How to bake a sweet potato 3 ways — and the tools you need to do it

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Sweet Potato

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iStock / juliedeshales

  • Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients, low in fat, and versatile enough for use in many meals across many cuisines.
  • Unlike potatoes and yams, most types of sweet potato can actually be eaten raw without danger to your health, but they only offer nutrition when properly cooked.
  • Here’s how to bake a sweet potato three different ways and the tools you need to do it, including a baking sheet, an air fryer, and a microwave.

Sweet potatoes are delicious cut into fries, mashed, chopped and tossed with herbs, made into pies, mixed into muffins, and so much more. They are affordable, easy to find, and pretty easy to handle, too.

Just skin ’em or wash ’em, slice em or pierce ’em, and cook ’em up. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, what is a sweet potato, anyway?

According to the Dictionary, it’s a:

noun

a plant, Ipomoea batatas, of the morning glory family, grown for its sweet, edible, tuberous root

But that’s not much help, practically speaking.

The sweet potato is a surprisingly distant “relative” to the regular old potato. While they share an order, Solanales, they differ in species, genus, and family, though both share origins in South and Central America.

The sweet potato and regular potato also differ in nutritional value. Sweet potatoes have almost triple the calcium as most regular potato varietals, and are loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene. And they’re not yams! Those are native to Africa, and tend to be much drier and starchier than a sweet potato.

All that said, they cook in much the same way as a regular potato, albeit usually cooking faster than a standard Russet. So if you’re already familiar with baking potatoes, then learning how to cook a sweet potato won’t take you long at all.

Read on in the slides below to learn how to bake a sweet potato.


How to bake a sweet potato in the oven

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Syd Hutnik/Business Insider

You can eat an oven-baked sweet potato just like a regular baked potato, leaving the skin on while cooking it, then slicing it open and eating the flesh once it’s cooked, ideally with all sorts of awesome toppings. It’ll be perfect with just butter, salt, and pepper, really.

All you need is a baking sheet, a fork, and a conventional oven.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400º Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse and scrub the exterior of the sweet potato, coat lightly with olive oil (or a vegetable oil), and then pierce the skin in four or five places with the tines of a fork or in eight or nine places with the tip of a knife.
  3. Bake on a metal baking sheet for 45 minutes (40 for smaller sweet potatoes, 50 for larger).
  4. Remove, carefully slice open, and serve.

Pretty easy, right? But not too efficient, time wise. So let’s try it another way.

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How to bake a sweet potato in an air fryer

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Bella air convection fryer
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Bella

For this preparation, you will, of course, need an air fryer. I use (and love) the Bella 2.6 Quart Air Convection Fryer, which, like all air fryers, is actually a compact, powerful convection oven – there’s no actual frying involved.

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 395º to 400º Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash and scrub the sweet potato, coat with olive oil, then pierce the skin in several places with the tines of a fork or with a sharp knife.
  3. Place in the air fryer basket and cook for 35 minutes.
  4. Remove from fryer, slice, and enjoy.

So that shaved off a solid ten minutes. Not bad, but we can do better.

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Read our full guide to the best air fryers you can buy


How to cook a sweet potato in the microwave

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Syd Hutnik/Business Insider

When you type the word “microwave” into Google’s search bar, “sweet potato” comes up in the top five hits. Which should be a good indication that yes, you can absolutely cook a sweet potato in a microwave.

While it won’t have quite the same consistency as a baked sweet potato, softening a bit around the outside and with the skin slightly damp, the finished foodstuff is still quite good and ready oh so fast.

  1. Rinse and scrub the sweet potato, coat it with oil, and pierce the skin in several places with a fork or a sharp knife.
  2. Cook the sweet potato on high for three minutes, then rotate and turn it, and cook for three more minutes.
  3. Remove and slice open. If not fully cooked, keep at it in half-minute increments. But chances are, it’s ready to be enjoyed.

Just be careful with all three cooking methods, as these tubers come out of the oven, air fryer, or microwave super hot.

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