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Don’t get me wrong…. I’ve always loved sweet potatoes. Whether they come to the table baked, wearing butter and brown sugar or they choose to present themselves to me in the form of a pie… I’ve always been a fan.
However, for reasons I can’t even begin to explain, since I had to start eating completely gluten free, they’re one of my biggest cravings. I, literally, can’t get enough potatoes (white or sweet) these days. It’s as though my body says, “Fine. I can’t have this, this, and this… but I can have potatoes! Bwahahaha!”
At least sweet potatoes are healthy. Just a 1-cup serving gives us 65% of our daily requirement for vitamin C and and as much as 700% of the recommended daily requirement for vitamin A. I am so juiced up with vitamin A, I can’t even tell you.
If you keep up with glycemic indexes of foods (I do not), sweet potatoes have a modest glycemic index of 17.
I’ve found the best restaurants for ordering sweet potatoes (Rafferty’s and Bob Evans have HUGE, delicious sweet potatoes – Cracker Barrel’s are darn good but, to be perfectly honest, they’ve shrunk to the size of new potatoes) – but, making them at home means I can have them anytime I want. Plus, I know they won’t be the size of a golfball.
Yeah, CB, size matters.
How to Bake a Sweet Potato in the Oven
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- After scrubbing your beautiful sweet potatoes and patting them dry (with a dish towel), give them a nice little massage with vegetable oil. Pierce them a few times to prevent a fantastic mess in your oven.
- Wrap each oiled up, pierced sweet potato in its own square of aluminum foil. You want to wrap each one loosely – but be sure the foil is well-sealed.
- Place the wrapped sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and place into the oven.
- The cooking time depends entirely upon the size of your sweet potatoes. It should be anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. Simply begin checking after 30 minutes by gently squeezing one of the potatoes (wear an oven mitt or double-wrap a kitchen towel around your hand – don’t burn yourself!). They should have a little “give.” You could also do the “knife check.” The knife should be able to slide through without any problem.
- If the potatoes vary in size, be sure to check each one for doneness.
- If they need more time, leave them for 10 more minutes, then check again.
When making sweet potatoes in the oven, here’s a golden trick I’ve lived by for years – make more than you’ll need! After they’ve cooled off (in the foil), remove the sweet potato and place it in a container or even a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator. Within the next few days, warm one (or more) in the microwave, add butter and brown sugar and let the party begin.
As for the temperature, sweet potatoes are incredibly flexible. If you’re cooking a casserole or meat dish that requires an oven temp different than 400 degrees, no problem. Simply place your sweet potatoes in the oven along with the other food.
To show you how “flexible” a sweet potato is, you’d be hard-pressed to find three “How to Bake Sweet Potatoes” recipes with the same oven temperatures OR times! Over the years of cooking MANY sweet potatoes, I’ve settled on 400 degrees as my favorite – however, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it.
Use the temperature you need to use – simply check on the potatoes often.. without burning yourself, please.
My Favorite Way to Enjoy a Sweet Potato
After cutting my cooked sweet potato open, I add butter (real butter – it makes a world of difference) and as it’s melting down into the potato, I add brown sugar and a couple of dashes of cinnamon. You can start with 1-2 TBS brown sugar and 1/4 tsp Cinnamon as your guide, adding more or less – depending on your own personal taste.
It makes for a vegetable that tastes more delicious than any vegetable has a right to taste.
Final Word About Baking Sweet Potatoes
Shhhh, high-falutin’ cooks wouldn’t want this getting out, but sweet potatoes can be cooked in microwave. Simply pierce the sweet potato and nuke for 10 minutes. Check for doneness (I love that word.. even if my spell check is convinced it isn’t a word... it is in my world, spell check, it is in my world). As with baking sweet potatoes in the oven, your time will depend upon the size of your potatoes. Keep adding minutes – a couple at a time – as needed.
Sweet Potato Cookbooks: