The sweet potato is a jack of all trades root vegetable that can fit into almost anyone’s diet. Be it sweet or savoury, baked or boiled, this starch is the definition of versatility. Discover everything you need to know about cooking a sweet potato using the guide below.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Sweet Potatoes?
Packed withan abundance of the antioxidant beta-carotene, vitamin C and fibre, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes are easy-to-prepare, versatile and budget-friendly. They’re excellent as a side, snack, appetizer or main, and can also be made into dessert, including sweet potato pie or cupcakes (but that will be explored another time).
How to Pick the Perfect Sweet Potato?
Most commonly found sweet potatoes have dark orange skin and vibrant orange flesh. When shopping, choose sweet potatoes that are firm, smooth and feel heavy for their size. There should be no discolouration, bruising, cracks or sprouting. Once home, store in a dark, cool and dry place (not in the refrigerator) for up to 10 days. While there is a myriad of ways to cook a sweet potato, let’s take a closer look at two most popular methods – baking whole or cut into fries.
How to Bake Sweet Potatoes
- Start with about 1 medium size potato per person.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Scrub skin, pat dry with a paper towel and prick all over with a fork.
- Place on a greased or foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 to 60 minutes, or until tender. Insert a sharp knife into the sweet potato, it should easily glide through. If not, return to the oven for more time.
- Slit open and top with butter, salt and pepper.
Baked Sweet Potato Toppers
Take your dish to the next level by incorporating these tantalizing toppers:
- Salsa made with chopped tomatoes, red onion, corn, lime juice and cilantro; sprinkle with corn chips or lightly crushed tortilla chips.
- Pizza sauce and sliced pepperoni warmed in a pan; sprinkle with shredded mozzarella
- Piping hot chicken or beef stew.
- Sliced and sautéed zucchini, corn and roasted red peppers.
- Melted brie and caramelized onions.
- Black olive tapenade and crumbled feta cheese.
- Sour cream with chopped green onions or chives.
- Strips of deli-sliced ham and buttered peas with tarragon.
- Shredded rotisserie chicken warmed in a pan with Frank’s Original Hot Sauce and melted butter; top with crumbled blue cheese or blue cheese dressing and shredded iceberg lettuce.
- Sautéed mushrooms and sliced steak in butter and a splash of brandy.
- Caesar salad made with shredded romaine lettuce, creamy Caesar dressing, bacon and croutons; sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Swap russets for baked sweet potatoes in this Twice Baked Taco Potatoes entrée. You can easily double or quadruple the sausage and bean mixture to make this even more of a hearty main course, or simply make your own favourite chili then spoon on baked sweet potatoes and top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese
How to Bake Sweet Potato Fries
French Fry It: Cooked in the oven until crisp on the outside, tender inside, sweet potato fries are easy as can be and ready in hardly any time.
- Start with similar sized sweet potatoes (avoiding gnarly ones, if possible).
- Count on about 1 medium size potato per person.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Scrub skin and leave unpeeled, or rinse and peel. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Cut lengthwise into evenly sized sticks no larger than 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick.
- Toss with just enough olive oil or vegetable oil to coat and season with salt and your favourite herbs or spices.
- For extra crispy oven-baked fries, beat an egg white until frothy then toss with oil, seasonings and fries before baking.
- When ready to bake, spread fries on large rimmed baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or foil – try not to let fries cluster on pan or they will steam rather than crisp up.
- Bake in top and bottom thirds of a hot oven for 25 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through cooking.
- Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our Honey Roasted Sweet Potato Fries recipe.
Herbs That Pair Well with Sweet Potato Fries
- Thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives, oregano and sage.
Spices That Partner Perfectly with Sweet Potato Fries
- Paprika, chili powder, coriander and curry, and also warm brown spices such as nutmeg, mace, ginger and cinnamon.
Dips for Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes are so tasty, you really don’t need a dip. Nevertheless, there are many combinations of flavours that serve to accentuate and enhance their natural sweetness. Delectable Dips that are perfectly suited for sweet potato fries include:
- Curry Mayo: Mix together ½ cup (125 mL) mayonnaise with 1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice and ½ tsp (2 mL) McCormick Gourmet Mild Curry Powder.
- Southwest Lime and Yogurt Dipping Sauce -- made with plain Greek yogurt and smoky chipotle seasoning.
- Tzatziki, like the homemade one found in this recipe for Spicy Grilled Salmon with Tzatziki (together, this would make an outstanding dinner).
- Avocado Crema -- because avocados and sweet potatoes go hand in hand.
- Winter Pesto -- thin out with more olive oil or stir in a few spoonsful of plain Greek yogurt until dunk-worthy.
- BBQ Mayo: Make it smoky by mixing together equal parts mayonnaise and La Grille Gourmet Chicken & Rib BBQ Sauce.
- Try Honey Roasted Sweet Potato Frites with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce for a terrific accompaniment to roasted chicken, ribs, burgers or fish.
- Or, swap in sweet potatoes for the usual spud in your favourite poutine recipe, like Wild Whiskey BBQ Poutine.
More Ways to Cook Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potato Hummus
- You can make rich and delicious sweet potato hummus by puréeing baked sweet potato flesh with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice – or simply stir into store-bought hummus.
Sweet Potato Skins
- Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C)
- Cut sweet potato in half and scoop out flesh (reserve for something else… like sweet potato hummus!)
- Brush all over with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in single layer, flesh side up, on baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese and bake 3 minutes longer.
- Serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt with chives or crumbled bacon
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Peel and cut 4 pounds of sweet potatoes into 2-3-inch cubes.
- Place sweet potato cubes in a pot and cover them with an inch of water.
- Season the water with salt and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
- Add ½ cup of salted butter and mash with a hand masher.
- Add milk or cream until desired consistency is reach.