Sweet potatoes are so easy to cook and are very versatile, not to mention nutritious. As a side dish, they’re right up there with potatoes and can be served with just about anything from spicy curries to roast chicken.
As a main dish, they are a meal in themselves, especially if stuffed with a delicious filling. While sweet potatoes are simple to cook, it is also easy to cook them unevenly or undercook them.
This happens for many reasons, which we will explore here. Read on to find out why your sweet potatoes are sometimes undercooked and how to solve the problem.
Why Does My Sweet Potatoes Always Turn Out Undercooked?
1. Size Variations
Sweet potatoes come in different varieties, different shapes, and different sizes. Firstly, when cooking them, be sure to cook the same variety for a meal.
This is because some varieties soften faster than others. The orange variety tends to contain more moisture and soften faster than the white variety, which is drier.
Secondly, choose ones of a similar size and shape to cook together. That way you won’t have some overcooked while others are still raw in the middle. When cutting wedges or cubes, be sure to make them all the same size.
Store your sweet potatoes in a cool dark place, such as a pantry or a cupboard, with plenty of air circulation. If you store them in the fridge, they will take much longer to cook and may cook unevenly.
3. Cooking Methods
Microwaving is not a good idea for sweet potatoes. Because of their uneven shape, the ends often overcook while the center remains raw. Baking or boiling are the best methods for even cooking and we will detail them below.
Baked sweet potatoes are easy to cook and result in a soft, succulent center. Keep the skin on and wash them well, scrubbing them if necessary to remove any dirt.
Dry them and prick them all over with a skewer or fork. The holes will reduce the cooking time and prevent the skins from bursting because the steam can escape.
Now wrap them individually in tin foil and place them on a baking sheet. Put them into a preheated oven and bake them for around 45 minutes.
However, the time completely depends on the size. When you think they are done, prick them with your fork or skewer. They should be completely soft right through to the middle.
From a nutritional point of view, boiling is the best way to cook sweet potatoes because it retains more of their antioxidant power compared to baking or roasting. The glycemic index is lower too, causing less of a blood sugar spike.
If boiling, it is important to keep the skin on as the peel has almost ten times the number of antioxidants as the flesh.
To boil, place them in a single layer in a wide-based pot. Cover them with water and bring them to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the potatoes are completely soft all the way through. Drain them well.
Roasting is a super-yummy way of cooking these golden beauties because the oil and natural sugars caramelize, forming a sticky, sweet syrup on the potatoes.
To ensure they cook through with no raw bits, we suggest covering the roasting dish with foil for the first half of the cooking time.
When the sweet potatoes are almost soft, remove the foil and allow them to brown. Remember to toss them in oil before cooking.
Foolproof Sweet Potatoes
- 4 evenly sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Ground sea salt salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and put them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Bake until tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
- Let cool, then split the tops open with a knife and top with a pat of butter.
- Season with salt and pepper before serving.
- If you find cooking sweet potatoes a hassle, we suggest you cook a double batch and store them, covered, in the fridge. They will keep well this way for a week. Rather do this than be tempted to microwave them!
Other Serving Ideas
- Stuff them with Sloppy Joe mince and top with cheese. Grill to melt the cheese.
- Stuff with barbeque chicken and avocado
- Make roast sweet potato wedges sprinkled with Cajun spice. Serve with a creamy dip.
- Serve wedges with sweet chili sauce
- Serve wedges with guacamole
- Are you inspired yet….?
Undercooked sweet potatoes are very unpleasant and can be almost inedible. Follow our simple guide to ensure that your next batch is tender, moist, and sweet.