Appetizers are my favorite food at holiday parties, especially unusual ones, like sweet potato rounds. They’re thinly sliced sweet potatoes, roasted then spread with different toppings.

Select long, slender sweet potatoes so they’ll be easier to cut, and the rounds will be more uniform in size. Wash and dry before cutting, leaving the skin on.

As I never seem to have an easy time slicing raw sweet potatoes, I pulled out my mandolin to do the job. The slices are easier to eat when cut into quarter-inch-thick rounds.

Don’t toss any messy or uneven slices—cook to enjoy as a snack or side dish at a meal without the topping.

Once cooked, you have the perfect canvas to experiment, and here’s where the fun begins. Do you choose sweet or savory toppings? For the holiday season, I chose a slightly sweet recipe using ricotta cheese flavored with pure maple syrup, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, plus dried cranberries and roasted pecans.

The sweetened ricotta cheese makes a good base for a variety of other fresh or dried fruit and nut combinations, too.

For a sweet and savory topping, substitute goat or feta cheese for the ricotta, and fresh herbs in place of the spices.

The first sweet potato round recipe I tasted was a savory one made with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. It tasted surprisingly delicious when the pizza flavors mingled with the mild sweetness of the potato.

These other savory sweet potato rounds toppings can be a hit now, and at upcoming New Year’s and Super Bowl parties, too.

  • Make a loaded sweet potato with light sour cream, shredded cheese, a sprinkle of taco seasoning to taste, then top with green onions.
  • Spread rounds with meat or vegetarian chili and top with light sour cream. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and chopped veggies.
  • Pull out some avocados and make guacamole, or select your favorite store brand. Top with diced tomatoes and chopped green onions to add flavor, and a little holiday color.

Many rounds can be served chilled or at room temperature. For warm appetizers, place the rounds with toppings on a pan in the oven, and broil for one to two minutes.

Make these appetizers a more healthful choice by layering ingredients in small amounts, rather than heaping on as much as the round can hold.

Keep calories in check by watching portions, too. Don’t be fooled by the small size—today’s recipe may have only 40 calories per round, but five quickly add up to 200 calories.

— Mary-Jo Sawyer

Mary-Jo Sawyer is a registered dietitian with VCU Health where she provides outpatient nutrition counseling. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook at Practical Nutrition, Mary-Jo Sawyer, RD, or on Twitter @MaryJoSawyer.

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