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.
However, 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 or a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven (but not directly on 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.
- Sweet potatoes or yams
- Put baking sheet lined with foil on the lowest rack of your oven. (Don't put the foil directly on the bottom of the 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.
- 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 rack with the foil. Turn the oven on to 425.
- 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.
- 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.
After finding this I’ve never cooked a sweet potato any other way. Game changer!! Mmmmm….
Can I do this in a gas oven?
Yes you can cook them in a gas oven. I’ve never owned anything else. 🙂
Lauren, what I have always been confused about is if my electric oven takes 20 minutes to heat up to 425 degrees, do I still start counting the 45 minutes from the time I turn on the oven with the potatoes in it or start counting after the 20 minutes it takes for my electric oven to heat up?
I review this site each and every time I make sweet potatoes! It’s perfect every time! Thank you so much for posting.
My friends and I refer to this recipe as The Gospel of the Sweet Potato — it’s seriously a holy grail-level recipe.
✔️ Easier than easy
✔️ Accommodating of one or a dozen (great for meal prep!)
✔️ Maximizes the goodness of the produce (oh caramelized sugars <3 )
✔️ Did I mention that it's SO EASY?
I seriously evangelize about this for anyone who likes sweet potatoes. I'll never cook them another way again. Thank you!
Amazing every time! Thanks so much for sharing. ❤️
I’ve been baking this recipe for about 5 years.
I search the Internet for this recipe every time I bake one because nothing else gets them this perfect.
can you do this with brown potatoes
My only recipe.
I used this today for a lunch time meal – it worked perfectly! Oh so delicious! I actually had to cook it a little longer than I’d first guessed, but another 20 minutes and bliss on a plate was served! Thank you for sharing – I’ll definitely pass this truck on to my daughter!
I use this recipe EXCLUSIVELY and have for a couple years know. Perfect every time like everyone says.
I just bought some small-ish sweet potatoes at our winter farmer’s market. They are only about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Any thoughts on cooking time? 45 minutes will be way too long.