Using an oven is the most common way to cook a sweet potato. If you don’t have one, you might be worried that there aren’t any other ways to cook sweet potatoes because you’ve only seen them or heard of them being cooked in an oven before.
The good news is that there isn’t only one way to cook a sweet potato. You can still easily cook one, even without access to an oven.
So, you don’t need to worry at all. Cooking a sweet potato without an oven can be very simple, and might even be easier than using one!
How to Tell If a Sweet Potato Is Cooked
When you are cooking a sweet potato, it is important that you are able to tell when it is finished cooking. This way, you won’t realize that you need to cook it for longer after it is too late!
A sweet potato should have a soft, mushy texture. Depending on the way that you cook them, they could have other textures, too.
Sweet potatoes that have been baked in an oven or in a microwave might have a slightly stringy texture to the outer layer of cooked potato. While this might sound unappealing, the sweet potato is still soft, and so are the few stringy parts of the potato, so it does not feel strange.
If you fry or air fry a sweet potato, the outside skin will be crispy and can become caramelized. The inside of it will also be soft, though this depends on how thin the slices are that you are frying.
How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes to Be Cooked
Sweet potatoes need to be prepared in different ways depending on the method that you are going to be using to cook them.
Most of the time, you should leave their skin on. You can remove it easily after cooking it, although some methods of cooking or recipes might require you to remove it before cooking.
You should also make sure that you never refrigerate sweet potatoes before you cook them. When you refrigerate them and then try to cook them, it will make the core of the sweet potato harder and more dense, and you will not be able to cook it well.
Instead of storing uncooked sweet potatoes in your refrigerator, you can keep them out on your counter. This way, they will cook better and will not spoil quickly.
1 – Microwave
Cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave is arguably the easiest way to cook them.
When you cook them in the microwave, the potato gets fully cooked a lot faster than it would in an oven. You don’t even have to wait for the oven to heat up before putting it in!
When you are cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave rather than in the oven, you are also ensuring that more nutrients stay in it. Sweet potatoes cooked in the microwave are actually healthier than ones that are cooked in an oven.
Before you do anything to your sweet potato, make sure that you wash it under running water and then dry it. Scrubbing it with a clean brush or cloth will help wipe away any dirt on the outside of the potato.
To prepare it to be cooked in a microwave, all you have to do is place it on a microwave-safe plate and puncture some holes through the skin.
To puncture holes in the skin of a sweet potato, it is best to use a fork. Push the fork into it about five or six times, making sure to space out the puncture spots so that they evenly cover the potato.
Then, all you have to do is microwave the potato for about five minutes, or until tender. This cook time might differ depending on the size of your sweet potato, so you might have to add more time to make sure that it is fully cooked.
If you are cooking more than one at a time in the microwave, add two minute per each additional sweet potato.
2 – Stove
Cooking sweet potatoes on the stove is another great way to avoid using an oven. Cooking them on the stove is still faster than using an oven, but it does take a little longer than cooking them in a microwave.
To prepare your sweet potatoes to be cooked on the stove, you will have to start by peeling them. You can peel them with either a vegetable peeler or with a small knife.
Once you have peeled the sweet potatoes, cut them up into small cubes. The size of your cubes doesn’t matter too much, just know that the smaller the cubes, the faster they will cook.
However, you should pay attention to the size of the cubes you are cutting them into. Make sure that the cubes are all about the same size, so that they will cook in the same amount of time.
Then, heat a pan or a skillet on the stove on medium heat. Once the pan is heated, add some oil to the bottom of the pan, and then give it a minute to heat the oil.
After that, you can add the sweet potatoes. Make sure that you are stirring them around the pan as they cook.
Cook the sweet potatoes on the stove for about five minutes, and then turn the heat to low and add a lid to the pan. Leave them there for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft all the way through.
3 – Grill
Cooking sweet potatoes on a grill gives them a nice crispy outer layer, while still being soft on the inside.
First, heat up your grill. Then, while your grill is heating, you can start to prepare them.
Slice your sweet potatoes into thin ovals or circles. Make sure that all of your slices are about the same thickness so they will all take the same amount of time to cook.
Coat the sweet potatoes in olive oil, and add any seasoning you want such as salt and pepper.
Once your grill is heated, you can start grilling them. Cook each side for about three to six minutes.
When the sweet potato is finished cooking, it should have nice grill marks on each side, but should not be entirely burned. This will give it a bit of a crispy bite, but the inside should still be soft.
4 – Air Fryer
An air fryer will take about the same amount of time as an oven would to cook a sweet potato, but it is still a great alternative that gives them a nice crispy outer layer.
For cooking sweet potatoes, you should heat the air fryer to 400 degrees.
To prepare a sweet potato to be cooked in an air fryer, the first thing that you should do is clean the outside of it with some water. Then, you can poke a few holes into the skin using a fork.
Coat the sweet potato in olive oil. You can also add seasonings, such as salt and pepper.
Then, place the sweet potato into the heated air fryer. Cook it for about 45 minutes, or until it is soft.
Once the sweet potato is finished cooking, the outer layer of skin should have a crispy texture, while the inside is soft. This is a similar texture to how it would be after cooking in an oven, but the skin is crispier.
5 – Instant Pot
Cooking sweet potatoes in an instant pot takes about 30 minutes total.
Prepare the instant pot by adding water and a steaming basket.
Make sure that you wash and scrub the outside of the sweet potatoes to get rid of any dirt that might be lingering on the surface. Then, place them into the steaming basket in the instant pot.
Put the lid on the instant pot, making sure to secure it before you start cooking. Pressure cook them on high for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, you should leave the sweet potatoes in the instant pot while you wait for the pressure to go back to normal. This will take about 10 minutes.
While you leave them in the pot, they will still continue to cook in the steam.
Once you can see that the pressure in the instant pot has gone down, you can remove the potatoes from the steaming basket. Check to make sure that they are cooked through and soft.
If they are properly cooked, they can be served.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.