The Perfectly Baked Sweet Potato

The perfectly baked sweet potato requires nothing other than an appetite. They are so sweet and velvety that no butter, brown sugar, or syrup is needed. Sweet potatoes are a nutritious, versatile, and colorful side dish. Bake twice what you need because leftovers are great for lunches and snacks.
One baked sweet potato sliced open on a plate

How Healthy is a Sweet Potato?

Baked sweet potatoes offer healthy and versatile options at the dinner table. Many cuisines have sweet potatoes in their diet: American, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Polynesian, and Filipino, to name a few. It’s no wonder they are so popular since they are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Sweet potatoes are nutritious and provide many health advantages:

  • High in Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes, immune system, skin health
  • Excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamin B6, copper, niacin, and potassium
  • High in fiber, which aids digestion and gut health
  • A complex carbohydrate that helps weight management because you feel full longer
  • For more information on the health advantages of sweet potatoes, read this food review article in PubMed.
Four Sweet potatoes on a wire rack - ready to cook

Versatile Vegetable

Sweet potatoes are versatile. They can be baked, boiled, roasted, fried, grilled, or microwaved. Once cooked, they can be stuffed, mashed, or pureed. They are perfect in stews, soups, bowls, salads, hash, muffins, and burritos and make appearances at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. In other words, the sweet potato offers variety to your dinner menu options.

Baking Enhances the Sweet Flavor

My favorite way is a plain baked sweet potato. I  mean simple… no butter, no brown sugar, or syrup. Nadda, nil, nix, null, goose egg, naught, zero, zilch, zip, zippo! I mean naked! Even the skin is edible, which provides extra fiber. Place them directly on the rack and then turn the oven on to 400° and cook them in a non-pre-heated oven for 45 – 60 minutes, depending on the size. I do NOT prick them, although every recipe I see advises doing so. Pricking the potato can cause the precious sweet syrup to leak out. Try it both ways and determine what is best for you.

 

Tip: Placing a piece of foil on the rack below can catch any drips. If they are dripping syrup, the potato is ready to eat. Catching drips on foil or parchment or a pan will help with cleanup. The syrup can burn, and it isn’t easy to clean. My microwave converts to a convection oven, perfect for baking potatoes on a rotating rack, and the heat distributes on all sides.

One baked sweet potato sliced open on a plate

What Flavors and Ingredients Enhance Sweet Potatoes?

To enhance the sweet flavor, pair with any combination: of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, maple syrup, honey, orange juice, or orange zest. Or look for salads and meats that contain these flavors in the ingredients or marinade. The sweet taste of the potato blends perfectly with savory ingredients. For instance, try pairing with rosemary, chipotle chiles, cumin, smoked paprika, or a nutty cheese such as gruyere or swiss in a sweet potato souffle.

Sweet Potato Cooking and Storing Tips

Store sweet potatoes in a dry, cool place away from sunlight. Do not place them in the refrigerator. Sweet potatoes can be stored for several weeks under these conditions. Cooking sweet potatoes in their skin is the best way to retain the most nutrients. The skin is edible and will add more fiber to your diet.

Sweet potato with avocado toast

What to do with Leftovers?

Make extra sweet potatoes to have leftovers for lunch or even a snack. Allow potatoes to cool on the counter and place them in the refrigerator for storage. Reheat in the microwave and eat plain or with your favorite topping. I love to drizzle Sriracha Sauce and tahini (butter made from sesame seeds) over the top. SOOOO GOOD!. 

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One baked sweet potato sliced open on a plate

The Perfectly Baked Sweet Potato


Description

The perfectly baked sweet potato requires nothing other than an appetite. They are so sweet and velvety that no butter, brown sugar, or syrup is needed. Sweet potatoes are a nutritious, versatile, and colorful side dish. Bake twice what you need because leftovers are great for lunches and snacks.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 sweet potatoes relatively the same size
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Prepare Sweet Potatoes: Rub a small amount of olive oil on the skin of the potatoes.
  2. Prepare Oven: Place a wire cooling rack on a sheet pan and place potatoes on top. This allows for uniform cooking all around; if you do not have a cooling rack, place potatoes directly on a cooking rack in the oven and place aluminum foil on the rack below to catch the syrup that will leak out while cooking. I do not prick the potatoes.
  3. Bake Sweet Potatoes: Place the potatoes in the oven and set the temperature to 400º (375º for a convection oven) and cook for 45 – 60 minutes, depending on the size. Do not preheat the oven. Rotate after 30 minutes. Check for doneness after 40 minutes by giving them a pinch. They will be soft, and the flesh pulls away from the skin when done.

 

Notes

  • Look for sweet potatoes that are uniform in size when shopping. Try to get ones that are round or oval and relatively symmetrical.  Potatoes with one thin side will cook inconsistently.
  • Warm any leftovers in the microwave with the skin on. Drizzle with Sriracha Sauce and tahini (sesame butter).
  • Prep Time: 1
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Category: Potatoes
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: paleo sweet potato, sugar free sweet potato, baked sweet potato

Let me know your thoughts on this post!

6 Responses

  1. The only way we do our sweet potatoes now. Sooooo good and all the natural sugars come out. No other sugar needed. A great way to do the potato. Don’t forget to put down a pan under(line with foil) for easy cleanup.

  2. Yes, this method is easy and delicious! Thanks, Karen. My one potato was so big, I ate half hot — right out of the oven, and then fried up the remaining half — after slicing it into thin rings & tossing it into a cast iron pan — for breakfast the next day.

    1. Elizabeth, thanks for the excellent meal prep tip to use the sweet potato for two meals, and for trying and reviewing the recipe.

  3. I always pricked my sweet potatoes, but tried it as Karen suggested, without pricking and it turned out just fine! Great hint, too, that if the syrup is dripping, the potato is done. You learn something new everyday!

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