How to Bake a Sweet Potato

by Rustic Family Recipes
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This EASY method for baking sweet potatoes in the oven is so simple it almost doesn’t count as a recipe. I use baked sweet potato in a ton of recipes though, so I wanted to share my go-to method.

A baked sweet potato cut open next to a fork

It may seem like there are only so many ways to eat a sweet potato. Baked and as french fries, right? Those seem to be the two most popular uses in America. But, my friend, there are so many ways to use these colorful root veggies.

Ways to Use Baked Sweet Potatoes

How you use sweet potatoes largely depends on the method you used to cook them. So, for the sake of brevity, in this post we are going to focus on baked sweet potatoes. Here alone there are many uses:

  • Make loaded sweet potatoes: The most obvious use is to cut open your baked sweet potato and stuff it with your favorite toppings. Cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, cooked black beans tossed with a bit of dry oregano, melty butter, whatever you want! You can also eat sweet potatoes for breakfast by topping them with fried eggs or even sprinkling them with a bit of cinnamon sugar.
  • Thicken chilis and stews: I add mashed sweet potato to chilis and homemade dal to thicken them up. They are also a flavorful addition to my Instant Pot chickpea masala.
  • Add to baked goods: I love making sweet potato biscuits, sweet potato brownies and sweet potato muffins. (I’m working on taking photos of all these so I can share the recipes.) Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrition, so adding them to baked goods makes it easier to justify indulging in a little treat too!

Anyways, the more sweet potato recipes I added to this site, the more I realized I needed to share a basic “how to bake a sweet potato” recipe. I’m not sure it really qualifies as a recipe – you only need one ingredient and that’s the sweet potato. You can also use a bit of olive oil and a touch of kosher salt, but only if you are eating the skin as well. These just add a bit of flavor to the skin.

Tips for Success

  • Don’t skip the double foil or the baking sheet You can bake your sweet potato directly on the oven rack, but if you do this wrap it in two layers of foil. When your sweet potato reaches that just right, oh so tender stage of baking, the sugars inside can bubble out. If you don’t have a double layer of aluminum foil there to catch the liquid it will fall to the bottom of your oven and burn. Another option is to wrap each potato in only one layer of foil then bake it on a lined baking sheet.
  • If using a baking sheet, don’t skip the parchment paper. You can also use a silpat. This makes clean up easier if any juices bubble out and cook on your baking sheet.
  • Longer is better than shorter. As you are probably aware by now, I’m not one for rushing things. I would rather give my sweet potatoes a nice long while to cook and get the perfect, tender, flavorful texture vs. trying rush things by raising the cooking temperature or using the microwave. If you set a timer and include a bit of planning, the slow way requires no more effort and produces better results, in my opinion. I also find that slowing down – even if it just to make the best sweet potatoes – is psychologically rewarding.

Alright are you reading to bake some sweet potatoes? Here’s how:

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How to Bake a Sweet Potato

A baked sweet potato cut open next to a fork

This EASY method for baking sweet potatoes in the oven is so simple it almost doesn’t count as a recipe. 

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 sweet potato 1x
  • Category: How To
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium to large sweet potato
  • Water, just for rinsing
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, optional
  • Kosher salt, optional

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Prep the sweet potatoes: Quickly rinse your sweet potato in water. If you plan to eat the skin, which I do when not using the sweet potato for baking, you can also coat it in about 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Just pour a bit of oil into your hands and then rub it onto the skin.  Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt if desired. The oil and salt give the skin a bit of extra flavor.

Wrap in foil or use a lined baking sheet. Wrap the sweet potato in TWO layers of aluminum foil. You can use one layer of foil if you also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. The layers of foil or baking sheet will prevent any juices inside the sweet potato from bubbling out and burning on the bottom of your oven.

Bake. If you are using two layers of foil, you can bake your potato directly on the oven rack. I usually bake sweet potatoes for about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. 

Test for doneness. The potato is ready when it gives to pressure. So when you put an oven mitt on and gently squeeze the potato through the foil it should feel soft. Another way to test is to take the potato out of the oven, peel back the foil and then test it with a butter knife. The knife should easily slide into the center of the potato.

Serve or allow to cool! If you are eating the sweet potato as the main course, you can add your fixings and dig in. If you are using it as an ingredient in another recipe, then allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before peeling back the skin and scooping out the tender flesh.

Notes

If making more than one sweet potato wrap each one in foil.

You can bake sweet potatoes in advance. I often do this and then use them for quick meals or baking later in the week. Simply follow the above instructions, then allow the sweet potato to cool completely before placing  in an air tight container and storing in the fridge. Baked sweet potato can be kept for 3-4 days.

Keywords: baked sweet potato, how to cook sweet potato

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