Learn how to make perfectly baked sweet potatoes with this easy oven method. Wrapping each tuber in foil, then roasting at a moderate temperature ensures a tender flesh and a burst of caramel notes.
Sweet potatoes provide the indulgence of a dessert with nutritional benefits of a vegetable. Cut the root in half and you’ll see the carotenoid and antioxidant beta-carotene which gives its vibrant carrot-colored pigment. The balance of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and honey-like taste makes it a wonderful side dish or the base of a great entree.
Baked sweet potatoes are a staple in Whole 30 and Paleo diets, great for stuffing, and easy to make in batches for meal prepping. My ideal sweet potato is one that is roasted in the oven then simply topped with salt and pepper to enhance the natural flavors.
Step 1: Selection
Make sure to select potatoes that are similar in shape and weight. This helps to keep the cook time consistent. If that’s hard to find, just remove the potatoes that are ready and keep the larger ones in the oven until the flesh is tender.
Step 2: Wrap in foil
To prevent moisture loss and create an evenly roasted spud, it’s best to wrap them individually with foil. Use just enough foil to cover the surface, no need for excessive layers, but make sure they are wrapped up tightly.
Step 3: Roast
Heating causes enzymes in the potato to change the starches into sweet-tasting maltose, at an internal temperature of 135ºF (57ºC). This transformation stops at 170ºF (77ºC), so the longer and more gradual rise in temperature allows more sugar conversion. The result, the sweetest potatoes ever!
I use a moderate temperature of 375ºF (191ºC) throughout the entire cooking process. It takes about 75 to 90 minutes to bake a sweet potato, depending on its size. A little past halfway through cooking, flip the potatoes over. This ensures that both sides get exposure to the oven’s trapped heat for even cooking.
Step 4: Check for doneness
How do you know when the potatoes are ready? First off, you can smell the caramel aromas filling the kitchen, thanks to the Maillard browning happening inside the fold wrapped tubers. To check for doneness, quickly squeeze the sides of the potatoes, if the surface still feels rock hard with no give, it needs more time. When a fork or knife can easily pierce through to the center of the potato with no resistance, it’s ready to eat.
Step 5: Enjoy!
The starchy potato root fluffs up easily with a fork, creating and light and creamy texture. I like to just grab a spoon and take big bites of the piping hot potato, it really doesn’t need much extra. This fool-proof method yields the most flavorful potatoes.
To give this naturally sweetened base an exciting taste, you can top with sauces such as my Coconut curry sauce or Pesto sauce. You can also enhance the flavor by adding browned butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, a touch of brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or my Mexican-inspired quinoa. The flavor combos are endless. This recipe also the perfect base for mashed sweet potatoes. For a Thanksgiving-inspired casserole, you can add chopped nuts or even toasted marshmallows!
Start in a cold oven
Contrary to what is always done in baking or roasting recipes, you don’t need to preheat the oven before adding sweet potatoes. The reason being is that you want to give the enzymes in the potato a longer time to convert the maltose into sugar thus maximizing flavor.
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Baked Sweet Potatoes
- 4 sweet potatoes, about 1 pound each
- Line a large sheet pan with foil.
- Clean and dry the sweet potatoes, then wrap each one in foil.
- Place sweet potatoes on the sheet pan and transfer to the center rack of a cool oven.
- Heat oven to 375ºF (191ºC) and bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour.
- Flip the potatoes over and bake until they pierce easily in the center with a knife, about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size.
- When the potatoes are closer to being fully cooked they will start to seep out some sweet juices from the foil and smell caramelized. This is a good indication to start checking for doneness.
- For a 1 pound sweet potato, it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes of cook time. Adjust timing according to size.
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