The Meatwave

Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Cinnamon Butter

Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Cinnamon Butter View Recipe

Nothing like an ashy yam turd to get my mouth watering! What's that? You've never heard of an ashy yam turd and it sounds disgusting? Well, fine, then call it by its other fancy-pants name, ember-roasted sweet potato, but don't let me catch you muttering that phrase around these parts. These spuds have a long and steeped tradition at the Meatwave, and an ashy yam turd by any other name just is not an ashy yam turd. So how did this seemingly vile name become associated with such a delectable dish? Let's take a short walk down Meatwave memory lane...

Voyage of the Meatflower

Now I'm not calling Meatwaver Pete a turd, but if there was any man who'd be the catalyst to the invention of the ashy yam turd, it'd be him. Way back in the Meatwave's formative days, Pete had brought a satchel full of wonderful yellow yams to the Voyage of the Meatflower. Not quite knowing what to do with them, we just threw them into the coals and let 'em go.

Voyage of the Meatflower

What came out about an hour later could be described as nothing else except an "ashy yam turd." Burnt to a crisp and covered with a fine gray layer of ash, the name was only fitting. When cracked opened, whatever wasn't brunt was wonderfully soft and flavorful, and we knew immediately that the mixture of a totally awesome name and a delicious tater would make this destined to be a Meatwave staple.

Ashy Yam Turds

With time came refinements to the ashy yam turd. First, although the yellow yams are quite excellent, these have always been made with the more common orange sweet potato since. This is really just a matter of convenience, as the local grocery always has a nice stock of the orange spuds, while the other colors tend to only pop-up around the fall.

Yes Meat Can

Second, we needed to get rid of all that crust that became nothing but waste. To alleviate this particular problem, we started wrapping the potatoes in foil, which was sufficient to produce a much better ratio between outer crust and edible innards. We also began burying the potatoes more fully in the coals, which helped with even cooking and required less maintenance during the roast.

Ashy Yam Turds

As you may have guessed, the foiled spuds produced a specimen that looks less like an ashy yam turd and more like a perfectly roasted sweet potato. This is of little importance to our terminology—the moniker "ashy yam turd" was already so ingrained in our collective conscious that calling it anything else would be considered sacrilege.

Off the Meaten Path

Finally, our years of ashy yam turding have left us with this—an incredibly soft, velvety interior that makes a truly perfect sweet potato. We've also come to enjoy these topped with a maple cinnamon butter—a tip I picked up from the ever prolific Steven Raichlen.

So there you have it, the ashy yam turd in all of its glory. If there was ever something not-meat related that the Meatwave could fully stand behind, it's this—a spud we've put our whole ass into perfecting, with a name that probably could only have been coined by us. Just thinking about them is bringing on a strong craving...god, I love me an ashy yam turd.

Print Recipe

Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Cinnamon Butter

  • Yield 4 servings
  • Prep 10 Minutes
  • Inactive 10 Minutes
  • Cook 40 Minutes
  • Total 1 Hour


  • 4 large sweet potatoes or yams, washed and scrubbed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly across the charcoal grate. Wrap each of the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Rest the sweet potatoes on the embers, then use tongs to move any loose coals around or on top of the potatoes. Roast the sweet potatoes until they are completely soft throughout, 40-60 minutes, turning a few times during cooking to ensure even roasting. The potatoes are done when a paring knife can be inserted in the middle with no resistance.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, mix the butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the coals and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil, split in half, top with the maple-cinnamon butter and serve.

Adapted from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen

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  1. Chris I did a similar version from Chris Lilly's cookbook. I thought they came out great.

  2. Exploded Daniel Beautiful! I'm all over this.