Four Ways to Cook Sweet Potatoes at Home

Four Ways to Cook Sweet Potatoes at Home

Depending on how you cook them, sweet potatoes can be ready in minutes — and they’re a healthy addition to any meal. A medium baked sweet potato provides lots of vitamin A along with 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 24 grams of slow-burning complex carbs.

These root veggies are also versatile: “Sweet potatoes can be dressed with savory or sweet toppings, like brown sugar, honey, molasses, sour cream, Greek yogurt (which provides extra protein), grilled veggies, onions, garlic or Parmesan cheese,” says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian in Chicago.

Here’s how to cook sweet potatoes in the oven, in the microwave, or on the stove.

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How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in 4 Different Ways

Whether you prefer them whole, mashed, cubed, sliced, or cut into fries, here are four tried-and-true methods for cooking sweet potatoes:

  • Oven roasted. For optimal texture and flavor, baking sweet potatoes in the oven is your best bet. “I like to bake sliced sweet potatoes in the oven with extra virgin olive oil and cinnamon,” says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, a New Jersey-based registered dietitian. “This is a great way to sweeten them without the addition of sugar.”
  • Microwaved. If you’re pressed for time, cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave is quick and requires minimal prep — but you might notice the texture is a bit more gummy when cooked this way.
  • On the stove. Sautéing sweet potatoes in a skillet is efficient and can produce a satisfyingly crunchy side dish (although you won’t get fluffy sweet potatoes from a skillet).
  • Baked in foil. Baking a sweet potato in foil traps the potato’s moisture, so it’s more like steaming than baking. This can leave you with slightly soft potato skins, but it’s great in a pinch — for example, if you’re cooking a big meal and your oven is packed.

How Long to Cook Sweet Potatoes

How much time does it take to cook a sweet potato? It depends on the cooking method you choose — but cooking sweet potatoes typically takes between 5 and 45 minutes.

 

How to Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave

how to cook sweet potatoes- microwave

  1. Place sweet potatoes on a microwavable plate.
  2. Pierce each sweet potato three to four times with a fork. (Don’t skip this step — otherwise, the potato might burst.)

How Long to Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave

Microwave on high for 5 to 8 minutes, rotating halfway through. If you’re cooking more than one sweet potato, you’ll need to add more time. Cooking times vary depending on your microwave, but you’ll typically want to add 2 to 4 minutes for each additional sweet potato.

 

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in an Oven

how to cook sweet potatoes- oven

“Sweet potatoes are excellent when roasted whole,” says Ariane Resnick, CNC, a chef and certified nutritionist in West Hollywood, California. “This method keeps well for reheating and enhances their sweetness.”

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes, then pierce each sweet potato three to four times with a fork.
  3. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. (For easier cleanup, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.)

How Long to Cook Sweet Potatoes in an Oven

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender.

 

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in Foil

how to cook sweet potatoes - foil

Cooking a sweet potato in foil typically takes the same amount of time as baking it on a sheet. The key advantage here is space — if you already have a full oven, you can place foil-wrapped sweet potatoes right on the rack, between other pans.

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes, then pierce each sweet potato three to four times with a fork.
  3. Wrap each sweet potato individually in aluminum foil.
  4. Place directly on the oven rack and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender.

How To Cook Sweet Potatoes Fast

how to cook sweet potatoes- stove

Microwaving is the fastest way to cook sweet potatoes, but if the consistency isn’t to your liking, here are three ways to roast, sauté, or air-fry sweet potatoes faster.

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes on the Stove

Sautéing sweet potatoes in a skillet is a quick and easy way to create crispy, tender slices or home fries.

  1. Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes, then slice into discs about ⅛ inch thick. (You can also cut the discs into quarters, if you prefer a smaller bite.)
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
  3. Sauté the sweet potatoes for 3 minutes, until slightly soft, then turn.
  4. Cook until the potatoes reach your desired crispiness.
  5. Transfer the potatoes to a plate. Season to taste with herbs and spices.

How to Cook Sweet Potato Fries in the Oven

how to cook sweet potatoes- fries

Sweet potato fries served at a restaurant are often deep-fried in vegetable oil, but you can bake a healthier version at home with a bit of heart-healthy olive oil.

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes, then slice into fries or cubes.
  3. Place sweet potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and/or spices, and toss gently to coat.
  4. Spread sweet potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once, until brown and tender.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

How to Cook Sweet Potato Fries in an Air Fryer

You can also cook sweet potatoes fast using an air fryer. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and power of your fryer, but cooking sliced potatoes for 8 minutes at 375°F is a good place to start. Open the basket, shake, and check for doneness. If you’d like your sweet potato fries to be crispier, cook for a few more minutes until they reach your desired consistency.

Photography by Anguel Dimov, AB Creative

About

Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor who specializes in health, nutrition and lifestyle reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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