How to Cook Sweet Potatoes and Yams

I started eating sweet potatoes when I started my elimination diet because they were listed as an OK starch to eat. I’ve been eating them ever since.  Did you know that even though the store sign says “Yams” you are really buying sweet potatoes? This article from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission gives some information about these nutritious vegetables.

I’ve been eating various kinds of sweet potatoes, including the Japanese Sweet Potato, Hawaiian Sweet PotatoJewel YamGarnet YamSweet Potato, and Purple Sweet Potato.

There are four easy ways to cook sweet potatoes: in the oven, in a slow cooker or crock pot, in a microwave and in an Instant Pot.

First, I wash the sweet potatoes using a stiff brush and lots of water.  There is no need to prick the potatoes with a fork before baking. In fact, pricking them will cause more of a mess because liquid from the potato will ooze out of the holes.  (Potatoes from left to right on the baking sheet: Japanese Sweet Potato, Jewel Yam, Garnet Yam, Purple Sweet Potato, and Sweet Potato.)

Baking Sweet Potatoes
Baking Sweet Potatoes

I bake the sweet potatoes in a preheated oven (about 375 degrees) for one hour.  I take the potatoes out of the oven, turn them over, and test for doneness by sticking them with a sharp knife in several places. If the knife goes in the potato easily, it is done and I take the potato off the baking sheet. If the knife doesn’t slide into the potato easily, I turn the oven off and leave them in there for another half hour or hour (or longer if I’m busy). I put all the potatoes that are thoroughly baked on a plate in the refrigerator to use in the next day or so.

If I’m using the slow cooker, I place the scrubbed potatoes in the pot and place the lid on top. I cook these potatoes on low for at least 6 hours or until a knife easily pierces the potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes in a Crock Pot
Sweet Potatoes in a Crock Pot

To cook whole sweet potatoes in a microwave oven, I put the scrubbed potato on a plate. I cook the potato on high for 2 minutes. I turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. I turn it again. I cook and turn it at 1 minute intervals until it feels soft when squeezed.  If it hisses a lot while cooking I prick it with a fork or a knife to let out some steam.

Whole sweet potatoes and yams in Instant Pot
Whole sweet potatoes and yams in Instant Pot

To be honest, I use the Instant Pot most often to cook sweet potatoes and yams. I use the Manual function with 1 cup of water in the pot. If I cook them whole, I place them on a trivet and cook them for about 30 to 35 minutes (No need to prick with a fork before cooking). If I cook them sliced, it takes about 22 minutes. (I set them on the trivet).  It would likely take you less cooking time at your altitude since I live at 7000 feet and cooking with a pressure cooker takes longer at this altitude!!

Sliced Sweet Potatoes in the Instant Pot
Sliced Sweet Potatoes in the Instant Pot

For more detailed information about cooking sweet potatoes and yams in the Instant Pot see my post Sweet Potatoes and Yams in the Instant Pot.  🙂

The softer varieties (orange or purple flesh) are great mashed or made into pureed soups.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Sweet Potatoes

The firmer varieties (yellow or white flesh) can be cubed and added to soups, stews, salads or stir-fry dishes. If the potatoes are cooked, add them to the end of the cooking time of whatever dish you are making.

Of course, you can always eat them when they are nice and hot. Simply cut them in half and eat them with a spoon. Delicious!!

I hope you will try a new variety of sweet potato this year!

Eating Sweet Potatoes!!
Eating Sweet Potatoes!!



15 thoughts on “How to Cook Sweet Potatoes and Yams

    1. When cooking sweet potatoes in my Instant Pot, I often use the quick release. If I’m in no particular hurry, the natural pressure release is fine too. Or somewhere in between….let it sit for awhile then release the remaining pressure. I do love the Instant Pot! Once the food is cooking, you often don’t have to think about it until you are ready to deal with it! 🙂

  1. I have yellow flesh sweet potatoes I’d like to serve with some veggie chili. I was thinking of cubing should I cook them? I don’t want them to mushy. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tracey~
      I was thinking about some veggie chili for this week also! 🙂

      I would try peeling and cubing the yellow fleshed sweet potatoes before cooking. You can either put them in a steaming basket on the rack with water underneath (this might be best) or put them in the Instant Pot with 1/3 cup water.

      If they are in the steaming basket, try steaming them for 3 minutes, high pressure. I’ve not yet cooked sweet potatoes this way, but I cook beets this way all the time. (I use 10 minutes….beets are harder…and I live at 7000 feet).

      If you put them directly in the IP, maybe try 1-2 minutes, at low pressure.

      I have not tried cooking sweet potatoes this way, but that would be my best guess. I have to run and do errands now, but I may try this later today and let you know what works!!!! 🙂

      Happy Cooking!

      1. And in case you don’t have an Instant Pot (I was assuming you did) :-)…….I would peel, cube and steam them in a steaming basket on the stove.

        Happy veggie chili! I will have to make that this week for sure! 🙂

  2. Hi!
    Yes, I do have an ipot 🙂 I think I’ll try the peeled method with a little water. I’ll try and reply back to let you know how they turned out! Thank you.

  3. Hi Tracey!
    I just cooked some in a steamer basket set on the wire rack with some water underneath. I used the steam function, 3 minutes, high pressure. They were about half way done. (The potatoes were peeled and cut into chunks….not large chunks, but chunks.) I steamed them for 4 more minutes and they were done. I did quick release both times.

    You could try steaming them for 3 or 4 minutes and see how they are. (Since you probably live at a lower elevation.)

    I will now try cooking them in a small amount of water using the manual function.

    Yes, keep me posted on how it works for you! 🙂

  4. I just cooked the peeled, chunked sweet potatoes for 4 minutes at low pressure (manual function) with a 1/2 cup water and they turned out great! (I cooked one fairly large potato.)

    I would suggest maybe 2 minutes at lower elevations.

    I honestly think using the manual function is better than the steam function. The potatoes were moister due to being actually in the water. They were not mushy!

    Happy cooking!

    1. Correct! The cubed, peeled sweet potatoes where cooked directly in the stainless steel pot with 1/2 cup water and without the trivet. I cooked them on low pressure (use the pressure button to adjust the pressure) for 4 minutes. I did a quick release. Try maybe 2 minutes since you probably don’t live at 7000 feet in elevation. 🙂 If 2 minutes isn’t quite long enough, you can always cook it a bit longer. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  5. So I cut them into pieces a bit large then cubed & did them right in the pot for 3 mins with 1.2 cup water quick release. They were a bit more cooked then I’d like so next time I think I’d do 2 mins & 1/4 cup of water 🙂

    1. It’s been fun to discuss this with you Tracey! I look forward to cooking some of my sweet potatoes in the diced form. It certainly is faster than cooking them whole!

      You can experiment with your cooking time to find what works best for you, and also whether you use high or low pressure.

      Enjoy using this awesome machine! I sure am! Today I made some Mexican Rice….it was cooking while I walked with my neighbor. She got to taste it when our walk was over! Happy cooking! 🙂 Thanks again for writing!

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