Baked Sweet Potatoes With Maple Crème Fraîche From Nik Sharma

April 25, 2021
4.7 Stars
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
Author Notes

These are creamier and more flavorful sweet potatoes—thanks to science, and thanks to Nik Sharma, whose new cookbook The Flavor Equation breaks down the research on how we can make our food more delicious. In this case: a surprisingly simple one-pan technique for first steaming then roasting that makes sweet potatoes the best version of themselves—perfect for a splashy Thanksgiving side or just: dinner.

As Nik writes in The Flavor Equation, “We all adore certain pantry staples. Kefir and crème fraîche are two of my favorites. I’ve been testing new ways to improve on roasting sweet potatoes in the oven, and I found that a combination of steaming and roasting works great for a dish like this for both the texture and the extra set of aroma molecules that comes through. The first step, partial steaming, keeps the moisture inside the sweet potato while cooking, and the second step, uncovered roasting, helps create a robust flavor profile. I recommend using fragrant nuts. Toasted hazelnuts are a good substitute for the peanuts.

“The Flavor Approach: Butter works as the fat of choice here due to its higher smoke point. As the butter melts, it separates into its constituents—fat, water, sugars, and milk solids—which undergo caramelization and the Maillard reaction. The sugars concentrate as the water evaporates during cooking. Fish sauce adds a spot of umami to the sauce, but you can use vegan fish sauce as an alternative. The peanuts and scallions provide crunch against the softer textures of the potato and the dressing.”

A few more tips: If your sweet potatoes are much larger than 7 ounces each, extend the steaming time in step two until they’re starting to noticeably soften, before roasting uncovered in step three—you also might want to line the pan with foil, parchment, or a nonstick baking mat, as more sticky juices will collect. And use any leftover maple crème fraîche to dunk other vegetables, as a creamy salad dressing, or to perk up other sleepy carbs like rice or regular potatoes.

Recipe adapted very slightly from The Flavor Equation (Chronicle Books, October 2020).

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Baked Sweet Potatoes With Maple Crème Fraîche From Nik Sharma
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • For the sweet potatoes:
  • 4 sweet potatoes (each 7 ounces [200 grams]), preferably a yellow-fleshed variety such as Garnet or Jewel
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Fine sea salt
  • For the dressing & garnish:
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional, see Author Notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes, such as Aleppo, Maras, or Urfa
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
In This Recipe
  1. To prepare the sweet potatoes, heat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes under running tap water. Slice them lengthwise and place them in a roasting pan, cut side facing up. Brush or smear with the butter and season with salt. Cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and press around the edges to seal snugly. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes, remove the foil, flip the sweet potatoes, and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes more, until the sweet potatoes are cooked thoroughly and are tender; a knife inserted into the center of the sweet potato should slide through easily. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. To prepare the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the crème fraîche, maple syrup, lime juice, fish sauce, if using, and pepper. Taste and season with salt.
  5. To serve, top the warm roasted potatoes with a few tablespoons of the maple crème fraîche dressing. Sprinkle with the scallions, peanuts, chile flakes, and lime zest. Serve with the extra dressing on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nimmersatt
  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
  • LASGarcia
  • AntoniaJames
  • erinrae
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

35 Reviews

Nimmersatt November 23, 2021
I've tried a lot of different sweet potato recipes, but this is my go-to-recipe. Baffling yet simple. Sublime flavours, one of the best!
Happygoin October 9, 2021
This was really, really good. I used toasted hazelnuts rather than peanuts, bc it’s what I had. It made a nice, filling meatless main.
Mishnial S. September 21, 2021
Just gave this a go with salmon and steamed broccoli. We both thought that this is a WINNER! Excellent way to cook and prepare sweet potatoes. Thank you.
Lynn May 14, 2021
Made these again last night and still in love with this recipe. Was never a sweet potato fan (because of the marshmallow casserole thing) but love them roasted, and this is the easiest and most delicious way. Even my 92-year-old dad said they were delicious!
mgemmill April 25, 2021
Rosalind P. April 9, 2021
great technique and great results. I used a tight-seal dutch oven (casserole)for the first part. They steamed beautifully. Then switched them to a baking sheet. No foil needed. 'm a miser that way. :-)
LASGarcia March 11, 2021
This recipe yields delicious sweet potatoes- even just plain! I have cooked this recipe multiple times, because it is so good. Additionally, I've used Labne as my "dairy" in addition to the original recipe, and it was also delicious. My only comment, and I do see there are different cooking times, the first "steam" part takes me more like an hour to insert a knife easily- in a calibrated oven at 400°. The roasting part took 20-30 minutes, so allow more time overall if you are using a potato that is roughly 6" long and 4" wide.
Willow104 February 1, 2021
I love sweet potatoes and these were by far the best I've ever had. I followed the cooking instructions as written and these were the creamiest, most delicious sweet potatoes ever. I'll never prepare them any other way. I actually served them with black beans and avocado along with everything else except the peanuts. It was a complete meal. I highly recommend this recipe.
AntoniaJames January 20, 2021
Yes, this is the best way to roast sweet potato halves. Highly recommend. ;o)
erinrae December 31, 2020
Wow, this is my new favorite thing. Easy, flavorful and the sauce can go on anything, grains, meat, other vegetables. Going to making this all the time!
Franca December 21, 2020
These were outstanding!
SageDawn December 10, 2020
My first attempt at this recipe and it was amazing. I have never before halved a sweet potato in this manner and I am hooked. My very large orange sweet took a few extra minutes both steaming, and roasting. Next time I will roast closer to the bottom of the oven for that amazing sweet caramel it produced. I added the lime zest to the sauce which I made with Trader Joe's full fat, organic European style yogurt and it was so awesome! No nuts, but it was still so good. Thanks for a great new way to cook and old favorite.
K November 27, 2020
A-MAZ-ING! Made just one sweet potato for the two of us this Thanksgiving. Incredibly creamy and flavorful! Used sourcream and hazelnuts as that is what I had on hand- Simply lovely! I will make again - maybe when we can do a family dinner I will bring these! YUM
Jewel November 23, 2020
I made these with Japanese white Sweet Potatoes and this cooking method didn't work with that variety. They are bigger and firmer so I "steamed" them for 30 minutes before I flipped them and roasted them for another 30. (That's how long it took for them be pierced easily.) Kristen, does that seem correct that this method might not be good for the Japanese Sweets? I am definitely going to try this again with orange Sweets.
Kristen M. November 23, 2020
Hi Jewel, I haven't tried with Japanese sweet potatoes, but they might have just needed a little longer to steam. I have used really massive orange-fleshed ones and just extended both the steaming and roasting time and it worked out fine. I hope they were still edible eventually—thanks for letting us know!
Jewel November 23, 2020
I let them steam for 30 minutes and then baked for 30 minutes and they were very dry, and not creamy. Prior to 30 minutes baking they were not soft, and needed more time to get soft. This variety always takes longer to cook. They were edible, and
did not go to waste. Gonna try again with yellow ones.
Jewel November 28, 2020
Kristen I made them for the holiday with "regular" sweet potatoes, and they were the best ever. So creamy and delicious. Thank you !!
Francesca B. November 23, 2020
Unbelievably delicious, and a wonderful creamy texture, as promised. (Loved the video, too.)
I had large sweet potatoes, over a pound each, so I gave them 25 minutes on each side, and that was perfect.
Replaced the peanuts with slivered almonds, because I prefer them, and the sour cream with full-fat Greek yogurt, slightly thinned with milk, because that was what I had on hand. Will definitely make them again. Thanks for another great recipe!
Heather B. November 21, 2020
Really delicious. I bought a ‘job lot’ bag of sweet potatoes, and they were all smaller / of a lesser weight than the suggested 200g weight. I cooked a couple of extra ones, so had some left over (to add to something else) as well.

Reduced the dressing slightly, but there is some left, so we will have this again over the next couple of days.

Going to my daughter’s for Christmas dinner, lockdown permitting, and I think I will offer to take this along, as I will be able to prepare it, but not cook it, in advance.
Gretl November 20, 2020
This is SO good, I can't even believe it. I read the ingredients which are a challenge to get your head (tongue) around; maple syrup? lime? fish sauce? and by gosh, they all come together in the most amazing mouth symphony. We had the trial run to thanksgiving tonight, which is silly since it's just us two rehearsing for just us two...never mind. Anyway, I have full-fat Greek yogurt on hand instead of creme Fraîche, and it worked out just great. the only other sub I needed to make were using garden chives instead of the scallions. But we need to make do. this is a keeper for sure! Thanks so much.
Nancy M. November 20, 2020
Not a review of the food, but a personal question. Your little assistant is so cute and helpful. I'm curious about her name. Are you willing to tell?
JaneMiami November 20, 2020
The best sweet potatoes ever! Well.. with the drizzle. Having a late lunch and decision made for Thanksgiving. I'm definitely making these.
Kristen M. November 20, 2020
selena November 19, 2020
What was the lime zest for (in video)? It is not in recipe... Any particular brand of fish sauce?
Matrissa November 19, 2020
No matter the fish sauce brand. I made this today. I just buttered both sides, cut side down first then flipped. OMG was this great!! Even with fish sauce, you’ll need salt. Line zest is garnish, along with scallions and peanuts. Cheers!
Kristen M. November 20, 2020
Thanks for reporting back, Matrissa—glad it was a hit! And selena, the zest is used in step 5 as a garnish, as Matrissa says. I used Red Boat fish sauce, which I love.