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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.
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.
What Kinds of Sweet Potato Are There?
There are 16 kinds of sweet potatoes. The one most often found in the grocery stores is the red-skinned Beauregard sweet potato. This kind of sweet potato is perfect for baking, boiling, mashing, and frying. Some sweet potatoes are purple instead of orange!
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! Or if you have a sweet tooth first thing in the morning, sprinkle them with a bit of cinnamon sugar.
- Cook it with eggs. Sweet potato migas are my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes with eggs, but you can also top a baked sweet potato with a fried egg, or stuff it with scrambled eggs. Sometimes I will fry up a bit of baked sweet potato flesh with onions before adding whisked eggs and some cheese to a pan, making sweet potato scrambled eggs in the process. It’s super tasty!
- Thicken chilis and stews: I add mashed sweet potato to chilis 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.
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 actually – 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. This makes clean up easier if any juices bubble out and cook on your baking sheet. You won’t have to fuss with cleaning your baking sheet or silpat, you can just crumple up the parchment paper.
- 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.
- Make them in advance. You can easily bake sweet potatoes over the weekend or the night before you’ll need to use them. I frequently do this when I know a busy week is coming up. Simply let your baked sweet potatoes cool, then transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Alright, are you ready to bake some sweet potatoes? Here’s how:
How to Bake a Sweet Potato
- 1 medium to large sweet potato
- Water, just for rinsing
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, optional
- Kosher salt, optional
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Get out a baking sheet, parchment paper, and aluminum foil. Set aside.
- 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. 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.