Cooking Sweet Potatoes and Yams

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Baked sweet potato recipes

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sweet potatoes and yams are very similar, in that they are sweet tubers. You can substitute one for the other in almost any recipe, although the change will affect presentation and texture a little bit. Sweet potatoes have a pale yellow color, while yams are typically bright orange. Yams are most commonly seen gracing tables at Thanksgiving and other winter holidays.

Baked Sweet Potatoes or Yams

You can enjoy a baked sweet potato or yam instead of potatoes with your dinner. They are a low-carbohydrate food and rich in vitamins.

whole sweet potatoes or yams

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Pierce the sweet potatoes or yams with a sharp knife, then wrap them in aluminum foil. Alternatively, you can place a sheet of aluminum foil over a cookie sheet and place the sweet potatoes or yams on that. (Sweet potatoes and yams, in particular, will leave a syrupy residue on whatever you cook them on, so the aluminum foil keeps the mess out of your oven or off your cookie sheet.)

Cook the sweet potatoes or yams for 1 hour, or until soft. Serve with butter.

Cranberry Yam Casserole

This festive casserole makes a tasty and healthier alternative to candied yams during the holiday season. The cranberries add a touch of tartness and beauty.

3-4 yams
about ½ cup fresh whole cranberries
½ cup butter
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave. Stir in the nutmeg and set aside.

Peel the yams and slice them into medallions about ¼ inch thick. Arrange the medallions in a single layer in the bottom of the casserole, allowing them to overlap so that they more or less cover the bottom of the dish. Brush the melted butter on the layer of yams. Add another layer of yams in the dish and brush with melted butter. Repeat until the yams are gone and the casserole is full.

Scatter a handful of cranberries over the yams. Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the yams are done.

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole

This recipe is generally very popular with children, mostly because of the marshmallows! This is a staple for many at Thanksgiving.

4 large sweet potatoes (or yams)
½ cup butter, melted
¼ tsp salt
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, with juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a casserole dish, either with butter or cooking spray.

Bake the sweet potatoes as directed in the previous recipe. When they are done, allow them to cool enough to handle.

Remove the sweet potato flesh from the skins and place them in a bowl. Mix in the melted butter, salt, pineapple, and brown sugar. Spoon the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Uncover and add a layer of marshmallows on top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes more. The marshmallows should be lightly brown.

Sweet Potato or Yam Fries

These are a wonderful alternative to regular French Fries. You can serve these with hamburgers, seafood, or anything at all that strikes your fancy.

3-4 yams
cooking spray
cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Peel the sweet potatoes or yams and cut them lengthwise into wedges. (Typically, I cut them in half, then cut each half into quarters.) Arrange them on their side on the cookie sheet. Spray them with cooking spray. If you want the added spice, dust them lightly with cayenne pepper.

Bake the fries for 20-25 minutes. Remove them from the oven and use a spatula to flip them over. Return them to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes, depending on how well done you like them.

Tip:  If some family members don’t like the cayenne, you can create a spicy dip by combining ketchup with Sriracha or Tabasco sauce.

Asha Hawkesworth

Asha is passionate about enjoying life and making the most of what she has. She is a writer and painter and enjoys being with her family. She has written children's books and a book about the inner child (, as well as other blogs at and

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