There are many things in the kitchen that are pretty easy to cook and mashed sweet potatoes is one of those things. In my opinion, cooking a sweet potato is cooking 101. If you’re a relatively inexperienced chef, keep on reading. If you’re an experienced home chef, you can probably skip to the delicious recipes closer to the bottom of the post.
Everyone has seen someone massacre a sweet potato by boiling it in water. I think this is about the worst thing you could ever do to a sweet potato. Roasting it in the oven or baking it in aluminum foil is the best way to maintain, if not improve, the flavor. The key to baking a sweet potato is knowing when it’s done. Under cook it and you’ll be eating grit. Over cook it and you’ll squeeze the moisture out of it and you’ll be left with a watery stringy mess. Bleh!
Ok, a critical part to cooking a sweet potato begins at the grocery store. The size really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you buy all of the same sized sweet potatoes. You want them all to get done cooking at the same time, so don’t go buying big potatoes and little potatoes. I have seen some pretty huge sweet potatoes and some so small I’m not sure why the store is even selling them. I prefer to buy sweet potatoes that are about 2.5 inches in diameter. Buy too small and they can over cook quickly. Buy too large and the interior can be under cooked while the exterior is mush.
So you have sweet potatoes. Set your oven to 425 degrees F. I know this seems high, but it does hasten the cooking process. You can go lower, but the potatoes will take longer to cook. Anyways, wrap your sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and toss them in the oven.
After about 45 minutes to an hour, you’ll want to check the potatoes for doneness. To do this, use a oven-mitt and give them a squeeze. If they are still very firm, they aren’t done. If they are super squishy, they are probably over cooked, but they are still edible and tasty. They just might be a little watery. Properly done potatoes should have just a little bit of give. Feeling your potatoes might take some practice. However, once they are done, just toss them on high temperature safe surface (like a cooking range) and let the potatoes cool for about 15 minutes. They are lava hot right out of the oven.
So, you’ve successfully cooked your sweet potatoes. Now what? Sweet potatoes are pretty versatile little vegetable (are sweet potatoes even vegetables?). There are a lot of flavor combos you can stick in them.
- Butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg
- Brown sugar and toasted pecans
- Butter and cream. Pro Tip: Don’t be a sissy and use milk. Use real cream in all of your potato recipes if you’re going to use any dairy. You’ll need less and the flavor will be better.
- Chives or green onions
- Goat cheese and chives
If you are lucky enough to live near a WholeFoods (we call this the “$300 store” because my wife and I can’t walk out without spending $300 on cheese, cured meats, and seafood) or another high-end grocery store, you might be able to find Japanese sweet potatoes. These things are the fricken bomb and blow normal sweet potatoes out of the water in the flavor department. They don’t even look like normal sweet potatoes. They Are purple on the outside and yellow/green on the inside. You can’t treat them like normal sweet potatoes. The flavors are more suited to savory flavors, such as chives or green onions. My favorite way to eat Japanese sweet potatoes is with butter, chives, and a bit of salt. That’s it.
By now you are getting tired of me rambling on about sweet potatoes and you wish I’d get to the damn recipe. Printable versions of the recipes are at the bottom of the post. So here we go.
For the best sweet potatoes on the planet, you need to start off with some standard ingredients you probably already have. You will need butter, honey (preferably from someone locally), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Bake yourself three decent sized sweet potatoes. You’ll need roughly one to one-and-a-half pounds of sweet potatoes. Wrap them in foil and bake at 425 degrees F until cooked. In bowl, add 8 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup of honey, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg (I don’t usually bother measuring this out. I just use my microplane and grate enough that looks right). At this point you have the worlds tastiest honey butter that’s also pretty badass on dinner rolls.
In a second larger mixing bowl, add the sweet potatoes. You can usually peal the skin off very easily just by pulling it off. Mash up the potatoes to break them up. You don’t need to mix the potatoes until they are pulverized. Add the honey butter mixture and mix to combine. Taste your creation and add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil.
Bake sweet potatoes until they are soft.
Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Add sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl and remove skins (they should easily peel from the sweet potato).
Roughly mash the sweet potatoes.
In a second smaller bowl, add the butter, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Stir in the honey butter to the potatoes.
Taste the mashed sweet potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine in a bowl.
Devour on your favorite baked goods.
Other side dish ideas