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Spinach & Sweet Potato Bombs


buttermilk crepes recipe

Recipe: Spinach & Sweet Potato Bombs

These yummy balls of goodness are inspired by the Austrian and central European knödel dish, which are essentially rounded potato or flour dough balls poached in water or stock and sometimes pan-fried . They are usually served as a side dish with meats and stews. I think I saw some knödel balls in a deli window in Vienna and they had some spinach through it and I thought that’s a great idea to sneak in some green vegetables in a dish.

I used sweet potato and spinach as a base and just a little bit of tapioca flour to help the mix bind together better as there is no egg in this recipe. The mixture will be thick, and although sticky, will roll into balls easily.  I called them the bombs because when you bite through a slightly crispy outer layer, the cakes explode in your mouth and their warm, soft gooeyness spreads in your mouth. Perfect for active days when you need  more carbohydrates than usual. Also, I’ve been told that kids really love them!


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup wilted spinach (see instructions below)
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tapioca (cassava) or arrowroot flour
  • Oil for frying (you can use coconut oil, macadamia oil, ghee or even duck fat, which would be totally decadent)



  1. To get 1 1/2 cups of wilted spinach you can either use frozen spinach and place it in really hot water to thaw out and then squeeze as much water out with your hands so you’re left with soft, wet but not dripping spinach mass you can chop; or you can get 2 bunches of spinach and sauté them in a little water for about one minute until they are completely moist and shrunk in size (that’s what wilted looks like). Then cool down and squeeze the excess water out before chopping.
  2. Place cubed sweet potato in a saucepan of cold water and bring to boil. Cook for 10 minutes until soft when poked through with a knife.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté onion for 10 minutes on medium/low heat until translucent and golden brown. Add chopped spinach, garlic, lemon zest and thyme leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice.
  4. Strain the sweet potato completely and return to a bowl. Mash with a fork or a potato masher, it’s ok if it’s not completely smooth. Add spinach mix, salt, pepper and tapioca flour and mix well together.
  5. Heat a thin layer of fat or oil in a frying pan until sizzling hot and turn to medium heat. Wet your hands and roll equal amounts of potato and spinach mixture into small balls, a bit smaller than a golf ball. Gently place in a hot frying pan, leaving a little space in between balls. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown crust forms, making sure to turn over gently using a fork and a spatula.  I do 3-4 sides (top, bottom, left and right) so they’re evenly crispy. Add a little more fat or oil as needed. Serve with a little thyme and lemon wedges and your choice of meat or fish if you’re having these as a side dish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings: 4

  1. Thanks everyone, I am inspired to try this for dinner tonight as I am responsible for starters. Have a big supply of sweet potato and leeks from garden so thinking of exchanging leeks for the spinach and onion. Will let you know how it goes.

  2. I’ve made these twice now. The second time I made sure to squeeze the spinach dry as much as possible. It made for a better, denser batter. I also added nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. They are delicious. I’m looking forward to trying them with white sweet potato when that season finally arrives. I’m sure they will be even more delicious!

  3. Just made this tonight, it was so fragrant and delicious! I even couldn’t help myself but eat spoonfuls of the mix before frying them haha whoops.

      1. I would definitely try coconut flour next time. My bombs were mushy…it was very hard to get them to form balls and what I did manage to get formed, stuck to the pan horribly so no crust formed – most stayed stuck to the pan. The mixture tastes fabulous though. I will make it again and may just serve as a ‘mash’.

  4. These sound divine! Do you think it would work to lay out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven till brown? That is how I do meatballs, to save time because you can do them all at once with no turning.

    I also think this recipe would be awesome added to grass fed ground beef to make nice meatballs! I’m going to try it soon!

    1. Theoretically it should work like meatballs but I think you wouldn’t get the same crispy crust and the balls might collapse a little. I think they need to be fried quite quickly as they are quite soft and might not hold up in the oven. But hey, I haven’t tried. Maybe if you make a batch, you can pan fry some and then stick one in the very hot oven for 10 minutes and see what happens. I’d be curious to know as it would make them easier to make, not as much fussing over the frying pan.

      1. Terese ! I tried your idea of baking on a sheet in the oven and it totally worked ! I cooked on parchment paper in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes then I threw my broiler on low for another 10 or so. It’s true that I didn’t get a super brown crust, but it set them into the “bomb” shape nicely where I was able to store without them falling apart.

        1. Oh that’s great to know! I’ll have to try it that way. I would imagine that once you make the mix, you can also bake it in a pie dish so it’s just a simple sweet potato and spinach pie with a browned, crispy top.

  5. Irena, what do you think of using butternut squash instead of sweet potato? do you think it would change the consistency? Just because I have lots of it :)

    1. Butternut squash or pumpkin is not as starchy as sweet potato so it would be less binding, kind of a little more watery. You could still use it but I would add some kind of starch to it, so either more tapioca flour that in the recipe or some almond meal/coconut flour or even a little peeled, cooked white potato if you have some on hand.

  6. Awesome recipe. I was stunned when i tried this the first time and that hasn’t changed. I use a strainer put on top of my pot of sweet potatoes to make my wilted spinach -> less water, less to clean afterwards ;)

    thx a lot for this part of my paleo diet.

  7. There are all kinds of Knödel, sweet ones filled with apricots, plums, strawberries or even Nougat. Savoury fillings are minced bacon or sausage. Just to name a few :-)
    We tried yours today and even The Picky Eater wanted seconds :-)
    Greetings from Austria

  8. I used this as a base for fish cakes just adding a can of tuna drained. They were the best fish cakes I have ever had. This recipe has so much flavor.

  9. What a lovely dish and that photograph is out of the world. Sweet potato and spinach- Boy!! you just made my stomach rumble all over

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