Roasted sweet potatoes are the perfect side dish for adding a pop of color to your plate, and they’re delicious too: When cooked just right, the vibrant root veggies develop a crispy crust that gives way to soft and tender flesh. And roasting sweet potatoes brings out their natural sugars for a nutty, caramelized flavor. Trouble is, sometimes those chunks end up starchy and just kinda meh. So we turned to a pro chef for inside secrets that make crispy roasted sweet potatoes absolutely foolproof. Keep scrolling for her easy tricks, plus find out more reasons to love sweet potatoes.
The health benefits of sweet potatoes
To say that sweet potatoes are nutritious tubers is an understatement. They’re chock full of vitamins C, E, flavonoids and potassium. These nutrients are essential for slowing bone loss, boosting collagen production (a protein needed for healthy skin and joints) and reducing your chances of infection.
Along with these benefits, nutritionist and chef Serena Poon, CN,CHC,CH, says three additional nutrients associated with eating sweet potatoes:
1. High in fiber
A sweet potato contains around 4 grams of fiber, most of which is soluble (or prebiotic fiber). This type of fiber promotes “good” gut bacteria growth. As a result, it promotes a balanced and healthy gut, which is key for your digestive health, immune function and mental health. (Click through to discover how much fiber you need to lose weight.)
2. Rich in beta-carotene
Orange sweet potatoes get their hue from a compound called beta-carotene. When consumed through foods like sweet potatoes, beta-carotene acts as a potent antioxidant that could help protect against diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. Additionally, research suggests that this compound contributes to good vision by reducing inflammation within the eye.
3. Packed with anthocyanins
Similar to orange sweet potatoes, the purple variety contain their own health-boosting pigments called anthocyanins. This compound is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are key for shielding against chronic diseases, obesity and cognitive issues.
Overall, sweet potatoes have it all: flavor, nutritional benefits and an eye-catching color to boot! (Click through to read our stories on discussing more sweet potato health benefits for women and how sweet potatoes help regulate hormones during menopause.)
How to cook crispy roasted sweet potatoes
Cooking sweet potatoes chunks so they’re tender on the inside and golden brown on the outside is simple — if you know these three easy tricks from Poon:
1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
The size allows the chunks to cook thoroughly on the inside with the perfect caramelization on the outside. Any bigger, and you risk burning the pieces before they roast all the way through.
2. Boil the cubes before roasting.
A quick boil kickstarts the cooking process for a tender inside, plus the water helps add moisture so the sweet potato doesn’t dry out in the high heat of the oven.
3. Give them plenty of space on the baking sheet.
Overcrowding the sweet potato can lead to mushy cubes. Instead, spread out the chunks with plenty of space in between. This not only guarantees the sides get the most contact with the hot baking sheet, it also lets the oven air circulate for more even cooking.
Recipe for crispy sweet potatoes
Now that you know the key steps for roasting sweet potatoes, here’s Poon’s step-by-step guide:
- Wash your desired amount of sweet potatoes thoroughly; cut into 1-inch cubes (peeled or unpeeled).
- In large pot over medium-high, boil enough water that will cover the potatoes; add sweet potato cubes and cook for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Strain the sweet potatoes; thoroughly dry cubes.
- Place dried sweet potato cubes onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure not to overcrowd. Drizzle enough extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings such as cumin, paprika or brown sugar over the potatoes to coat them before tossing.
- Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, tossing about midway through. Once the potatoes are slightly browned and soft on the inside, they’re ready.
- Let sweet potatoes cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
How to roast whole sweet potatoes
Prefer your sweet potatoes whole? We asked Poon for her top method. Here’s how she does it:
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Wash and dry your desired amount of whole sweet potatoes thoroughly.
- Poke holes throughout the sweet potatoes using a fork or knife.
- Place the potatoes on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them out for even cooking.
- Roast in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the flesh feels soft and tender when a knife is inserted.
- Allow the potatoes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with your favorite toppings like plain Greek yogurt, butter or cinnamon.
Our test kitchen’s favorite crispy sweet potatoes recipe
Sweet potato fries are one of our test kitchen’s beloved ways to enjoy a crunchy version of this root veggie. Here’s their go-to recipe, which cooks in the air fryer for a speedy and hassle-free snack!
Sweet Potato ‘Fries’
These spiced spuds pair perfectly with our lime-kissed dipping sauce.
- ½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch-thick fries
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- Active: 10 mins
- Total time: 30 mins
- Yield: 4 servings
- Place crisper plate in basket of 5.5-qt. air fryer; coat plate with cooking spray. Place basket in air fryer.
- Heat air fryer according to manufacturer’s directions for air-fry at 350°F.
- Mix first 4 ingredients; reserve. Coat potatoes with cooking spray; toss with chili powder and ¼ tsp. salt. Transfer to basket. Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.
For more yummy veggie recipes, check out the stories below:
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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