A one-ingredient side dish that’s easy as can be, super nutritious, and packed with flavor: the sweet potato has it all! Once you know How to Bake a Sweet Potato, you’ll be enjoying tender, melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly caramelized baked sweet potatoes on the regular!
Why You’ll Love This Baked Sweet Potato Recipe
- The Simplest Side. Baked sweet potatoes are a snap to make—all you really need is time (and, well, sweet potatoes). They’re perfect for those nights when you need to put a little extra effort into your main dish and want something hands-off to serve with it. They take less prep than Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
- Mega-Healthy. Fiber! Potassium! Vitamin C and B6! And, of course, we can’t forget beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A—sweet potatoes are absolutely packed with it.
- Add All the Toppings. Despite their name, sweet potatoes can go sweet, savory, or spicy depending on the toppings you add. While I love Baked Potatoes and Air Fryer Baked Potatoes, I think sweet potatoes are even more versatile in terms of the garnishes you can add to them. (I even have a breakfast sweet potato in my cookbook.)
- Use Them in Meals. Baked sweet potatoes—or Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes—can be a tasty addition to salads and meal bowls like my Buddha Bowl or a Burrito Bowl. They’re also the start of my Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes!
How to Make Baked Sweet Potatoes
For the Baked Sweet Potatoes:
- Sweet Potatoes. Look for potatoes that feel firm, with smooth and unblemished skin. You can bake potatoes of any size; I find 8- to 10-ounces is ideal for a single serving. Have more sweet potatoes you need to use? Try Sweet Potato Cornbread.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper. These enhance the overall flavor of your baked sweet potatoes.
- Unsalted Butter. Just a touch of butter takes your sweet potato to the next level.
- Brown Sugar or Pure Maple Syrup. If you want to lean into the sweetness.
- Prepare. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Clean and Poke the Potatoes. Scrub them well; do not peel.
- Bake. Place on the prepared baking sheet and roast sweet potatoes until they’re tender and oozing.
- Cool, Split, and Top. Fluff the insides with a fork. Serve baked sweet potatoes with your desired toppings and ENJOY!
Baked Sweet Potato Topping Ideas
- Rich and Creamy. Sour cream for your standard topping, crème fraîche if you want to go fancy, or plain Greek yogurt for some extra protein.
- Tex-Mex. Avocado, diced tomatoes, black beans, lime juice and cilantro; chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and/or smoked paprika add even more flavor.
- Cozy Cinnamon. With or without brown sugar or maple syrup—but definitely with a pat of butter. Toasted pecans are a fabulous addition too.
- Yesterday’s Dinner. I love using leftovers to top baked sweet potatoes! Try Boston Baked Beans, Baked BBQ Chicken, Chickpea Curry, or Vegetarian Chili.
- The Classic. Air Fryer Bacon or Baked Bacon in the Oven, scallions, cheddar, and chives.
- Thai-Inspired. Homemade peanut sauce (I love the one from my Peanut Butter Chicken and Chicken Satay) and cilantro or thinly sliced green onion.
- To Store. Baked sweet potatoes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They get even sweeter as they cool!
- To Reheat in the Oven. Remove the baked sweet potato from the refrigerator and let it come to as close to room temperature as time will allow. Rewarm in a 425 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, turning it over once halfway through.
- To Reheat on the Stove. If you prefer not to use the oven, you can slice the sweet potato in half lengthwise from end-to-end, then place it cut-side down in a lightly oiled nonstick skillet heated over medium-low heat. Cover the sweet potato with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and let steam for 3 to 4 minutes, watching carefully so that the halves do not burn.
- To Reheat in the Microwave. The final (fastest) option is to reheat sweet potatoes microwave, though I find this makes the texture of the reheated sweet potato somewhat gummy.
- To Freeze. You can wrap sweet potatoes tightly and freeze them for up to 3 months; let them thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat according to the instructions above.
Meal Prep Tip
Bake a big batch of sweet potatoes and have them for lunch all week long! Slice them and store them in airtight container; they can be eaten warm or cold.
Add mashed leftover sweet potatoes to oatmeal for some natural sweetness and a little extra nutrition.
What to Serve with Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Chicken. A lean protein like chicken is perfect for pairing with baked sweet potatoes. Try Grilled Chicken Breast or Chicken Tenders.
- Pork. Breaded Pork Chops and Slow Cooker Pulled Pork are also fantastic with a sweet potato on the side.
- Salads. Add diced sweet potatoes to Mexican Salad.
- Burgers. Instead of fries, serve your next Vegan Burger, Turkey Burger, or Air Fryer Hamburgers with sweet potatoes!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Vegetable Brush. Especially important if you plan on eating the skin.
- Rimmed Sheet Pan. To keep the juices from dripping into your oven.
- Parchment Paper. I love keeping a stockpile of pre-cut parchment sheets in my kitchen.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Be Patient. This is the most important one. Baked sweet potatoes need time—and rushing the process will mean bland, hard potatoes. When you give the potatoes enough time in the oven, they’re fall-apart tender, with rich caramelization along the edges.
- Orange and Red Sweet Potatoes are the Sweetest. White and purple sweet potatoes are fabulous too, don’t get me wrong! But they have a tendency to be starchier and less sweet. If you’re looking for creamy, candy-sweet flesh, orange and red sweet potatoes are your best bet.
- Buy the Same Size and Shape. If you’re baking multiple sweet potatoes, they should all be roughly the same weight and have the same shape too. An eight-ounce potato that’s long and thin will have a shorter baking time than an eight-ounce potato that’s short and fat.
- Increase the Baking Time as Needed. If you’re baking a big sweet potato, you don’t need to adjust the oven temperature, but you will need to increase the baking time—sometimes dramatically. A super-extra-mega-large sweet potato can take upwards of an hour and a half in the oven, but the results are totally worth it.
How to Bake a Sweet Potato
- 4 small/medium sweet potatoes 8 to 10 ounces
For Serving (Optional)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Unsalted butter
- Brown sugar or pure maple syrup
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425°F. For easy clean up, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Scrub the sweet potatoes and pat it dry. Prick all over with the tines of a fork, then place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the sweet potatoes are very tender, the peels have lightly browned, and bits are beginning to ooze from the holes, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on size.
- Let the sweet potatoes cool. Once cool enough to handle, make use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the top. With a fork, open the split and lightly fluff the insides to make space for the toppings. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with butter.
- TO STORE: Baked sweet potatoes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They get even sweeter as they cool!
- TO REHEAT: Remove the baked sweet potato from the refrigerator and let it come to as close to room temperature as time will allow. Rewarm in a 425°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, turning it over once halfway through. If you prefer not to use the oven, you can slice the sweet potato in half lengthwise from end-to-end, then place it cut-side down in a lightly oiled nonstick skillet heated over medium-low heat. Cover the sweet potato with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and let steam for 3 to 4 minutes, watching carefully so that the halves do not burn. The final (fastest) option is the microwave, though I find this makes the texture of the reheated sweet potato somewhat gummy.
- TO FREEZE: You can wrap sweet potatoes tightly and freeze them for up to 3 months; let them thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat according to the instructions above.
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Frequently Asked Questions
This is a matter of preference! Personally, I don’t like wrapping sweet potatoes in aluminum foil because the skin is crispier if they’re unwrapped.
The best way to know when your sweet potato is cooked through is to pierce it with a fork or knife through the thickest part; if it slides in easily, the sweet potato is done.
The oven is the best way to cook a sweet potato. You won’t get the same level of sweetness in the microwave. The texture in the microwave will be more gummy also.
Yes, sweet potato skin is edible! Just like the skin on regular potatoes, it has a lot of extra nutrients that you’d miss out on by tossing it in the garbage. You can rub it with a little bit of olive oil before baking to make it extra crispy and yummy.