How to cook sweet potatoes: From mash to fries

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Sweet potatoes — you’ve seen them before, the large orangy potatoes, but you’ve never really known what to do with them. If you’ve been wondering how to cook sweet potatoes, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Three baked sweet potatoes with butter and chives on.
Baked sweet potatoes. Photo credit: Splash of Taste

You’ll learn how to bake, roast, air fry and microwave this versatile vegetable, and it’ll soon become a must-have veggie on your table.

What are sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables known for their sweet taste and vibrant colors; you’ll find them in colors ranging from orange and purple to yellow and white.

They are a different, more elongated shape from the common potato and have a slightly earthy flavor. 

Selecting and storing the perfect sweet potatoes

With so many different sweet potato recipes, it’s essential that you select the best ones. 

Look for potatoes that are firm, smooth and free from blemishes. Preferably opt for medium-sized sweet potatoes, which tend to cook more evenly. Choose sweet potatoes with vibrant skin color, whether orange, red or purple, as this indicates ripeness and flavor.

If you’re not going to be cooking sweet potatoes right away, store them in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, don’t store them in the refrigerator.

A whole sweet potato and one that's been sliced.
Sweet potato. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Different ways to cook sweet potatoes

There are five main ways to cook sweet potatoes;

  • Boiling
  • Baking
  • Roasting
  • Air frying
  • Microwaving

Boiling sweet potatoes

Boiled sweet potatoes make an easy side dish or are perfect for mashed sweet potatoes.

Wash, peel and cut the sweet potato into chunks. Place them in a pot, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender, approximately 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your chunks.

Remove from the heat and, using a colander, drain the potatoes. They will now be ready to serve or to make mashed sweet potato.

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How to bake sweet potatoes in the oven

Baking is usually for whole sweet potatoes and is among the most popular cooking methods, but you can also bake delicious sweet potato fries.

Preheat your oven to 425 F/215 C. Scrub your sweet potatoes and pat them dry; use a fork to pierce the skin. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake until tender, approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Once baked, the potatoes will be tender and soft, with a fluffy interior. Remove the perfect baked sweet potato from the oven, serve and enjoy.

How to roast sweet potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are delicious; the roasting brings out their natural sweetness and they gain a delicious crispy exterior. Roasting is perfect for sweet potato cubes, sweet potato wedges and sweet potato pie.

Preheat your oven to 450 F/230 C. Scrub your sweet potatoes and pat them dry. Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut your potatoes into the desired shape.

Put the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl and add olive oil and seasonings. Place the potato pieces on a foil-lined sheet in a single layer, ensuring you don’t overcrowd them or they won’t crisp up.

Roast for approximately 18 to 20 minutes; remove them from the oven, use a spatula to flip them, and roast for 5 to 10 minutes.

When they are cooked, they will be tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. If you want extra crispiness, broil them for a few minutes. They are delicious when dunked in sour cream.

Cooked sweet potato cubes in an air fryer basket.
Sweet potato cubes. Photo credit: Splash of Taste

How to cook sweet potatoes in an air fryer

There are many ways to cook sweet potatoes in an air fryer. You can air fry sweet potato cubes, wedges and a casserole.

This is how you would air fry a whole sweet potato. Scrub your sweet potatoes and pat them dry. Use a fork to poke holes all over the potatoes. Place them in the air fryer basket and air fry at 370 F/190 C until fork tender, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the air fryer basket, serve and enjoy.

How to cook sweet potatoes in a microwave

If speed is of the essence for you, then the microwaved is perfect for quick-cooked sweet potatoes.

Wash and pat dry your potato, and prick it with a fork. Place it on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave it for up to seven minutes, depending on the size of the potato. When the potato is cooked, then it should be fork-tender. Remove from the microwave, serve and enjoy.

Seasoning sweet potatoes

There are many ways to season sweet potatoes; toss sweet potatoes in olive oil and kosher salt and pepper for a simple and delicious potato.

Make them even sweeter, drizzle them with maple syrup and sprinkle fresh herbs.

And while brown sugar and cinnamon are a traditional fall favorite, have you thought of sprinkling the sweet potatoes with chili powder or smoked paprika and then squeezing a little fresh lime juice over them? It’s absolutely delicious.

As you can see, there are many ways to cook this wonderfully tasty potato. With a bit of know-how and a lot of flavor, you’ll soon be loving sweet potatoes. Don’t be afraid to experiment; play with flavors and make it your own and let your sweet potato adventures begin.

Mandy is the enthusiastic creator of the vegetarian website Splash of Taste; she makes meat-free cooking fun and easy. When Mandy’s not cooking and writing, you’ll find her travelling, exploring countries and cuisines, and spending time with her chihuahua. Download her free 5 x Easy Vegetarian Meals eBook.

This article originally appeared on Splash of Taste

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