Whether you’re serving sweet potatoes as a side dish or using mashed sweet potatoes to add body to soups or baked goods, the bright orange vegetable needs to be cooked until tender. The oven is a popular method, but sweet potatoes can take up to an hour to cook this way.
A quick and easy option is the microwave. There are several benefits of microwaving a sweet potato:
Shorter cooking time: “Because microwaves cook the food itself, rather than heating the air around the food, microwaving typically cuts about 50-75% of the cooking time [when compared to other methods]says Steph Chen, founder and CEO of Anyday, a microwave cookware company. A sweet potato cooks in just 6 to 8 minutes in the microwave as opposed to 40 minutes to an hour in the oven.
Energy Efficient: The short cooking time means less energy is used, especially since the microwave does not heat up your kitchen like an oven. This makes it a good option, especially in summer.
Nutrition: “Microwave cooking retains more nutrients in food than any other cooking method. This is because it cooks faster [and] uses less heat,” says Chen. This makes it a more nutritious option for cooking sweet potatoes than for baking, steaming, or boiling.
Moist results: “The microwave acts like a super-fast steamer, resulting in an incredibly fluffy and spoonable sweet potato,” says Chen. If you like sweet potatoes juicy and creamy, then use the microwave.
How to use microwave sweet potatoes
“There’s a million things you can do with microwaved yams,” says Chen. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Loaded: Slice a whole microwave sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper and top with butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and chives.
Sesame: Roughly chop a boiled sweet potato and mix with a tablespoon each of tahini and sesame seeds.
coconut puree: Mash cooked sweet potatoes with enough coconut milk to make a creamy mixture and 1 teaspoon coconut oil per potato.
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Puree: Mash cooked sweet potatoes and mix with 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon per potato. Garnish with toasted pecans.
Soup: Peel and mash cooked sweet potatoes and mash into a soup with a cup of broth and seasonings like sautéed onions and garlic. Add spices like curry powder or dried thyme.
Bake: Peel and mash sweet potatoes and use the puree to make sweet potato pies, bread, muffins, cupcakes and more.
If you need to quickly cook a sweet potato, the microwave is the best option. Before cooking, prick the outside with a fork and either place in a container with a lid or wrap in damp kitchen paper. The sweet potato is ready when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Serve loaded with toppings, puree as a side dish, or use to make baked goods.
Laurel Randolph is a food writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in Los Angeles, California. She has written four cookbooks, one of which was the #2 best-selling cookbook of 2017. Laurel has contributed to publications such as EatingWell, Food52, The Spruce Eats, Paste Magazine, Serious Eats, Eaten Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and more.