How To Bake the Perfect Yam (OK Sweet Potato)!

a.k.a. Nature’s Original Superfood!

Firstly, what is the difference between a Yam and a Sweet Potato?

Real “Yams” come from Africa and Asia. You’re probably not getting a Yam at the grocery store, you would need to go to a specialty market to find them. What you’re really eating is a “Sweet Potato”.

There are two types of Sweet Potatoes, Soft and Firm.

To avoid confusion grocery stores usually call the Soft variety “Yams” (since they are closer to real Yams) and the Firm variety “Sweet Potatoes”.

Too confusing, I know. Let’s talk about cooking! 🙂

So I have this real love/hate relationship with these little Tubes of Love.

Every week I do my shopping and usually start off in the produce section. I grab some potatoes (which I also love to cook) and see these little babies sitting there all ugly and unloved.

I mean MAN they are ugly! Some have little hairs sticking out like my grandfather’s ears!

But I know they are delicious! And so easy to make. Should I get them? They’re so ugly though! I have to go through this 10-second mental battle every time I visit the darn store. It’s really annoying.

Every week the process repeats itself. I end up buying 2 or 3.

I like to make these almost every week. Most people focus on them for Thanksgiving, but they deserve better than that.

They are extremely simple to make.

1. Soak in cold water for an hour. Since I sometimes eat the skin this will help loosen the dirt.
2. Preheat your oven to 400.
3. Remove from water and use a little potato-cleaner scrub brush to clean under running water.
4. Dry with a paper towel
5. Poke hard with the tip of a sharp knife 3 times, on the end, middle and the other end. Watch your hand!!
6. Line your sheet pan (you need one!) with aluminum foil and coat the skin with olive oil using your hands or a small brush.
7. Place in the oven and set your timer for 45 minutes. Drink some wine.

baked yams 1

baked yams 2

The cooking time is going to depend on how *thick* your little guys are. I tend to buy the more narrow and longer ones, not the short-fat ones. If yours is thicker it’ll need an additional 15 minutes or so.

baked yams 3

So you don’t overcook, towards the end of the cooking time just poke with a sharp knife or a fork. It should go in easily. If it still feels “hard” give it some more time. (It’s not like a steak, you won’t ruin them by poking them during cooking).

baked yams 4

They do continue to cook for a little bit after you remove them from the oven so keep that in mind also.

Cut down the middle (like a baked potato) and serve. One half is usually enough for one portion.

baked yams 5
They are pretty darn yummy just by themselves, but you can garnish with a little butter, and/or ground cinnamon if you wish. Cinnamon seems to go really well with them!

They go great as a side with almost any main dish you can think of.

I have also cooked them other ways. You can cube them up, boil them to 50% done (use the knife or fork trick again to tell). Strain, then finish in a saute pan with butter and ground cinnamon. They come out super yummy this way, but the easier way is great too.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! And let me know any variations/ideas you have.

And just to be thorough, here are a few links on the nutritional value of Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes – The World’s Healthiest Foods

9 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which Are Healthier?

Images courtesy of

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