Roasted Sweet Potatoes
We make these perfect Roasted Sweet Potatoes at least once a week in my house, and have figured out how to make them tender and caramelized, but not burned.
Delicious enough to be eaten on its own as a side dish, the cubes can also be used as a base for other recipes like Sweet Potato Hash and hearty salads.
We’ve made a TON of roasted vegetables over the years, basically roasting everything from Roasted Fennel to Roasted Acorn Squash to Roasted Parsnips. But roasted sweet potato cubes are for sure our #1 favorite in the house.
My toddler loves to nibble on the sweet potato chunks straight off the baking sheet, and I keep the leftovers in the fridge for throwing into various meals. The usual is my daily lunchtime salads, but you can get creative in other ways, making hashes or pairing them with this Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce for some delicious vegetarian tacos.
Though I will occasionally roast sweet potatoes whole, the reason why I bother to cut them into cubes most of the time is because it really maximizes the caramelization.
The cubes give you more surface area and thus more browning. Roasting them this way brings out their natural sweetness, and gives you a delicious but healthy side dish that’s satisfying and filling too.
Tips for Best Results
Pick the right variety – My grocery store carries four types of sweet potatoes: Garnet, Jewel, Hannah, and Japanese. Let me tell you, these all roast VERY differently. Though they have enjoyable flavors, the Hannah and Japanese varieties are more dry and starchy, and will not roast as well as the Garnet and Jewel. Garnet is the most moist of all and my favorite, but Jewel is also good. Most grocery stores carry Garnet and Jewel.
Select good sweet potatoes at the store – Make sure each sweet potato you buy is rock hard and firm to the touch. If there are any soft spots at all, that means they’re old and rotting, and you should steer clear. Also try to select ones without any bruising or cracks.
Dry well after washing – Water is the enemy of caramelization, so make sure that you dry the sweet potatoes well with a towel after washing them.
Should you peel or not?
Before we begin, you need to decide if you’re going to leave the peel on or not.
I personally LOVE the texture of sweet potato skin and think it’s one of the best parts, so what I do is only peel the gnarly parts (like where my knife is pointing in the photo below), and try to leave as much of the skin on as possible.
If you’re leaving the skin on, I recommend buying organic instead of conventional, and giving the skin a scrub beforehand.
Step by Step Overview:
The first thing you want to do is dice the sweet potatoes. First cut them in half:
Then prop the sweet potato up on its flat side, and cut straight down to make planks:
Lay each plank down, and cut into even chunks:
I cut them about 3/4″ square, slightly less than typical 1-inch pieces, but you can make them as big or as small as you’d like. Just keep in mind this will change cook time slightly and you’ll need to watch out for that.
Place the sweet potato cubes in a large bowl, then add your fat of choice, sea salt, and any other seasonings you’d like:
Today I’m using olive oil, but I also really like some of the more flavorful animal fats like lard, duck fat, ghee, and tallow. Coconut oil and avocado oil also work well.
Toss the sweet potato cubes well in the fat, then spread the pieces out on a sheet pan that’s large enough to accommodate a single layer, with some space between the cubes:
No parchment paper?
Depending on your oven and the brand of sheet pans you own, the sweet potato cubes may be prone to burning. When I use air bake sheet pans, I have no problems with burning, but with regular uncoated pans, the sweet potato cubes close to the edges of the pan can burn. To illustrate the difference in baking pans, just look at this post from Tessa at Handle the Heat, where you see huge variations in scorching on the bottom of the cookies. The pan you use does matter.
I generally prefer not to roast vegetables on parchment paper (or aluminum foil), because I find that the browning is better when there’s direct contact with the pan. However, if you’re concerned about burning, feel free to use parchment paper. Also, make sure to roast in the center of the oven. Whenever I try baking on the top rack (like if I have multiple trays), my food always gets burned up there.
Roast for about 40 minutes in the center of the oven, tossing partway through, until fork tender.
The skins and outsides should have a nice chew and caramelization to them from the hot oven:
How to Serve
The roasted sweet potatoes make for a great side dish as is, but I also use them as the base for Sweet Potato Hash, and throw them into my salads at lunch. They also pair beautifully with all sorts of meat entrees like Prime Rib, Peruvian Chicken, and Leg of Lamb.
You can also make grain bowls by pairing with white or brown rice, black beans, caramelized red onions, and a drizzle of Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
This sweet potato recipe lends itself nicely to both savory flavors and sweet flavors. Here are some variations to try, particularly if you want to dress them up more for special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner.
Spices – Add up to 1 teaspoon of chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, or other savory spices you enjoy.
Sweetness – Toss with up to 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or brown sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of the crispy roasted sweet potatoes.
Fancy butters – Try tossing the roasted cubes in specialty butter like Homemade Orange Honey Butter.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw in the fridge overnight. However you may also reheat directly from frozen in the oven, by adding an extra 5 minutes.
The best options are the microwave or the oven. In the microwave, reheat in 30 second intervals until warm. For the oven, reheat in a 300F oven for 10 minutes, until warm. If reheating straight from frozen, you will likely need to add an extra 5 minutes.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 3 lbs sweet potatoes (Garnet or Jewel varieties recommended)
- 3 tbsp olive oil*
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 400F. If desired, line the pan with parchment paper** (see recipe note).
- Decide whether or not you’d like to leave the skin on, then cut the sweet potatoes into cubes about 3/4″ wide (see step-by-step photos for cutting guidance).
- Place the sweet potato cubes into a bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt.
- Spread the cubes out on a sheet pan in a single layer, then roast for 40-45 minutes, giving everything a toss halfway through to redistribute, and keeping your eye on them at the end. They should be fork tender in the middle, with a slightly caramelized exterior. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.