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Sweet Potatoes - Recipe Ideas for a Fall Favorite

We have recipe ideas, cooking tips, and an amazing recipe!bowl of mashed sweet potatoes seen from above with a sliced sweet potato next to it

Did you know that November is sweet potato awareness month? Some people aren't fans of sweet potatoes but this vegetable is so versatile even the pickiest of eaters may find a recipe they enjoy. Baked sweet potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie; the options are endless for enjoying this versatile fall superstar.

Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing?

While people may think that the names sweet potato and yams are the same, they are not. Yams grow underground from a vine and can look similar to a sweet potato. Often yams look more cylindrical with thick skin, have toes sprouting from them and can get as large as 7 feet long and 150 pounds! Sweet potatoes grow on trailing vines that quickly cover the soil and root at the nodes. Sweet potatoes have a thin skin.

How do I choose (and store) sweet potatoes?

When choosing sweet potatoes to cook, choose ones that are firm, small to medium in size with a smooth skin and uniform color. Avoid potatoes with cracks, soft spots or blemishes in the skin. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place to be used within two to four weeks. Avoid storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator because it will result in a hard center and unpleasant taste.

How do I cook sweet potatoes?

You can enjoy them baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, or boiled and mashed. You can eat sweet potatoes as fries, chips, or cube them for stews and soups. To prepare sweet potatoes, always wash them first even if they look clean.  

  • Bake them by piercing the skin several times with a fork and placing them in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake until fork tender. You may want to bake them on a foil lined pan or wrap them in foil as you would white baking potatoes.
  • You can microwave bake sweet potatoes by piercing them with a fork several times and placing them in the microwave. Bake them on high for 5-8 minutes. Check halfway through the cook time and rotate the potatoes. Baking the sweet potato gives it more of the sweet, syrupy flavor although it does not change the nutrient content of the potato.
  • Sweet potato fries are becoming popular and they are easy to make. Slice the washed potato into lengthwise quarters. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the sweet potatoes with olive oil, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste. Try adding a dash of cayenne pepper to make them spicy. Place sweet potato fries evenly on a pan lined with foil and bake for 40-60 minutes.

Are sweet potatoes a healthy food choice?

Sweet potatoes are loaded in nutrients and are naturally fat-free, low in sodium, and cholesterol free. They are high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps maintain eye health and Vitamin C helps to fight infections. Sweet potatoes may also help to reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, magnesium helps build and maintain strong bones, and fiber helps control cholesterol and keeps you regular.

When eating sweet potatoes, try to keep sugar and butter to a minimum. Both of these additions add unwanted calories and fat. A medium sized sweet potato, 2 inches in diameter and 5 inches long, has about 100 calories with 24 g carbohydrate, and 3.8 g dietary fiber.

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Here is a holiday favorite for Thanksgiving. This recipe is lower in calories, but still tastes great.  It was adapted from USDA MyPlate Kitchen.

  • 2 cans low-sodium yams or sweet potatoes (about 15 ounces), drained
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 can (12 oz.) nonfat evaporated milk or 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. In a mixing bowl, mash sweet potatoes.

  3. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

  4. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray.

  5. Pour mixture into baking dish.

  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until set.

  7. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

                Tip: Top with chopped pecans or walnuts for crunch. Yield: 6 servings

    *Note: You may use 3-4 raw potatoes. Peel and chop sweet potatoes, cover with water in a saucepan and boil until tender. Drain water.

Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories-232, Total Fat-3 g, Protein-9g, Carbohydrates -42g, Fiber-3g, Sodium-155mg


Plan on enjoying sweet potatoes in many of your fall meals. For more information on meal planning, nutrition, food safety, health, physical activity, finances or family well-being, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. Be sure to like us on Facebook

Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair