Sweet Potato/Yam

The Trick To Perfectly Roasted Sweet Potatoes

September 27, 2017

I’ve never chewed on leather, but I imagine it’s a similar experience to eating overdone sweet potato skins. It boggles my mind how roasting those delicious root vegetables could result in such a creamy, tender inside yet a tough (arguably inedible) exterior. Still, the idea of scooping out sweet orange flesh and abandoning the nutrient-rich hull, seems like such a waste.

Turns out, there’s a better way! Perfectly done skins begin in a cool oven, says the woman who literally wrote the book on sweet potatoes, Mary-Frances Heck: "Starting the sweet potatoes in a cool oven, whenever possible, warms the flesh slowly and evenly without turning the skin into inedible jerky," she writes. Instead of preheating the oven while you prep, place your root-filled baking sheet directly in the oven, then set it to 350°F.

You want to keep your sweet potatoes in the oven even after they look tender—ideally an hour (and two hours for very large ones!). You’ll know they’re ready when the skins collapse and caramelized juice bubbles from the sweet potatoes’ ends, which makes Heck’s second roasting tip so handy: Always line the baking sheet or dish with foil or parchment, since the caramelized juices can be extremely difficult to clean. Once they've rested and juices stop flowing (about five minutes), they're ready to eat!

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Now that I know how to get the best of sweet potatoes, inside and out, I’m dreaming of all the ways I can enjoy the humble root. Here are some recipes to get you started:

Do you eat sweet potato skins? How do you enjoy roasted sweet potatoes? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Teresa Patrick
    Teresa Patrick
  • BerryBaby
  • Bill Clark
    Bill Clark
  • Dogolaca
  • Sherry E
    Sherry E
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Teresa P. October 25, 2017
I have discovered that i absolutely LOVE sweet potatoes! Not so much the sweet version my mom made every holiday with marshmallows or pecans, but a more savory version.
I slice them into quarter size pieces, add purple onions and bell peppers then toss them in olive oil, paprika, garlic salt and pepper. I bake at 400° until
tender. They get nice and carmelized and so good. I took these to a family get together and everyone loved them. No leftovers!
BerryBaby October 1, 2017
I preheat the oven however I place the sweet potatoes in a Pyrex baking dish. They cone out perfectly.
Bill C. October 1, 2017
Thanks for info! What would you suggest to get the same tender skin effect with a microwave?
Sherry E. October 1, 2017
prick skin with fork several places, coat lightly olive oil, salt, micro 3 1/2-5 min
Dogolaca September 27, 2017
This article doesn't tell me how to bake a sweet potato. "Cool oven" is not quite enough information.

There are links to other unrelated recipes. Oh, and a link to Amazon so you can get an affiliate payment,

Food52 doesn't even pretend to offer cooking info anymore, I guess it's 100% about monetizing eyeballs.
Mary October 1, 2017
If you read the article again, you will notice that it recommends placing the sweet potatoes in the oven and then setting the oven st 350.
Sherry E. October 1, 2017
I prefer a hotter oven for mine, 425- 45 min
Nicole S. October 1, 2017
My toaster oven works well, too. 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes depending on the size. For larger potatoes I split them in half, rub some olive oil on the cut side and bake.The skins always come out fine, but I never preheat the toaster oven...who knew?