How to Make a Perfect Roasted Sweet Potato Every Time

Nothing hits the spot like a perfectly roasted sweet potato! Tender and sweet, oven roasted sweet potatoes are the perfect canvas for all sorts of toppings. But did you know there’s a secret to making the perfect sweet potato? Strap in, because I’m about to walk you through the easiest, fastest, and most delicious way I know to roast a sweet potato (in the oven) step by step. Plus, I am going to share one simple trick for taking your oven roasted sweet potatoes to the next level!

{{ The recipe for perfect roasted sweet potato and the post that goes with it was made in partnership with California Grown! We received compensation and product in exchange for it. Opinions are always our own. If we don’t love it, you don’t hear about it. Thanks for your continued support! }}

A platter of roasted sweet potato halves with toppings

Sweet potatoes vs. yams, yams vs. sweet potatoes? What’s the deal?

I’m about to blow your mind here….The yams you see at your local grocery store across the entire United States, well they’re actually sweet potatoes! In short, all so-called “yams” in your supermarket are in fact sweet potatoes!

Although in the United States, sweet potatoes are often called “yams”, they really aren’t yams at all! A true yam is a starchy edible root and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough, scaly, and very low in beta carotene. In supermarkets, the names “sweet potato” and “yam” tend to be used interchangeably but trust that this is just a marketing ploy. That sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that you love so dearly is actually a sweet potato. 

Now that we have cleared the air and you know that a sweet potato and a “yam” are the same thing here in the U.S., let’s just take a second to chat briefly about sweet potatoes in general…

Sweet potato 101

I recently attended a virtual farm tour with California Grown and I learned SO much I’ve been bursting at the seams to share it with you!!! California grows more than 400 different commodities, and grows more than 1/3 of the country’s vegetables and 2/3 of the country’s fruits and nuts making it the leading agricultural state in the nation.

Every time I attend a farm tour with California Grown I learn so much and gain an deeper appreciation for all of the California farmers, ranchers, farm workers and fisher people that work 24/7/365 to provide food, fiber and foliage for the world!

During our farm tour we had the pleasure of spending time with sweet potato farmer, Jason Tucker of Tucker Produce. He walked us through his fields and shared a wealth of sweet potato knowledge with us over the course of the day.

A sweet potato farm worker next to a crate of sweet potatoes

Here are some fun sweet potato nutrition facts for ya…

  • While sweet potatoes are called “potatoes,” they aren’t related to white potatoes at all. They come in many colors besides the more familiar orange. Sweet potatoes flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple! The different colors of sweet potato have subtly different flavors and textures ranging from super sweet to rather mild.
  • Sweet potatoes just might be the most nutritious vegetable that you can eat! High in nutrients and low in calories, California sweet potatoes are a designated superfood. They’re also fat- and cholesterol-free and a great source of dietary fiber which, among other things, can help you feel full and satisfied longer.
  • Because of California’s climate sweet potatoes are cured right in the soil, while they’re still on the vine, rather than curing them after harvest in storage sheds. Not only is vine-curing naturally chemical-free—it also increases the sweet potatoes’ shelf life.
  • Sweet potatoes have more potassium per ounce than a banana and more beta carotene than carrots!
A wood serving board lined with sweet potatoes topped with varying sweet and savory toppings.

How to make perfect, oven roasted sweet potatoes every time…

Ok, so admittedly this method is bit new to me too! I actually learned to make roasted sweet potatoes this way during the pandemic! Before this method I made them like I bet you do. I poked some holes, placed them on the baking rack with parchment underneath and roasted away. They were fine baked sweet potatoes, really.

It wasn’t until I was reading through what has now been deemed my most treasured issue of Bon Appetite magazine ever, the September 2020 “Lessons from our quarantine kitchens” edition that my perspective on how I’d been cooking all sorts of ingredients changed. That issue introduced me to what is called the ‘roast-then-sear‘ technique an today I am sharing this revolutionary (in our kitchen) method with you!

Let’s get started!

To make roasted sweet potatoes in the oven you will need to gather a fork, foil, measuring cup, and a large, heavy ovenproof skillet. Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400°F .

A woman poking holes in a sweet potato with a fork

Scrub clean then poke holes.

The reason you’re poking holes all over is to simply allow some of the built-up steam to escape from the inside of the sweet potato as it cooks. If you don’t poke holes it could explode in the oven although I have never had this happen nor do I know anyone that has.

sweet potatoes in a skillet, water is being poured into the skillet.

Arrange sweet potatoes in a large skillet & add water.

Nestle the prepped sweet potatoes on one half of the skillet. Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan. We aren’t trying to boil the sweet potatoes, just steam them until they are nice and tender.

a woman covering a skillet with aluminum foil

Cover with foil and bake.

By creating that little steamy bath for the sweet potatoes we have made the perfect environment for them to roast and become incredibly tender. This should take about 30-35 minutes.

halved sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with a woman standing in front of a hot skillet on the background.

This is important!!!

This is where things get interesting. Remove the foil, halve the almost-baked-through sweet potatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Drain any water from the skillet then return the skillet to the oven, EMPTY for 20 minutes. This intense heating of the pan will create a luscious sear on the sweet potatoes! Just wait and see!!!

A woman melting butter in a cast iron skillet to make roasted sweet potato

When the pan is SCREAMING hot, add butter.

Working quickly melt 2 tablespoons butter (I prefer salted) in the skillet. Move the skillet around to ensure that the entire surface is coated.

A woman placing halved sweet potatoes slice side down in a skillet of melted butter.

Now comes the sear!!!!

Place the sweet potato halves cut side down into the melted butter. Since the whole sweet potatoes in step 1 only took up half the pan you should have plenty of space!

Sweet potatoes nestled in a skillet of melted butter to be roasted in the oven.

Roast for 18-25 minutes.

Or until the the edges are browned and crisp like in the image below!

A woman holding a halved, roasted sweet potato with tongs towards the camera. The bottom of the sweet potato is caramelized from roasting in the butter

Hummina, hummina, hummina!!! Just look at that gorgeously caramelized sweet potato ready to be topped and devoured! I mean, it literally needs nothing but itself, however I am one to indulge so let me share with you a few toppings for roasted sweet potatoes!

A wood serving board lined with 6 roasted sweet potato halves all topped different ways.
  • Nut butter with honey and cinnamon. You can even add a few vine dried raisins to the mix if you’re feeling frisky.
  • Guacamole or salsa, cilantro, roasted pepitas, and hemp hearts.
  • Toasted walnuts and marshmallows.

Looking for more ways to incorporate sweet potatoes into your daily routine?

Check out a few more of our sweet potato inspired recipes below.

A close up of orange and purple Dehydrated Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Dehydrated Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes? The resounding answer is YES! This 1-ingredient dog treat recipe is great for your dog and will save you lots of money by making them at home!

Sweet Potato & Lime Taquitos on a serving platter

Sweet Potato & Lime Taquitos recipe

Tangy, sweet, and a tad bit spicy. The perfect taquito for just about any occasion!

If you’ve made this Perfect Roasted Sweet Potato recipe I would be so grateful if you would rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Oven Roasted Sweet Potato

A platter of halved sweet potatoes topped with varying sweet and savory toppings. Two sweet potato halves are plated with side salads

Don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think about our Oven Roasted Sweet Potato recipe in the comments below, I just love hearing from you and your reviews/comments really help other people that visit This Mess is Ours! 

  • Author: This Mess is Ours
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 75 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

 3 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, scrubbed cleaned, holes poked all over with a fork or knife.

2 tablespoons salted butter

Instructions

Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Arrange the prepped sweet potatoes on one half of a heavy ovenproof skillet. Pour water in the skillet just to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a cutting board to cool. Slice the partially roasted sweet potatoes in half lengthwise.

Meanwhile, drain any remaining cooking water that is still in the skillet then return the skillet to the oven, empty, for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the hot skillet from the oven and melt the butter in the skillet. Place the halved sweet potatoes cut side down into the melted butter and roast until the edges are browned and crisp, about 18-25 minutes. 

 

Keywords: roasted sweet potato, easy roasted sweet potato, sweet potato recipe, oven baked sweet potato

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