Here’s how to make the perfect baked sweet potato in the oven! With crisp skin and a warm and soft center, baked sweet potatoes are a delicious side dish served savory or sweet.
I feel like one of the first things I mastered when I started my healthy eating journey was sweet potatoes. They’re packed with flavor and nutrients and seem to be viewed higher than regular potatoes in the health world. I have absolutely nothing against white potatoes (I love them too!) but I have a special spot for sweet potatoes.
As with all health foods, if you prepare something incorrectly, it can taste quite boring. That’s why I wanted to share my basic recipe for baked sweet potatoes that turn out delicious, every single time. They are such a healthy and cozy side dish for the fall and winter months. I personally love them served savory with a little butter, salt and pepper or served sweet with butter, cinnamon and salt. That said, I’ve been known to eat baked sweet potatoes plain or with just a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt flakes… so good!!
When shopping for sweet potatoes, look for firm, unwrinkled skins. Sweet potatoes come in all different colors – creamy white, deep orange and purple. I usually buy Beauregard, Jewel or Garnet sweet potatoes just because those varieties are typically available at my local grocery stores. That said, Beauregard sweet potatoes tend to be stringier so when given the option I go for Jewel or Garnet.
Store your sweet potatoes in your pantry or on the countertop at room temperature. They’ll last about a week before they start to go bad (which usually means getting wrinkly and soft).
Baking sweet potatoes is crazy simple. You don’t need to slice or chop them, just wash, season and bake!
Prep your potato – rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes. Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to pat dry. Use a fork to polk holes in each potato – I usually do 4-8 holes depending on how big the potato is.
Add oil and salt – Rub a little bit of oil on each potato and sprinkle with salt. You can totally skip the oil and sea salt if you want. The skin won’t be as crisp, but the baked sweet potatoes will still be delicious.
Bake – Place the potatoes in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake at 400ºF for 60-80 minutes, depending on how big your potatoes are. Flip the potatoes over about halfway through cooking. They’re ready when the flesh is soft. You can test it with a knife!
I grew up with my mom wrapping potatoes in foil before baking, but I’ve since learned that not only is it unnecessary, it also steams the potatoes and makes the skin soggy and soft rather than crisp the way I like it. I know it feels weird to put a naked potato in the oven, but trust me… they taste so much better this way. It’s also better for food safety because there’s potential for bacteria to grow if you leave the potatoes in foil and let them cool down while still wrapped in the aluminum foil.
Some people will recommend placing the potatoes directly on the oven rack for baking, but I do recommend placing them on a baking sheet (or at least having a baking sheet on the rack below). This is especially true when baking sweet potatoes because they tend to release sticky, sugary juice while baking and it can make your oven pretty messy.
I know some people recommend “baking” sweet potatoes in the microwave because it’s so quick and easy, but I’m here to tell you that it is a terrible idea! Microwaved sweet potatoes taste dull because the natural sugars in the sweet potato don’t get a chance to caramelize as they do in the oven, the skin doesn’t crisp up and the texture of the flesh is mushy and blah. Long story short… do NOT nuke your sweet potatoes. Plan ahead and bake them in the oven!
Here’s where it gets fun. After baking your sweet potato you can make so many delicious creations. Here are some ideas: