14 Types of Sweet Potatoes


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Here is a guide to the most popular types of sweet potatoes, which also includes the often confused yam. Learn about the many texture and flavor differences when adding creaminess and natural sweetness to recipes.

Different types of sweet potatoes spread out on a table.

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables prized for their starchy texture and earthy and natural candied flavor. You may have grabbed a few to make sweet potato casserole or a decadent sweet potato pie for the holidays. However, their culinary applications are versatile, and you can enjoy them year-round. The possibilities are endless, from baking, roasting, frying, steaming, and boiling to making savory or sweet dishes!

Scientifically known as Ipomoea batatas, these fleshy roots are members of the Convolvulaceae or Morning Glory family. There are many varieties than just the typical red-skinned ones piled up next to the russets at the grocery store. Plus, you may be surprised to find that what you think are yams aren’t. They are actually varieties of sweet potatoes labeled as yams, which causes plenty of confusion.


Beauregard sweet potato

The most common sweet potato sold at grocery stores. It is the gold standard potato in the United States. The skin is reddish, and the flesh is bright orange and is the sweetest for orange types. The slightly stringy, soft, and moist texture makes it great for mashing into a puree for pies or casseroles or holding their shape when roasted into fries.


Jewel sweet potato

It has copper skin and light orange flesh, very similar to the Beauregard. It has a more robust flavor, but not as sweet, with a soft and moist texture. Great for casseroles, mashes, pies, baking, and roasting.

Red Garnet

Red Garnet sweet potato

This deep reddish-orange skin and bright orange flesh has a more savory taste and is the least sweet compared to other varieties. It also can be higher in moisture level, giving a softer texture. Great for mashing into a puree for a casserole, baked or roasted, or used for a dessert that has added sweeteners.


Covington sweet potato

The orange-colored skin with speckled dark brown spots has a malty sweetness. The texture is moist and creamy, a favorite variety in the South to make casseroles and desserts or just slice and roast.


Centennial sweet potato

Copper orange skin and bright orange flesh. Sweet with a moist texture, also known as Baby Bakers. Great for baking and slicing for fries.


The red skin and moist orange flesh is sweeter compared to Beauregards. Bake, roast, or dice for soups and stews.


O’Henry sweet potato

Their tan skin and cream-colored flesh have a slightly sweet taste. The texture is more firm and dense yet creamy. Good for mashing, boiling, roasting, baking, soups, and stews.


Jersey sweet potato

The tan-colored skin with white flesh is moderate in sweetness. The dry texture works well for keeping its shape when made into fries and is added to soups, stews, and curries.

Japanese White (Satsuma-Imo, Kotobuki, or Oriental)

Japanese White sweet potatoes

Beneath the dark purple skin, there is a creamy yellow flesh that gets deeper in color when cooked. This variety is very sweet, starchy, dense, and moist. It has a lovely chestnut flavor with a smooth and velvety texture—great baked, roasted, or steamed.

Murasaki (Japanese Sweet Potatoes)

Murasaki sweet potatoes

Originated in Louisiana and primarily grown in California. A reddish-purple skin with white flesh that turns golden in color when cooked. Very sweet in flavor with vanilla, brown sugar, and nutty notes. The texture is starchy and moist. Great for roasting or mashing and adding to casseroles or desserts.


Hannah sweet potatoes

With smooth, tan-colored skin and ivory flesh, as it cooks, the color gets more golden. The texture is firm, dense, and dry, similar to russet potatoes, with a light sweetness. Good for mashing, roasting into cubes, making into fries, or frying for the lower amount of sugar.


Batata sweet potatoes

Pale yellow skin and white flesh. Grown in the Caribbean, it has a mild sweetness and starchy flavor. Great for boiling, mashing, or adding in chunks to soups and stews.

Okinawa (Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes)

Okinawa sweet potatoes

The tan outer skin isn’t impressive until you cut open and see the gorgeous purple flesh. The dark pigments make this variety one of the healthiest. The texture is more dense, dry, and mealy, with a sweet and nutty flavor. Often used in Japanese desserts or  Hawaiian dishes, it can be roasted, baked, boiled, steamed, or added to soups, stews, and braises.

Stokes Purple

Stokes Purple sweet potatoes

Cultivated in North Carolina, the light purple skin reveals a deep purple flesh. It has a mildly sweet taste, floral notes, and a more firm and dry texture. Suitable for baking, boiling, and steaming.

How do they become sweet?

After harvesting, the sweet potatoes can be sold right away, called a green crop, or cured for about 1 week. The curing process is done at a warm temperature of 85ºF and 95% relative humidity. This short process reduces microbial decay during storage, heals many wounds on the skin’s surface, makes them more resistant to shrinking, and makes the flesh sweeter to a point. 

The warm conditions encourage the amylase enzymes in the flesh to break down some of the starches, amylose and amylopectin into simple sugars. Storing can allow about 27% conversion while cooking between 140 to 170ºF increases enzyme activity to convert about 75% of the starches to the sugar maltose. Who knew the potatoes could get even sweeter by simply cooking!

Difference between yams and sweet potatoes

Often the term is used interchangeably, especially in the market. True yams are not sweet potatoes, and they are actually very difficult to find at most grocery stores. Yams are found mainly in Asia, Africa, South America, and Southern parts of the United States. They have very thick, bumpy, fibrous brown skin and cream-colored that looks similar to yucca. 

Selecting and storing 

When selecting a sweet potato, pick one up and make sure it feels firm and has no big cracks. It’s best to store in a cool, dark place, ideally 55 to 60ºF, for long-term storage of about 2 to 4 weeks. At room temperature, when it’s a bit warmer, eat within 1 to 2 weeks for the best taste. Do not store it in the refrigerator. They begin to taste bitter. The center will also harden below 55ºF, where the enzyme pectin methylesterase activates and strengthens the cell walls for an undesirable firm texture that stays during cooking. 

What about a sprouted sweet potato? They are still safe to eat. Just use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the small spouts. However, toss out ones that are wrinkling and have soft spots.

Health benefits

They may taste like dessert, but these tubers are packed with nutrition. You can simply boil sweet potatoes or make a Crockpot sweet potato casserole. The orange flesh is high in Vitamin A, and the purple-fleshed varieties have more antioxidants due to their phytonutrient-rich dark pigment. The roots are low in fat and glycemic index, making for an attractive carbohydrate choice.

A one-cup serving provides almost 114 calories, 2 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, insignificant amounts of fat, and various vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. A great starchy vegetable to add to your diet.

Take home message

The main types of sweet potatoes are characterized by their colored flesh, commonly orange, white, and purple, or the hue of their skin. Each variety has differing sweetness levels and other flavor notes like pure sweet, nutty, and roasted to molasses. There is also a big texture difference, typically soft and moist for the orange types or firm and dry for white and purple.

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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19 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Stephanie McCamon says

    Can you tell me the most on sweet white meat variety? I was buying 1 at Frys grocery store in AZ, now in Louisiana. Can’t find anything here that resembles them. When I called AZ to ask them, they only know the PLU # to order them. So I’m at a complete loss. It was a tan ish color thin skin white meat sweet potato had a very close shape to the orange typically sold in stores. Can you help me find the name of theses to order seed potatoes?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      One of the sweetest white fleshed varieties is the Japanese murasaki. The tanned fleshed varieties mostly sold at the grocery store are Bonita, O’Henry, DS White, Hannah and Jersey. The variety is never labeled at the store, so I understand your challenges with trying to find the right seeds to choose.

  2. Gerald Kimiya says

    Hello Jessica,

    Thank you so much for sharing the information about the types of sweet potatoes. I got interested because I am venturing into the farming of the same and it’s my first time. I live in Nairobi, Kenya but doing the farming in the rural west part of our country in Vihiga County.

    I have gained a lot of knowledge about them now that I’m beginning farming.

  3. DQ says

    Yams are not sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are not yams. They are very different. A sweet potato is a root vegetable, a yam is a tuber.

  4. Constance says

    Thank you for this information on sweet potatoes! I have always loved them both and eaten them regularly for over 70 years without any problem. However, in the last four months, I have had a strange reaction both times I have eaten sweet potatoes (baked in the oven) and just discovered that it’s probably due to solanine toxicity that makes me vomit.
    I would be grateful if you might include the solanine content of each type of sweet potato on your list or include a paragraph on how to select sweet potatoes with reduced risk of solanine. I am not sure if just buying organic is sufficient.

  5. Kimberly Carroll says

    Jessica thank you for the great info on sweet potatoes. My personal trainer wants me to consider including them in my diet. I’ve not been a fan but with the info you’ve provided ,I’m excited to try a different variety.

  6. Chantal says

    In your opinion, are Muraski sweet potatoes the sweetest? I would like to find the sweetest (potato) option for making ice cream & baked desserts. Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      From what I have tasted, the white-fleshed Murasaki is the sweetest. However, their texture is drier, sort of like a cooked red or gold potato. You can always adjust your ice cream and dessert with more sweeteners.

  7. Nicolas Lougher says

    Thank you for such an interesting article on Sweet Potatoes however, the aurora variety was not mentioned when it’s very popular in Europe. Can you please explain why? Thanks again

  8. Richie Planter says

    A really great write-up on sweet potatoes. We buy Hanna Sweeties every week and use them instead of nightshade potatoes because my wife reacts badly to nightshades. It’s amusing how Americans here in the West generally know so little about sweet potatoes. At the grocery store checkout, I’m so often asked by the clerk, “Is this a sweet potato or a yam?” Then the poor clerk gets educated, whether he wants it or not. Oh, and our dogs love their sweeties. I have to protect the garbage from the bigger dog, he’ll dig out the skins and ugly ends and gobble them up.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you, Richie! I loved learning more about your sweet potatoes experiences. The clerk is lucky to have met you to get informed on sweet potatoes!