Photo: Sweet Potato Manapua

Okinawan Sweet Potato Manapua

This local sweet potato is prized for its creamy sweetness and beautiful purple color which lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes. Making your own vegan condensed milk is time-consuming but worthwhile. Double or triple the recipe and refrigerate the extra for later.

12-14 Manapuas

Recipe Categories:

Entrees Vegan

Updated: Fri, 04/20/2018 - 9:45pm


Vegan Condensed Milk:

  • 2¾ cups non-dairy milk (soy, coconut, hemp, almond)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Okinawan Sweet Potato Manapua

  • ¼ pound Okinawan sweet potato
  • 1 cup vegan condensed milk or ½ cup condensed milk
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter, softened
  • 4 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour + more for kneading
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar + 1 teaspoon
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup water


  1. Make Vegan Condensed Milk well ahead of time as it can take a couple hours to make. Place non-dairy milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk frequently until mixture has reduced to about 1 cup. Lower heat while mixture reduces to prevent burning. It’s helpful to keep a measuring cup nearby to track your progress.
  2. Once mixture has been reduced to 1 cup, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Mixture should be thick but not creamy. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.
  3. To make Manapua: Boil sweet potatoes until tender. Let cool, then peel and chop into small cubes. Should yield about 1 cup.
  4. Combine sweet potato, condensed milk, coconut milk and butter in a food processor. Process until mixed well. Set aside.
  5. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add ½ cup sugar and coconut oil. Mix together.
  6. In another bowl, combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and water. Whisk until there are no lumps. Mixture should be a little bubbly.
  7. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture. Mix until a dough forms. Roll dough into a ball. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  8. Punch down dough. Re-cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Once dough has risen, it should be almost double in volume. When dough is almost done resting, prepare your steamer.
  9. Flour a clean surface and knead dough. Add a little bit of flour until dough is smooth and not sticky.
    Divide dough into 2 balls and roll each into a log. Using a very sharp knife or a pastry cutter, cut each log into 6-7 balls, totaling 12-14 balls.
  10. Flour hands. Take 1 ball and pinch edges while rotating dough, creating a small mound in the center. Place on floured surface. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into center. Pull opposite edges to meet each other. Holding edges together, pull in creases to the middle as well. Twist firmly and tuck into center. Place on a 3” square of parchment paper. Repeat for remaining balls.
  11. Place manapuas in steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes. Work in batches so they won’t be overcrowded. Remove from steamer and let cool. Manapua can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for about a week but tastes best when fresh! Enjoy!