Haitian pain patate (sweet potato pudding) recipe

Pain patate in French, pen patat in Haitian Creole, petit pain pa’ as a term of endearment…sweet potato pudding in English…

For a while I struggled with this Haitian dessert staple. I could not for the life of me find an accurate recipe for it.

To be honest, I wasn’t actually looking for just any recipe. I wanted to replicate the best pain patate I have ever had: the sweet potato pudding my aunt prepares like no one else.

Though I wouldn’t stop asking, my aunt was never able to write specific instructions down. Her eternal answer has always been that, if I wanted to one day master her sweet potato pudding, I had to join her in the kitchen.

Truth is, true to her Haitian roots, my aunt prepares her pain patate to taste.

She thus cannot possibly share a recipe. She can only pass on her know-how in the kitchen. That is exactly how she taught a French friend who now makes it a point to share this dessert with her family and friends in Europe.

That same friend is now, however, unable to give precise directions herself. Her instructions are as follows:

“ It’s easy. All you have to do is grate the sweet potatoes, add some milk, sugar and sweet spices. You cook the whole thing on the stovetop while stirring constantly. Once it’s ready you transfer everything to a baking dish and let it cook in the oven… oh and don’t forget to mash a banana into the mix…!”

I am sure you’ll agree with me that that was quite a surprising answer coming from a foreigner. Not once would I have imagined that, just like my aunt, she would be able to successfully prepare our Haitian sweet potato pudding to taste.

To think, I was secretly wishing that she would be the one to help me solve my aunt’s pain patate mystery. I was clearly wrong.

I knew then that, if I ever wanted an accurate recipe, it was up to me to go take my own sweet potato pudding cooking class. I finally did so a few weeks ago.

My experience in the kitchen helped me understand that my aunt does in fact prepare her pain patate on a hunch. The word hunch might be inaccurate as there is actually a method to her madness. She must eyeball the ingredients or measure them using the palm of her hands in order to get it right.

It was thus up to me to jot down notes and make sure I measured every single ingredient before handing them to her so she could “measure” them like she best knows how.

This Haitian sweet potato pudding recipe, aka pain patate is the only recipe you'll ever need. | tchakayiti.com
But I do understand her now. Our famous pain patate, can and should be prepared to taste.

I can imagine the scared look on your face after reading that last line. I was in your shoes not so long ago. But worry not. The recipe below does include proportions and detailed instructions.

I do however urge you to adjust the flavors to your own taste. That is the only way you will master our Haitian sweet potato pudding.

This Haitian sweet potato pudding recipe, aka pain patate is the only recipe you'll ever need. | tchakayiti.com

Haitian pain patate (sweet potato pudding)

This recipe for our Haitian sweet potato pudding is the quickest version because we cook the sweet potatoes on the stovetop prior to baking it. You can however, if you have time, cook it all the way in the oven. That process will just take you longer.  
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 2.5 Lbs Sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Ginger Optional
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 12 Oz Evaporated milk
  • 14 Oz Coconut milk
  • 28 Oz Water
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1 Banana

Instructions
 

  • Wash and peel the sweet potatoes
  • Grate the sweet potatoes 
  • Mash the banana and mix with the sweet potatoes 
  • In a thick pot, mix all the ingredients
  • Cook while stirring constantly  about 45 minutes
  • When the mixture starts detaching from the sides of the pot, turn off the heat
  • Transfer to a  baking dish
  • Bake for about 1h30 mns or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • Let cool and enjoy

Notes

We use Haitian sweet potatoes for this recipe. While, I have never tried it with the orange variety, I have heard of people using it as a substitute. If you try it with those,  please do let me know how it comes out. 
This dessert can quickly spoil, I thus recommend that you keep it in the fridge if it takes you longer than a day or two to eat it all. 
Keyword caribbean cuisine, dessert, haiti, haitian food, recipe, sweet potatoes, sweets
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27 Comments

  • Bruce Cassamajor

    Thank you. I 💕💕 love the story and your as untie,,’ know-how to. I can add very important, not any sweet potato, it must be the red skin sweet potato, and even, the are many varieties of red skin sweet potato. I use brown sugar, replace some of the water by orange juice, with some lime juice added. + Two Tsp of molasses, no pepper, the ginger and the nutmeg are sufficient to make it hot.

  • Bruce Cassamajor

    I love 💗💗💗 your story and your auntie’ s way and know-how to. She is just like me. In spite my skills as a professional chemist, by education and career, plus food science and food preparation education. I could develop recipe easily for my pain patate, tablette noir ou pistache ( peanut brittle ou cashews nut brittle) or grillo, the best in town. I could never waste any time using a recipe. Worse than your auntie, who , sometimes uses the palm of her hand. I prepare them all, just by eyeballing everything, including adding salt to or season any cooking (meat, fish, you name it). Bad, too bad, isn’t it? When it comes to pain patate, I use brown sugar, two Tsp of molasses, I add no “pepper” (probably hot, I don’t know). I believe the ginger and the nutmeg can take care of everything, in that regard
    Oh, I can replace some of the water by orange juice and some lime juice added to it. I can taste that of your auntie by your description of it. That is majic. But mine would haunt you and make you become crazy.

    • annick

      I simply love that you make the recipe your own. Being able to adapt them to taste is what makes a dish truly great in my opinion! (also the reason why I can’t bake. ah! lol) The pepper doesn’t make it hot, it’s kind of an extra kick to the flavors I would say. I should try the molasses though.

  • Thonon Fabienne

    Bonjour, haïtienne de naissance, je vis sur une île du Pacifique sud depuis 50 ans. Quelques fois, je cuisine des plats haïtiens avec ma fille… Que voulez vous dire par 1/ 2 bâton de beurre ?? Ça fait combien en grammes s’il vous plaît ??? J’aime beaucoup vos histoires d’avant recette… Ça me replonge dans mon enfance en Haïti.

    • annick

      Fabienne, 1 baton de beurre équivaut à 113 grammes de beurre. Heureuse de pouvoir vous aider à voyager vers Haïti 🙂

  • Bernard

    Correction to previous post: can’t go ….

  • Bernard

    Great recipe reminder. Can go wrong if instructions are followed. I used some 5stars rum barbancourt in mine. Delicieux

  • LJ

    At what temperature should I bake it at??

  • Thais

    There is no temp stated. Assuming it’s 350 F?

  • Roseline

    Thank you for sharing your story…sounds like my mother when passing down dishes that I prefer not to make (because only she can…in my mind…prepare them) i.e. pain patate, ragout, and some versions of legume. I can make them just fine…but there’s always something missing lol. Whenever I see pain patate recipes they are so much different from my mothers. Hers is so simple (finely grate the sweet potato, mash the banana, and finely grate the coconut) Outside of the spices, milk, and butter. That’s it. No recipe, no amounts. I can bake it and my family enjoys it just fine, but it never tastes like hers (one day) I said all of this to say, I will be trying your recipe this weekend as I have extra potatoes from making joumou. I’ll send another message and will let you know how it turned out. Thanks for sharing this site and all of your traditional and new variations of recipes. I always enjoy trying them. Roseline

    • annick

      Hello Roseline, did you end up trying the recipe? How did you like it? Just like your mom, my aunt didn’t have a recipe before I put it in writing either. So I definitely understand what you mean. Sharing those recipes with the world is my pleasure 🙂

      • Roseline

        I actually didn’t because I had three heads to do that weekend (I do hair on the side) We are definitely doing it this weekend before my daughter goes back to campus. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know (Lord Willing) on Monday.

  • Milhomme

    This recipe is definitely a keeper; it is beyond delicious. I followed the steps, admittedly making some minor adjustments consisting in omitting the water, reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup considering that the banana and potatoes contain a fair amount of sugar, substituting the butter for 1/4 cup of olive oil, and using homemade almond milk. My Haïtian born daughter had a proustian moment enjoying it. Thanks for sharing that tresor.

    • annick

      Thank you for sharing your substitutions. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  • Milhomme

    This recipe is a definite keeper; it is beyond delicious. I followed the steps, admittedly making some minor adjustments consisting of omitting the water, using homemade almond milk, reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup considering that the the banana and the sweet potatoes contain a fair amount of sugar. I also substituted the butter for 1/4 cup of olive oil. My Haïtian born daughter had a proustian moment enjoying it. Thanks for sharing that tresor.

  • Sandra

    This was amazing! My husband is Haitian born and raised and he says it tasted 100% exactly his family used to make it, except it looked darker. I made it with the orange sweet potatoes as it’s all we have in the Netherlands right now. I also left out the water completely and added 2 TBS of dark rum. I forgot the raisins but will add next time. Will definitely be making this more – love that it’s gluten free too!

    • annick

      I am so happy you loved it! Thanks for sharing your experience with it!

  • Patricia

    How big of a baking dish should I use for this portion?

  • I am a big fan of Haitian food, never knew that Haiti had their own sweet potato pudding

    • annick

      oh yes we do and it is amazing! Where are you from?

  • Cafleur

    What oven temperature, in Celsius or Fahrenheit please? I can’t find this info. Thanks

  • Rae

    This was a great recipe! I made a few changes like leaving out the 28oz water. I just put in about 3 tbsp. I also added a bit of dark rum and used brown sugar because that’s what I remember my mom using when she made this. This lasted exactly 25 hours in the fridge…I’m making this for my German/Irish in-laws who are loving Haitian cooking and I can’t wait to see their faces when I surprise them with this!

    • annick

      Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it! And made it your own

  • Wilky

    Woww I just the comments I am satisfied with the detailed recipe. Usually, I read more than 3 recipes before I make my decision… on this I believe I am going straight without ready other instruction. The thing that impacts me the is your story behind that Pain patate…
    I am in Midwest of US so It will be hard for me to find the proper sweet potato but I am going to use the Yellow/ orange and add a little regular flour on it to get the thickness and stickyness

    • annick

      I wonder if cornstarch wouldn’t be better as what your sweet potatoes lack is the starch. Just a thought. Let me know if you try both, which one you preferred.

  • nicky

    beaucoup trop d’eau
    j’ai commencée à 10
    h il est midi;30 c’est pas encore évaporé et je n’ai pas encore mis les 2 laits
    qu’est ce que je n’ai pas compris

    • annick

      avez-vous mis assez de patates? et quelle variété de patates avez-vous?

  • Danielle

    Hi. What size baking dish? What temperature? How many does this serve?

  • Chrissy

    Does that say pepper? As in black pepper?

    • annick

      yup it sure does

  • Beatrice

    In the ingredients, you have listed 28 Oz. Of water. Why so much?

    • Jane

      28 oz of water is way too much – we eventually hat sweet potato soup as a sweet dessert. Many recipes don’t use any water nly coconut milk and/or evaporated milk. My recomendation is if you’re using orange sweet potatoes, use very little water if any.

      • annick

        This recipe uses Japanese sweet potatoes, so it makes sense if the orange ones call for less liquids. And, as with many recipes, there are a few variations out there. This one simply is the one my family cherishes.

  • Beatrice Bruny

    Your Haitian pain patate looks delicious. Is the Cuban boniato the one to buy? Thanks for sharing.

    • annick

      I’ve never tried the Cuban boniato but based on an online search, I’d say it looks quite similar to ours.

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