How To Cook Potatoes
(Sweet Potatoes and Yams Too!)

Learn how to cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams. We'll show you prep and cooking tips, and the flavors that match so you can whip up your own recipes!

There's just something about these delectable veggies that everyone seems to adore. Maybe it's because whether freshly baked or roasted, main entree or side dish, sweet potatoes, potatoes and yams have worked their way into our hearts.

If you're like me, you grew up with white potatoes (russets, red potatoes). But somewhere along the way you find out that the sweet varieties are more nutritious. It can take some getting used to.

To help ease the transition, I recommend using the sweet varieties in soup. You really can't tell the difference. Also, when making something like mashed potatoes, substitute 1/2 and 1/2. Then, when you get more brave and your taste adapts, use less and less of the white potatoes because they are just not as good for you.

See our chart below for the results of our taste test to help guide you in choosing the potatoes that jive with your own taste buds.

Now, let's get started so you can create your own potato, yam and sweet potato recipes in no time flat.    ;)

How To Select Potatoes

Always choose organic sweet potatoes, potatoes and yams.


Because they're among the top 5 veggies that should be avoided unless organic due to their pesticide levels.

Choose potatoes and yams that feel heavy. Avoid any potato or yam with decayed areas (usually at the ends), blemishes or sunken spots.

Choose potatoes of comparable size for uniform cooking. When selecting potatoes (such as russet, golden, and red) look for very firm potatoes -- those that are on the soft side or have a green tinge are to be avoided.

Now, let's have a little convo about sweet potatoes and yams. Unless you live in a place like Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania, yams are in all actuality sweet potatoes.

Real yams are ginormous -- see the photo on the left? That's a true yam! DAAAAYUM! (Hey, that rhymed.)

However, since food sellers/grocers in the U.S. use the word "yam" when it's actually a sweet potato, we're going to do the same here at, just to avoid confusion.

So having said all that, I'll share with you a little experiment Jeff and I did over here with some popular sweet potatoes/yams so you can get a good idea of what each looks like, the flavor, the texture, etc., when planning your recipes.

There are certainly more varieties then this out there, so it will be fun for you to do your own experiments to find some favorites.

Type Super-Sleuth Investigation
Garnet Skin:Pink/Orange; tastes bitter
Flesh:Dark Orange
Taste:Sort of bland; very sweet potatoe-ey (flavor gets stronger as it cools); slightly earthy
Texture: Creamy and slightly watery
Sassy Sez: I love these for creamy soups like this one
Hannah Skin:Tan; tastes sweet potatoe-ey
Flesh:Light Tan
Flavor: Like white potatoes
Sassy Sez: If you kinda like the taste of sweet potatoes, but you really prefer the taste of white potatoes, then this is your best bet because it's not too sweet. White potatoe-ey with the nutrition of sweet potatoes so perfect for sneaking into mashed potatoes. :)
(Jeff's Fave)
Skin:Pink/Orange; tastes very yammy; handle with care because these are more delicate
Flesh:Bright Orange
Taste:Very light and sweet yammy flavor
Texture: Closest of them all to the consistency of white potatoes; driest of them all too
Sassy Sez: If you'd like a drier sweet potato to use in your cooking, then this is the one for you. These don't keep as well as other sweet potatoes, so eat within a week.
(Sassy's Fave)
Skin:Dark Maroon; tastes earthy
Taste:Sweet, but not overly
Texture: Smooth but ever-so-slightly stringy
Sassy Sez: If, like me, you're not a huge fan of the flavor of sweet potatoes, then this should hit the yum mark for you.

How To Clean and Prep Potatoes

Simply scrub under running water with a vegetable brush and water. Remove any "eyes".

Skin can be left on, or peeled, depending on your cooking method and personal taste.

Personally, I recommend ALWAYS leaving the skins on because the skins are filled with nutrients. Plus they add a nice earthy taste and texture to your recipe. In fact, these days I can't imagine eating any potato dish without the skins -- it would be so boring!

How To Cook Potatoes

Feel free to cook all varieties of potatoes and yams together -- they taste great and complement each other beautifully.

Here are the cooking techniques we use and recommend for potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams.

Click the one you'd like to learn more about for complete cooking instructions.

A silver oven
A red oven
A ceramic-coated saute pan with a lid
A collapsible steamer

Potato Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your very own potato recipes with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly.

(What are Flavor Matches?)


  • Basil
  • Butter, non-dairy (I like organic Earth Balance)
  • Cayenne
  • Celery Root
  • Celery Seeds
  • Chard
  • Cheese, non-dairy (especially Cheddar and Parmesan)
  • Chervil
  • Chicory
  • Chives
  • Cream, organic and non-dairy (I like Silk Soy Creamer)
  • Dill
  • Duxelles (Mushroom Paste)
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Juniper Berries
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lovage
  • Mint
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Olives
  • Onions
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Parsley Root
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Savory
  • Sour Cream, non-dairy
  • Squash, Winter (such as Butternut and Acorn)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Thyme
  • Truffles
  • Turnips


  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Brown sugar, organic
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coconut
  • Coconut nectar
  • Cream, non-dairy
  • Earth Balance, organic (or other non-dairy butter)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Green pepper
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Maple syrup
  • Marjoram
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion
  • Oranges
  • Paprika
  • Pears
  • Pecans
  • Pepper, black
  • Pineapple
  • Rum
  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Sherry, dry
  • Sour cream, non-dairy
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Thyme
  • Vanilla
  • Walnuts

Try One Of These Vegan Potato/Sweet Potato/Yam Recipes...

Sassy's Mashed Potatoes
Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
Swiss Chard and Potato Strudel
Veggie Stuffed Potatoes
Zucchini-Potato Bake
Rustic Vegetable Soup
Pesto Vegetable Soup
Vegan Peanut Butter Vegetable Soup
Tasty Vegan Potato Hash
Potato Salad
Soy-Free Veggie Burger
Creamy Vegan Thanksgiving Soup
Twice-Baked Tropical Sweet Potatoes
Yam Biscuits
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Black Bean & Yam Stew
Sweet Potato Hash
Squash Crostini (sub potatoes or yams)
Swiss Chard and Potato Panini

Sweet Potato, Potato and Yam Helpful Hints

  • No need to peel before using. The skin is delicious and contains many nutrients.

  • When chopping these veggies before they've been cooked, begin by carefully cutting it in half so you have a flat surface. Then place that flat surface on your cutting board and continue to chop, dice, etc.

  • When cooking the whole veggie, be sure to prick holes all over it with a fork to release pressure as it cooks. Believe me, if you forget to do this you will NEVER forget the resulting explosion in your oven. (Yes, I speak from experience!)

Happy cooking!

If You Like Potatoes Try...

Photo of beets
Photo of carrots
Photo of a turnip
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