5 tips on how to bake the perfect sweet potato. It is easy to bake the perfect sweet potato by using these quick and essential tips. You will never have a badly baked sweet potato again.
Over the years of eating out at restaurants, friends’ homes and even making my own sweet potato recipes, I have discovered that there is such a thing as a badly baked potato.
After trying many different ways, I have developed 5 tips that are essential in getting the perfect baked sweet potato. If you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comment section.
What makes sweet potatoes distinctive?
Sweet potatoes are a highly nutritious and part of the root vegetables family. They provide various essential ingredients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin a, vitamin c and more. Source: Medical News Today.
What’s the difference between them and yams?
- Yams are much starchier than sweet potatoes
- Yams have a darker skin color
- Yams are not as sweet as sweet potatoes
- Sweet potatoes have a more orange colored flesh while yams have lighter color
What’s the best way to eat them
- Baked and topped with a dollop of sour cream
- Load or stuff these best baked sweet potatoes with your favorite toppings like black beans and corn.
- Lightly roasted and flavored with simple seasonings, black pepper and sea salt.
- Steamed and topped with a little butter. For extra flavor, add garlic powder.
Baked sweet potatoes makes for the perfect side dish. When you are looking for a healthy side dish for Thanksgiving, these sweet potatoes are it!
So, How do you bake a sweet potato?
Choosing the right sweet potato to bake
Baking whole sweet potatoes is an art! Before you start using my 5 tips, you need to find the right sweet potato. No sweet potato will be perfect if you choose the wrong shaped sweet potato.
Here are a few things to look for in your sweet potato
1. Make sure it’s long
Sweet potatoes come in many shapes and sizes. There are long ones, small ones, fat ones, skinny ones and thick ones. It’s hard to decide which size to choose at the grocery store.
If you are going to be loading a baked sweet potato, it HAS TO BE LONG. This way you will be able to load the ingredients evenly and make it look like its really loaded!
2. Avoid those with “rot”
Some parts of the sweet potato can dry up and start rotting. Use them in curries or soups (cut out the bad part first).
But, don’t use them in a baked sweet potato recipe!
3. Look for symmetry
A sweet potato with symmetry is going to bake evenly and have an even flavor. You won’t get parts of the sweet potato that are dry while other parts are watery.
Draw an imaginary line from the top of the sweet potato to the bottom and right in the middle. Then, check to see that there is an almost equal amount of potato on both sides.
Check out these two cuties! They have amazing symmetry! Talk about the perfect sweet potato!
5 quick tips on baking the perfect sweet potato
Follow these quick tips to get the perfect baked sweet potato
Tip #1: WASH, WASH, WASH! Then wash some more
Nothing ruins a good sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie like dirt! Yes, I have actually experienced that.
I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at a friends house a few years ago and they made mashed sweet potato pie. The cook washed the potato quickly and microwaved it.
The result was a gritty and dirty potato pie.
So, I use the fingers that humans are lucky to have and get into that sweet potato. I clean every nook and cranny and even use a vegetable brush to get through it all.
Once it is clean, I dry it using a paper napkin and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I want to make sure that there is no water left on the skin
Tip #2: poke holes into it
Poking holes works! The end.
I have had potatoes where no holes were poked. They turned out to be too mushy and almost inedible, while the outside remained dry and uncooked.
So, I poke holes in my potato with a fork and avoid that problem. The holes are not deep, just superficial enough which is a great way for the steam to escape.
Tip #3: lightly oil the outside
I cannot stress the importance of this tip. When I oil the outside of the potato with avocado oil, the skin doesn’t become a dry and crinkled mess. The skin remains smooth and easy to peel once the sweet potato is baked.
It sounds strange, I know, but I don’t like my sweet potato to look like a giant shriveled raisin when it is done baking.
Tip #4: cover up with it’s best friend
There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who wrap the sweet potato and those that don’t!
Of the 5 tips, this one is the most controversial one. Those who think that it shouldn’t be wrapped are against it because they want to let the steam escape out of the potato and never to come back.
My personal preference is to keep the steam contained.
Now, I know that this tip completely contradicts tip #2! But, hear me out.
When I wrap my sweet potato in foil, I wrap it loosely. So, some of the steam still escapes out of the ends of the foil. Most of the heat is contained within the sweet potato and it also cooks the outsides of the potato.
This bakes the potato from the inside and the outside. Therefore, you will notice that sweet potato is baked evenly.
When the potato is not wrapped, I find that the outside gets cooked more than the inside. Also, it gives my oven a lingering sweet potato aroma for days.
Tip #5: leave it in the oven
The last of the 5 tips is leaving the potato in the oven’s wire rack after you turn it off. Bake the potato in the oven at 400 degrees for 65 minutes.
Depending on your oven, the baking time may vary. At about the 45-minute mark, I take a knife to it and see if it is easy to pierce the skin of the potato.
If the knife goes through easily, then I turn off the oven and let the sweet potato sit in the rack.
I leave it in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes and then remove it from the oven. Quick tip: Learn from my burn scars and don’t use your bare hands to remove it.
After removing it from the oven, I let it cool at room temperature. Then, I open it and split it lengthwise with a sharp knife. Using a fork, I begin pulling the meat of the sweet potato away from the skin. Then, put the pulp into a bowl and season it.
This particular sweet potato is going to be used for a sweet potato soup.
Make ahead and storage
Luckily, you can bake sweet potatoes ahead of time and make it part of your meal prep. Refrigerate just the pulp or the whole baked sweet potato.
You can also put it in the freezer. Wrap after it bakes and cool in parchment paper and place it in a Ziploc bag. Put the baking date on it, freeze and use it up within a month of baking it.
Alternatively, you can store it in an airtight container like these (Affiliate Link) glass containers which are freezer and oven friendly.
March 2018 Update:
Over the years, I have been asked several questions about the baked sweet potatoes, so here are some answers to FAQ about baking sweet potatoes:
Sweet Potato FAQs
Yes! sweet potatoes are healthy in general because they have a heavy dose of Vitamin A. According to Wikipedia, 100g of sweet potato has about 89% of the RDA.
Baking the sweet potato brings out all its flavors and nutrition.
Yes, the skin is edible after baking the sweet potato. However, some people don’t like the taste. In that case, compost it instead of discarding it. Or, you can roast the skin separately! This roasted crispy skin can be an easy game day appetizer.
Yes, you can bake them in the microwave, but should you? No, I don’t recommend it at all!! Microwave zaps out the nutrition, cooks the sweet potato unevenly and it looses some of its sweetness. Instead, go with an air fryer to bake them.
Yes, after they are cooked, they should be refrigerated, if used within a week. Freeze them and use within 6 months.
You can choose 425° and bake for 65 minutes, placed on an oven rack and not on a baking tray. I have always baked sweet potato at 400° for about 55 minutes. Depending on your oven, they can take about 45-60 minutes to be fully baked.
I have read studies where that theory is disputed and I have seen studies where that theory is proved. The bottom line is that there is no firm study that prove the link.
If you are making this perfect sweet potato every day, then maybe using an aluminum foil might be problematic. Using aluminum foil once in a while is ok.
Truth is, Alzheimers is very complicated and there is no one source.
I like using foil because it circulates the heat evenly. At the end of the day, you have to do what you think is right for you. No judgments here!
So, now you know my 5 tips for baking a sweet potato. What are your tips for making a perfect oven-baked sweet potato recipe?
Try these other sweet potato recipes
- Sweet potato wedges
- Sticky sweet potato fries
- Air Fryer Sweet potato cubes
- Air fryer candied sweet potato slices
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5 Tips For Baking The Perfect Sweet Potato
- 1 Sweet potato
- 2 tsp Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Wash and dry the sweet potato thoroughly. Use a vegetable scrubbing brush if you have to.
- Poke holes in the potato using a fork. I poke the potato in about 5 different locations
- Lightly oil the sweet potato
- Using aluminum foil, wrap the potato. Don’t wrap it too tightly.
- Bake for 65 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the potato in the oven.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to touch
- Open the foil and split the sweet potato lengthwise.
- Using a fork, pull the pulp away from the skin and place the pulp in a bowl