New Recipe: How to Make Vegan Mbatata Malawian Sweet Potato Cookies

Experimenting with unlikely baking ingredients such as sweet potatoes is a creative way to introduce more plant-based foods into your diet, even if it’s for dessert. Today’s recipe of the day is Mbatata fluffy sweet potato cookies made with dairy-free alternatives like nut milk and vegan butter. The treat can also be gluten-free by swapping the kind of flour.

These cookies are extra special because the recipe is influenced by the traditions of Malawi, the country in East Africa selected as one of the “kindest countries to strangers,” which is why it’s considered “the warm heart of Africa.” Traditionally, these cookies are shaped like hearts so if you have a cookie-cutter nearby, take it one step further.

Malawi is Known for Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are prominent in the diet of Malwai people and because the economy relies on agriculture, the people eat a mostly plant-based diet with the exception of fish from nearby lakes. This recipe in particular is different from a classic American cookie because the texture is fluffy and cake-like instead of flat and crispy. When you take a bite into the cookie, you will taste the subtle sweetness of sweet potatoes and hints of cinnamon. The texture of the cookie is doughy yet light, and you’ll want to eat more than one or two.

Sweet Potatoes Are Full of Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B, C, D and also contain calcium, iron, and magnesium to help boost energy and support bone health. Sweet potatoes are also loaded with beta carotene, a carotenoid that gives the vegetable its deep orange color. The carotenoid converts into vitamin A, which supports eye health and is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals in your cells.

In addition to the health benefits of this recipe, the recipe developer pointed out that cinnamon is an important spice with health benefits. “Cinnamon is an old medicine in many parts of the world, often associated with blood health.” Research has shown that it promotes healthy circulation, lower lipid levels, and steady blood sugar levels. In other words, it can help protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It is especially wonderful added to sweet foods like these cookies, where it can play its part to regulate blood sugar, insulin, and inflammation, according to the authors of The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Mbatata Malawian Sweet Potato Cookies

Yields 24 cookies


  • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons plant-based milk
  • 1⁄3 cup agave
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour/ gluten-free flour
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raisins


  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2.  In a large bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes and vegan butter.
  3.  Add plant-based milk, agave, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and mix to combine.
  4. Fold in flour until it is evenly incorporated. Then fold in raisins until they are evenly distributed. The batter will be thick and sticky.
  5. Working with clean, lightly wet hands, pinch off a piece of the batter and roll into about a 1″ ball between your palms. Then lightly press it into a disk shape and put on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, yielding twenty-four cookies. If dough begins to stick to your hands, clean them and start again, always with lightly wet hands.
  6. Bake cookies about 17 minutes. They will be firm but still pale on top. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Per Serving

(Serving size: 1 cookie)
Calories: 80 · Fat: 2g
Protein: 1g · Sodium: 133mg
Fiber: 2g · Carbohydrates: 16g
Net Carbs: 14g · Sugar: 6g

Excerpted from The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook; by Stefania Petronelli Alexandra Romey; Hilary McClafferty, MD, FAAP; Jonathan Deutsch, PhD; and Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS. Copyright © 2021 by Stefania Patinella, Alexandra Romey, Hilary McClafferty, Jonathan Deutsch, and Maria Mascarenhas. Photographs by Harper Point Photography. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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