Your ultimate guide for how to prepare sweet potatoes, plus a collection of the best sweet potato recipes.
Soups, snacks, appetizers, main courses, kid-friendly, and adult-friendly recipes. Mostly healthy, gluten free, and many vegetarian options are included!
If you want to skip ahead to the list of sweet potato recipe ideas, just scroll down. But if you want to read a little about all the different ways for how to prepare sweet potatoes or what kinds of seasonings go best with this delicious tuber, then keep reading below.
When to eat sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are an amazing ingredient that gets popular during the Fall season, when people are looking for delicious comfort food recipes. Sweet potatoes are in season from mid-October until December, making them perfect Fall produce.
Sweet potatoes last a long time when stored in a cool dark place, and they are available in stores year-round. Because of this, sweet potatoes can be enjoyed anytime. Many of the recipes on the list below are year-round favorites in my house and are not specifically for Fall.
Sweet potato benefits
Sweet potatoes are very healthy! They are loaded with fiber, vitamin B, vitamin C, iron, selenium, and antioxidant beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. (Source) Beta-carotene is responsible for the natural orange color of sweet potatoes. By the way, check out these other orange foods!
Are sweet potatoes a vegetable?
Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable. Even though they are called potatoes, they are much less starchy than a vegetable. Because of this, sweet potatoes count as a vegetable instead of a starch when it comes to nutrition.
So while sweet potatoes are not low in carbs and are not suitable for the low-carb or keto diets, they are definitely a healthier alternative for people who are trying to eat less "white foods" and are trying to eat foods that won't spike their blood sugar levels.
How to prepare sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes don't have to be peeled before cooking. Make sure to scrub the skin really well to remove any dirt. Depending on the cooking method, the skin will either crisp up and be tasty (such as when preparing sweet potato in the oven or the microwave), or will become soft enough to easily slide off the sweet potato (such as when you prepare sweet potato in the Instant Pot or by boiling).
Cooking sweet potato
The five main ways for how to prepare potatoes are roasting, boiling, microwaving, pan-frying, and making them in the Instant Pot / Pressure cooker. Here are the basics for each sweet potato cooking method, but each recipe on the list below goes into detailed prep and cook instructions.
How to roast sweet potatoes
Roasting sweet potato is by far the most flavorful way of cooking it. Just like with most vegetables, roasting sweet potatoes brings out their natural flavors and caramelizes them. You can roast sweet potatoes without peeling them - just scrub the skin clean with a brush.
You can bake or roast whole sweet potatoes, which would take around 45 - 60 minutes at ~400-425F, or you roast cubed sweet potatoes, which would be fork-tender after only 25-30 minutes at 400F. Cooking time depends on the size of the whole or cubed sweet potato.
How to boil sweet potatoes
Boiling sweet potato is a great option if you're making soup, or need to have super soft cooked sweet potato to use it for other recipes, such as my sweet potato chicken nuggets.
Cubed sweet potatoes can be cooked in about 10-15 minutes in boiling water. Larger halved sweet potato pieces will be fully cooked in 15-20 minutes.
You might want to peel the sweet potatoes before boiling them, depending on what you're using the sweet potatoes for.
Pan-frying sweet potatoes
Cooking sweet potato right in the skillet is actually one of my favorite ways of cooking it. It makes for really easy dinners, such as this sweet potato pulled pork hash, or this sausage and pepper sweet potato skillet. You can pan-fry sweet potatoes at the same time as cooking garlic and sliced onions, and this makes a really flavorful dish.
Pan-frying the sweet potatoes will take 15-25 minutes, depending on the size that you cut the sweet potatoes into, how high the heart is, and whether you keep the lid on the skillet or not. Keeping the lid on more reduces cooking time, but removing the lid makes for crispier, caramelized sweet potatoes. There's always a trade-off.
How to microwave sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be prepared in the microwave very quickly, and are great for a fast "baked sweet potato" recipe.
To prepare sweet potato in the microwave, just thoroughly wash and scrub your sweet potato (leave the skin on!), pierce it with a fork, and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 5 minutes, then check the doneness with a fork. If it does not pierce the sweet potato easily, cook it for longer, about 1-2 minutes at a time, until desired doneness.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut it in the middle, add some butter, salt (or brown sugar), and enjoy!
How to prepare sweet potatoes in the Instant pot / pressure cooker
The Instant Pot is a great hands off way to prepare sweet potatoes. The Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker is best used for mashed sweet potatoes and for when you need cooked sweet potatoes to use in other recipes, such as sweet potato chicken nuggets. This is because cooking sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot results in wetter sweet potatoes than roasting, microwaving, or pan-frying them.
To prepare sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot, just place them on a trivet and add a half a cup of water to the Instant Pot. Cook on manual for about 10 minutes on high pressure. Then allow to naturally release pressure for about 5 minutes, then do a manual pressure release (or let it sit there to finish naturally releasing pressure). The actual cooking time will depend on the size of your sweet potatoes.
Allow the sweet potatoes to cool, then peel the skin off and mash together with your favorite seasonings and spices (see below for ideas!).
Sweet potato seasonings
Sweet potatoes are often served as a sweet side dish for Thanksgiving, topped with marshmallows, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Those are all wonderful flavors to pair with sweet potato, but I definitely see that as more of a "once in a while" type of treat that kind of takes away from how healthy sweet potato recipes can be.
Because of this, I often cook sweet potato with savory flavors, such as herbs, spices, and spicy meats.
Some of my favorite sweet potato seasonings are:
Some of my favorite ingredient additions to sweet potato recipes are:
- spicy Italian sausage
- pulled pork
- sharp cheese
Take a look at the recipes below to see how I use these ingredients to prepare many sweet potato dishes!