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Simple method of preparing sweet potatoes

I am finally going to serve sweet potatoes for the first time. I have several recipes but I think I want to serve them fairly simply for the first time.

I can bake them and serve them with butter or I could cube them, roast them and put maple syrup over them as they roast.

Any ideas? The only memory I have of them is candied yams with marshmallows...yuk (shutters)!

I don't think I want to mash them this time. However, I am going to be serving them a lot over the next few weeks while I determine my favorite way to serve them.

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  1. Cube them and roast them. If you roast them on a sheet lined with parchment, all that caramelized roasted goodness will stay with the cubes and not stuck to the pan. Mix the maple syrup with browned butter.

    1. I like them just baked in their skins and then topped with butter, brown sugar and dried chipotle. and lots of grey salt.

      1. If you bake them long enough, their natural sweetness caramelizes and there is no need for anything more than salt and pepper, and a little butter. I have microwaved whole sweet potatoes but that alone does not caramelize them. You then need to brown them on the stovetop with some butter in a frying pan. With regular potatoes, it works well to cook them at least halfway in the microwave, then finish them in a hot oven to get a nice crisp skin. I have not tried this with sweet potatoes because I don't care for their skins so I don't know if a briefer oven time will sweeten them the way a full oven bake does.

        1. Roasted on high heat, whole potato, for an hour--you get great caramelized bits and can just eat it plain.

          1. Toss with chili powder, salt and vegetable oil. Roast until brown and crispy, then squirt a little lime juice over them and serve.

            1. I like them baked with a little salt pepper and butter best but they are also good mashed with a banana - that's how they serve them at Naked Fish and when I first tried them that way it was a pleasant surprise.

              1. Here's my suggestion, and what I do when I want to prepare sweet potatoes "fairly simply" as you say.

                Howver you decide to prepare them, serve them naked. No butter, no sugar, no sauce, no nothin.

                You get yourself some good sweet potatoes, and you want a simple prep, let them speak for themselves.

                By the way, while roasting is my preferred method of prep, I just recently discovered that steaming them whole with skin on is a fabulous way to do it.

                Good luck.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  The ones labeled as 'Japanese yams' (or sweet potato) are good naked. I just peel, cube and steam. They don't need salt or sugar.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I just recently discovered how steaming is such a wonderful way to cook sweet potatoes (esp. the Japanese yam variety).

                2. Just to give you an entirely different idea, I prick the skins and nuke them to somewhat precook them. When I'm ready to serve, I cut them into about 1 1/2 inch circles, brush them with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill them just long enough to heat through and mark them. I generally serve them on a large platter with other sliced, grilled veggies: yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, and onions. The presentation is quite pretty, and they can be served hot or at room temp.

                  1. 100% agree with roasted. Medium dice, tossed with oil, pimentone, garlic, salt, and pepper.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jameshig

                      I exclude the pimento and add whole cloves of garlic halfway through roasting so they are soft and sweet when the sweet potatoes are done.

                      1. re: jameshig

                        Ok, for you dummies like me. I went to:
                        to find out what pimentone or Pimentón is.

                        Apparently, it is spanish paprika.

                        So which kind do you use James? Sweet, medium hot or hot? and is this paprika smoked?

                        Not trying to put you on the spot, James. Just didn't know what it is.

                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                          As for sweet potatoes, add my vote to those encouraging the the simple preps - roasted in the oven or grill and dressed with only a sprinkle of course sea salt. Good butter or olive oil makes a wonderful addition (as do other seasonings, etc.), but those spuds deserve to be tasted on their own.

                          As to pimenton, I would suggest investing the fifteen bucks for the sampler and trying each of them. I love the stuff and would certainly endorse the use of any of the types to dust roasted sweet potatoes (and lots of other stuff).


                      2. Well, they can be effective when made about as simply as possible: dice them about the size of sugar cubes, simmer in water or steam just until tender, and serve with salt and perhaps a hint of butter. If complex flavors are happening elsewhere on the plate, I find the simplicity here appealing. And kids tend to like eating little cubes, too.

                        Now I see that ipsedixit above has the same notion...

                        1. scrub, pierce (with a fork or knife all around maybe 30 times), nuke (4-5 minutes), grill
                          ( turning occasionally) til soft, split open, serve with butter and allspice or cinnamon.

                          1. juke em whole for 4-6 min in ziploc. slice, then roast o pam sprayed sheet at 350 til caramelized and toasted skins.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Emme

                              I'm strangely averse to anything sweet on my sweet potatoes. My favorite way is tossed with oil, then seasoned breadcrumbs or panko and Parmesan. Baked at 425 or 450 so they get a little color. If cut to homefry size, I think they take about 15 or 20 minutes.

                              1. re: jvanderh

                                Sorry Emme-- didn't mean to reply directly to you.

                                1. re: jvanderh

                                  no worries! but i almost opened my post, thinking did i recommend something sweet? my mom did used to bake them and top with a little Smart Beat or whatever sub she was using at the time, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and salt...

                                2. re: jvanderh

                                  I'm the same way regarding sweet versus savory. I love fingerling sweet potatoes, roasted with olive oil, chopped rosemary, S&P.

                                  1. re: tcamp

                                    Sounds good! I've never had fingerling sweet potatoes.

                                3. re: Emme

                                  Question: Nuke in a ziploc bag? Or one of those ziploc plastic containers? Or something else?

                                  1. re: stgrove

                                    lazy as i am, sometimes it's a ziploc, or sometimes it's just the bag i bought them in...

                                    1. re: Emme

                                      Some people worry about plastics and heat. Maybe you should look into that, or someone in-the-know here could comment?

                                      1. re: Bada Bing

                                        i'm not suggesting how others choose to cook theirs, just telling how i sometimes do it. and if cooking for others, will alter preparation methods in order to refrain from "endangering" them.

                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                          My doc told me several years ago me to avoid putting anything plastic in the microwave, and says one of the worst offenders is the one thing people use most often: plastic wrap.

                                          Ironic plastic headline:

                                    2. I'm with the posters who recommend a long bake. Just a touch of butter on the finished product anf they are delicious.

                                      Since I am a baker, I would also suggest a sweet potato pie or subbing them in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.

                                      And yes, keep the marshmallows away from them. I love marshmallows but the combo is way too sweet.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: iluvcookies

                                        I love baked goods with them, too. When I do the long slow roast, I always bake more than I need at the time and freeze them so I can make sweet potato pie, bread, etc. whenever I want.

                                      2. I love sweet potatoes, and I eat them baked, roasted, mashed, as chips, fries, etc. So if simple is what you're going for, definitely go with the above suggestions.

                                        For holiday gatherings, however, I am always requested to make on particular dish that I picked up years and years ago from a cajun cookbook. It's easy, has no marshmallows, and the "syrup" is (I think) delicious over ham. It also reheats marvelously. In case you're interested, here it is:

                                        Bake, cool, and slice (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch) 6-8 sweet potatoes and put in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Bring 2c sugar, 1/4/c water, 1/4c butter and 1t cinnamon to a boil and simmer 10 minutes, stirring consistently. Pour over potatoes and bake 45 minutes @ 350.

                                        After the death of my grandfather-in-law, who couldn't handle a lot of spice and never really liked sweet potatoes but nevertheless ate this dish with a grin, bless his heart, I've been experimenting with adding various dried chilis with good result.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Mestralle

                                          I am looking forward to sweet potato fries. I won't make them this time but I will within the next few weeks. I have heard they are very good.

                                          If you got that out of a cajun cookbook, where are all the cajun spices? Did you remove them for your grandpa?

                                          As sweet as that dish would be, I would think it would be able to handle those spicy hot cajun spices.

                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                            I have never tried to make them but can tell you that they are apparently hard to get right. Most that I have ordered in restaurants have been soggy - the best ones, which are crisp, are cut very thinly. I suspect they have too much moisture to turn out as well as regular FF potatoes.

                                        2. like everyone has mentioned, cubed and roasted is simply delish. I've also sliced thin, make a foil pack for the grill, adding lil brown sugar, olive oil, s&P and cumin. Make too much so that you can do a nice hash with the leftovers (sooooo good, fried up with leftover roasted onions and peppers).

                                          If you want reallly reallly awesome but more than simple, this one is to die for and my absolute favorite, the creamyness of the ginger, lemon, etc:

                                          1. Slice the potatoes, add whole (peeled) shallots. Oil, s&p, and a drizzle of cider vinegar. Roast till both veggies are caramelized.

                                            1. Peel them, chunk them up and steam them. Mash them up and serve them with a spice butter...a combination of honey, butter, ground ginger, a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.

                                              1. My first attempt was reasonably successful, tonight. I chose to clean them, poke holes in them with a fork, put olive oil on them and bake them at 350 F for one hour. Pretty much exactly what I do to a baked potato.

                                                I served them with butter, salt, pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon on the side so people could put what they wanted on the potato.

                                                It was pretty good. I think I would have preferred a baked russet potato but a fairly decent change of pace.

                                                Next time (probably in a few days), I will cube them and roast them with butter. As sweet as they are, I might put something spicy on them like chili powder or paprika or a tiny bit of cayenne.

                                                1. Am I the only person who likes sour cream on roasted sweet potatoes, for the contrast? That's the way my folks always served them at Thanksgiving, and I still enjoy it today.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: dustchick

                                                    I had sour cream on the table but didn't use it.

                                                    1. re: dustchick

                                                      I love roasted sweet potato soup w/ creme fraiche.

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        I feel much better now. ;) That sounds lovely.

                                                    2. Why would you want to do anything with a sweet potato but bake it in its skin? Apologies to those who don't want more sweet, I prefer to go crazy by busting the sweet potato open and filling it up with butter and brown sugar. Some people like to add curry powder or nutmeg.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                        I baked mine as I said but I just could not bring myself to add brown sugar. It seemed so sweet as it is.

                                                        Are the yellow flesh sweet potatoes less sweet?

                                                      2. I think cumin goes well with sweet potatoes.

                                                        1. Roast with some ground coriander seeds, paprika and cayenne was a revelation for me. A friend of mine mashes them with a whole block of butter (250g or about 2 sticks) and salt and pepper. If you eventually do choose to mash this might be an option. Or not...

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: limoen

                                                            Tyler Florence has a recipe where he mashes sweet potato, banana, butter, brown sugar and pecans.


                                                          2. I'm definitely in the savory camp. Chunk up the yams, toss them with olive oil until well coated, and pan roast in a hot cast iron skillet on the stove top. Once you get some nice carmelization, move to a 350F oven until fork tender. A little salt and pepper and they are fit for a king. Starting on the stove top seems to cut the overall cooking time significantly over trying to do the whole process in the oven. (FYI, I find that kick starting things like potatoes and casseroles on the stove is a great time-saver on weekday nights.)

                                                            1. I thin maybe next time, I will mash them with some chipotle or something to add some heat.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                Bobby Flay has a recipe on FN using sweet potatoes and a chipotle cream. It's gotten good reviews.

                                                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                  I second the rec for Bobby's sweets with chipotle cream.
                                                                  He also has a good easy one for slow-roasted ones mashed with chipotle,
                                                                  "Chipotle Whipped Sweet Potatoes," one of my go-to dishes for potluck gatherings.
                                                                  Always gets good reviews.

                                                                  I like to use the red sweets called Garnet Yams.

                                                                2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                  Chipotle sweet potatoes

                                                                  4 cups whipping cream
                                                                  1canned chipotle en adobo (not 1 can, one chili plus a little adobo)
                                                                  6 medium raw sweet potatoes, peeled, thin sliced
                                                                  Oven at 350
                                                                  blend cream & chipotle
                                                                  9x13 dish
                                                                  add 1/4 inch layers of sliced potatoes, cover with cream chipotle mix, repeat about 4 times
                                                                  bake uncovered 1 hour
                                                                  I add pecan pieces to the layers for a little extra texture /flavor

                                                                  Sweet potato casserole

                                                                  6 large sweet potatoes, baked
                                                                  1/2 cup melted butter
                                                                  1/4 cup heavy cream
                                                                  2 eggs, beaten
                                                                  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
                                                                  1tsp. vanilla
                                                                  3/4 cup toasted pecans
                                                                  mix, bake 30 minutes at 350.

                                                                3. I think my favorite way is to wrap them in foil, and bake them. The sugars will be caramelized and I split and pop it open. Spoon some of the caramel back in, and add butter or honey. Also sometimes a little cinnamon and brown sugar, cream cheese and pineapple all mixed together, with the butter down first. I'm not too fond of anything savory added to them, I could eat them plain too.

                                                                  1. As someone who grew up on a fair amount of soul food, I say baked whole with butter and salt or mashed with butter and salt and maybe a few gratings of nutmeg and/or a drizzle of maple syrup. No better eating in the world. A side of garlicky collards with crushed red pepper, some black-eyed peas with ham hocks, and you are good to go---altho a little bowl of collard liqueur for dipping slices of cast-iron buttermilk cornbread sure wouldn't hurt.