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Food & Recipes

Purple Sweet Potatoes Add Delicious Flavor (+ Fun Color) to Any Meal — How to Use Them

Skip the white potatoes and go purple with this pretty veggie that's good for you too.

We can all agree that potatoes are a pantry staple. Like other produce, they come in all different shapes, flavors and colors. But one variety deserves some extra praise: purple sweet potatoes. These unique spuds may look unassuming but have a vibrant purple flesh on the inside. And their royal coloring doesn’t just make for a pretty plate — it also packs a ton of health benefits. Plus, they’re easy to cook and add delicious sweetness to any dish. If you’ve never tried purple sweet potatoes before, they’re sure to become a new favorite. Here’s what to know about the benefits of this nutritious vegetable and some easy recipe ideas.

What are purple sweet potatoes?

purple sweet potatoes

To start, there’s nothing artificial about ’em. Purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanin, one of three naturally occurring phytochemicals that give vegetables their bright color. Anthocyanin is the source for blue, red and purple produce. You might be surprised to learn there are two main types of purple sweet potato, and they each have their own history:

Stokes Purple

Born in Stokes County, North Carolina, this sweet potato was first cultivated by sweet potato farmer Mike Sizemore, who later obtained a patent in 2006 to sell commercially. Now, Stokes Purple sweet potatoes are grown in California and available most of the year. Both their skin and flesh is purple, and they have a mildly sweet, floral taste with a moderate starchy texture.


Believed to originate in South America, explorers introduced this sweet potato to the Philippines and China before first being planted in Okinawa, Japan in the 1600s. Eventually, they made their way to Hawaii, where they now grow and are part of native cuisine. They have white skin with purple flesh, a mildly sweet flavor and a dry, starchy texture.

Are they good for you?

The best part about purple sweet potatoes? They offer a variety of health benefits. Purple potatoes are “high in fiber, which has been shown to make you feel full, reduce risk of certain types of cancer (colon cancer), and weight loss,” says Michelle Saari, MSc, RD, a registered dietician at E-Health Project. And don’t forget about anthocyanin. Saari says that this phytochemical “is known for being a cancer-fighting property, heart health, regulates blood sugars, and protects against age-related cognitive decline. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium and iron.”

George Yang, founder of Yanre Fitness and OxygenArk, echoes these sentiments. Our bodies absorb anthocyanin as antioxidants, which additionally “are recognized for reducing inflammation.” He adds that “incorporating purple sweet potatoes into your diet not only adds color to your meals but also boosts your nutritional intake with their unique health benefits.”

Related: A Potato That Helps Optimize Blood Sugar? Yep! It’s a Beautiful Shade of Blue

How they differ from other sweet potatoes

So, what makes the purple sweet potato unique? It all comes down to their nutritional breakdown. While all sweet potatoes are healthy, different varieties provide different health benefits. Orange sweet potatoes, for example, are higher in beta-carotene, another phytochemical that supports skin and eye health. Apart from higher anthocyanin, purple sweet potatoes are also starchier, drier and slightly less sweet than their counterparts.

It’s worth noting that purple sweet potatoes are different than purple yams. Though their insides are both purple, purple yams are native to Southeast Asia. The buzzy term “Ube” (pronounced oo-bay) is Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, for purple yam. Purple yams have a rough, bark-like skin and are moist in texture.

How to use purple sweet potatoes

Stokes Purple sweet potatoes are usually available from late August through late spring, making them a great addition to fall and winter menus. Okinawan sweet potatoes are available year-round. You may find purple sweet potatoes in your nearest grocery store; however, they are also sold at farmers’ markets or specialty markets like Asian grocery stores.

Related: What to Look for When Buying Sweet Potatoes

Because of their dry, starchier texture, it’s best to cook purple sweet potatoes longer than you would other sweet potatoes. To maximize flavor and moistness, aim for 90 minutes at 350 degrees if using an oven. And yes, you can eat the skin! “Purple sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile,” says Saari.

If you’re looking for a simple preparation, she suggests “roasting them in the oven [to] bring out their natural sweetness. Cut them into cubes, toss with a little olive oil and your favorite herbs, and roast until tender. They also make a visually stunning addition to salads and grain bowls.”

Purple sweet potatoes can be stored just like other potatoes, but they have a shorter lifespan (1-2 weeks in a cool, dry place).

2 delicious purple sweet potato recipes

Purple sweet potatoes are surprisingly easy use in many dishes featuring sweet potatoes. Whether you’re looking to jazz up a family dinner or find a healthy alternative to white potatoes, we’ve got two classic recipes that look good and make you feel good.

Purple Sweet Potato Pie

purple sweet potato pie

A delicious spin on the classic dessert, and it might just win “prettiest pie.” This recipe from Barley and Sage is creamy and delicious. If you have extra time, try making their swiss meringue topping.


  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 lb. Stokes Purple sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt


  • Active: 1 hr
  • Total time: 3 hr 25 min
  • Yield: 8 servings

For the pie crust:

  1. Roll pie crust onto a 9″-wide pie pan and be sure to poke the bottom a few times with a fork to allow air to escape during baking. Crimp or curl the edges.
  2. Chill pie crust in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before baking. While crust is chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper or heavy duty aluminum foil inside the pie crust and fill with pie weights (uncooked rice or dry beans also work great).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the parchment paper and pie weights, then return the crust to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, or until bottom just starts to brown. Set aside to cool.

For the pie filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Prick the purple sweet potatoes a few times with a fork and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour until cooked through and soft. Once cooked, scoop the flesh into a blender and blend until super smooth and creamy.
  2. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of mashed sweet potato, brown sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, melted butter, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix until fully combined and smooth. 
  3. Pour the purple sweet potato filling into the par baked pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F and continue to bake for 25-35 minutes until the edges are set and the center of the pie jiggles slightly. 
  4. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Then chill for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. 

Note: This purple sweet potato pie will last in the fridge for up to 3 days, but if you’re topping with meringue, it’s best eaten immediately.

Mashed Purple Sweet Potato

purple sweet potato mash

Serve this comforting and stunning side dish with your next turkey dinner! This recipe from The Endless Meal uses savory brown butter and toasted sesame seeds.


  • 1½ lbs. purple sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • ¼ cup cream (or milk)
  • ½ tsp. sea salt + more to taste
  • Toasted sesame seeds and cilantro, to serve (optional)


  • Active: 10 min
  • Total time: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Peel purple sweet potatoes and cut into large cubes. Place into a medium-sized pot with 1″ of cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until very tender.
  2. Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan a few times while the butter browns. When foam subsides, remove pan from the heat and add sesame oil.
  3. Reserve a scoop of potato cooking water, then drain the pot. Pour most of the brown butter into the pot and save a little to garnish. Add milk, salt and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Stir in the reserved cooking water, a little at a time, until potatoes are creamy.
  4. Finally, serve with reserved brown butter drizzled over the top and garnish with some sesame seeds and cilantro.

For more satisfying sweet potato recipes, click through these stories:

11 Baked Sweet Potato Recipes That Will Light Up Your Fall With Nutritious Flavor

Make Roasted Sweet Potatoes Taste Even Better With This Simple Pre-Baking Step

Chef’s Foolproof Secret to Perfectly Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes Every Time

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