How to Bake Sweet Potatoes to Perfection
Tips and tricks for tender and fluffy sweet potatoes every time.
I could eat a simple, baked sweet potato with brown sugar-cinnamon butter for every meal. But I was always frustrated that I couldn't replicate the tender, melt-in-your-mouth sweet potatoes you find at steakhouses and other restaurants. What's the secret to those irresistibly fluffy interiors? High in nutritional value, and lower in calories than white potatoes, sweet potatoes make an easy side dish for dinner or a light lunch. Read on to learn how to bake sweet potatoes in the oven to bring out their sweetness and achieve that light, fluffy texture we all love.
How to Pick Sweet Potatoes
Picking the right sweet potato can make all the difference when you're trying to achieve that perfect baked sweet potato. So how do you end up with the right one? Go for thinner, uniform sweet potatoes. Although you may be tempted to pick the more meatier potato, thinner sweet potatoes will cook evenly all the way through to the center. With fatter sweet potatoes, the outsides will be done before the centers have been fully cooked. If you've ever encountered this problem when baking sweet potatoes, it's probably because you're cooking with the wrong size.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes
Before they're cooked, sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place—like your countertop (so long as it's a well-ventilated room and not in direct sunlight). Avoid storing them in the fridge, as this can cause them to require longer cooking times and can even affect the flavor. Once you've cooked them, they can be stored in the fridge for up to four days, or frozen in an airtight container for up to four months.
Tips for Baking Sweet Potatoes
Before you get started, consider these tips for baking sweet potatoes to perfection:
- Use a knife over a fork. If you're like me, you've probably tried the fork stabbing method when cooking baked potatoes. If that hasn't worked for you, try slashing the potato crosswise about eight times up and down the potato. This will help the heat to reach the center of the potato and allows moisture to escape during the cooking process (so you don't end up with a watery result).
- Turn up the heat. Don't be afraid to cook your sweet potato longer and hotter (we're talking up to 425 degrees). This will help caramelize the natural sugars in the sweet potato, giving you the crunchy and sweet sheen.
- Wash and dry your potato completely. After thoroughly washing your potato, you want to make sure you get the skin as dry as possible. Cooking a wet or damp potato means you're going to steam the skin. Making sure your sweet potato is dry will ensure you get that dry, crispy skin.
- Use foil or parchment paper. Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Sweet potatoes have natural sugars that will ooze out and caramelize during cooking, so using foil or parchment paper will prevent sticking as much as possible.
How to Bake Sweet Potatoes
For basic baked sweet potatoes, follow these instructions to reach a fluffy and tender consistency.
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Toppings of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Thoroughly wash and dry sweet potatoes. Use a knife to make about 8 crosswise slashes up and down the potato.
- Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper Bake the sweet potatoes for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes. A fork or knife should be easily inserted into the center of the potato when it's finished baking.
- Remove from the oven and allow the potatoes to cool for 5 minutes. Season with butter, brown sugar, pecans, marshmallows or any other topping of your choice.
4 More Way to Bake Sweet Potatoes
If you're in the market for a more savory sweet potato side dish, give this simple recipe a try. "Very healthy and tasty sweet potatoes that will be a great addition to any meal. Very easy!"
Recipe creator SDELATORE says, "This creamy sweet potato recipe is a huge hit with everyone. A friend served a version of these at a luncheon, and I absolutely loved it. I found some sweet potatoes in my fridge that I hadn't used and decided to try it. Everyone at work flipped over them! They're great with pork chops or steak, too!"
"This is a great autumn or winter side dish, especially for those who like things sweet and salty. The colors are beautiful and make a nice autumn presentation," says recipe creator DRUMNWRITE.
Recipe creator TINA B says, "My family begs me to make this creamy baked dish every Thanksgiving and Christmas. What makes it so good is the pecan topping! Try it and I'm sure it will become your new tradition!"