Baked Sweet Potato: How to Bake Perfectly
Baked sweet potatoes are one of my favorite side dishes. They’re no-fuss, easy to bake and packed with vitamins and nutrients. To serve, just dollop with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. A little dash of cinnamon is also delicious.
You can easily turn a baked sweet potato into a full meal by stuffing it with shredded chicken, ground beef and a variety of other vegetables. My BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potato recipe is one of my favorites.
Baked Sweet Potato
A baked sweet potato is the perfect fall and winter recipe when the weather’s cold outside. It’s warm, filling, nourishing and couldn’t be easier to make.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of fiber (making them great for digestion) and loaded with iron, calcium, vitamins B and C and beta-carotene, an antioxidant which gives the potato its vibrant orange color.
What’s the Difference Between a Sweet Potato and a Yam
Sweet potatoes and yams are both root vegetables, but they’re actually quite different. To make matters confusing, most yams sold in supermarkets in the US are actually sweet potatoes, just marketed under the wrong name.
Yams tend to have brown-ish, rougher skin and lighter flesh. They’re also starchier and dryer when cooked.
Sweet potatoes have more tapered ends, reddish-orange skin and vibrant orange flesh – though they can come in a variety of colors from white to orange to purple. Sweet potatoes are also sweeter (hence their name) when they’re cooked.
The take-away: if what you’ve bought looks like these photos, odds are it’s a variety of sweet potato even though it may have been called a yam in the store.
How to Bake Sweet Potatoes – 3 Steps
While sweet potatoes have been given a rinse before arriving at the supermarket, they’re definitely not clean. To ensure you don’t end up with dirt and debris in your meal, make sure to give them a good scrub. I use this scrub brush and some running water to give my sweet potatoes a good wash. Then I blot them dry with a paper towel.
Sweet potatoes build up heat and steam while cooking. To prevent the sweet potato from bursting it’s necessary to give it a few pokes to ensure this air can escape and it cooks evenly. You can poke the sweet potato 4-5 times with a fork or sharp knife.
Lay the sweet potato on a baking tray and cook for approximately one hour at 400 degrees fahrenheit. Because sweet potatoes are not always uniform in shape and size, you may need to cook them a little bit less or a little bit longer, depending on size. You can tell if your sweet potato is cooked through if it pierces easily with a knife.
A Few More Tips
- Baked sweet potatoes can let out a little juice when baked. This can start to caramelize on your baking tray, making it more difficult to clean up. To prevent this, line your baking tray with parchment paper.
- It’s not necessary to oil the outside of your sweet potato or wrap it in aluminum foil. The sweet potato will bake just fine on a baking tray all on its own.
- While mother nature gives us sweet potatoes in various shapes and sizes, if you’re cooking more than one potato in the oven try to keep them about the same size. No matter if that’s all small ones or all large ones.
- You can adjust the temperature and time of baking sweet potatoes – they’re quite flexible. If you’re cooking other items in the oven at 375F, add the sweet potatoes and just remember to cook them 15 minutes longer. Alternatively, if you’re cooking other items in the oven at 425F, your sweet potatoes will be done about 15 minutes sooner. But again, this is all dependent on the size of your sweet potato.
Once your sweet potatoes are cooked, they’re really easy to store if you have leftovers.
- To store: Place the whole or halved sweet potato, or the scooped out flesh in a storage container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- To freeze: If you have a lot of leftovers, you can freeze them! Just scoop out the flesh into a storage container and freeze for several months.
- To reheat: Pop the sweet potato in the microwave for a couple of minutes or in the oven at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.
More Sweet Potato Recipes to Love
- Curly Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Walnut Pesto (gluten-free, paleo)
- Spiralized Sweet Potato Egg Nests
- Sweet Potato Hash Browns
- Prosciutto-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Maple Balsamic Glaze
- Sweet Potato Soup
Baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe Video
It’s easy to bake sweet potatoes (especially after you’ve done it a few times). But if they’re new to you, I’ve got a step-by-step tutorial video to walk you through the process. Give it a watch below!
Baked Sweet Potato: How to Bake Perfectly
- 4 sweet potatoes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- butter, optional
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Give your sweet potatoes a good wash and scrub.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and poke 4-5 holes in each sweet potato with a fork or sharp knife.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 60 minutes, or until soft. To test if they're done, a fork or knife should should feel little resistance when inserted.