. I will definitely be making this again. Thank you!

  51. Anonymous

    Lisa, this looks great. Like you, I think the sweet potatoes usually served at Thanksgiving should be on the dessert table. Just wondering, since there is curry in this dish, if the mayonaise could be substituted with Greek yogurt? (I'm not a big mayonaise fan.) Might need a little agave nectar or honey to counteract the tartness, though.

    I really enjoy your blog, even though I live in Montgomery, TX, home of the Texas Flat!

  52. Anonymous

    Donna, I made mine with non-fat sour cream and it turned out great without additional sweetening. You might try that, too, if you haven't already. I'm a non-mayo gal myself.


  53. Anonymous

    This is exactly the recipe I have been looking for! I had an idea for a cold sweet potato salad, and the natural adds would be pecans and cranberries, but I could not figure out the dressing.
    Thanks so much for this! I'll be making this sometime this week…. can't wait!

  54. Anonymous

    This sounds amazing! I did a search for a sweet potato salad with curry because I thought it would be good. I found several, but this looks the best! The fact that I am a displaced Texan only makes it more appealing!! LOL! One question, is there a way I could post this on my fb, while making sure you have the credit for the recipe?? Thank you! Winona LaBarr

  55. Lisa Fain

    WInona–Thank you for the kind words. Unfortunately, you can not post this on your Facebook page as that will be a copyright violation. You are welcome to link to the recipe, but you can not post the text of the recipe or the photos. Thanks for asking, though.

  56. Anonymous

    I made this for a potluck and it was a hit! Cant wait to make it again for my family. Super delicious!

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