If there’s one vegetable out there that’s as tasty as it is healthy, it’s just got to be the sweet potato. But fans of the orange root veggie – and especially those fans who prefer their sweet tubers roasted – know that it has a frustrating side.
In fact, the sweet potato is technically frustrating on all of its sides— because the problem is its skin.
Everybody who’s ever bitten into an overdone sweet potato knows exactly what we mean. While it’s fairly simple and easy to get that sweet orange flesh to the perfect level of dreamy creaminess, too often the skin turns out too tough and stripped-of-flavor to eat.
And yes, you can totally go skinless, but since that would mean missing out on a whole lot of vitamins and nutritional value, we thought there just had to be a better way.
Turns out, there is! As our friends over at Food52 shared with us, the answer is as surprising as it is simple.
All About that Cold Pan
So what have we all been doing wrong this whole time? Turns out, it’s the very first thing we usually do when we go to bake, roast, and make any sort of dish in the oven: preheating.
Yes, it’s the preheating of our ovens that’s leading to “leathery” roasted sweet potato skins! Instead, we should warm the skins slowly and evenly by placing the sweet potatoes on a cool pan, placing them in a cold oven, and then setting it to our preferred roasting temperature.
Food52 explains the reasoning like this:
Perfectly done skins begin in a cool oven, says the woman who literally wrote the book on sweet potatoes, Mary-Frances Heck: “Starting the sweet potatoes in a cool oven, whenever possible, warms the flesh slowly and evenly without turning the skin into inedible jerky,” she writes. Instead of preheating the oven while you prep, place your root-filled baking sheet directly in the oven, then set it to 350°F.
You want to keep your sweet potatoes in the oven even after they look tender—ideally an hour (and two hours for very large ones!). You’ll know they’re ready when the skins collapse and caramelized juice bubbles from the sweet potatoes’ ends.
Well that’s an easy-enough fix, now isn’t it? We’ve heard the whole “start with a cold pan” thingbefore, of course, but it never occurred to us that it was the solution for our sweet potatoes. And here we were looking to give up this method of cooking them completely!
So from now on, we’ll be keeping our ovens cold before we roast our sweet potatoes. How about you? Did you know this “fun fact” already?
Of course, we couldn’t share the perfect way to roast sweet potatoes without ALSO giving you a tantalizingly delicious recipe to go with it. And what recipe fits that bill better than our amazing Hasselback Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes?! Check them out in our video tutorial below:
Can’t stop with just one sweet potato recipe? We’ve got you covered with more of our best ones: