The Foolproof way to Bake a Sweet Potato

how to bake a sweet potato

 Mom’s secret to bake a sweet potato perfectly

Many mothers pass down a heritage of kitchen secrets to their daughters. This would probably be the case in my household if I hadn’t completely renovated my diet to manage my autoimmune disease. My mom’s ancient cookbook binder contains scraps of Danish pastry recipes passed down from her grandmother, and these treats would wreak havoc on my digestive system in all their glory of white flour and powdered sugar.

how to perfectly bake a sweet potatoHowever, there is one recipe that my mom passed down to me that I will forever treasure: the perfect baked sweet potato. I’ve come to rely on this foolproof method any time I prepare sweet potatoes and now I’ve tailored it for various sizes of potatoes with perfect results.

How I bake a sweet potato

Follow the recipe below to perfectly bake a sweet potato, without having to test and guess when it is done. Here are the methods to the madness:

  • Don’t coat the sweet potatoes in or wrap them in foil. This is often required in baked sweet potato recipes, but it is time-consuming and not necessary. I’ve also found that this helps the skin separate from the sweet potato flesh, making it easier to peel and eat after baking.
  • Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork before baking. This improves the texture and helps the sweet potato separate from the skin.
  • Don’t place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet – put them directly on the oven rack. I’ve found the baking sheet to be unnecessary.
  • Place a sheet of foil over the bottom of the oven. This catches any syrup that may drip from the sweet potatoes. Don’t worry, sweet potato juice isn’t going to gush out and dirty your oven, there are just a few drips that turn into charcoal on the foil.
  • Leave the sweet potatoes in the oven after turning off the oven. The residual heat continues to cook the sweet potatoes without burning them, so they get exceptionally tender and moist.

The Foolproof way to Bake a Sweet Potato

1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Makes as many sweet potatoes as you want.

The Foolproof way to Bake a Sweet Potato

This method takes the guesswork out of determining when the sweet potatoes are done. The sweet potato flesh is perfectly tender and it separates from the skin, making it extremely easy to remove the skin.

Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes or yams

Instructions

  1. Put a small sheet of foil in the center and bottom of your oven. This will catch any of the syrup that may escape from the sweet potatoes. For easy cleanup, simply remove the foil and throw it away after baking the sweet potatoes. Update a reader does not recommend covering the bottom of the oven with foil, as it may block the vents. This has never happened to me, but I use only a small square directly under the sweet potatoes and not over the entire oven.
  2. Don't preheat the oven. Prick your sweet potatoes each 2-3 time with a fork, then place them directly on the oven rack in the middle of the oven, above the foil. Turn the oven on to 425.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes for sweet potatoes/yams that are 2-3 inches in diameter. For sweet potatoes that are up to 4 inches in diameter, bake for an hour. For super large sweet potatoes, bake for an hour and 15 minutes.
  4. After the time has elapsed, don't open the oven but turn it off. Let the sweet potatoes sit in the oven for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour. Remove from the oven and eat immediately, or remove the skin and store in a container in the fridge.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/bake-a-sweet-potato/

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Comments

  1. says

    Interesting!
    I have been baking my sweet potatoes in a shallow pan with water and covering them with parchment (I found parchment paper with foil on the other side). I bake about 450 for 40 minutes or so and then leave cover on after I take them out of the oven. Will try your way as well!

    • Kate says

      My post is way at the bottom so I want to comment up here… DON’T PUT FOIL ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR OVEN!!! It even says so on the box (which I read afterward). It melted and stuck to the bottom of my oven and there’s no way to get it off. From what I’ve read, I’m going to have to replace the bottom of my brand new oven because of this…

      • Gina says

        Thanks for the quick and easy tutorial, I was trying to figure out the temp to use and I found your post. And it was very helpful, really. And then I read your tips, and then I melted aluminum foil to the bottom of my oven like an idiot. DON’T PUT FOIL ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR OVEN, now I’m going to need to replace the bottom of my oven. Seriously it doesn’t come off. You may, possibly, want to edit your original post if it’s possible. But honestly all your other instructions were great and the potatoes turned out perfectly.

  2. rae says

    i would not recommend putting a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven– it covers the vents. when i did this the carbon monoxide detector went off and the next thing i knew i had a fire engine worth of men come over to check my roasted veggies. i usually put the foil on the rack below now. :)

      • Jo Ann says

        I cover the bottom of my oven quite often – I just make sure to tear it off small enough so I don’t cover the vents.

      • Dilly says

        Friendly nudge about updating the article with that warning, I would not have known had I not decided to read the comments :)

    • Lisa says

      Another option is to put the 2nd oven rack one level below the rack you’re using, then place a small piece of foil on the 2nd rack. Drips caught, vent not covered.

      • Charlotte Weaver King says

        Lisa already mentioned this, but I believe it bears repeating. I put my Sweet Potatoes directly on the oven rack and then place a cookie sheet on the next rack down to catch the potato juices/syrup that drip out during cooking. As I use a convection oven, my cooking time is shorter than yours, otherwise it sounds like our mothers passed down the same technique.

    • Sheila says

      Vents only matter with a gas oven. Electric ones don’t have them. If you have a gas oven you can still put foil now, I do all the time, you just put it int he center of the oven and not over the vents, though as long as you are not making it firm on the vents it won’t do anything to the oven. I can’t imagine NOT putting foil now to help with easy clean-ups!

  3. Nic says

    I will have to try this with the 2 sweet potatoes in my pantry. I found another method that is very easy lady year and it works wonderful. I’ve never had a bad baked potato of any kind since. But this sounds intriguing so thank you for sharing can’t wait to test it out! :-)

  4. Merry says

    Lauren, I’m sorry for putting this in the wrong area perhaps, or even if you have already answered this question somewhere else in your blog, but I wanted to know why nuts were excluded from Empowered Sustenance? I truly want to know for my optimal health! Thanks for your reply! Merry

  5. Naomi says

    “Perfect” was the first word that came to mind when I cut into my sweet potato this morning after following your cooking instructions. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a perfect one at home. Thank you so much!

  6. Emily says

    Thanks, Lauren! I’ve done this method twice in the last week and it really is soo quick & easy! I love how papery the sweet potato skins get, it makes them such a breeze to peel. It’s a way better method than the oil-coating/foil or boiling methods I used to employ. Cheers!

  7. says

    Absolutely! Been cooking them this way for about a year and I don’t know why but they taste better. The piece of foil to catch the drippings is key!

    It is quick and easy. Plus, any leftover makes great sweet potato pancakes YUM

  8. Diana VP says

    Hi Lauren, Thanks for the tips! I vaguely recall my mother piercing the skin prior to baking, but I have not been doing this. The result was sugar drippings burnt onto my stoneware baking sheet. Not really a problem as clean up on a stoneware sheet is pretty easy, and I never need parchment paper.

    A word of caution regarding your recommendation to put foil on the bottom of the oven! The GE Appliances website and Consumer Reports state that using foil on the bottom can cause trapped heat, fire hazard, and void the warranty. The safer recommendation, by “Lisa” above, is to place foil on the rack beneath to catch drips. Safe baking! :)

    • Anitra621 says

      Hmm, i skip some steps and still have great sweet potatoes. I don’t poke my sweet potatoes either…I rinse the skin, dry them and throw them in the oven, top rack, foil on rack under potatoes. Never had a problem with separating the skin from the flesh. I also cook them at 450…hmmm got one left in the fridge now, think it’s time for a snack, yumm.

  9. Heather says

    I just put one of my racks at the very bottom and covered that with foil. My guess is not all ovens have vents in the same place, but if you want to be safe, that’s your best bet. Then the other rack goes in the center. Now, I did put a little piece of foil directly under the sweet potato (I was cooking two regular potatoes at the time, too) because I was worried about the sweet potato oozing that sticky stuff out onto the rack it was sitting on (and that stuff is a pain to get off). I literally just started this, so I’ll come back later to tell you how it turned out (including how the russets stacked up using this method… which I’m just doing because I’m lazy!

  10. Heather says

    This worked perfectly! Per my previous comment, I also used this method to do a couple of russets that were about the same size of the sweet potato, and that seems to have worked really well too. I put those in the fridge for a quick lunch later, so it wasn’t until the next day that I opened them. Thank you!

  11. Kim says

    I use this method, with foil on the rack below, but I don’t peel them. Once they finish cooking, I slice them, put a little coconut oil, brown sugar and cinnamon inside and close it back up. Then either eat once cooled enough or store for lunches. I find they are better this way after they have had time to absorb the flavors.
    Side Note: I saw coconut cane sugar in the store recently. Does anyone know if that is a healthier/ better alternative to other more processed sugars?

    • says

      Hi, I’ve read that coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like traditional sugars. AKA: no sugar crash but same sweetness!

  12. says

    Made these last night for dinner. I followed your directions, no mess no fuss. just perfect sweet potatoes.
    This is a first for me, never could get them just right.. Looking forward to Thanksgiving cooking.
    Thank you Lauren!

  13. Annie says

    I have heard that coconut sugar is very healthy, but I never heard it called Coconut Cane sugar!
    Coconut does not grow on Cane’s..

  14. TSandy says

    Tried your method tonight and my sweet potatoes came out perfect. This is a first so let me say from now on yours is the only way to do it. Thanks so much.

  15. Kimberley Smith says

    Thank you so much!! I loved the way the skin separated. I was making a soufflé and making that skin easy to remove doesn’t always happen. Thanks for the tip!!

  16. Kristen says

    Worked amazingly well! It was great the way the skin just separated so easily from the potato. I used the sweet potatoes in sweet potato casserole, and they mashed beautifully.

  17. J says

    Hi Lauren,

    I just want to say thank you so much for sharing this recipe, it turned out so perfect, just like the street vendors who slow roast it in charcoal ovens in China, where I grew up. I never knew that I can recreate this in an oven. I just ate it with kimchee, in the Korean style.

    Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Best,

    Jo

  18. Kristine says

    THIS RECIPE WAS AWESOME. It was simple, easy and delicious. My first time baking a sweet potato was a success, thanks to this recipe.

  19. says

    Congratulations! Your post came up first for me in a Google search for baking times for sweet potatoes.

    I am considering trying sweet potatoes dishes for breakfast. I’ve recently cut back on steel cut oats, as well as other grains, with some interesting results in terms of digestion. (I could eat steel cut oats every day if they didn’t cause some symptoms for me.)

    I am considering mashing up the baked sweet potato then topping with pecans, hemp seeds, and cinnamon. I also make a breakfast ‘mousse’ from a seed mixture that’s been soaked overnight.
    I may try using that as a topper as well.- http://www.shelbysguide.com/blog/2014/11/17/breakfast-or-dessert-strawberry-crunch-mousse

  20. TSandy says

    It works! It works! Itworks! I have never been able to bake a sweet potato that it was done at the same time as my other food. Your method totally works! My sweet potatoes were cooked perfectly. The mess was contained in the alimunum foil. I’ve added your method to my recipe file and I’ll never try baking sweet potatoes any other method. Thank you for this wonderful tip.

  21. Dan says

    I LOVE a really good sweet potato, but they are so hard to get right that I have been cutting them small, coating them in oil and some herbs, and then roasting them. I tried this way and….. WOW! DEEELISH!!!! I will always bake them this way. Yummy and wayyyyyy healthier than any other way. Thanks for the recipe. Do you have any advice on my other hard-to-cook but favorites- acorn or butternut squash???

  22. Katie P says

    I have to say this was the BEST sweet potato I have ever had! :) It turned out perfectly, just like you said. Thank you SO MUCH for the ease of making one of my favorite vegetables :) You rock!

  23. Peter T says

    I followed the recipe exactly and the sweet potatoes turned out perfectly. I placed a pan with foil on the bottom and it did not affect the quality of the sweet potatoes. My grandmother, whose parents emigrated from Denmark to the US and then Canada, would have loved these I am sure.

  24. Kelley says

    hi, tried the recipe last night and potatoes were delicious! However, foil is now stuck to bottom of my oven. Has this happened to anyone before? I tried to remove after taking potatoes out, but too hot. Then, once it cooled the foil was stuck. Any Ideas on how to remove? New oven – in my newly renovated kitchen! Help!

    • says

      Perhaps you can heat the oven up again and pull it when it’s still warm… with a mitt or hot pad if you like however, foil doesn’t burn skin because of loosing it’s heat so quickly.

  25. Donna Jones says

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I have always hard so much trouble cooking sweet potatoes and getting them completely done. Thanks to your recipe, my boys are having sweet potatoes for a late snack, instead of chips, cookies, etc. Thanks for helping the WHOLE family!

    • Kelley says

      Hi Evelyn. Thanks for your reply. I googled this issue as I was concerned about the foil. Seems this is a problem with newer ovens because of heating element being on bottom underneath, and not visible. I was able to remove a little more, but majority is still stuck on my oven. Iit like u need a scrapper and something to burn it off. It is really stuck. I am going to try a few solutions that I found online and see if any of them will work.

  26. Glenda says

    You are SO right: this way produces absolutely without a doubt the best sweet potato I’ve ever baked. The only problem was waiting that long to pull it out of the oven & devour it. I kept saying to myself, “Waiting builds character…waiting builds character…” =D

    Thanks for your terrific blog!

  27. Georgette says

    I have used your method twice and I have gotten PERFECTLY Cooked Sweet Potatoes both times! Thank you thank you!!!! This is so easy and I have cooked 3 at a time and all perfect!!! I have taken the skin off and stored in a container for the next couple of days and pulled one out, warmed in the microwave and bam wonderful sweet goodness!

  28. says

    I used this method the other night on a very large sweet potato. Ended up cooking for 1 hour and 15 minutes then sitting after the oven turned off for 30 minutes. It was pure perfection! I had never baked a sweet potato so well before. Thank you so much for posting this fabulous tip!

  29. Steve Angstadt says

    Well Thank You Ms Lauren, this past summer I grew 9 sweat potatoe slips in a 2′ by 10′ raised bed. By August the vines were taking over (they made beautiful ground cover) and I could not wait for late fall to harvest them. Mid Oct. I dug them out and got about 35lbs of them. They were used for all the usual Thanksgiving dishes and have plenty left.
    Soooo, 4 months later I decided to bake some for supper but had no idea how to prepare them, till I found you.
    They turned out GREAT!!!! What was left I sliced like pickle spears and browned them in butter for breakfast.
    Thanks again for take something so easy to do and making it easy to do.

  30. Sharon says

    Mine are in the oven now. After 45 years of smoking I recently quit and am trying to improve my way of eating. Sweet Potatoes have always been something I love, but like many others, I was always told to wrap them in foil…. what a pain that was when they were done. Can’t wait to see how these turn out, sounds so logical now that I think about it, lol. Thanks

    • Sharn says

      I have to say,, that was the easiest thing in the world, they were cooked perfectly, peeled without any effort or sticking to my fingers. Best tip ever, thank you Lauren G.

  31. Marnie Mellencamp says

    This is the best recipe! I put my sweet potato in at 5:30 and turned the oven off at 6:30. Then I forgot about it until bedtime. I took it out and the skin came right off. I sliced a few bites from the end and found it was nice and creamy – so sweet! I am trying to get off sweets at night (well, all the time) and I am going to keep these in the fridge as a “go to” for my evening snack. Thank you!

  32. Betty Gillis says

    Your recipe says it’s for sweet potatoes, but the photos look like yams to me. Will your recipe work for BOTH sweet potatoes and yams? Or do I need to cook sweet potatoes (uncooked or cooked, sweet potato skin is lighter in color than a yam and flesh is much more pale, closer to a regular potato than the orange-y color of yam flesh).

    Thanks!

  33. Betty Gillis says

    Sorry, left out part of last sentence, which should have asked whether I need to cook sweet potatoes differently from yams. Oops!

  34. Jo Baker says

    Thank you so much for the info. on baking a wonderful sweet potato. Came out perfect. I will never try another way to bake them again.

  35. just jam says

    thank you for teaching me a simple and effective way to bake sweet potatoes. we don’t eat them often but i know how i’ll be baking them from now on. clean up was great.

  36. Cactus says

    This was so easy and the sweet potatoes were delicious even without adding anything to them. This has to be the best kept secret in the world of sweet potatoes. I will never cook another sweet potato any other way again!
    THANK YOU!!!

  37. Randy says

    Baked the sweetpatatoe for about an hour. Turned off oven let set for 30 minutes. Placed butter, cinnamon and a sprinkling of brown sugar. Mixed up inside the potato. Ate. So good. I want another. Best ever

  38. Martha says

    This method works perfectly. The color of the potatoes are bright, unlike the results from other methods. Thank you for sharing this method.

  39. Kate says

    Just wanted to let you know that I did what you said with the foil, and the sweet potato juice actually melted through the foil and made it all stick to the bottom of my oven! Anyone else have this issue or did I some how mess this up? haha

    • Kate says

      Just wanted to comment again.. DO NOT PUT FOIL ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR OVEN! There is even a warning on my box of foil. As I mentioned, it stuck to the bottom of my oven – like melted on it. There is no way to get it off and it looks like I am going to have to replace the bottom on my brand new oven…

  40. Libba McDonald says

    I bake sweet potatoes quite often just as you suggest and they are perfectly delicious. However, I have a question and need an answer: How long can you wait to bake a sweet potato after purchasing it from grocery store and leaving it in basket on kitchen counter before cooking? How many days? Or by feel???

    • Jess says

      Before it starts growing? As long as it isn’t soft and mouldy and growing green roots, it’s all good. Also leave the skin on after cooking, that’s where all the nutrients are!

  41. Miranda Barnhouse says

    This is absolutely the BEST baked potato I’ve ever had! So tender and delicious. Thank you!

  42. Kristy Thompson says

    I have a new JENN-AIR oven. The technician was very specific to me regarding putting foil on the bottom of the oven. He said it can damage a lot of newer models, and it absolutely affects the warranty. I just thought you would be interested in sharing this info.

  43. Julie says

    Delicious! Best sweet potato I’ve ever had!!! I line a cookie sheet w foil and place it on the rack below the sweet potatoes to catch the drips. Worked great/tasted awesome!

    Do you have a post for baking regular potatoes?

  44. Suzanne says

    I don’t often make comments, but I had to let you know how wonderful this worked and Thank you for Sharing. These turned out Beautifully, fluffy, moist, sweet and yummy! I come from a line of amazing southern cooks, but it seems that sweet potatoes were often a hit or miss. I will have to share with my mother. Also I was surprised that only a couple of little drops fell on the aluminum foil, because when cooked on a pan they always seemed to seep all over. Thanks again!

  45. Amy says

    What a wonderful method! I always botch sweet potatoes — I know baking them seems so simple, but they have always ended up overdone on the ends and not very tender in the middle. Using your method was PERFECT. These are delicious for eating on their own, and if I never need to use mashed sweet potatoes in a recipe, I’ll use this method — they slide so easily out of the skins. I have a one-rack oven and was concerned about placing foil directly on the heating element, so I simply placed them on a baking sheet to catch the two tiny drippings. Absolutely perfect. Thank you!

  46. Lesley says

    So far I have used this method about 4 times and the potatoes come out perfect every time. I was a little nervous about putting foil on the bottom of the oven, so I have been cheating and putting the potatoes in a roasting pan that has rack in it. They still come out perfect! :-) Thanks for this easy foolproof method!

  47. Dorothy Carter says

    I’m ready to try. I bake potatoes for eating though out the year by freezing. Right now I have at least 40lbs large ones to go with your method . I do wrap them in foil when freezing.

  48. Marian says

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I gave it a try and my sweet potatoes come out nice and flavorful. Note to self: Buy thin sweet potatoes to save time. :P

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