This step by step guide will teach you how to cook sweet potatoes in the oven, in an air fryer, or in the microwave. Using these easy tested and perfected recipes will give you the perfect baked sweet potato every time, no matter which appliance you bake it in!

baked sweet potatoes on plate

Sweet potatoes have such an amazing natural sweetness and flavor, they don’t even need to be dressed up. However, there’s nothing better than a piping hot sweet potato, topped with butter and sprinkled with flakey sea salt!

Sweet potatoes can be served as an entree loaded with toppings. They can also be served as a simple side dish, or incorporated into a variety of sweet potato recipes!

Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, they’re healthy too. Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, fiber and even give you a little plant-based protein! 

I love to roast sweet potatoes in the oven or air fryer for fluffy insides and crisp skin, but it’s also great to know how to cook sweet potatoes in the microwave when you’re in a hurry. Keep reading to learn each method so you can have them any time!

sweet potato in microwave on paper towel

How to cook a sweet potato in the microwave

Preparing your sweet potato in the microwave is the quickest and easiest method! It will give you a hot and tender sweet potato in less than 10 minutes!

  1. Wash and dry the sweet potato.
  2. Pierce it all over with a fork.
  3. Put the potato on top of a microwave safe plate or paper towel.
  4. Microwave on high for 4 minutes.
  5. Use tongs or oven mitts to flip over the potato.
  6. Continue to microwave for 3 more minutes, or until fork tender.
  7. If it still isn’t all the way fork tender, keep microwaving in 30 second increments until it is.

This method was made with a 12 ounce (¾ lb) sweet potato. If the sweet potato you’re using is smaller, I recommend taking one minute off of the cooking time.

fork piercing sweet potato on cutting board
sweet potatoes on foil lined baking sheet

How to bake sweet potatoes in the oven

This method is for a whole baked sweet potato, for a delicious cubed and roasted version, check out this recipe for Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes, or this recipe for Sweet Potato Fries!

Baking the potato gives you a wonderful, fluffy texture on the inside with a perfectly crispy skin on the outside.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Scrub the potato clean and dry it off.
  3. Prick it all over with a fork.
  4. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until tender.

If using a 12 ounce (¾ lb) sweet potato, you will probably need the full 50 minutes, or more in the oven. If using a smaller sweet potato, approximately ½ pound in size, it should be fully cooked in 40-45 minutes.

uncooked sweet potatoes in air fryer basket
cooked sweet potatoes in air fryer basket

How to cook sweet potatoes in an air fryer

An air fryer will give you a similar result to the oven, but in slightly less time.

  1. Wash and dry the potato.
  2. Use a fork to poke holes in the sweet potato.
  3. Add two or three ½ pound sweet potatoes to an air fryer basket, lined with parchment paper.
  4. Air fry at 400°F for 30 minutes or until fork tender.

After 30 minutes, use tongs to gently squeeze the potatoes. If they’re still hard to the touch, put them back in the air fryer in 5 minute increments, until they’re tender.

sweet potatoes on cutting board with text overlay on image

What’s the best way to cook sweet potatoes?

  • Fastest: Microwave – hands down, if you’re in a hurry, the microwave will cook your sweet potato in 7 minutes, whereas the air fryer will take 30 minutes and the oven will take at least 40 minutes.
  • Best texture: it’s a tie, between the air fryer and oven. The inside is moist, while the skin has a little crunch. When using the microwave, the inside tends to be a little dryer and the outside has basically no texture to it.
  • Best overall: I have to go with the oven, by a very narrow margin, because the inside texture of the sweet potato is just slightly softer, than in the air fryer.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with any of these methods! If you follow my tips throughout this post, you’ll have perfectly cooked sweet potatoes, no matter the method used to bake them.

Pro tips

  • Use tongs, or an oven mitt to gently squeeze the potato to tell if it’s done. If the potato is still firm when squeezed, that means it needs to cook more.
  • It is best to keep the sweet potatoes as dry as possible while baking, air frying, or microwaving for the crispiest skin and fluffiest inside. Any moisture will steam the potatoes, instead of baking them.
  • I prefer to cook the sweet potatoes on a piece of foil, rather than wrapped in foil. Wrapping the sweet potatoes in foil means all of the moisture is kept inside and once again, this will steam the potatoes instead of baking them, resulting in a different texture.
  • Always pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. No matter which appliance you’re using to bake the sweet potatoes, you always want to pierce the outside of the potato with a fork, just about 10 times is fine. This prevents your sweet potato from bursting as it cooks and leaking out of the skin.

How to store and reheat

  • Store: Keep cooked sweet potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze: You can also seal the leftovers in a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months.
  • Reheat: To reheat sweet potatoes, you can use the microwave, oven or air fryer. I recommend 2 minutes in the microwave, 10 minutes in the oven or 5 minutes in the air fryer.
baked sweet potatoes stuffed with sloppy joe filling

How to serve them

Slice the cooked sweet potato in half, mash the inside a little with a fork, and load it up with any of the following toppings.

  • Butter, salt and pepper
  • Brown sugar and cinnamon, or for even more fall flavor, Pumpkin Pie Spice, plus a drizzle of maple syrup!
  • Cumin, chili powder, and sour cream
  • Sloppy Joe filling (as seen above)
  • Plain yogurt
  • Fresh herbs
  • Chunks of chicken and your favorite sauce, like buffalo sauce or this Cilantro Lime Sauce.
  • Your favorite ground meat seasoned with Taco Seasoning and shredded cheddar cheese. Or for a vegetarian option, use soyrizo or Vegan Taco Meat, along with salsa, guacamole, and your favorite taco toppings.
  • Steamed broccoli and cheese
  • Crumbled bacon, sautéed spinach and a fried egg – delicious for breakfast!

You can also use them to create any of these fabulous recipes.

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Baked Sweet Potatoes

This step by step guide will teach you how to cook sweet potatoes in the oven, in an Instant Pot, or in the microwave. Using these easy tested and perfected recipes will give you the perfect baked sweet potato every time, no matter which appliance you bake it in!

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, approximately ½ pound in size

Instructions

Microwave Method

  • Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork, 8-10 times.
  • Place on a paper towel or plate in the microwave.
  • Microwave on high for 4 minutes.
  • Use tongs or an oven mitt to flip the sweet potatoes.
  • Microwave for an additional 3 minutes, or until fork tender.

Oven Method

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork, 8-10 times.
  • Place the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and into the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until fork tender.

Air Fryer Method

  • Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork, 8-10 times.
  • Add to the basket of an air-fryer, lined with parchment paper.
  • Air fry at 400°F for 30 minutes, or until fork tender.

Notes

  • Use tongs, or an oven mitt to gently squeeze the potato to tell if it’s done. If the potato is still firm when squeezed, that means it needs to cook more.
  • Baked sweet potatoes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat for 2 minutes in the microwave, at 400°F in the air fryer for 5 minutes, or at 400°F in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Baked sweet potatoes can be stored in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 194kcal (10%)Carbohydrates 45g (15%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 0.1gSaturated Fat 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat 0.03gSodium 124mg (5%)Potassium 762mg (22%)Fiber 7g (28%)Sugar 9g (10%)Vitamin A 32063mg (641%)Vitamin C 5mg (6%)Calcium 68mg (7%)Iron 1mg (6%)
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