How to cook sweet potato

Learn how to cook sweet potatoes - from roasting to mashed sweet potatoes...

How to cook sweet potato
(Image credit: Getty)

Our expert guide explains exactly how to cook sweet potato and has lots of recipe inspiration for you to make at home including sweet potato wedges, mash, and more.

Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, low in fat and high in vitamins A and E. They also have high magnesium levels, which is important for converting the food we eat into energy and the general well-being of our bodies.

You can buy sweet potatoes all year round but they are best in the UK from October to March. They are thought to have first been cultivated in Central and South America but are now a much-loved ingredient all around the world.

Sweet potatoes are a delicious alternative to regular potatoes and can be mashed, roasted or cooked as chips and crisps too.

Like potatoes, sweet potatoes do not count as one of your five a day, but they can contribute to a healthy, balanced meal.

How to cook sweet potato

How to prepare sweet potato

Give the sweet potatoes a good scrub under cold water before cooking to remove any dirt, just as you would regular potatoes. You can trim any hard, woody roots at the end of the potato too.

You can peel the sweet potatoes but the skin contains lots of fiber and when seasoned, it tastes delicious too. How you wish to cook and serve the sweet potato will determine how you should cut it. Continue reading for our guidance and tips.

How to cook a whole sweet potato

You can cook a sweet potato whole as you would a regular jacket potato. The flesh is a little sweeter but it goes just as soft and fluffy. It works with all the same jacket potato fillings you know and love including baked beans and cheese, smoked mackerel and Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom’s favourite; tuna mayo with cheese.

To cook a whole sweet potato in the oven, follow the method in our how to cook a baked potato guide.

How to boil sweet potato for mash

How to cook sweet potato

For a smooth mash, we recommend peeling your sweet potato before cutting it into uniform chunks. The skin is perfectly edible and if you want to up your fiber intake we recommend keeping the skin in for some added texture.

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil
  2. Season with salt
  3. Cook the sweet potato until soft and tender. Around 5-10mins.

When the sweet potato is cooked, drain and mash with butter and milk, or as your recipe states. Season and serve while hot.

How to cook sweet potato in the microwave

Just like a regular potato, you can use the microwave to cook a whole sweet potato but you won’t get the delicious crispy skin. Some people like to cook their sweet potato for a few minutes in the microwave and finish it in the oven for around 30mins to crisp up.

A microwave is a good option for preparing sweet potato for mashing too:

  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato and put it in a large microwave-safe container.
  2. Add a couple of tablespoons of water then cover with clingfilm and pierce a few holes in.
  3. Cook on high in the microwave until soft for a few minutes. This is a good option if you have limited hob space but it’s not drastically quicker or easier.

How to toast sweet potato

If you fancy a new breakfast or you’re in need of some light lunch inspiration, sweet potato toast is an excellent choice.

  1. Wash the sweet potatoes then dry them and slice thinly lengthways.
  2. Use a mandolin for the best results.
  3. Pop in your toaster for a few minutes then top with sweet or savoury toppings as you would regular toast.

Top tips for cooking sweet potato

How to cook sweet potato

Experiment and use sweet potatoes in your favourite recipes that call for regular potatoes and you might find a new favourite combination.

Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom loves a baked jacket potato as an alternative side to a steak or with barbecue beans and grilled chicken.

In America, a sweet potato dish topped with marshmallows is traditionally served at Thanksgiving. If that combination of sweet and savoury is a step too far for you, we recommend starting with a fluffy baked potato loaded with salted butter, crispy bacon, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

How to cook sweet potato

To freeze sweet potato it’s best to peel and dice it. Boil until just tender then allow to cool before dividing into portions for the freezer. This can then be boiled to defrost and turn into sweet potato mash.

You can also prepare and freeze sweet potato chips:

  1. Peel, slice, and blanch the sweet potatoes then allow to cool and freeze in portions.
  2. Cook from frozen in an oven preheated to 200C/Gas 4.
  3. Make sure the chips are in an even layer and don’t forget to season and drizzle with oil before placing in the hot oven for 35-45mins.

Sweet potato is also a delicious healthy snack for dogs so instead of throwing your offcuts away, let your pet have a good crunch.

How to store leftover sweet potato

Sweet potato mash can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days but it’s best not to keep it longer than this, especially if your recipe used butter and milk. To reheat the mash either warm it through on the hob with a little more butter or give it a quick blast in the microwave.

Roasted sweet potato can be eaten cold in salads and is delicious when mixed in with couscous too. You can reheat it in the microwave or in a low oven but it’s not likely to crisp back up.

Sweet potato recipes

A few sweet potato recipes, variety of ways to cook sweet potato - include our sweet potato wedges in this. Include what sweet potato goes well with too.

Sweet potato wedges

how to cook sweet potato

Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, serve these wedges with your favourite condiments. Our go-tos include ketchup, mayo, or a blue cheese dip if we’re feeling adventurous.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato wedges

Sweet potato pasta

healthy lunch ideas

In three easy steps, you can make this comforting sweet potato pasta. It’s a tasty meat-free option and great for kids too.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato pasta

Sweet potato toast

sweet potato toast

Upgrade your breakfast with our delicious sweet potato toast toppings. If you’ve got a sweet tooth try berries and cottage cheese. Alternatively for the best of both worlds try crispy bacon with a little drizzle of maple syrup.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato toast

Sweet potato mash with sausages and red onion

Sausages with sweet potato squash mash

A cheap and easy way to feed a family of four. Swapping the potatoes for sweet potatoes gives this classic home meal a colourful twist and is sure to entice even the fussiest of eaters.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato mash with sausages and red onion

Joe Wicks’ creamy chickpea curry loaded sweet potato

Creamy chickpea curry loaded sweet potato

Credit: Getty

This recipe from the Body Coach is meat-free but it’s packed with flavour and comfort. His recipe uses a korma paste but if you fancy something a bit spicier, swap for a madras paste instead.

Get the recipe: Joe Wicks’ creamy chickpea curry loaded sweet potato

Sweet potato shepherd’s pie

sweet potato shepherds pie

Brighten up the comforting classic with a vibrant sweet potato mash. It’s a delicious balance of sweet, salty and savoury and will no doubt become a new family staple.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato shepherd’s pie

Spiced sweet potato, chickpea, and chicken bake

sweet potato chickpea and chicken bake

This is a wonderful, affordable mid-week dinner that is bursting with flavour. If you’re not keen on spice feel free to omit the chilli or we recommend serving with cooling raita to balance the heat.

Get the recipe: Spiced sweet potato, chickpea, and chicken bake

Sweet potato gratin

sweet potato dauphinoise gratin

This is a delicious side dish for your roast chicken dinner but can also be served as a vegetarian main. The inclusion of chestnuts makes it especially good at Christmas but the chestnut paste is available all year round.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato gratin

Griddled asparagus, sweet potato, and poached egg

Griddled asparagus sweet potato and poached egg salad

Upgrade your breakfast or brunch game with this simple but satisfying recipe. It looks incredibly elegant when plated up which makes it a great option if you’re entertaining.

Get the recipe: Griddled asparagus, sweet potato, and poached egg

Quick chickpea and sweet potato curry

how to cook sweet potato

We love cooking with sweet potatoes in curries as it adds a delicious sweetness and is a substantial replacement for meat. Vegetarian curries are very cost-efficient and are perfect for batch cooking.

Get the recipe: Quick chickpea and sweet potato curry

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.