Nutrition-packed (and inexpensive!) sweet potatoes cook easily in a pot of boiling water. Once cooked, the possibilities for using them are limitless. Learn how long to boil sweet potatoes so they're just the right texture. Then you can mash them or use them in all your favorite sweet potato dishes.

By Katlyn Moncada
Updated October 16, 2020
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Sweet potatoes are delicious any time of the year, but those orange beauties are in peak season in the fall and winter from October through January. It's not a complicated process, but in order to get them ready for your favorite Thanksgiving side dish (hello, sweet potato casserole!), you'll want to know how to boil sweet potatoes. Use our Test Kitchen's best method for prepping and boiling sweet potatoes so you can enjoy mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, and more.

peeled sweet potatoes next to pile of skil peels
Cutting up sweet potatoes
Left: Credit: Karla Conrad
Right: Credit: Karla Conrad

How to Boil Sweet Potatoes

When purchasing, look for small to medium sweet potatoes that have smooth skin and are firm and free of soft spots. Store whole unpeeled sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week (do not refrigerate or they will dry out). To know how many sweet potatoes you need for your recipe, one medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces) equals approximately 1½ cups when peeled and cubed.

Step 1: Prep Sweet Potatoes

Wash sweet potatoes by thoroughly scrubbing with a clean produce brush and rinse with cool water. Use a vegetable peeler ($10, Crate & Barrel) or paring knife to peel sweet potatoes. With a sharp knife ($16, Target), cut off any woody portions and ends. Cut into bite-size cubes, keeping pieces as close to the same size as you can for even cooking.

Boiling sweet potatoes
Credit: Karla Conrad

Step 2: Boil the Sweet Potatoes

Select a saucepan or Dutch oven ($60, Bed Bath & Beyond) that is large enough to hold the sweet potatoes without crowding them. Add enough cold water to cover potatoes and sprinkle with salt. Bring to boiling, cover and cook until tender.

How long to boil sweet potatoes: For one pound of sweet potatoes, cover the pan and cook sweet potatoes in the boiling salted water 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender. You should be able to easily pierce the sweet potato with a fork or knife.

Get the Recipe for Cranberry-Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole

Step 3: Drain and use

Remove the lid from the pan and carefully pour the sweet potatoes into a colander ($10, Target) to drain. Set sweet potatoes aside until cool enough to handle, or run cold water over them to quick-cool if you're not using them right away.

For an easy side dish, you can simply toss cooked sweet potato cubes with butter, salt, and pepper, and serve. Or use the cooked sweet potato (cubed or mashed) in quesadillas, pot pies, and other sweet and savory casseroles.

Comments (2)

Anonymous
October 25, 2018
Most of the images for these “sweet potato” recipes are actually showing yams...a different tuber altogether!
Anonymous
September 3, 2018
Wrap in foil and grill on barbecue.