Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite budget buys and since we’re smack dab in the middle of sweet potato season, I thought It was time for a quick little tutorial on how to bake a sweet potato. Because once you start thinking outside the box with baked sweet potatoes, you’ll start to love them for their versatile and filling budget-friendly power!
When Are Sweet Potatoes in Season?
While you can usually find sweet potatoes in grocery stores year-round, they are in season during the fall and winter months and that’s when you’re likely to get the best prices. So when they drop down to a dollar or so per pound, it’s time to start baking those sweet potatoes!
How to Serve Baked Sweet Potatoes
The easiest way to serve a baked sweet potato is to just slice it open, top it with a pat of butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simple, sweet, and easy. But why stop there? The possibilities are endless! Baked sweet potatoes make a filling and inexpensive base for meals, so try topping your sweet potato with some of these ingredients:
- Walnuts, honey, & feta
- Creamed spinach
- Curried chickpeas
- Cowboy Caviar and sour cream
- Brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon
- Sloppy joe filling
- BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar
- Shredded BBQ chicken
- Almond butter, cinnamon, honey
And that’s not all! After baking, you can scoop out the flesh and use that in soups, sauces, baked goods, casseroles, and more. Try using the mashed sweet potato in any recipe that calls for pumpkin purée.
Bake Your Sweet Potatoes Faster
The only downside to baked sweet potatoes is that they can take a while to bake. We’re talking 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato. And I don’t know about you, but on a busy weeknight, I’m not waiting an hour for a potato to bake. Luckily, there are shortcuts!
One of my favorite methods to make baking sweet potatoes faster is to cut the sweet potato in half length-wise. Rub oil (and maybe some spices) on the cut side, place it face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake. Because they are half as thick, they take half as long to bake and it creates a deliciously caramelized surface on the cut side.
Another method is to par-cook the sweet potato in the microwave first. Simply prick the sweet potato all over with a fork, then microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. After microwaving, finish baking the sweet potato in the oven. Par-cooking in the microwave first will cut the baking time roughly in half!
Baked Sweet Potatoes
- 4 sweet potatoes (about ¾ lb. each) ($2.97)
- 4 tsp butter ($0.20)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/2 tsp pepper ($0.03)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash the sweet potatoes, then dry with a towel. Prick the sweet potatoes several times with a fork (this allows steam to escape as they bake).
- Place the prepared sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
- Bake the sweet potatoes for 45 minutes, then test for doneness (a fork or knife should be able to pierce the potato with no resistance and you should see some of the juices bubbling out the holes). If the potatoes are not soft all the way through the center, bake for an additional 10 minutes and check again.
- After baking, let the sweet potatoes cool for 5 minutes. Slice the potatoes lengthwise, then mash lightly with a fork. Top with butter, salt, and pepper, then serve.
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How to Make baked Sweet Potatoes – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash your sweet potatoes, then dry them with a towel. Prick the sweet potatoes several times with a fork. This allows for the steam to escape as they bake, preventing them from exploding in the oven.
Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Sweet potatoes tend to ooze their sweet sugary juices while baking, which can make a mess of your baking sheet.
Bake the sweet potatoes for 45 minutes, then check for doneness. When the sweet potato is fully cooked, a knife or fork should be able to slide into the sweet potato without resistance. You can also check by shielding your hand with a towel and squeezing the sweet potato. It should be very soft. The skin will usually look wrinkled and you should see juices oozing out.
If not done, bake for an additional 10 minutes and check again. The total bake time will vary depending on the size of the sweet potato.
Let the sweet potatoes cool for 5 minutes, then slice them open down the center.
I like to mash the insides a bit with a fork before topping.
Top with butter, salt, and pepper, or your favorite toppings! Enjoy warm, or refrigerate for later. Baked sweet potatoes are awesome for meal prep!
What’s your favorite topping for sweet potatoes? Let us know in the comments below!