Why You Should Be Steaming Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes might be most people's favorite starch (even if it's mostly in the form of french fries), but it's worth getting to know their sweet cousins as well. Sweet potatoes aren't just for baking into a pie — they can make a great addition to a number of entrees as well as side dishes or snacks.

One of the great things about sweet potatoes is that they have a huge amount of variety. There are a ton of different kinds of sweet potatoes out there, and we're not even talking about yams. The New York Times notes that researchers believe this ubiquitous tuber spread all over the world in different forms and flavors. Jessica Gavin shares some of her favorite types of sweet potatoes, which range in color from a deep purple to pale yellow and the more classic orange that most folks are accustomed to. Their differences aren't just cosmetic either — some can taste floral, nutty, or even give off notes of malty flavors as well.

Of course, none of these delicious flavors matter if you aren't preparing your sweet potatoes correctly, and while baking and frying are most synonymous with potatoes, this technique isn't as common.

Steam creates a lighter, fluffier sweet potato

One of the easiest ways to prepare sweet potatoes is to simply steam them whole. According to MasterClass, this method is great for lots of practical reasons. Steaming sweet potatoes takes minimal cleanup, because the potatoes are kept intact and never even touch the water. Keeping them whole and with their skin on also helps them cook faster. Giving your spuds some time in the sauna also cooks the sturdy root vegetables in half the time as it would take in the oven. This is partially due to the attached skin, which traps the heat and moisture inside.

Bon Appétit says that steaming also creates a pillowy-soft texture that can be scooped out with a spoon. Your sweet spuds aren't as likely to dry out as they cook either, thanks to the extra water vapors. This makes them extra light and fluffy snacks, side dishes, or salad toppings.

SFGate points out that steaming sweet potatoes is also one of the best ways to cook them without burning off many of their nutrients. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as potassium, fiber, and beta-carotene. Similar to steaming, boiling the potatoes can lower their glycemic index, meaning less of a sugar spike. So, the next time you're wondering what to do with your sweet potatoes, break out the steamer basket and give this method a try.