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Baked Sweet Potato: How to Bake Sweet Potatoes 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 is a healthy side dish or main meal. Learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven perfectly.

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.

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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 to serve with baked sweet potatoes? I think they’re a great accompaniment to beef brisket, roasted balsamic chicken, honey mustard chicken and barbecue ribs.

Baked sweet potato is a healthy side dish or main meal. Learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven perfectly.

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, redish-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.

Baked sweet potato is a healthy side dish or main meal. Learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven perfectly.

Baked sweet potato is a healthy side dish or main meal. Learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven perfectly.

How to Bake Sweet Potatoes – 3 steps

Wash the Sweet Potato

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.

Poke the Sweet Potato

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.

Bake the Sweet Potato

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.

Baked sweet potato is a healthy side dish or main meal. Learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven perfectly.

A Few Tips for Baked Sweet Potato

  • 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.

Baked sweet potato is a healthy side dish or main meal. Learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven perfectly.

More Sweet Potato Recipes to Love

Watch my Video on How to Bake Sweet Potatoes

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Baked Sweet Potato: How to Bake Sweet Potatoes Perfectly

Baked sweet potato is an easy side dish or main meal. Sweet potatoes are super versatile, can be made sweet or savory and they’re packed with vitamins and nutrients. Watch the video above to see how easy they are to make!

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • butter (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Poke 4-5 holes in each sweet potato with a fork or sharp knife.
  3. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 60 minutes, or until soft.

Lisa's Tips

  • The scrub brush I use for my sweet potatoes is a great tool to have in the kitchen for washing a variety of vegetables.
  • If you don’t have a good baking sheet, I highly recommend purchasing a heavy duty baking sheet that won’t warp or twist in the oven.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 servings, Serving Size: 1 medium sweet potato

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 102.6
  • Total Fat: .2g
  • Saturated Fat: .1g
  • Sodium: 41mg
  • Carbohydrates: 23.6g
  • Fiber: 3.8g
  • Sugar: 7.4g
  • Protein: 2.3g
All images and text ©Lisa Bryan for Downshiftology

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22 comments on “Baked Sweet Potato: How to Bake Sweet Potatoes Perfectly”

  1. Thank you for linking the baking sheet used in this recipe! Are there any other baking sheets you have linked on the website? I’m in the market for new ones (for cookies, veggies, etc) and am hoping to find some that will last me a good while!

  2. I love sweet potatoes so much I sometimes have them on their own for dessert. :P I have some chilli in the fridge and I’m now thinking I may use it for dinner, over a perfectly baked sweet potato, with maybe some of your cashew cream, lime and cilantro on top…? Thank you for the inspiration, Lisa!

  3. Thanks for the reminder about how delicious and nutritious ‘simple’ food can be. Soo good! Good fiber too. Also, thanks for the tip about the veggie scrub brush.

    Rating: 5
  4. Lisa, I love your videos, recipes, blog posts, all of it! The drone footage was especially beautiful. You are lucky to live near such a beautiful and peaceful place. I have a question about cooking potatoes (sweet and regular). Do you not use a microwave for some health reason? I live alone most of the time and find it easier to cook a single potato in the microwave for the meal I plan to eat at that time. I know you cook for one, also, and I do love your tips on meal preparation. When you bake 4 sweet potatoes in the regular oven, how long will they keep in the fridge afterwards? (It’s probably in one of your videos, but I’ve missed it.) Do you warm them in the regular oven or microwave before eating, or do you eat them cold?

    Rating: 5
    • Hi Gwen – I’m so happy you enjoy all my recipes, videos and content! I do use a microwave and you could certainly “bake” them in the microwave. But I had a few requests about baking sweet potatoes in the oven so that’s what prompted using the oven. In terms of storage, you can keep them for 3-4 days in the fridge. After I shot that video I scooped out all the sweet potato, mashed it up and separated it into a few smaller storage containers in the freezer. It will keep for a couple months in the freezer. And then yes, I do use the microwave for reheating as well. Hope that helps! :) x

  5. We love sweet potatoes in our house! Love how you broke the whole process down.

    Rating: 5
  6. First I’d like to say I love your site so much. I just happened to be reading the September/October 2017 issue of Cooks Illustrated, and they had an article on baking a sweet potato…

    “Not long ago, we discovered that baking a russet potato in a 450-degree oven for about 45 minutes produced an ideally fluffy interior (see our complete findings at work in our Best Baked Potatoes recipe). But when I followed the same approach using a sweet potato, the interior was dense and watery. Meanwhile, I tried a handful of baked sweet potato recipes and came upon one from chef Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia’s Zahav restaurant that revealed how truly extraordinary a baked sweet potato can be. After the spuds had spent about 3 hours in a 275-degree oven, their interiors were not just tender but downright plush, and their flavor was concentrated to the point of tasting caramelized, with hints of molasses. These were unlike any sweet potatoes I’d ever eaten.”

    They then went on to develop a recipe that gave the same results but was faster than 3 hours:

    Any variety of orange- or red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potato can be used in this recipe, but we highly recommend using Garnet (also sold as Diane). Avoid varieties with tan or purple skin, which are starchier and less sweet than varieties with orange and red skins. When shopping, look for sweet potatoes that are uniform in size and weigh between 8 and 12 ounces (we prefer smaller potatoes). Top potatoes as desired or with one of our two sauces, Garam Masala Yogurt or Garlic and Chive Sour Cream (see related content).

    1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on large plate and microwave until potatoes yield to gentle pressure and centers register 200 degrees, 6 to 9 minutes, flipping potatoes every 3 minutes.

    2. Set wire rack in aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and spray rack with vegetable oil spray. Using tongs, transfer potatoes to prepared rack and bake for 1 hour (exteriors of potatoes will be lightly browned and potatoes will feel very soft when squeezed).

    3. Slit each potato lengthwise; using clean dish towel, hold ends and squeeze slightly to push flesh up and out. Transfer potatoes to serving platter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    I have yet to try this, but I plan to. I thought you might find this interesting. If you have access to Cooks Illustrated, the article is very informative.

    A devoted fan,
    Lani

    • Hi Lani – thanks so much for the comprehensive info! It’s always fun to see what others recommend doing and I’ll definitely have to give that approach a try next time. I know many of my readers don’t have microwaves or choose to not use them, but for those who do, it would be an interesting comparison for sure. :) x

  7. What a great idea! Plus it’s good to add protein to carbs, right?!!
    Lovely filling ideas.

  8. I never knew there was a difference between a yam and a sweet potato. I always thought they were one in the same. Excellent tips! I love baking sweet potatoes.

    Rating: 5
  9. Now I’m craving sweet potatoes… this is a great post with lots of helpful tips! Love the idea to use foil to make cleanup easier on your baking sheets.

    Rating: 5
  10. I’ve never been a sweet potato fan but I love the idea of this! I’ll have to try it!

    Rating: 5
  11. I love baked sweet potatoes! They’re so versatile! Thanks for the tips!

    Rating: 5