6 Different Methods for Cooking Sweet Potatoes

Mash them, bake them, pressure-cook them, or turn them into fries—whatever your method, follow these steps to make perfect sweet potatoes every time.

Brightly-hued orange sweet potatoes make an excellent addition to any meal—especially around cool-weather holidays such as Thanksgiving when they're in peak season. Conveniently, sweet potatoes are usually easily found year-round at the store, so you can roast them as a delicious side, blend them into soup, or enjoy in french fry form with your favorite burger. With so many ways to cook sweet potatoes, it can be easy to resort to basics such as baking or boiling. Here you'll learn how to cook sweet potatoes beyond the oven or stove top and utilize your slow cooker, Instant pot, and air fryer, too. Soon you'll be enjoying all sorts of sweet potato dishes in different forms for any meal or occasion.

Twice-Baked Candied Sweet Potatoes recipe plate marshmallows
Andy Lyons

How to Bake Sweet Potatoes

Obviously, baking is the most common way to cook sweet potatoes in the oven. If you have the time, baking sweet potatoes is a great way to enjoy tender sweet potatoes with crispy skin. To bake sweet potatoes:

  • Scrub 4 medium potatoes (6 to 8 ounces each), pat dry, then prick with a fork.
  • Bake on a baking sheet at 425°F 40 to 60 minutes, or until tender.
  • To serve, roll each potato gently under a towel. Using a knife, cut an X into the top of each potato; press in and up on the ends of each potato to open it for toppings.
  • Serve with butter, brown sugar, and/or cinnamon sugar, if desired. For another flavorful finish, top baked sweet potatoes with cranberries, toasted walnuts, and a dab of butter.

Test Kitchen Tip: For soft skins on baked sweet potatoes, rub potatoes with cooking oil or wrap in foil before baking.

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in the Microwave

If you are crunched for time you can cook sweet potatoes in the microwave. They will end up similar to baked sweet potatoes. Here's how:

  • Prick the potatoes all over with a fork.
  • Microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, turning the potatoes once.
  • Top as desired with classic sweet potato toppings or new flavor combinations such as fresh herbs and dried fruit or nuts.

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in a Slow Cooker

Want a way to get the sweet potatoes going that doesn't take your attention or monopolize the oven? Get out your slow cooker. Sweet potatoes turn out almost like baked sweet potatoes when made in a slow cooker. Plan on four medium potatoes in a 4-quart slow cooker ($54, Walmart) or eight in a 6-quart slow cooker. Scrub clean, then:

  • Rub sweet potatoes lightly with olive oil.
  • Set oiled potatoes in the slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours or until sweet potatoes are tender.

How to Boil Sweet Potatoes

One of the most common ways to enjoy sweet potatoes is mashed and loaded with all sorts of toppings or as the base of a sweet potato casserole. These sweet potato recipe variations are especially popular come Thanksgiving. In order to get to mashed sweet potatoes you need to know how to boil sweet potatoes.

How to Mash Sweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes are a vitamin-packed alternative to regular mashed potatoes. Once you've conquered boiling sweet potatoes all that's left is to:

  • Drain boiled sweet potatoes; return to the saucepan.
  • Add desired seasonings, such as butter and milk.
  • Mash with a potato masher or an electric mixer.
  • Serve with desired toppers or stir-ins.
Pressure Cooker Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Carson Downing

How to Make Pressure Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Anyone with an Instant Pot or other multicooker knows the appliance can be used to cook almost everything, including sweet potatoes. Here's how to make mashed sweet potatoes in your multicooker:

  • Peel and halve 2 pounds sweet potatoes. Slice ½-inch thick.
  • Fill a 6-quart stove top pressure cooker or electric pressure cooker with 1 inch water; add steamer rack. Place sweet potatoes on rack.
  • Lock lid in place. Set electric cooker on high pressure to cook 5 minutes. For a stove top cooker, bring up to pressure over medium-high heat; reduce heat enough to maintain steady (but not excessive) pressure. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat. For both models, quickly release pressure. Open lid carefully.
  • Drain sweet potatoes in a colander; return to cooker. Mash with a potato masher or an immersion blender until light and fluffy. Add desired topping or stir-ins.
Sweet Potato Tots with ketchup ramekin on foil
Antonis Achilleos

How to Make Sweet Potatoes in the Air Fryer

For a quick and easy side dish, try making air-fryer sweet potatoes. For even cooking, cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Toss the cubes in a bit of olive oil along with your favorite seasonings. Place in air fryer ($100, Bed Bath & Beyond) basket and cook at 360ºF for 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Use this air-fryer roasted veggie recipe for specific measurements.

Sweet Potato Fries
Karla Conrad

How to Make Sweet Potato Fries

Baked sweet potato fries—packed with vitamins A and C—are a more nutritious alternative to regular french fries. Because of this, they make a great side. Use our guide to making homemade fries for the ultimate crispy result.

Test Kitchen Tip: Cut each fry to an even thickness. Because sweet potatoes contain more sugar than regular potatoes, they tend to burn easily and cook unevenly if cut too thin.

Choosing and Storing Sweet Potatoes

Make your sweet potato recipes the best they can be by picking out perfect potatoes at your grocery store and properly storing them.

  • Look for the tastiest potatoes in their peak season: winter. Choose firm potatoes that are small to medium in size with smooth, unblemished skins.
  • If you do not plan to use the potatoes right away, store them in a cool, dry, dark place. Do not refrigerate sweet potatoes or they will dry out.

So which way will you cook sweet potatoes next? For inspiration, try our best sweet potato recipes to include the spuds in every meal of the day. Since they're vitamin-packed, reap the benefits in these healthy sweet potato recipes.

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