Curious how to cook sweet potatoes in the oven? In the microwave? In the Instant Pot? Need a recipe? I got you covered in this ultimate sweet potato guide! Read on for healthy and delicious sweet potato recipes as well as nutrition benefits of this budget-friendly vegetable.
Have you ever realized how versatile sweet potatoes are? They are flavorful, nutritious, and easy to make. Here I will answer your sweet potato questions and share the ways to cook and prepare sweet potatoes!
THE SWEET POTATO BREAKDOWN
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I am often asked if sweet potatoes are ok to eat. The short and easy answer is YES. I am a big sweet potato fan but personal preference aside, there are lots of reasons why you should include them regularly.
Are sweet potatoes healthy?
Sweet potatoes are a whole, natural food loaded with vitamins and minerals including beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. And indeed, they are healthy and can be included in a healthy and balanced diet.
Is it a carb or a vegetable?
Sweet potatoes are both a vegetable and a carbohydrate.
It is considered a starchy vegetable because it contains high amounts of starch or carbohydrate.
Are sweet potatoes good for diabetes?
Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable, meaning they contain a good amount of carbohydrates. More specifically, a medium-sized sweet potato contains about 27g of carbohydrate or about 2 carbohydrate servings. Sharing that if you’re a person with diabetes who is carbohydrate counting.
Sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber. The fiber is, of course, great for digestive health but it also helps to make you feel full longer and digests slower – a win for people with and without diabetes!
It’s hard to discuss diabetes and food without the Glycemic Index.
The glycemic index (GI), or how fast or slow your blood sugar rises after a meal, of sweet potatoes, depends on the method that it’s cooked. The GI is an important factor to consider, especially for people with diabetes, and foods with a lower GI can help promote stable blood glucose levels which can be good for your health.
Boiling sweet potatoes helps lower the glycemic index while roasting and baking sweet potatoes pushes the number higher. That doesn’t mean you have to only eat boiled sweet potatoes. Eat them the way you most enjoy!
Sweet potatoes and weight loss
Sweet potatoes, while a starchy vegetable, are a vegetable nonetheless. Meaning they should absolutely be included as part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. The fact that they are a higher carbohydrate food just means you’ll want to keep portion size in mind if weight loss is a goal.
Sweet potatoes are higher in carbohydrates which you may want to consider when thinking about portion sizes, for example, if you’re trying to lose weight.
Sweet potatoes are a great choice for breakfast, and it’s a delicious way to start getting vegetables first thing in the morning!
The creamy texture lends well to being mixed into pancake or waffle batter. And their natural sweetness makes it a perfect pair with oatmeal. But they are also good just as is.
Try a roasted sweet potato plain or with a drizzle of peanut butter or dice them up and serve with eggs for a filling sweet potato hash.
Can you eat sweet potato skin?
Yes, you can eat the skin on a sweet potato. And you should! Just be sure to scrub it well before cooking.
The skin contains extra fiber and minerals. Next time you have sweet potatoes try them with the skin on.
Try this: Dice sweet potatoes into cubes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until fork-tender. Enjoy as a side dish for breakfast or dinner, toss onto a fall salad, or add the roasted potatoes to black bean tacos.
BEST WAYS TO COOK SWEET POTATOES
In the oven
Yes, sweet potatoes can be cooked in the oven. Generally, a medium-sized whole sweet potato will cook at 425 F for about 45 minutes. This recipe will walk you through cooking sweet potatoes in the oven.
Sweet potatoes cooked in the oven are good for
- Eating right out of the potato.
- Recipes that call for stuffing the potato.
- Peeling, dicing, and roasting.
Yes! A medium-sized whole sweet potato will cook in a pressure cooker in about 22 minutes. I have not been able to find research looking at how pressure cooking affects the glycemic index of potatoes. Stay tuned. We will see if that information will become available now that pressure cooking has become a more popular cooking method. See how to cook a sweet potato using a pressure cooker here.
Cooking sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot works as
- A faster way to get a whole cooked sweet potato than cooking in the oven.
- A way to skip fork pricking the sweet potato.
The microwave is by far the fastest way to cook a sweet potato. To cook a sweet potato in the microwave, pierce with a fork in a handful of different spots and place on a cloth or paper towel. Microwave on high for 3 minutes on one side then 2 minutes on the other.
This option is good for…
- Cooking sweet potatoes fast.
- Eating right out of the potato.
- Making a quick weeknight meal – just top with whatever you have on hand!
Slow Cooker (CrockPot)?
Yes, you can cook sweet potatoes in a crockpot. Cook on low for about 5-7 hours or on high for about 3-4 hours. See how easy it is to cook whole sweet potatoes in the slow cooker
This option is good for…
- Easy meal prep.
- Eating right out of the potato skin.
Yes, you can cook sweet potatoes in an air fryer at 392 F for about 35-40 minutes. See how to cook whole sweet potatoes in the air fryer here.
Using the air fryer for sweet potatoes will get you potatoes that are
- Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
- Crunchy enough for sweet potato chips!
5 DIFFERENT WAYS TO USE SWEET POTATOES
Sweet potatoes can be used in countless ways and combinations. I’ve rounded up five of my favorite sweet potato recipes from the blog:
Sweet Potato Fries
These healthy baked sweet potato fries are an easy to prepare side dish or appetizer. By adding a seasoning blend with chipotle powder, garlic, and onion, these spicy sweet potato fries are full of flavor!
Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Try these brown butter whipped sweet potatoes at your next holiday gathering. They are packed with mostly healthy ingredients and topped with decadently, nutty and flavorful brown butter, this dish is sure to please!
Sweet Potato Toast
Take a break from the avocado toast and try this apple sweet potato toast with a maple tahini drizzle. It’s a crunchy, slightly sweet snack that you can also enjoy as an appetizer at your next party.
Sweet Potato Pudding
Ever try sweet potato pudding? Make my southern sweet potato pudding recipe for a taste of the South Carolina kitchen I grew up in. It’s not quite a sweet potato casserole and definitely not pie. It’s somewhere in the middle!
This southern sweet potato pudding recipe is made the old fashioned way and baked until golden brown. It’s an easy dessert that’s perfect for the holidays.
To make a dairy- and egg-free version, try my Vegan Sweet Potato Pudding in Jars!
Sweet Potato Soup
Warm things up with this nutty and deliciously spicy peanut sweet potato soup. This soup pairs the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes with ancho chile powder for a sweet, smoky flavor with only mild spice.
This sweet potato soup recipe is easy to make, full of flavor, and perfect for a light weeknight meal.
So, where are you going to start?
Special thanks to Dietetic Intern, Chelsea DeAngelis on this post!