Sunday, June 7, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I'm a little embarrassed to admit I was almost 30 before I discovered I liked sweet potatoes. In my defense, until then I'd only been presented with the typical Thanksgiving dinner variety: sweet potatoes from a can smoothered in brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows. Nasty. Then one day as I was getting ready to roast some red potatoes I wondered what sweet potatoes would be like cooked the same way.

In the produce section of my grocery store I was faced with two options. They both looked sweet-potato'ish to me, but one was labeled "sweet potato" and one was labeled "yam". Which one was the one I wanted? I didn't want to doom my first try before I even left the store, so I went with the one that said "sweet potato".

I came to learn later that they were both sweet potatoes. Zoe, from, has an awesome article on her website about Yam vs. Sweet Potato. You should go read it. The Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University also has some good, if more academic, information here.

I took my sweet potatoes home, peeled and diced them, tossed them with a little olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh black pepper, and roasted them in a super hot oven. The smell was heavenly. The heat from the oven evaporated most of the sweet potatoe's moisture, shrinking the pieces (a lot) and concentrating the natural sugars. The sweet-salty flavor, combined with the slight charring on the edges--I was in love after my first bite. The little jewels were like sweet-potato candy. I must have eaten half the pan standing right there in front of the stove.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

about 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (I do just under 1/2-inch cubes)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse (Kosher) salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Heat your oven to 425. Line a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with non-stick spray.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a gallon size zip-top bag. Seal the bag with the air still in it, and shake and turn it until the potato pieces are evenly coated with the oil and seasoning. Pour the potatoes onto the prepared pan and spread them into an even layer. Throw the bag away (one of the best parts).

3. Roast the potatoes for 40-45 minutes or until they are very tender and nicely browned. Stir the potatoes several times during cooking, more frequently toward the end of cooking to prevent them from burning on the bottom.

Makes 4 side servings

**I've found 3 lbs. is about all this size baking sheet can handle. If you crowd the pan the potatoes will steam instead of roast. They will still cook, but they won't get the lovely browning and charring that makes them go from yummy to OMG, THESE ARE SO **GOOD**...

**Because I use so little oil, you need to spray the foil with non-stick spray. Otherwise the potato pieces stick to the foil and you leave all the good parts behind.

**I pick sweet potatoes that are as close to russet-potato shape as I can get; it makes them easier to peel and easier to cut into more-or-less even cubes.


  1. I love sweet potatoes. I'll have to try this one.

  2. I love potatoes. We host a Potato Ho Down Roundup every month just because of potato addiction. These sound delicious.

  3. A potato party? That sounds awesome! :)

  4. We like to bake them like a potato, and then mashed them with butter, salt and pepper. Another favorite way is to stir fry them with onions. You cut the sweet potato into chunks like you did this recipe. Sometimes we add walnuts if we are feeling adventurous.
    Our family is very anti-candied sweet potato.

  5. S: stir-fried sweet potatoes and onions...that sounds devine :) You know, I actually think many people are anti-candied sweet potato; it seems to be one of the dishes people make at holidays because it's just what people do...but yuck. I say let's change the tradition! Just because the stores display cans of sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and marshmallows together at Thanksgiving and Christmas doesn't mean we have to make it ;)

  6. I just cooked some tonight. I used parchment paper and was able to go completely oil-free without anything sticking (I threw in a bunch of other veggies as well.)


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