Don’t be intimidated by sweet potatoes — I’m going to show you how to roast sweet potatoes with an easy 3-step method.
Sweet Potatoes are an incredibly versatile root vegetable. They can be roasted or mashed and used in a variety of dishes to add a natural sweetness to your plate. Roasted sweet potatoes are often a go-to around here because they are easy and can be flavored with so many different spice combinations!
You might be intimidated by sweet potatoes because they appear difficult to cut, but with the right knife technique, it is a breeze! In this post, I’m going to show you how to easily cut a sweet potato and a simple, yet flavorful way to roast these orange gems.
For roasted sweet potatoes, you’ll need:
- A sharp knife — This is my #1 recommended tool to keep in the kitchen. If you’re going to invest in only one thing, let it be a good quality chef’s knife. A sharp knife is a huge game-changer to make these easier in the kitchen. Not to mention, minimize your risk of injury.
- A cutting board — I recommend a wood cutting board for everything except meats. It is the best surface for cutting vegetables because the wood surface prevents vegetables from sliding around on the board, and the soft surface protects your knife. My favorite is this Boos cutting board.
- A full-size baking sheet — You want to be sure that your sweet potato can be spread out to allow for even roasting, so your baking sheet should be large enough to accommodate. You could always use two if you need to.
- Parchment paper — When cooking growing up, we always used aluminum foil for everything. The problem with this is that metals from the foil can leach into the foods, increasing metal toxicity in the body. Once roasted, it can be hard to scrape the potatoes off of the foil, and sometimes, little pieces of aluminum are ingested. No thank you!
Before we get started, let’s talk about the type of sweet potato that is easiest/best for roasting.
The drier the sweet potato, the more it will resemble a white baking potato in texture. Not necessarily a bad thing, but my personal preference is the succulently sweet and moist sweet potato varieties. The drier varieties are also much more dense and difficult to cut through, so I really don’t recommend these types if you’re a beginner in the kitchen.
Purple and white sweet potatoes while fun in color, are going to be on the drier end of the scale, while orange sweet potatoes will yield a moist, sweet texture.
The two most popular orange-hued sweet potato varieties you will likely find in your local grocery store will be garnet and jewel sweet potatoes. Garnet sweet potatoes are my favorite because they are the sweetest and most moist, making for an almost dessert-like mash and puree. They are delicious in these Sweet Potato Double Chocolate Brownies. Jewel sweet potatoes are less sweet and a great all-purpose sweet potato.
Ready to get chopping?
We are going to be following my 3-step method for preparing these sweet potatoes for roasting. Planks, strips, then cubes. You’ll see what I mean below.
How to Cube a Sweet Potato
PSA: Keep the peel on!
Unless you are making a mash, keep the skin on for added nutrients and fiber. The skin also helps the sweet potatoes keep their shape as they cook down in the oven. Just give them a good scrub and they are good to go.
Step 1: Trim off both ends.
I find that the little knobs at the end tend to get dry when cooked, so I prefer to discard these while chopping.
Step 2: Cut the sweet potato in half crosswise.
The smaller in length the sweet potato, the easier it will be to cut. To find a flat surface and a manageable working size, cut the sweet potato in half crosswise. Meaning, the opposite of lengthwise (the longest point from end to end).
Step 3: Cut planks.
This step now begins the process of cutting sweet potatoes to a certain size. Place the largest of the two flat surfaces of the sweet potato half on your board, and working from one side to the other, cut ¼” thick planks.
Step 4: Cut strips.
Divide the planks into two groups, keeping the original shape intact. Place the largest surface area on the board and cut the sweet potato into ¼” thick strips (or fries). Repeat with the other group of plank cuts.
Step 5: Cut cubes.
Turn the group of strips 90 degrees to cut ¼” cubes. This should yield similar size pieces of sweet potato. This is important in the roasting process. The goal is to get similar size pieces of sweet potato so that they cook at a similar rate.
How to Roast Sweet Potatoes
- Step 1: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.
- Step 2: Spread the sweet potato cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Step 3: Coat again with cooking spray and season with your spice blend of choice. Mine is salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cumin. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and smokey. Toss to coat and spread into an even layer again.
- Step 4: Roast in the oven at 400F for 25 minutes.
Depending on the actual size of your sweet potatoes, the total cooking time may vary slightly. To check for doneness, poke a fork into one of the sweet potato cubes. If it is able to pierce the sweet potato with ease, they are done!