Some baked sweet potatoes are better than others, and these are downright perfect. These baked sweet potatoes are silky-smooth all the way through. They’re sweet, creamy and delicious.
Baked sweet potatoes are always a nice side dish. They also make a great weeknight meal if you top them well. You’ll find several of my favorite flavor variations below.
In my baked sweet potato recipe testing, I was surprised to find so many parallels to baked potatoes. It’s easy to lump sweet potatoes (commonly called yams) and potatoes together, but they come from different plant families. They’re only distantly related, but I’ve realized that they do bake up similarly.
Both are best baked in the oven without foil, directly on the rack, at high heat. You’ll learn why and find the full recipe below!
How to Bake Sweet Potatoes
Here are a few key tips:
1) Always poke a few holes.
Before baking, use a fork to prick each sweet potato several times. You don’t need to jab the fork in deep. We’re creating steam vents. Otherwise the pressure in the sweet potato could build up so high in the oven that it explodes—an unlikely possibility but one best avoided!
2) Bake directly on the rack.
Sweet potatoes don’t bake evenly when placed on a baking sheet. They turn out much better when baked directly on the rack. To avoid any drips landing at the bottom of the oven, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place it on the rack directly below the sweet potato. (To reiterate: don’t place a parchment-lined baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven as the paper might burn.)
Note that we are not wrapping the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Foil traps moisture, and we want the excess moisture to escape from the sweet potato during baking. That way, we’ll get delicious condensed flavor inside and avoid soggy skin on the outside.
3) Bake at high heat.
The perfect temperature for baking sweet potatoes is 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I can’t explain the science, but my sweet potatoes baked at 450 turned out far better than at 400. They’re silky smooth and creamy on the inside, plus they bake more quickly. Even the largest sweet potato (around 12 ounces) was done within an hour.
Bonus: If you love sweet potato skin…
Rub your sweet potatoes with a very light coating of olive oil before baking. With the oil, the skin turns darker and has a more paper-like texture, which makes it much nicer to eat. I wouldn’t call it crispy or irresistible, just nicer. Sweet potato skin fans, this optional step might be worth it for you!
Watch How to Bake Sweet Potatoes
3 Baked Sweet Potato Stuffing Suggestions
1) Irresistibly basic
Season with salt and pepper, add several pats of butter, and finish with a sprinkling of chopped chives or green onion. Add a dollop of sour cream or sprinkle of grated Parmesan if you’re in the mood. Inspired by my Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
Top with chopped red bell pepper and green onion, black beans, crumbled feta or shredded Monterey jack cheese, toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), avocado and/or a dollop of sour cream. Inspired by my Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas.
3) Sweeter but not too much
Top with pats of butter, toasted and finely chopped pecans, a light sprinkle of fresh chopped rosemary (trust me) and a light drizzle of maple syrup (or sprinkle of brown sugar). Season to taste with salt. Inspired by my Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole.
Don’t miss the Quinoa-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes in my cookbook, Love Real Food (page 145)! Featuring chickpeas, goat cheese and fresh flavorings, they’re still my favorite.
Please let me know how your sweet potatoes turn out in the comments. I love hearing from you.
Perfect Baked Sweet Potato
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 1 sweet potato 1x
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Make the perfect baked sweet potato with this simple recipe! These baked sweet potatoes are perfectly tender throughout and silky smooth. Bake up just one sweet potato or several in the oven at once, then top as desired.
- 1 to 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 to 12 ounces each)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle and another rack directly below it. Line the interior of a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to catch any sweet potato drippings.
- To prepare the sweet potatoes, scrub them clean with a vegetable brush under running water. Using a fork, prick the sweet potatoes about 6 to 8 times each, about ¼ inch deep.
- Place the sweet potatoes directly on the middle rack, and place the prepared baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drippings.
- Bake for 45 to 65 minutes, until the sweet potatoes yield to a gentle squeeze (if the potatoes are starting to drip from their pierced holes, that’s a good sign to start checking them for doneness). Serve as desired.
Optional: For improved sweet potato skin (in both texture and flavor), rub each sweet potato very lightly with extra-virgin olive oil before baking.