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How To Cook Sweet Potatoes – The Three Secret Tricks!

How to cook sweet potatoes that will yield the absolute BEST sweet potatoes you’ve ever tried in your life: 

how to bake sweet potatoes
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Hot, caramelized baked sweet potatoes

These 3 easy tricks will revolutionize the way you think of sweet potatoes – If you’re anything like me, prepare to become completely obsessed.

And if you think there’s no way you could love sweet potatoes more than you already do, just wait.

It’s highly likely you’ll suddenly find yourself craving sweet potatoes at every single meal and dreaming about them between meals as well. If you think I’m exaggerating… this is something you just have to try in order to believe the shocking difference in results.

Instead of only slightly sweet or unevenly cooked sweet potatoes, these three small changes in how to cook sweet potatoes will yield sweet, sticky, wonderfully caramelized sweet potatoes that taste almost like candy.

Sweet, sticky, gooey, candy-like sweet potatoes…

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how to cook sweet potatoes

Okay, so if I’ve caught your attention, here are the 3 tricks!

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Trick One:

Choose thinner sweet potatoes.

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, and conventional wisdom will tell you to go for the fattest, juiciest-looking sweet potatoes at the store, ignoring the picked-over, anemic, and shriveled ones. But that would be a mistake, and here’s why:

While baking, the heat will evenly cook even the very center of the thinner potatoes, getting them all hot and caramelized; whereas with the fat potatoes, the outsides will be done well before the centers have a chance to cook through.

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sweet potatoes

(That middle sweet potato is the perfect size and shape.)

Trick Two:

Don’t just poke a few holes with a fork; use a large knife to slash about a third of the way into the potato 8-10 times on both sides.

Why this works: It helps the heat get all the way into the centers of the potatoes, once again ensuring they will cook evenly.

It also allows moisture to escape so you don’t end up steaming the potato and getting stuck with a watered-down result.

baked sweet potatoes

Trick Three:

Cook longer and hotter.

Just like with my tutorial on How To Cook Spaghetti Squash, you want to forget the tutorials that tell you to bake at 350. Go big or go home.

How big?

I’m talking 450 F – a full hundred degrees more. And start the potatoes in a non-preheated oven, which will cook them more evenly while also saving energy.

Baking at a higher temperature will really caramelize the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes tahini

Sweet Potato Recipes:

sweet potato brownies

Sweet Potato Brownies

kathy patalsky

Sweet Potato Burgers

sweet potato salad

Sweet Potato Salad

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My all-time favorite way to enjoy the baked, caramelized sweet potatoes is slathered in tahini.

Please please please try it this way, at least once in your lifetime!

Seriously, you will not regret it!!!

sweet potatoes

One of the best things about sweet potatoes is that they can be frozen and then thawed quickly any time you haven’t made a meal and come home hungry.

I’m pretty sure there are at least seven pyrex containers of roasted sweet potatoes in my freezer right now, and I don’t expect the containers to be there for long!

Leftover roasted sweet potato? Use it up in my favorite Veggie Burger Recipe!

How To Cook Sweet Potatoes The Best Way
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How To Cook Sweet Potatoes

How to cook sweet potatoes in the oven, the best way.
5/5 (74)
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 1 recipe

Ingredients

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Large Knife
  • Parchment Paper
  • Toppings of choice

Instructions

  • Be sure to use parchment paper to line the pan. As they caramelize, the sweet potatoes release their natural sugars, which can be a pain to clean if you don’t line the pan. With parchment, you can just throw the paper away, making cleanup super easy.
    Line a baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside. Start with thin, evenly shaped sweet potatoes. Slice the knife into each sweet potato 8-10 times per potato, going about a third of the way down with each cut. Place potatoes in the pan, then place the pan on the oven center rack. Now turn the oven on to 450 F. Bake 30 minutes, then turn (unless they are very small, they’re probably not done yet) and continue to bake until sweet potatoes are soft and you can see that some of the natural sugars have spread onto the parchment paper (see photo). This means the potatoes are starting to caramelize. Sweet potatoes can be served immediately, or you can refrigerate or even freeze for a later date. Serving suggestions are listed in the post – my favorite way to eat roasted sweet potatoes is covered with tahini.
    *Instant Pot Version: Place the steamer rack in the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water. Place 3 medium sweet potatoes onto the rack, and cook on high manual for 20 minutes. Finally, do a natural pressure release. Thanks to reader Jamie for creating this version and letting us know how to cook sweet potatoes in an instant pot!
    View Nutrition Facts

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Published on November 22, 2016

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
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ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day!

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Reader Interactions

89 Comments

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  1. Jenna says

    Thanks for the great tips 😉 Plus, I had no idea you could freeze sweet potatoes so easily…do you cut them first or freeze the cooked sweet pot in its entirety?

  2. Joanne says

    I absolutely LOVE sweet potatoes with tahini!! It’s one of my favorite food combos! I have yet to try baking these with your tricks though, but I’ll get to it one of these days!

  3. Nicki Green says

    I have a baked sweet potato topped with almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon every morning. I also have added sliced bananas or raisins. Filling, nutrition without the carb crash from boxed cereal and gluten and dairy free.

  4. H Wiese says

    I didn’t care for cutting them this way. I like to bake them them remove the skin to mash. It was really difficult to get the skin off and they were dried out. Not very satisfying.

  5. Simon says

    Some good tips, but sorry if your one tip is to cut with a knife don’t show pictures of the finished product that wasn’t poked/cut. That one actually looks better.

  6. Natalie says

    Hello,

    Do you have any recommendations on how best to reheat these sweet potatoes after freezing them?

    Thank you!
    Natalie

  7. Clyde Bain says

    Daddy was from Louisiana and learned to cook with a woodstove. At home he would cook them at 425 until they shrivled a bit.

  8. Maret says

    I am looking forward to trying your method, but I’m confused by the accompanying photos. The instructions state (and photos show) cutting the sides, but the photo of the 2 halves (slathered with tahini?) doesn’t appear to have those cuts. Am I missing something? Or was that potato baked without the side cuts for a nicer visual presentation?

  9. Barbara says

    I like the way you suggest cooking sweet pototos with the slicing. However you show an equal number of photos without the slicing, which is correct ? A picture is worth a thousand workd

  10. Jenny says

    I know this is a little late after the post, but I got some gorgeous purple sweet potatoes, and they were so good with this recipe. They are SO COOL that I feel like there must be something else I can do with them. Does anyone have ideas for me? They are really really purple. Thank you!

    • Jason Sanford says

      When you put the potato in. But different sized potatoes will take different amounts of time so there’s really no set amount of time. The 30 minutes is a usual!

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hmm, I’ve never had a problem with mine and always bake at super high heat. But your comment made me look on the box, and mine says that too. Maybe they have to say it for legal reasons? In any case, I will still cook with mine the same as usual because I’ve never had an issue, but if you’re worried then maybe use aluminum foil? I did also find this from the Cooks Illustrated website in case it can be helpful:
      “Most parchment paper is rated for use at temperatures no higher than 420 to 450 degrees. But we occasionally recommend using this liner for bread and pizza baked as high as 500 degrees.
      Phone calls to manufacturers, including Regency and Reynolds, put any safety worries to rest: Using parchment at higher-than-recommended temperatures does not release noxious chemicals, and the paper will not burn.”

  11. Patti says

    I want to make these tomorrow night but there will be a space of 35 minutes for another dish to cook at a lower temreature. So how do I heat these up again after they have been out of the oven for at least 35 minutes?

    Thanks!

    • Jason Sanford says

      I’m not a professional, just speaking from experience that I think parchment paper companies say this just to cover themselves. Chowhound, Cooks Illustrated, and other reputable sources all say it’s ok to cook at higher heats, and I always have. But it is absolutely your call, and do not take my words as those of a professional. Here is what Cook’s Illustrated has written: “Most parchment paper is rated for use at temperatures no higher than 420 to 450 degrees. But it’s true—we occasionally recommend using this liner for bread and pizza baked as high as 500 degrees. … Using parchment at higher-than-recommended temperatures does not release noxious chemicals, and the paper will not burn.”

  12. TJ says

    Katie, I read this article last fall and standard sweet potatoes are awesome with these tips. ….I’ve
    been using these tips ever since. However, I tried the tips today with Japanese sweet potatoes and the results were very dry. Should I have changed the temp setting for the texture of the Japanese sweet potatoes?

  13. Lisa says

    Cooking sweet potatoes like this is a total game changer! I love sweet potatoes and now even more so. I tried serving with tahini and it is so delicious.

  14. Adriana says

    Ok, I admit, I thought the tahini thing sounded weird but I was open…. I tried it and I’m never going back. I don’t think I can eat a sweet potato/yam WITHOUT tahini ever again!
    And these tricks totally worked.

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