How to Boil Sweet Potatoes

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Learn how long to boil sweet potatoes to achieve the perfect tender texture. It’s a quick and easy method for making mashed sweet potatoes, casseroles, pies, and other holiday side dishes.

There’s more than one way to cook a sweet potato! Other methods include roasted sweet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, and grilled sweet potatoes.

Step-by-step tutorial on how to boil sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are a staple for the holidays. The bright orange flesh, creamy texture, and natural sweetness make it a versatile ingredient for savory side dishes and desserts. Boiling is a quick and easy method to use to tenderize the flesh.

The key to effective and even cooking is cutting the potato into similar-sized cubes. A plunge in simmering water until fork tender yields delicious pieces. They will hold their shape if you want to serve them as a simple side dish seasoned with butter, salt, pepper, or fresh herbs. Alternatively, drain to use the cooked spuds in a delicious recipe.

Sweet potato selection

There are different types of sweet potatoes at the market. You can use any kind you like! The moist, orange-fleshed varieties like Garnet or Beauregard are the most popular and common. However, white and purple varieties are tasty options with a sweet but flakey texture.

Prepare the sweet potato

Scrub and wash the skin to remove any dirt and debris from harvesting. Peel the potatoes with a vegetable peeler to give them the most smooth and creamy texture since cooked. If you prefer to keep the nutritious skin on, go for it! It’s nice to have some contrast in texture. The cook time will not be significantly impacted.

Use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the root ends, then cut them into even-sized pieces, about 1-inch chunks. You can change the cut size based on how you plan to use the cooked sweet potatoes. However, don’t make them smaller than 1/2-inch; they will become mushy, not hold their shape well, and get too watery in texture. Two pounds of sweet potato will yield about 5 cups of cooked pieces.

How to boil sweet potatoes

Grab a large enough pot or dutch oven to add the cubed sweet potatoes and liquid so it doesn’t boil over. Add enough cool to lukewarm water to cover the potatoes with about 1-inch. Don’t use hot water.

I like to add a small amount of salt to season the potatoes. It enhances the sweet flavor without tasting salty. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the pieces are fork-tender.

How long to boil sweet potatoes

Sweet potato cook time depends on the size of the pieces. Use this as a general cooking guide. However, keep a close watch for doneness. It’s ready when the pieces are fork-tender but not mushy and falling apart.

  • 3/4-inch pieces: About 7 to 12 minutes
  • 1-inch pieces: About 12 to 17 minutes
  • 2-inch pieces: About 20 to 25 minutes
  • Whole sweet potatoes: About 30 to 45 minutes, longer for larger sizes
Draining boiled sweet potato pieces in a colander.
Step 3. Drain the sweet potatoes

Ways to use boiled sweet potatoes

Frequently asked questions

Should you cut sweet potatoes before boiling?

Cutting the potatoes into even-sized pieces will cook them much faster than leaving them whole. One-inch pieces take about 15 minutes, whereas whole potatoes take at least double the time or longer if large. When boiling whole potatoes, pierce the skin several times to help the water diffuse into the flesh.

Is it better to boil sweet potatoes with skin?

Boiling sweet potatoes with the skin adds extra fiber to the vegetable. If left whole, it will take longer to cook. Diced potatoes don’t have a significant time difference compared to peeled. Peeled potatoes will have a smooth texture.

Why are boiled sweet potatoes less sweet than roasted ones?

The sucrose in the flesh will only carmelize above 320ºF (160ºC) for a sweeter taste. The boiling water never reaches above 212ºF (100ºC). Therefore the taste is less sweet.

Pieces of boiled sweet potatoes in a bowl to be served as a side dish or used in other recipes.

Recipe Science

Why sweet potatoes should start in cold water

You’d think that you should bring the water to a boil, but it’s best to add the sweet potato cubes to a pot of cool to lukewarm water first. This ensures that the flesh cooks evenly while preserving its shape. You don’t want rapidly boiling water to turn the spuds into mush! If added directly to boiling water, the outside will cook faster, giving an uneven texture.

How to Boil Sweet Potatoes

Perfectly boiled sweet potatoes that are fork tender every time. Great for making mashed sweet potatoes, casseroles, pies, and other holiday side dishes.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 8 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or sea salt


  • Prepare Sweet Potatoes – Scrub and wash the potatoes, then towel dry. Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin. Alternatively, leave the skin on. Trim the root ends and cut the potatoes into about 1-inch pieces.
  • Boil – Add the potatoes and water to a large pot or dutch oven. Add the salt, and stir to dissolve. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat as needed to ensure the water does not boil over. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender but not mushy, about 12 to 17 minutes.
  • Drain – Carefully drain the potatoes in a colander.
  • To Serve – Use immediately while hot as a side dish with desired seasonings. Alternatively, use it as an ingredient in recipes.


  • Recipe Yield: About 5 cups
  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Cook Times by Size:
    • 3/4-inch pieces: About 7 to 12 minutes
    • 1-inch pieces: About 12 to 17 minutes
    • 2-inch pieces: About 20 to 25 minutes
    • Whole Potato: About 30 to 45 minutes, longer for larger sizes. Pierce several times before boiling.
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 12 months. 
  • Reheating: Cover and cook in the microwave on the high setting in 15 to 30-second increments until hot. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 10 servings
Calories 78kcal (4%)Carbohydrates 18g (6%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 0.04gSaturated Fat 0.02gPolyunsaturated Fat 0.01gMonounsaturated Fat 0.001gSodium 117mg (5%)Potassium 306mg (9%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 12870IU (257%)Vitamin C 2mg (2%)Calcium 33mg (3%)Iron 1mg (6%)

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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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Judy Caywood says

    I never knew that about cooking sweet potatoes. I learn so much from you Jessica. Happy Friday and thank you for the joy each day when I get your latest recipe e-mail.