Think you're cooking yams to take to Thanksgiving dinner this year? Eh, you're probably cooking sweet potatoes. Let us explain.
Actual yams, found largely in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, are very different than the vegetable we think of as a yam. The U.S. version, is, in fact, a variation of a sweet potato! Way back when, produce shippers dubbed orange-fleshed sweet potatoes "yams" to differentiate them from standard potatoes, and the name has stuck. But most yams you'll find in the grocery store are actually sweet potatoes.
Regardless of what you call them, yams (or sweet potatoes) are delicious superfoods that can be used in savory and sweet dishes. Keep reading for advice on how to cook yams perfectly, no matter what kind of dish you want to use them in.
Yams can be used in many ways. For side dishes, they're often boiled or baked (peeled or unpeeled). They can be added to soups, stews, and braises. Sometimes boiled yams are mashed to serve as a side dish or for use as an ingredient in quick breads and pies.
Read on for instructions on how to cook yams in popular ways and for our favorite yam—or sweet potato—recipes.
The most common way to cook yams on the stove is to boil them. Because yams are so similar to sweet potatoes, you can follow our basic directions for how to boil sweet potatoes to get yams that are perfect for making mashed dishes.
After draining, you're ready to use your boiled yams in any recipe that calls for them mashed. Start by picking the right mashing tool for the job. A potato masher or an electric mixer used on low speed will produce fluffy, smooth mashed yams. Measure the amount you need for the recipe. Note that 2 medium yams yield about 1-1/3 cups of peeled, cooked mashed yams.
BH&G Test Kitchen Tip: In a pinch you can use canned sweet potatoes for recipes that call for boiled and mashed yams or sweet potatoes. For 2 cups mashed yams or sweet potatoes, drain one 17.2-ounce can whole sweet potatoes and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher or electric mixer on low speed. Measure the amount needed for the recipe.
Learning how to cook yams in the oven means you can make a simple and nutritious side dish for meat loaf, steaks, grilled chicken, fish, and more. Just follow our easy baked yams recipe:
If you want the deliciousness of yams but can't wait for an hour to eat, try making them in minutes with this super quick microwave method. Here's how to use your microwave to get your yams table- or recipe-ready in minutes.
To microwave whole yams:
To microwave sliced yams:
This is it: Our classic candied yams recipe—the one with marshmallows. It's so easy but always a hit at family gatherings. This recipe serves four, so you might need to make a double batch!
1. Gather the Ingredients
2. Prepare the Yams
3. Bake the Yams
BH&G Test Kitchen Tip: If you like, you can also sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Walnuts and pecans work especially well.
Related: Florence Mama's Candied Yams
Here's how to make yam fries in your oven for a more colorful, tasty, and nutritious alternative to regular french fries.
Like other root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, yams can be added to pot roast during the cooking time to make hearty and warming one-dish meals. Here's how.
Cubed yams make a colorful, flavorful addition to soups and stews. Slice yams into 1-1/4-inch cubes and simmer in soup or stew during the last 20 to 25 minutes of cooking or until tender.
Yam desserts? You'd better believe it! Yams and sweet potatoes work well in sweet dishes from creamy cheesecakes and puddings to traditional pies and brownies. If you want something really unconventional, try cooking up the bright-colored ube. Ube is a type of purple sweet potato popular in the Philippines that can be turned into gorgeous (and delicious!) purple yam desserts. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use yams in desserts:
Yams are available year-round, but their peak season is winter, which means they're the perfect addition to all those warming slow cooker dishes that provide such yummy goodness in cold months. When purchasing, look for small to medium yams that are smooth, firm, and free of soft spots. Store whole, unpeeled yams in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week. Do not refrigerate yams because they'll dry out.
BH&G Test Kitchen Tip: One pound of yams equals about 2 medium yams or 2¾ cups cubed yam.