How to Cook Sweet Potatoes Perfectly Every Time

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Sweet potatoes are nutritious, flavorful and versatile. There are so many different ways to cook them! They can be mashed, baked, roasted, boiled, fried... you name it. Basically, anything you can do to a regular potato, you can do to a sweet potato. This tutorial will cover three basic preparation methods: boiling, roasting and pan frying. Each method begins with a similar peel and dice preparation, and you can choose which one makes the most sense based on time and convenience purposes.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Things You'll Need

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Cutting board

  • Knife

  • For boiling: colander

  • For roasting: baking sheet lined with aluminum foil

  • For frying: sauté pan

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -


Grocery stores and farmer's markets will often carry an assortment of sweet potato varieties during the fall and winter seasons. These potatoes may vary slightly in appearance and taste, but can all be prepared using the same methods.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -


Unless you're preparing mashed sweet potatoes, peeling is an optional step. As with regular potatoes, the peel on a sweet potato is edible. If you leave the peel on, make sure to wash and scrub the skin thoroughly to remove any dirt. When dicing sweet potatoes, aim for a uniform sized cut for even cooking. The smaller the dice, the faster the cooking time.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Method 1: Boiled Sweet Potatoes

Boiling is one of the fastest methods for preparing sweet potatoes, and it's the first step in creating mashed potatoes. However, it is the least flavorful of the three preparation methods because no caramelization is taking place, and some water will absorb into the flesh.


  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and add the sweet potatoes.
  • Cook until fork tender, approximately 10 minutes for a ½-inch dice.
  • Drain in a colander.
  • Serve either whole or mashed.
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Method 2: Pan Fried Sweet Potatoes

Pan frying is an excellent way to add flavor and caramelization to sweet potatoes, especially if you want to incorporate additional aromatics such as onions and spices. For best results, use an oil with a high smoke point such as coconut oil, canola oil or clarified butter.


  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  • Add the diced sweet potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until fork tender and lightly caramelized on all sides.
  • This will take 15 to 20 minutes for a ½-inch dice.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.


To cut down on the cooking time, you can boil the potatoes for 2 to 3 minutes before frying.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

Method 3: Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasting is one of the best methods for bringing out flavor in vegetables, and sweet potatoes are no exception. While this method takes the longest, it's also a good "set it and forget it" option if other components of a meal are being simultaneously prepared.


  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Toss the sweet potatoes with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil, and spread in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the potatoes once halfway through to ensure even roasting.
Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -
Image Credit: Jennifer Farley -

More Potatoes, Please!

If you like these sweet potatoes, you'll love this recipe for making an absolutely perfect baked potato.

Image Credit: Jennifer Farley