Microwaving is the fastest way to cook a sweet potato, followed by grilling, which requires about 10-15 minutes of cooking time. Boiling and roasting can take anywhere from 25-45 minutes, and baking can take up to an hour, depending on the size of the sweet potato.
So, let’s look at all those different ways to cook sweet potatoes, how long each method takes, and some tips and tricks for cooking them.
1. Baking A Sweet Potato In The Oven
Out of all the cooking methods, this one’s the longest, but it will probably give you the most delicious result.
Sweet potatoes generally take 45-50 minutes to bake. Still, sometimes it takes up to an hour, depending on the size of the potato and the oven temperature. If you’re short on time, I wouldn’t recommend baking.
However, it is worth the wait, so if you decide to bake it, it is pretty hands-off. You don’t need to do much once you have put the sweet potatoes into the oven, which gives you time to work on other parts of the meal or do something else.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. (You can also place the potatoes directly on the oven rack).
- Use a fork or knife to poke holes in the skin to create steam vents. (Otherwise, there is a slight chance they could explode).
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the inside is tender.
- Cut the tops of the sweet potatoes open and add your favorite filling.
As far as toppings and seasonings go, feel free to go nuts!
Sweet toppings are a great option. Brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or cinnamon are popular toppings among those with a sweet tooth. Add a bit of butter and sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar over the freshly baked potato. When the sugar and butter melt together, they form a caramel-like glaze. It’s almost like eating dessert!
Even if you’re not a big fan of dessert for dinner, you can still satisfy your sweet potato cravings. Add some bacon bits or small pieces of ham to give your potato a salty kick. I’ve also seen people use garlic (either fresh minced garlic or in powdered form).
You can also try these popular savory classics like butter, sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, cheese, tuna, cooked meats, guacamole, cottage cheese, and so on.
Not sure which sweet potato to get? Check Out These 8 Popular Varieties and What They Taste Like
How Do You Know When a Sweet Potato Is Baked?
To check if the sweet potato is baked through, you can test it with a toothpick, fork, or knife. Simply insert a toothpick into the center of the potato; if there is no resistance, it is ready.
However, if you would struggle to poke it through, that means it is undercooked, so let it bake for longer.
Is It Better To Wrap Them In Foil?
Wrapping a sweet potato in the foil does slightly speed up the cooking time. Aluminum conducts and traps heat, but the difference in cooking time probably won’t be more than 5-10 minutes faster.
However, wrapping it in foil before baking could have some other benefits. Wrapping sweet potatoes in foil will give you softer, steamed skin and helps the potato stay warm longer once they come out of the oven.
But if you want the skin crispy and roasted, do not use the foil when baking but wrap them afterward when out of the oven if you’re going to keep them warm.
Do You Need To Peel Them?
To peel or not to peel is totally up to you. Most people, like the texture and flavor of sweet potato skin. As long as you wash it well, the skin is good to stay on. Plus, it is a lot faster to get them ready for cooking if you don’t peel them.
However, if you do decide to peel it, you may lose some nutrients and fiber from the skin.
2. Air Frying A Sweet Potato
Another good way to bake this sweet-tasting tuberous root is to use an air fryer. Although this baking method is also on the slow side, it is still slightly faster than baking in the oven.
It takes about 35 minutes to air fry a medium-sized sweet potato.
So, it is certainly not the quickest way to cook a sweet potato. Still, as far as baking methods go, it is probably the fastest, but with equally delicious results.
Air frying makes the skin crispy and crunchy on the outside and creamy and tender on the inside.
Here is how to do it:
- Baking it in the air fryer is very similar to baking it in the oven.
- Set your air fryer to 400°F (205°C)
- Poke few venting holes into the skin with the knife or fork.
- If you want crispy skin, don’t wrap them in the foil. Just rub the potato with olive oil and seasoning before baking.
- Place the sweet potato in the air fryer basket and bake for about 35 minutes till tender. Test it with the fork.
- Serve them with butter or any of your favorite savory toppings, or for the sweet-tooths, sprinkle some cinnamon and brown sugar to make a totally mouthwatering delight.
If you are into crispy fires but still want to look after your waistline, then check out this even faster air fryer recipe below.
Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
These air fryer sweet potato fries will only take 25-30 minutes to make. These fries are versatile and super tasty and pair well with many dishes or eaten independently. I know you will love this oil-less snack that you can eat without feeling guilty.
Watch the video below how to make it:
Top tip: For crispier fries, cut smaller sticks, about 1/2-inch thickness, and don’t overcrowd the basket to ensure even crispiness.
3. Roasting A Sweet Potato
Roasting takes between 35-45 minutes. It’s a bit quicker than baking, but probably not a good idea if you are in a rush. Unlike baking, you have to keep an eye on them and turn them halfway through to get an even roast.
- Preheat the oven to 440°F (220°C).
- Wash the potatoes and peel them (or not).
- Cut the sweet potatoes into 2-inch chunks or sticks.
- Toss the chunks in oil, salt, pepper, or any other of your favorite seasoning and place them on a baking sheet lined with foil or a baking mat.
- Cook for 35-45 minutes, tossing the potatoes to ensure an even bake.
When roasted, they make a good side dish for the main course. Coming from personal experience, they go well with ham, chicken, stuffed bell peppers, and steamed vegetables.
But whatever your favorite entrée is, these roasted sweet potatoes are bound to be a tasty and nutritious companion.
Another yummy dish to try is this roasted sweet potato salad. This recipe is packed with nutrients, not only from the sweet potato but also from spinach, avocados, and cranberries.
After roasting the cubes, let them cool and mix them with the other ingredients and drizzle with some apple cider vinegar or olive oil.
4. Boiling A Sweet Potato
Boiling is an easy way to get nicely tender sweet potatoes that can be used in many different recipes. The cook time for boiling sweet potatoes varies depending on whether you boil them whole or cubed.
Depending on the size, a whole potato takes 30-50 minutes to boil, 2-inch cubes take 20-25 minutes, 1-inch cubes 12-15 minutes to boil.
- Wash and peel your sweet potatoes.
- Cut the potatoes in half or in one or two-inch chunks for faster boiling.
- Boil a large pot of lightly salted water.
- Add the potatoes to the water, making sure not to splash and burn yourself.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high and keep a steady boil until cooked through.
- Drain the potatoes using a strainer/colander.
- Add seasonings and serve as they are, or use them in the recipe of your choice.
Top tip: When boiling them whole, choose similarly sized potatoes for the more even cooking time.
Boiled sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to salads or casserole recipes. They also provide the perfect consistency for mashing or turning into sweet potato pie.
5. Grilling A Sweet Potato
Grilled sweet potatoes give you the chance to show off your grilling powers while still saving you time.
When grilled on an open flame, they will be slightly crispy on the outside and tender inside. You also get a slight hint of smokiness from the fire and lovely char on the exterior.
Grilling sweet potatoes takes 10 minutes and is especially good for cookouts and barbecues when you have to make a lot of food in a short time.
- Heat up your grill as you would with any BBQ.
- Wash and peel your sweet potatoes.
- Slice them into ¼ inch-thick round slices.
- Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Lay the slices on the grill and cover.
- Cook until each side of the potato slice gets grill marks (between 5-10 minutes on each side).
- Use your favorite dips or toppings.
Top tip: To speed up the cooking time, partially cook the unpeeled sweet potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes before grilling.
Grilled sweet potatoes are great for summer cookouts. They would go with just about any BBQ meat, like burgers, especially if they’re paired with ham or barbeque pulled pork. It’s even better if some of the pulled pork slips out of your sandwich and onto the sweet potatoes.
If you want a healthier alternative to fries that your kids will love, cut them into wedges before grilling them. Then season them with salt and pepper and serve with ketchup or ranch dressing on the side.
If you’re looking to be more adventurous, I’ve found that lime or lemon juice complements the potato’s natural sweetness (even better when garnished with cilantro or parsley).
If you’re a fan of spicy foods, feel free to add some chili powder.
6. Microwaving A Sweet Potato
Lastly, the fastest method for cooking sweet potatoes is in the microwave. If you have a microwave, you can have a healthy dinner within 5 minutes.
This method is my go-to when I’m hungry NOW and don’t want to wait an hour to eat.
- Wash your sweet potatoes.
- Use a knife or fork to poke holes in the potato.
- Microwave for 5 minutes on full power.
- For larger potatoes, continue microwaving in one-minute bursts until tender inside and fork spears into them easily.
- Cut open the top of the potato and add your favorite seasonings and fillings.
You don’t need to cover it in plastic wrap or with a kitchen towel, as its own skin would be quite enough.
Microwaved sweet potatoes can be prepared the same way as if they were baked. However, for this method, do not wrap them in foil before microwaving.
Once cooked, you can also mash them, add some butter and seasonings, and you’ve got mashed sweet potatoes in less than 10 minutes.
Top tip: To make it look oven-baked with crispier skin, throw the already cooked sweet potato into the oven at 450°F (230°C) for 5 minutes.
Microwave Sweet Potato Chips
If you did read my post about drying herbs in the microwave, then using the same method, you can also make sweet potato chips. This is a super easy and fast way to make homemade chips without using any oil.
Here is how to do it
- Wash your sweet potato and cut it into very thin slices, about 1.5mm – 3mm (1/8-inch and 1/16-inch). This little kitchen gadget that I covered in my previous post would help do that. (Check it out here: How to slice and chop vegetables fast without a knife).
- Then cover the microwave-safe plate with parchment paper or paper towel.
- Place the sweet potato slices in a single layer on parchment paper and season with salt and pepper. Little shakes of chili powder or rosemary and thyme also make a fun change from the usual.
- Microwave the slices on high for 4-5 minutes and then in 30-second intervals until crunchy and crisp.
- Place the cooked chips in a bowl and repeat the process with the remaining slices.
Read Also: 9 Foods That Explode In The Microwave (Don’t Try This at Home)