Satsumaimo (Sweet-Potato) Pancakes


I accidentally bought a white-fleshed sweet potato instead of an orange sweet potato, so I decided to make this old favorite from Japan. In the US, sweet potatoes with hard, orange flesh (annôimo, 安納芋) are more common, but in Japan, sweet potatoes with a softer, white/yellow flesh (satsumaimo, サツマイモ) are what you’ll find in the grocery store. This recipe is for satsumaimo, so make sure you have the right potato!
Satsumaimo Pancakes | I'll Make It Myself! 1

Second, while cake flour is easy to fine and cheaper than other flours in Japan, it can be expensive and harder to find in the US. If you can’t get cake flour, you can substitute a mixture of well-sifted all-purpose flour and cornstarch (see notes for cake-flour instructions and Japanese vocab.)

The texture of these pancakes is denser than a regular pancake but still fluffy and tender thanks to the cake flour.

Satsumaimo Pancakes | I'll Make It Myself! 2

Satsumaimo Pancakes

Adapted from 若山 曜子『はかりいらずのぶんわりパンケーキ』「スイート・ポテト・パンケーキ」p. 36 (Wakayama Yoko. “Sweet Potato Pancakes,” Fluffy Pancakes Without a Measuring Scale, p. 36. – the original uses Japanese cups by volume. Below, the cups are US cups.)

Yield ~6 pancakes

Dry Ingredients
110 g (3.9 oz, 1.1 cup) cake flour*
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
120 grams (4.2 oz) satsumaimo/sweet potato, baked (see below)
2 tsp (10 g, .35 oz) butter, melted, plus some for cooking
1 egg
60~100 mL (1/4 ~ 2/5 cup) milk (may adjust depending on how wet batter is)
1 TBSP honey


1. Can be done ahead. After washing and poking the potato with a fork, wrap the sweet potato in foil and bake at 180º C/365º F for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Let cool a little and remove skin.  Mash well.

2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

3. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to incorporate.

4. Heat extra butter in a skillet on low-medium heat.

5. For each pancake, use a 1/4 cup (60 ml) measure to pour the pancake batter into rounds in the skillet. Like a regular pancake, cook on low-medium heat until the batter starts to set up on top and the bottom is golden brown, then flip, about 1-3 minutes on each side depending on your stove.

6. Serve warm with maple syrup, honey, apple butter, or jam (apple, persimmon, or apricot).


*Or 92 g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour mixed with 18 g (2.25 tsp) cornstarch and run through a sifter 5 times. See Joy of Baking (flour, cake) and Joy the Baker.
Japanese Ingredients
cake flour: hakurikiko, 薄力粉
granulated sugar:  guranyûtô, グラニュー糖
baking powder: bêkingu paudâ, ベーキングパウダー
cinnamon: shinamon, シナモン

satsumaimo: サツマイモ、さつまいも
unsalted butter muen batâ, 無塩バター
egg: tamago, 卵
milk (gyûnyû, 牛乳) or soy milk (tônyû, 豆乳)
honey: hachimitsu, 蜂蜜, ハチミツ

For 1 pancake
For 1 pancake

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Baby June says:

    Those sound great! I love sweet potatoes, even for breakfast :)

  2. Joe 高麗川 says:

    Help, I have a recipe for bread with American zucchini which I can’t find here in Japan so I am in the process of substituting Japanese satsuma imo. Need advice on amount proportion for 420 gms of flour. and what spices are best? My recipe has cinnamon, cloves and walnuts…walnuts are too expensive…so I bought mixed nuts

    1. Leah says:

      American zucchini and satsumaimo are pretty different in terms of texture. Zucchini tends to be very wet and shredded for bread; satsumaimo’s consistency is more like mashed potatoes, depending on how you cook it (boiling will result in a moister mash; roasting in foil will be drier.) I just Googled “substitutions for zucchini” and found this: I would actually just recommend looking for recipes for pumpkin bread (since you can add water to kabocha puree to give it a thinner consistency like pumpkin puree) or satsumaimo bread.

      Mixed nuts might be salted and probably contains peanuts, cashews, and walnuts. While all of these are delicious, that’s a lot of different flavors for one bread! Many pumpkin breads have optional walnuts, so if they’re too expensive, you could skip them.

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