Chopped sweet potato with herbs on a blue and white dish

How to cook sweet potatoes

This cheerfully coloured, versatile root vegetable (it's not actually a potato!) can be baked, roasted, fried or barbecued. You can also use it in baking or substitute it for pumpkin in a pie.

Despite the name, sweet potatoes are not a type of potato, they are a root vegetable. Usually orange-fleshed in the UK, they can also be purple or white inside. They can be baked, roasted, fried, barbecued, steamed or boiled, and will mash and purée well too. When mashed they make a useful vegetarian filling for dishes like quesadillas and falafel.

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Their sweetness also makes them a good candidate to be used in baking such as in a carrot cake or brownies. In America it’s traditional to add even more sweetness to them by roasting them with maple syrup, adding marshmallows to them in a traybake or using them like pumpkin in a pie.

Health benefits

In terms of carbohydrate and calories, sweet potatoes are similar to ordinary potatoes. When it comes to vitamins, however, sweet potatoes are a good source of fibre and vitamins B and C. They are also high in an antioxidant known as beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A once eaten. You need 80g sweet potato to count as one of your five a day – ordinary potatoes don’t count at all.

How to cook

You can leave the skin on sweet potatoes if you plan on baking or frying them, otherwise peel if off first (keep it on to make vegetable crisps). If you peel sweet potatoes, bear in mind that they will start to discolour so make sure you have everything else ready to cook at the same time, or soak them in cold water until you are ready. They make excellent fries and wedges (see below) and even curly fries.

Sweet potato wedges

Serves 2-3

  • 500g sweet potato
  • ½ tbsp harissa paste, chipotle paste or barbecue seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • soured cream or natural yogurt mixed with chopped chives or coriander and mint to serve

1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, making them as thick or as thin as you like.

2. Combine the wedges with the harissa, chipotle or barbecue seasoning (if using) and the oil, toss everything together well.

3. Transfer them to a baking tray and cook for 35-45 mins depending on the thickness of the wedges or until the potatoes are tender and crisp at the edges. Serve with the herby soured cream on the side.

Baked sweet potatoes

Serves 4

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Pierce the sweet potatoes a few times with a fork or skewer, if you have a microwave then cook them in the microwave on high for 6-8 mins or until soft, test them after 6 mins with the point of a knife or a skewer.

2. Rub each with 1 tsp of the oil and some seasoning. Put them on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 mins until the skin feels crisp.

3. If you haven’t microwaved the potatoes then cook them for 40-45 mins or until they are tender all the way through.

5 easy sweet potato recipes

Tuna sweet potato jackets

Five sweet potato jackets topped with tuna, onions and yogurt

Microwaving sweet potatoes and topping them with a healthier spin on a classic tuna filling makes a super easy supper.

Tuna sweet potato jackets

Veggie shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash

Mashed with a little butter, sweet potatoes make a veggie shepherd’s pie topping special.

Veggie shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash

Sweet potato & chicken curry

Chunks of sweet potato make a good addition to any curry – try them in this chicken, tomato and spinach version.

Sweet potato & chicken curry

Chipotle hasselback sweet potatoes

Add a smoky, chilli flavour to this way of preparing sweet potatoes.

Chipotle hasselback sweet potatoes

Roasted sweet potato & carrot soup

Roasted sweet potatoes make a flavour-filled soup with a silky texture.

Roasted sweet potato & carrot soup

Try more delicious sweet potato recipes…

Sweet potato recipes
Healthy sweet potato recipes
What to do with sweet potato

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What is your favourite sweet potato dish? Leave a comment below…