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.
Hi Kate! I love sweet potatoes and these methods look divine. I recently made some twice-baked/stuffed Russets with kale, mushrooms and sour cream with cheddar. It occurred to me that they would be better as sweet potatoes but the skin is delicate. Any thoughts on that? I browsed your recipe index and my mouth is watering, but didn’t see any twice baked sweet potato recipes. Thank you!
Oh that sounds delicious! I don’t have any twice baked potatoes or a go-to method. Sorry!
Add a little greek yogurt if using butter. The yogurt gives a little twang to the sweetness…
What do you think about roasting them in air fryer? I hate to heat the oven for one or two potatoes. What temp? Roast, bake, or air fry setting? Thanks
You can try it! I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure.
Good to read about the inventive toppings.
I ALWAYS bake sweet potatoes in my microwave. Rub the potatoes with a bit of shortening, margarine or olive oil, pop in the microwave on high power for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on size of sweet potatoes. Increase time if doing several at a time. It’s foolproof, an energy-saver, and a lot quicker than the oven!
Hi… I enjoy your recipes BUT am confused … Yams are orange fleshed and Sweet Potatoes are yellow. They are not the same… so is this a recpe for Yams or Sweet Potatoes
Hi! These are a type of sweet potatoes in the US. I hope you can try this recipe. If you do, let me know what you think!
This recipe looks great ….. but as you say, these are yams not sweet potatoes . “Although they are both root vegetables, they belong to two different plant families—the sweet potato is from the morning glory family while the yam is related to the lily. Yams are starchier and less sweet than the sweet potato and can grow much larger.”
Just FYI .
These orange fleshed potatoes are considered sweet potatoes in Canada! And seems like the same is true for other areas of the world too. I love them!
Love to hear that, Amanda!
These are definitely sweet potatoes. I googled it to be sure. I have been told the same as you before, but the opposite is true. Happy cooking!!
“Yams have rough, dark brown skin that is often compared to tree bark, and their flesh is dry and starchy like a regular potato. Sweet potatoes have smooth reddish skin, softer flesh (when cooked) orange, white or purple, and a sweet flavor.”
I have been baking sweet potatoes for years, but I have some of the usual results due to foil wrapping and lower temps. This recipe is great!! There’s a perfect texture to the potato and it’s worth the few changes to my cooking methods!! I haven’t eaten the skins (although I always do with white potatoes), so this is a better healthy alternative and now I will!
That’s great to hear, Jennie! I appreciate you taking the time to review.
my exchange student also taught me to put cream cheese on a baked sweet potato and it’s incredibly good!
btw, your creamed spinach with cream cheese has been on repeat all december!
Hi Kate, I love your recipes and book! I am wondering about the different varieties of sweet potatoes, e.g. Garnet, Jewel, etc… that I see in my grocery store. Do you have a preference? Thanks and Happy Holidays!
Hi! I typically use garnet. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for your support, Susan. :)
Another perfect recipe! I baked the sweet potatoes for dinner tonight and they needed nothing. The rich flavor completed our meal. Every time I try one of your recipes,I make them exactly as written. Every one has been a hit and are often repeated. Thank you Kate. Happy holidays.
You’re welcome, Susan! I’m happy you enjoy this recipe.
The recipe looks good. Sometimes it takes a good basic recipe to get it right. Thank you!
For those who don’t know and who don’t want to make the same error as I did, please note that sweet potatoes and yams are not the same. The most common varieties of sweet potatoes in the US have smooth orange or reddish skin, orange flesh, and a sweet flavor. Yams have rough brown skin like tree bark, white flesh, and a neutral flavor. (Credit to Google)
My error? One year I bought yams (fresh, not canned), thinking, hey, they are like sweet potatoes. That is when I learned the difference and had to make my sweet potato dish over again. Yams just didn’t do it.
Thank you, Debbie! I’m impressed that you even found true yams for sale in the U.S. (assuming you found them here). Sweet potatoes are often casually mislabeled “yams” in stores here and you’re right, they’re not the same thing/
I made these sweet potatoes. Amazing! Oh, my gosh!
Thanks, Barbara! Glad to hear it!
The sweet potatoes were perfect. I had smaller sweet potatoes and they were done at about 45 minutes. However, the juices did burn onto the rack they were sitting on (before being caught by the pan below). But they were so good, it might be worth the extra clean up.
Thanks, Rachel! “Perfect” is what I was going for. :) I’m sorry about your rack clean-up—I don’t know a better way to avoid that.
my wife has seen that you do not need to poke holes in these potatoes, and it saves on mess afterwards, ya know, the insides oozing out the holes. these do not blow out like regular potatoes do.
Thanks, Joey! I’m glad that has worked well in your home. I just worry about the one sweet potato that pops and makes a big mess, so I’d rather avoid the chance!
Tried this tonight, and wow! The higher temp really makes a huge difference. Perfect, silky inside with a nice crispy skin. I’ll be using this method from here on out – thanks!!
Marvelous! Thanks so much for letting me know, Kim! I appreciate your note.
Sweet potatoes are SO good that you don’t need much butter at all, unlike the blander russet potatoes. I eat sweet potatoes a lot, and only with a small pat of butter, sprinkling of salt AND cinnamon!! Mix it all up! I feed my dogs sweet potatoes as a treat, but only with the cinnamon added! They LOVE that treat :)
I live alone. I would nit be able to eat more than one at a time. Do you have suggestions on reheating baked sweet potatoes?
Hi! You can gently reheat in the microwave.
wonderful receipe of sweet potato, easy to make and too delicious.
You have taught me how to cook, Kate, I use your recipes exclusively, knowing you have perfected each one before printing…THANK YOU!!—Jan
I’m glad you are loving my recipes!
Topped my sweet potato with your Favorite Broccoli Salad, grated some extra cheddar over it all, warmed it up, and finished it with a dollop of sour cream. Perfect Sunday night dinner!
Sounds like a delicious combination, Brooke! Thank you for sharing.
Hope you all are well! I always read the comments to get inspired, Im laughing at the yam vs sweet potato convo. For me it’s about toppings and I looked in my fridge to find a little chunk of Brie and some cranberry sauce whole. I’m on a ZerO waste kick so tomorrow for lunch that’s the plan, kind of festive during this very cloudy winter! I’m excited. Will be eating the skin too,yummmmmm!
The potatoes were great! They were well pricked with a fork and had a baking sheet to catch drips but the entire oven got splattered with goop! Of course at 450F it all got baked on making a terrible mess. I’ve no idea why they did that…
Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy them. I didn’t have that issue inside my oven.
This recipe was perfect! Had a few drips on the oven rack but most ended on the tray below. Definitely worth the wait to bake in the oven!
Good day Kate!
I tried your recipe and the adjustments were definitely worth it. I love how the skin doesn’t loosen but stays firm and keeps shape. It was just delicious and perfect was not an overstatement. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for sharing Tyrone!
This was a wonderful recipe – thank you! Have you ever enjoyed a sweet potato with fresh lime juice? I learned of this technique from Mollie Katzen, and it kind of blew my mind! Thanks so much for all you do, Kate!
Kate from Maryland