Baked Sweet Potato
Updated Sep 24, 2023
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A perfectly baked sweet potato is one of my favorite side dishes. It’s 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.
Who doesn’t love a baked sweet potato when the weather’s cold outside? It’s warm, filling, nourishing and couldn’t be easier to make. It’s also super versatile – eat it plain as a side dish with a little pat of butter or jazz it up and turn it into BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes for a filling meal.
And they’re good for you too! Sweet potatoes are a rich source of fiber (making them great for digestion) and they’re loaded with iron, calcium, vitamin B, vitamin 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 United States are actually sweet potatoes, just marketed under the wrong name – yikes.
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
Give them a good scrub! 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 under some running water to give my sweet potatoes a good wash. Then I blot them dry with a paper towel.
Poke them. Sweet potatoes build up heat and steam while cooking. To prevent the sweet potato from bursting it’s necessary to give each sweet potato a few pokes to ensure this air can escape and it cooks evenly. You can poke the sweet potato 4 to 5 times with a fork or sharp knife.
Bake them in the oven. Lay the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and cook them for approximately one hour at 400°F. 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.
Ideas to Serve Them Up
There’s so many ways to serve up sweet potatoes. I think they’re a great accompaniment to a variety of mains, including:
- Beef: You could fill them with barbacoa or plate them next to a serving of beef brisket. And don’t forget prime rib during the holidays.
- Chicken: Simple baked chicken breast, roasted balsamic chicken and honey mustard chicken are a few of my faves for weeknight dinners. You could also stuff them with shredded chicken!
- Pork: Pork chops with apples are delicious during fall, and you can’t beat a pile of juicy and tender carnitas on top.
A Few 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 375°F, add the sweet potatoes and just remember to cook them 15 minutes longer. Alternatively, if you’re cooking other items in the oven at 425°F, your sweet potatoes will be done about 15 minutes sooner. But again, this is all dependent on the size of your sweet potato.
How to Store and Reheat
Sweet potatoes are a great meal prep ingredient! Bake a few at the beginning of the week to enjoy throughout the week. They’re super 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 to 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 up to 3 months.
- To reheat: Pop the sweet potato in the microwave for a couple of minutes or in the oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
More Sweet Potato Recipes to Love
You’ve probably gathered by now that I have an affinity for sweet potatoes. There’s just so much that you can do with them! Here’s a few more tasty ideas…
- Curly Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Walnut Pesto
- Prosciutto-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Maple Balsamic Glaze
- Sweet Potato Soup
If you make these baked sweet potatoes, let me know how they turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
Baked Sweet Potato
- 4 sweet potatoes
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- butter, optional
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Give your sweet potatoes a good wash and scrub.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and poke 4 to 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, poke them with a fork or knife. You should should feel very little resistance when inserted.
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Recipe originally posted January 2019, but recently updated.