Grilled sweet potatoes are a healthy recipe with lightly charred slices tossed in a cilantro lime dressing—an easy barbecue side dish to complete your meal.
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If you’re looking for a simple summer side dish, grab a few sweet potatoes! Just slice, toss with olive oil and savory seasonings, and throw them on the barbecue. The grilled vegetables cook quickly, taking on stunning char marks and infusing smoky flavor into each bite.
Like roasted sweet potatoes, you can enjoy these grilled tubers as is, but I’ll show you how to enhance the taste with a quick dressing. A cilantro lime dressing adds a citrusy punch, brightening the dish and boosting the potato’s natural sweetness. Serve with your favorite barbecued foods like steak, chicken, and juicy burgers.
Sweet potato selection
You’ll find many different types of sweet potatoes at the market. I used orange-fleshed sweet potatoes with reddish brown skins for this recipe. They are the most common type in grocery stores, from varieties such as Jewel, red garnet, or Beauregard. The flesh is sweet, with a moist and creamy texture that holds together when cooked.
For a drier and sometimes sweeter kind, try white-fleshed sweet potatoes. Japanese white or Murasaki with purple to reddish-purple skins or Hannahs make an excellent choice. Purple fleshed potatoes like Okinawa or Stokes tend to be dry and mealy but look very pretty.
Slice the potatoes
It’s the chef’s choice whether to keep the sweet potato skin on or peel it off. They are edible, adding extra insoluble fiber to your diet. It also helps to keep the spud slices intact as it softens. Plus, I enjoy saving time on prep, and the crispy edges are delicious!
For even cooking, cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices. I like to slice them on a bias, or angle, to give longer pieces. This cut prevents them from falling through the grates. If you prefer shorter discs, cut them straight down perpendicular to the length. If you want wedges for dipping, look for smaller sweet potatoes to cut into long, 1-inch wide pieces. These will take longer to grill.
Seasoning the sweet potatoes
The sweet potatoes are seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The savory mix helps to balance the honeyed notes. The fat also provides a protective coat around the sugary spuds so that it doesn’t burn too fast on the grill. Add some garlic powder and onion powder for a hint of allium flavor.
If you’d like, sprinkle on smoked paprika for a fiery taste, but don’t add too much, as the spice will burn in high amounts on the grill.
How to grill sweet potatoes
Use medium-high heat, between 375 to 400°F (160 to 204°C). I use a similar temperature to make crispy sweet potato fries. It’s just hot enough to enhance the natural sugars in the potato for caramelized notes. You want to soften the flesh without them completely burning on the barbecue, which is a higher risk due to the increased amounts of sucrose in the plant.
Grease the grates to prevent sticking, then cover and cook until the slices are lightly charred and tender.
How long to grill sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rock hard when raw and need some time to soften but not turn mushy. Achieving golden grill marks and tender pieces takes about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Covering the grill helps trap the heat and steam, so the potatoes can cook faster while browning the surface. If using a grill pan, add a few extra minutes since you can cover them up.
Make a dressing
The sweet potatoes don’t need any additional sweetener. A bit of acid to enhance the taste makes it a savory side dish instead of a dessert. For a bright, citrusy flavor, I combine fresh lime juice and zest with minced garlic, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Lemon juice or orange juice is a tangy substitute. To switch up the herbs, try dill, basil, parsley, chives, thyme, and rosemary.
Serve this with
Although the tubers may taste like a dessert, they are low in fat and deliver protein, fiber, and nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. The orange-fleshed varieties are packed with vitamin A. Purple fleshed spuds have phytonutrient-rich antioxidants. Grilling with olive oil and simple seasonings makes for a healthy side dish.
You can eat sweet potato skin. They contain insoluble fiber that gives a nice crisp contrast in texture when grilled. It also helps keep the potato slices intact, essential when cooking more dry and mealy potatoes like white and purple-fleshed varieties. Orange fleshed potatoes can be peeled and will hold up well on the grill.
A grill pan is an excellent choice for cooking sweet potatoes on the stovetop. You’ll get the grill lines without having to step outdoors. It will take a few additional minutes since the potatoes will not be covered. Adjust the heat as needed to ensure that the surface does not burn.
How temperature can enhance the sweetness
Sweet potatoes naturally have a higher ratio of sucrose than all-purpose potatoes. The caramelization of sugars begins at about 320°F (160°C), then starts to burn above 350ºF. Don’t worry. There is moisture in the spud so that it won’t incinerate. When grilling, use a medium-high heat of 375 to 400°F (160 to 204°C) to quickly boost the sweetness. This temperature also accounts for the loss of heat when opening the lid. Char marks are desirable for grilled dishes, but if you prefer a more baked sweet potato taste, grill over medium heat, between 350 to 375ºF. Note that the cooking time will need to increase for the lower heat.
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Grilled Sweet Potatoes
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare the Vegetables – Wash, scrub, and dry the sweet potatoes. Keep the skin on, or if desired, peel it off. Cut into ½-inch thick slices on a bias or into discs. Alternatively, cut into 1-inch thick wedges to make grilled sweet potato fries.
- Season the Potatoes – Brush both sides with olive oil. Evenly season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the Potatoes – Preheat the grill or a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat between 375 to 400°F (160 to 204°C). Clean the grates and grease with olive oil. Place the potato slices on the grill at a 45-degree angle to the grates. This will give a lovely char mark pattern and prevent the pieces from falling through the grates.Lightly press down on the pieces to make contact with the grates. Cover and cook until golden brown lines form, about 5 to 8 minutes. Flip, cover, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan or serving dish.
- Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, combine lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil until a lightly thickened emulsion forms—season to taste.
- To Serve – Drizzle some of the dressing over the warm potatoes. Use tongs to turn and evenly coat. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.
- Serving Size: About 2 to 3 slices
- Storing: Store grilled sweet potatoes and dressing in separate, airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Cover and microwave on high heat in 15 to 30-second intervals until hot.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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