Sweet potatoes are the fall staple we never get sick of and with good reason: Their mildly sweet interior is soft and melty, and they are equally delicious when loaded with toppings or served simply with nothing but a pad of butter. Not only that, but these orange tubers are healthy too. Aside from being a rich source of dietary fiber, the sweet potato is also packed protein and vitamins. Not sure how to cook a sweet potato? No problem. Our step-by-step guide to the (exceedingly easy) process guarantees a satisfying sweet potato every time.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in the Oven
Much like its plain cousin, sweet potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways but the most fuss-free method of them all is baking. The classic way to bake a sweet potato is in the conventional oven and the process is completely foolproof. Here’s what the sweet potato experts at the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission say to do.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400°F
When it comes to baking sweet potatoes, an extra hot oven is your friend. If your oven doesn’t indicate when the desired temperature has been reached, be sure to allow plenty of time for the preheat (roughly 20 minutes for older ovens).
Step 2: Wash the potato
While the oven warms up, clean the sweet potatoes by rinsing them under cold water, gently scrubbing away any visible dirt.
Step 3: Prep the potato
Pat the potatoes dry, grab a fork and start poking them. Yep, in order to avoid an exploding sweet potato scenario, it is recommended to pierce the skin with a fork five to six times before sending them to the oven. (Note: For extra crispy skin, we suggest rubbing the potatoes lightly with olive oil, but this step is optional.)
Step 4: Bake the sweet potato
Once your oven has preheated, it’s time to start cooking those puppies. Transfer each punctured potato to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake them on the middle rack of the oven. The potatoes will be done in approximately 45 minutes, but you’ll know for sure that they’re ready when a fork slides easily into the flesh.
Step 5: Dig in
Once the potatoes are soft and tender, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool before you butter the inside and dig in.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in the Microwave
The oven method is a breeze, but it does take a bit of patience. If you’re hungry and want a sweet potato stat, turn to your trusty microwave. We got the scoop from Candace Davidson, author of The Easy College Cookbook and expert on microwave cooking, on the best way to nuke a sweet potato.
Step 1: Wash and pierce the potato
When it comes to prepping a potato for the microwave, the steps are similar to those described above for the conventional method. Clean, pat dry and pierce the potato all over with the tines of a fork.
Step 2: Wrap the potato up
Microwaves are convenient but they do have some drawbacks, namely the nasty habit of drying food out. For this reason, Davidson recommends wrapping the sweet potato in a damp paper towel before you begin the cooking process.
Step 3: Cook the potato
Once the sweet potato has been bundled in a wet blanket, place it on a plate and let the microwave work its magic. Your veg will be cooked after roughly 4 to 5 minutes of nuking, but the fork test is a surefire way to tell if it is tender and ready to eat.
Step 4: Use a fork to pierce the potato—if its tender then it’s ready to eat
How to Boil Sweet Potatoes
Want to use your spuds for a creamy, dreamy mashed potato dish? Here’s how to get your sweet potatoes ready for mashing.
Step 1: Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes under cold water and then peel the skin
Leave the skin on for extra nutrients or use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin for a smoother mash.
Step 2: Cut the potato into pieces and place in a large pot with water
Add enough water to just cover the potatoes.
Step 3: Boil sweet potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with a fork
Step 4: Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot to make your mash
7 Delicious Sweet Potato Recipes
Now that you know how straightforward it is to cook a sweet potato, the only thing left to do is decide how you want to enjoy it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
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