These soft and fluffy Purple Sweet Potato Buns are naturally-hued, made with mashed purple sweet potato and are lightly sweetened. Enjoy them plain or with a slab of butter for breakfast!
When I posted my purple ube buns to Instagram, I didn't expect so many of you wanted the recipe.
I made a few variations to test out which would be the most accessible.
Originally, I made the buns with purple ube powder.
However, it can be difficult to find fresh ube, or even ube powder.
I've decided to make these Purple Sweet Potato Buns instead.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe consistently yields a soft and fluffy bun that stays soft at room temperature for a few days.
You can make this with purple sweet potato or regular sweet potato rather than ube, which can be difficult to find.
It's naturally-coloured, with no added colouring.
What is ube?
Ube is a purple yam that is commonly found in the Philippines.
There are many Filipino desserts that contain the purple yam such as:
- ube halaya (jam)
- ube cake
Where to find it?
It is very difficult to find fresh ube purple yam in North America since most "purple yam" found in the grocery stores are actually purple sweet potato.
You may be able to find frozen purple yam, ube powder or ube extract in Asian and/or Filipino supermarkets.
Ube extract tends to have added purple food colouring.
Is ube the same as Okinawan purple sweet potato?
No, they're commonly mistaken for each other, but they are actually from 2 different plants.
Okinawan purple sweet potatoes are from the morning glory family.
Ube has a brown exterior with a pinkish/purple interior and is grown on a vine.
Okinawan purple sweet potatoes have a beige exterior with a violet interior.
Alternatives you can use
For simplicity of this recipe, you can use fresh purple sweet potato if you can find it in absence of fresh ube.
Or, you can even use regular orange sweet potato. (Obviously, orange sweet potato will yield an orange-coloured bun).
[If you have access to ube powder, frozen ube, or ube extract, then you can use that, but you'll need to make adjustments to the recipe.]
Note: Depending on which type of sweet potato/yam you use, you will notice a difference in moisture content.
Regular/orange sweet potato and purple sweet potato have a higher moisture content than Okinawan purple sweet potato, which tends to be drier and starchier.
For all intents and purposes, I used only Okinawan purple sweet potato for this recipe with no powders or extracts.
3 ways to cook the purple sweet potato
By far the easiest and fastest way to do this is to cut the sweet potato in half, place it into a microwave-safe bowl.
Add about ¼ C of water to the bowl and cover with a lid.
Microwave on high power for 5-6 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and mashable. Mash with a fork until it's smooth.
Alternatively, you can place the sweet potato on a steaming rack over simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for 30 minutes, until softened. Mash with a fork until smooth.
Cut the sweet potato into cubes.
Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and cook the sweet potato for about 30 minutes, until soft. Again, mash with a fork until smooth.
Once cooked, the purple sweet potato takes on a darker and deeper hue.
How to make the buns
Regardless of which method you use to cook the purple sweet potato, you want a consistency of soft, mashed potato.
If the mashed sweet potato is dry, add a little water to help moisten the mixture.
While the mashed sweet potato is still warm, add in the granulated sugar and oil.
Heat the milk up to just lukewarm and add in the yeast. Give it a stir and leave it for a few minutes until bubbly.
Next, add all the ingredients, including the mashed purple sweet potato to a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook and knead until the dough comes together. Check to see if the dough is dry -- if it is, add in a little more milk (about a 1 teaspoon) at a time.
You may need to adjust for the moisture content in the mashed sweet potato and the amount of liquid to add to the dough. If the dough seems dry, add a little more liquid. Conversely, if the seems wet, add a little more flour until you attain a slightly tacky (not too sticky) dough.
Continue kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it double in size in a warm location. As this dough is slightly heavier than regular dough, it may take a bit longer to double in size.
Once doubled in size, punch down the dough.
Divide and shape the dough into 12 even balls.
Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Cover and proof until slightly puffy.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the buns reach an internal temperature of 190F.
Note: Midway through baking, cover the tops of the buns with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.
Variations in colour
These Purple Sweet Potato Buns are soft, fluffy and naturally purple.
The purple sweet potato not only provides colour, but it also adds moisture, (fibre!) and an earthy sweet flavour to the buns.
If you use ube extract, it will give the buns an even more vibrant purple colour.
Experiment and play around with these buns.
Try a different variety of sweet potato and you will attain a different colour. See the photo below!
That's the fun of baking! 🙂
How to store the buns
Store the Purple Sweet Potato Buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
You can freeze the buns for up to 3 months.
How to reheat the buns
You can easily reheat the buns in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds, until they are soft and fluffy again.
Alternatively, you can steam the buns to reheat.
Other recipes you may like
If you enjoyed these Purple Sweet Potato Buns, you may also like:
Braided Pork Floss Green Onion Buns
Let me know if you try out this recipe for my Purple Sweet Potato Buns. Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below.
Purple Sweet Potato Buns
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 155 g cooked mashed purple sweet potato/yam
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon avocado oil or unsalted butter
- 185 ml whole milk warm
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 370 g all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- pinch of salt
Cook the purple sweet potato:
- Cut the sweet potato in half, place it into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add about ¼ C of water to the bowl and cover with a lid.
- Microwave on high power for 5-6 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and mashable. Mash with a fork until it's smooth.
- Place the sweet potato on a steaming rack over simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for 30 minutes, until softened. Mash with a fork until smooth.
- Cut the sweet potato into cubes.
- Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and cook the sweet potato for about 30 minutes, until soft. Again, mash with a fork until smooth.
- If the mashed sweet potato is dry, add a little water to help moisten the mixture.
- While the mashed sweet potato is still warm, add in the granulated sugar and oil/or butter and mix together until incorporated.
Make the dough:
- Heat up the milk (in the microwave) until just lukewarm and add in the yeast. Give it a stir and leave it for a few minutes until it becomes foamy.
- Next, to a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook, add in the flour, egg, salt, mashed sweet potato, milk and yeast mixture. Knead until the dough comes together. Check to see if the dough is dry -- if it is, add in a little more milk (about a 1 teaspoon) at a time.
- You may need to adjust for the moisture content in the mashed sweet potato and the amount of liquid to add to the dough. If the dough seems dry, add a little more liquid. Conversely, if the seems wet, add a little more flour until you attain a slightly tacky (not sticky) dough.
- Continue kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it double in size in a warm location. As this dough is slightly heavier than regular dough, it may take a bit longer to double in size.
- Once doubled in size, punch down the dough.
- Divide and shape the dough into 12 even balls.
- Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a 9" by 13" baking sheet).
- Cover and leave to proof until slightly puffy.
- Towards to end of the proofing time, preheat oven to 375°F/191°C.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes at 375°F/191°C, or until the buns reach an internal temperature of 190°F/88°C. Cover the tops of the buns with aluminum foil about halfway through the baking time to prevent excessive browning.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
- Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
Katherine | Love In My Oven
Beautiful buns, Michelle!! That purple is just something else. I would love to make these for our upcoming Thanksgiving...it would be something fun for us from the traditional dinner rolls!!
Such a great idea, Katherine! They'd be perfect for a twist on Thanksgiving 🙂
This recipe is perfect as written! I followed it to the T and it came out so soft and delicious!! Reminded me of the Taro dinner rolls from Hawaii! I cannot wait to make it again! Thank you!!
Awesome, thanks for your feedback Pradeep! 🙂
These buns were super easy, and since I absolutely love purple sweet potatoes I'll be making them again! I didn't expect the buns to be so light since being made with potatoes but they are, and have a nice texture.
Thanks for trying the recipe Christina! 🙂
I’ve made these so many times and they are always the softest, most delicious rolls you’ve ever had. We love the flavor of the Okinawan sweet potato! Is the nutritional value chart (serving) for 1 roll? Or 2?
Hi Marie, thanks for your feedback, glad you love them. The nutritional value (approximate) is for 1 roll.
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
I love a good bun and these look delicious, especially with that pretty purple hue! Love to give them a try...I'm sure they'd disappear fast 😉
Thanks Dawn! They're so much fun and the kids really enjoyed them!
David @ Spiced
What a gorgeous color! To be honest, I've never come across a purple yam - but perhaps I just need to look a little harder. I love the idea of baking them into buns. This would be fun to serve alongside a bowl of Autumn chili! 🙂
You should be able to find them in Asian grocery stores 🙂 But sometimes they can be difficult to find. Pairing it with chili sounds like a fantastic idea, David!
These purple sweet potato buns are sooo cute and fluffy! I need to find me some Ube!
Thanks Christie!! 🙂
Heidi | The Frugal Girls
Your purple buns looks so tantalizing and delicious. Thanks for sharing all the easy ways to prepare a purple sweet potato!
Thanks Heidi! Glad to share! 🙂
Yummy! My husband doesn’t eat eggs, is it possible to omit it or may there be a replacement? Thank you 🙏
Hi there, I haven't tried the recipe without egg, but you can try a flax "egg": mix 1 tablespoon of flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water to create a faux egg. Or, you can omit the egg and add more milk, try adding 50ml first. Hope that helps.
I tried this recipe today and it came out so good. I am amateur baker and don’t own a stand mixer. Plus I don’t have a scale to weigh the ingredients. For anyone looking for measurements in cups:
Flour- 3 cups
Milk - 3/4th cup
Amazing, thanks for your feedback, Divya! 🙂
These look so amazing!!!! Have you tried making the bugs with an alternative milk? I’m dairy free so I was thinking an unflavored almond milk.
Yes, I have. You can use a dairy-free alternative such as almond milk 🙂
These are beautiful purple buns! Soft and fluffy!
How wonderful are these! They're just as delicious as they are beautiful.
I have everything I need for these buns, can’t wait to make it this weekend!
Yay, hope you enjoy Shadi! 🙂
This looks like my childhood-favorite snack from back home! But to be honest, I feel like this recipe would make my childhood-favorite snack 10x better <3
Yes, ube pandesal? Thanks Maria! 🙂
OMG yum!!!! I used to eat purple sweet potato every day when I was living in Hawaii- I haven't seen them since moving to the Middle East, but when I do, I'll make these buns! Love that color!
Oh you're so lucky to have lived in Hawaii!! I love Hawaii! Thanks Estee 🙂
Your tips are really helpful! Thank you! Everyone at my house loved it!
Glad to hear it, Toni! Thank you!
These are amazing! I can't believe how easy they are to make--definitely going into the regular menu rotation around here!
Oh these are so pretty and I cant wait to make them what a wonderful addition to the dinner table!
Love how easy this recipe is. Can’t wait to try it this weekend.
Love the information on all of the different variety of yams/sweet potatoes and now to make these in case we can’t find exactly what we need! Love how fluffy they turned out!
I am so intrigued by your recipe! I have never tried purple sweet potato, and I cannot now wait to make these buns! 🙂
Hi Michelle, these look amazing! Have you ever made the buns with ube powder? I managed to track down a package in a local market, but I haven't worked with this ingredient before... Do you have any suggestions on how I might adjust the recipe?
I have made them with just ube powder, however, the recipe is completely different than this one since the ratio of water/sweet potato will affect the dough. You can try a basic dough recipe and add 1 Tbsp of ube powder to it. You may need to adjust the liquid accordingly, since the powder may be drying. Otherwise, you can try this dough and sub in the ube for the hojicha powder: https://www.siftandsimmer.com/hojicha-chestnut-flower-buns/
Thank you, I look forward to giving this a try!
I made these for the first time today, I was very surprised at how light and fluffy they turned out! Thanks so much!
Super glad to hear it, Katie! Thanks for your feedback 🙂