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How to Cook Sweet Potatoes: 11 Tried & True Methods

With their earthy, naturally sweet flavor and beautiful orange hue, sweet potatoes make healthy eating a pleasure. If you’re not sure how to cook sweet potatoes, or perhaps are just looking for some new ideas to add to your repertoire, you’re in the right place.

How to cook sweet potatoes

Here, we’ll detail 11 different ways to cook sweet potatoes, from no-cook options to traditional techniques in the oven and stovetop and even some unusual methods in the microwave and yes, even the toaster! 

Raw sweet potatoes

Yup: sweet potatoes can be consumed raw (sweet potatoes don’t contain solanine, an enzyme that can be harmful when consumed in regular raw potatoes). Here are a few ways to try them uncooked!

1. Smoothies 


Put chunks of raw sweet potato in your smoothies to increase the fiber and overall satiety while you sip. The Mind Body Green blog has a great recipe for a raw sweet potato pie smoothie, which includes coconut water, flax seeds, dates and banana for a satisfying and naturally sweet drink. 

2. Spiralized sweet potatoes 

Just as you can make “noodles” from spiralized zucchini, you can use the same method to create sweet potato “noodles.” It’s not necessary to cook the noodles before topping them with your favorite pasta fixings, though you can stir-fry them if you choose. 

Cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave 

Your microwave can be a miracle worker if you want to cook your sweet potatoes fast. Here are two easy ways to prepare them!

3. Microwave “baked” sweet potato

Pierce the potato

Follow these simple steps to make a “baked” sweet potato in your microwave.

Step 1:

Wash your sweet potato, then pierce it all over with the tines of a fork. This is important, as the potato can explode and make a big mess if you don’t pierce it! 

Step 2:

Place a damp paper towel in the microwave. You can put it on top of a plate or right on the microwave’s tray.

Step 3: 

Place the potato on top of the damp towel. Microwave on high for about 4 minutes; pause and feel the firmness of your potato. Continue microwaving on high in 1-minute intervals until the potato is softened to your liking.

Note: Once you know how long it takes to microwave a sweet potato in your microwave, you can simply heat it for that long, omitting the 4-minute check-in. 

4. Microwave sweet potato chunks

Following a similar method, you can cook sweet potato chunks in the microwave. I like to use this method to par-cook sweet potato chunks before incorporating them into a stir-fry.

Step 1: 

Wash your sweet potato. Peel, then cut into chunks (they can be cubes or sticks; just make sure they are fairly uniform in size). Pierce each portion once or twice with the tines of a fork.

Note: Peeling is highly suggested if you’re cutting the sweet potato into chunks. This is because, in smaller portions, the peel can get gummy and unpleasantly chewy when microwaved.  

Step 2:

Place a damp paper towel in the microwave. You can put it on top of a plate or right on top of the microwave’s tray.

Step 3: 

Place the potato portions on top of the damp towel. Microwave on HIGH For about 2 minutes; pause, flip, and feel the firmness of your potato portions. Continue on HIGH at 1-minute intervals until the potato is softened to your desired level. 

Cooking sweet potatoes in the oven

There’s so much that you can do with sweet potatoes in the oven. Here are some classic preparation methods. 

5. Baked whole sweet potato

Sweet potato egg boats

There aren’t many foods cozier than a baked sweet potato. Here’s a foolproof method for making them perfect every time. 

Step 1: 

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 2:

Wash your sweet potato, then pierce it all over with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with salt.

Step 3:

Wrap the sweet potato in aluminum foil. Place in the oven (you can put it right on the rack, or on a baking sheet). Bake about 40 to 60 minutes, until softened to your liking.

Want to kick things up a few notches? Try this recipe for sweet potato egg boats!

6. Baked sweet potato fries 

Sweet potato fries

Photo via CakeSpy

The keys to making perfect sweet potato fries? Cut portions so that they are a uniform size, and use a higher temperature to ensure crispy edges.

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Step 2:

Wash your sweet potato, then peel (if desired) and slice into uniformly sized chunks, strips or wedges. 

Step 3:

Scatter the portions on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season to taste with salt, pepper and/or other seasonings.

Step 4:

Bake until tender to the touch but crispy on the edges, or to your desired level of doneness. Depending on the size of your portions, this will take 15 – 25 minutes. Flip after about 10 minutes for even browning.

Note: For extra crispy edges, use the broiler setting toward the end of the cooking time. Keep a close eye on those fries once you set the broiler — they can progress from crispy to burnt quickly, depending on how powerful your broiler is.

7. Sheet pan roasted vegetables with sweet potatoes

This is the ideal winter dinner: cozy, comforting and totally delicious. 

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Step 2: 

Cut up a variety of your favorite veggies, as well as sweet potatoes. Need some ideas? Rutabaga, brussels sprouts, beets or parsnips are all good choices. Be sure to cut the pieces fairly uniformly in size. 

Step 3:

Toss the veggies with olive oil, and scatter them on a baking sheet. Salt, pepper and season to taste.

Step 4:

Roast for about 20 minutes, then flip the veggies using a metal spatula. Roast for 20-30 more minutes, or until crisped to your desired level. Remove from the oven and serve! 

Cooking sweet potatoes in the toaster

Wait, what? Yes indeed, you can cook slices of sweet potato in a toaster like toast.

8. Sweet potato toast

Sweet potato toast

Meet your new best friend: sweet potato toast. It’s a naturally vegan and gluten-free alternative to wheat bread, and it tastes delicious. Of course, if you feel funny putting sweet potato slices in your toaster or simply don’t have a toaster, this can be done in the oven as well.

Check out this post on how to make sweet potato toast!

Making sweet potatoes on the stove

9. Mashed sweet potatoes 

Mashed sweet potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a thing of beauty! You can simply substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes in your favorite recipe, or use this method:

Step 1: 

Wash and peel about 2½ pounds of sweet potatoes. Cut the potatoes into chunks.

Step 2: 

Bring 1 gallon of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the sweet potato chunks. Boil until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. 

Step 3: 

Strain the potatoes, and using a masher, mash until smooth. Season them as you like — I like to add about ½ cup of milk, a few tablespoons of unsalted butter, and salt. 

Note: Instead of merely mashing the sweet potatoes, you could also use them to make our healthy sweet potato casserole recipe!

10. Fried sweet potatoes 

Fried sweet potatoes

Photo via CakeSpy

Fried sweet potatoes are a snap! This quick and easy technique is perfect for making a breakfast side dish or making fries on the fly. 

Step 1: 

Wash, peel (if desired) and cut the sweet potato into wedges, fries or coins. Make sure they’re uniform in size. 

Step 2: 

Pour enough oil to fill a skillet about 1″ deep. Put the skillet over medium-high heat. 

Step 3:

Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes, leaving enough room in the pan so that they are not too crowded. Cook on the first side until crisped to your liking, then flip and repeat on the second side. Remove from the pan, and serve hot! 

Making sweet potatoes in a slow cooker 

When time is at a premium, it’s nice to let your slow cooker do the hard work for you. Sweet potatoes are well suited to slow cooker preparation!

11. Slow cooker mashed sweet potatoes 

Why deal with boiling water? Making mashed sweet potatoes in your slow cooker is a piece of cake. Follow the same method as detailed in this blog post, but substitute sweet potatoes for the regular potatoes.

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