Camotes means sweet potatoes in Spanish. These are camotes enmielados or Mexican sweet potatoes. My recipe is a bit different than the traditional one but I promise this is going to become one of your favorite desserts.
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Sweet Potatoes in Mexico Are a Popular Snack
If you’ve ever traveled to Mexico chances are you’ve come across the camotero or street vender selling warm sweet potatoes — often times they also have plantains too.
The camoteros have a big metal cart with a tall exhaust that connects to the bottom where the wood is burning and creating the heat to cook the camotes.
After you choose your tender sweet potato you’re given a choice of toppings to drizzle over it. Things like sugar, honey, jam, cinnamon, or condensed milk are usually on offer for the client. My childhood favorite was always the condensed milk.
In Mexico we love sweet potatoes. Not only the way the camoteros sell them but also made into all sorts or sweets and confections.
One is camote enmielado, or also called camote dulce, which translate to candied sweet potatoes.
This is an incredibly easy dessert to make. The traditional ingredients are nothing more than sweet potatoes, water, piloncillo and cinnamon sticks. Super simple!
How to Make Camotes
The way I make camotes is a bit different than the traditional Mexican recipe.
Much like my calabaza en tacha (cadied pumpkin) I love incorporating different aromatic spices to give the dessert another level of smells and taste.
If you don’t know what piloncillo is, it’s unrefined whole cane sugar. It has a dark brown color and the taste is like brown sugar and a touch of molasses.
This is a sweetener that’s much more natural product than white sugar. It’s sweetness never overpowers the other flavors and best of all, it’s also 100% vegan!
You can get piloncillo at any Mexican or Hispanic food market. There’s also always Amazon, where you can also purchase the grated one like I use. In a pinch you can use brown sugar instead.
Non-Traditional Spices to Use
As previously mentioned, traditionally only canela or ceylon cinnamon is used. There are plenty of people that also use cloves and star anise, but I’ve incorporated some additional aromatic spices to give this my own special twist.
Below are the spices I use. Feel free to use them all or choose our favorites.
- whole cloves
- all spice
- whole cardomom pods, crushed
- whole star anise
- some ground nutmeg
- salt (salt helps bring out the flavors)
How to Make Camotes
You can make them on the stove or use your pressure cooker or Instant Pot. I like to use my IP so that I don’t heat up my kitchen, being that it’s quite hot year-round where I live.
To start pour water into your pot, then add the granulated piloncillo, the cinnamon sticks, spices and salt. Simmer until the piloncillo has dissolved and the spices begin to release their scent.
If using the Instant Pot select Sauté function for 15 minutes, on stove top simply allow to simmer.
Next you place the sweet potato chunks into the pot. Making sure they are skin up.
Instant Pot Mexican Sweet Poatoes
Place the lid on the pressure cooker, move valve to Sealing and select High Pressure for 10 minutes. Allow to cook until all the timer goes off. Let sit 10 minutes before doing a manual release.
The pressure pin should drop and you need to make sure all of the pressure has been released before opening the Instant Pot. Carefully open it away from your face.
Remove the cooked sweet potato pieces, then scoop out all of the whole spices.
Select “Saute” function for 20 minutes and allow the syrup to simmer and cook until halved. Then pour into a small pitcher for serving.
Simple pour in the water, all of the spices and salt into the pot. Allow to simmer until the piloncillo has dissolved. Then add the sweet potato pieces.
Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is fork tender.
Once cooked, remove the camote pieces and the whole spices — discard the spices. Simmer the remaining liquid until it’s thickened into a syrup. Strain into a small serving pitcher. Do notice that it will thicken up more after it cools.
How to Serve Mexican Sweet Potatoes
As I mentioned previously, serving the camotes can be as simple as with the syrup made from the cooking process. Or you can use sugar, honey (for a nonvegan version), or jam or condensed or evaporated milk. It’s up to you.
I personally LOVE my camotes drizzled with the syrup and some soy or almond milk or for a vegetarian version I use either evaporated milk or media crema.
I haven’t seen a vegan evaporated milk (yet) where I live, otherwise I’d use that.
So that’s it, then you just dig right on in. Oh but make sure the camotes and syrup are warm when serving. It makes this treat taste even better.
Now imagine on a cool evening sitting down with a bowl of camote enmielado, a cup of coffee or tea, a good book and a cozy blanket. Sounds pretty heavenly to me!
Vegan and Vegetarian Versions
So amigos if everything in the main part of the recipe is vegan. But if you’re also going to add the milk then here is how to make both vegan and vegetarian versions.
For the vegetarian version simply use whole fat milk or evaporated milk, or even better is media crema. The media crema will give you quite a rich dessert, so yummy!
How to Make Camotes Enmielados
Ok amigos below is the printable recipe with a bit more details.
As always feel free to reach out with any questions. The best way to get a hold of me is to send me a message in the contact form or to DM on Instagram.
Mexican Sweet Potatoes | Camote Enmielado
- Instant pot
- wooden spoon
- slotted spoon
- 2 lbs sweet potato each sweet potato cut into 4 or 8 pieces depending on size
- 2 cups water I used filtered
- 1/2 cup granulated piloncillo or brown sugar
- 2 whole sticks canela or Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 whole star anise
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 whole all spice
- 3 whole cardamom pods, bruised
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or almond milk or oat milk or evaporated milk or media crema
- Pour the water into the Instant Pot pot or any electric pressure cooker, then add the piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, spices and salt. Stir and select Saute function for 15 minutes. Allow to simmer until piloncillo has dissolved and the spices start releasing their scent.
- Add the sweet potato pieces, place them skin side up. Place lid on IP and set valve to Sealing. Select manual mode and set to High Pressure for 10 minutes. Once timer goes off allow to sit for 10 more minutes. Then manually release remaining pressure. Wait for pressure valve to drop.
- Carefully open the pressure cooker with steam facing away from your body. Remove the cooked sweet potato and set aside. Then with the slotted spoon scoop out all of the whole spices and discard them.
- Set pressure cooker to Sauté and simmer until the liquid thickens up a bit and halves. Then carefully ladle it into a small serving pitcher with a small strainer over it to remove any last bits of spices.
To Serve the Camotes
- Place a couple of pieces of sweet potato in a shallow bowl. Pour some syrup over them, then pour the plant milk or evaporated milk or media crema. Make sure the syrup and camotes are warm when serving.
- If you want to make this on the stove top, the cooking time will be 25 to 30 minutes. This of course will depend on the size of your sweet potato pieces. They need to be fork tender.
- It’s up to you if you want to peel the sweet potatoes before cooking. If you leave the skin on make sure they are thoroughly cleaned. Also peel off skin before serving.
- Please notice that the nutrition information is for the soy milk. If you use a different milk then the final numbers will be different.
More Mexican Desserts to Make
- Calabaza En Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin
- Concha Strawberry Shortcake
- Carlota de Limón (Mexican Lime Icebox Cake)
- Puerquitos: Mexican Piloncillo Spiced Cookies
- How to Make Rainbow Churros (Video Recipe)
- Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips
- Pastel de Chocolate Mexicano or Mexican Chocolate Cake
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…