How To Peel Sweet Potatoes: Barb’s Quick And Easy Method

Yes, you read it right. Sweet potato, the incredible root vegetable that gives you nightmares.

Dense sweet potatoes have a thick, difficult-to-remove skin that makes them frustrating to work with, especially given the amount of time it takes to cook them.

However, sweet potatoes are nutrition-packed, full of vitamins, extremely versatile and inexpensive, so they seem like a good choice no matter what.

And in the end, when you make a meal, the struggle with peeling will be worth it all.

Today we’re talking about how to peel sweet potatoes the most efficient and effective way. I’ve developed a few methods, check them out!

How To Peel Sweet Potatoes - First steps

I remember when my sons were young, they adored sweet mashed potatoes and I used to make it for them quite a lot. But, for the longest time, my husband was helping me with the peeling, as I usually ended up cutting myself. 

However, times have changed; I now I peel my sweet potatoes with ease, just as if they were carrots. There are several ways to peel sweet potatoes and it usually depends on do you want it peeled before or after the cooking.

Whatever you want to do with your sweet potatoes, make sure to rinse them before peeling. As they grow underground (and being the clean freak I am), I always scrub them to be sure I have removed the dirt. I also tend to use warm water so the hard skin would soften a little bit.

Also, using a knife, I cut off any woody portions and ends.

Peeling and cutting (before cooking)

And now, for the real deal: after you have cleaned your sweet potato, it’s time to peel the still-hard skin.

  1. First, peel the sweet potato from root to tip. It might be obvious, but it is helpful! Use a serrated peeler if you've got it, although a regular peeler is fine. Any sharp peeler will do, but a serrated peeler works a little more efficiently, gripping the sweet potato skin. Make long and strokes from root to tip and turn the sweet potato around as you go.
  2. Once you peel your sweet potato, roll it on a cutting board. Is there one side that feels stable on the cutting surface? If you can't find a side that is stable, cut a sliver of potato from one side to make a flat surface that will make the potato sit evenly. Believe me, this is important, unless you do so they will be round and unstable (this is how I used to cut myself).

Make your cuts even: whether you're going to slice your sweet potato into cubes, rounds or sticks for fries, keeping each piece close in size will make cooking them easier. This only takes practice!

Peeling after cooking

People say that a lot of the taste and nutritious value of sweet potatoes comes from the skin, so some prefer to leave the skin on and boil the entire potato. I don’t prefer this technique, but even I use it sometimes because it is faster and, more importantly, easier to do.

  1. Pick out your sweet potatoes so they can fit in the pot. Place the pot over high heat. Cover the pot and bring the sweet potatoes to a boil.
  2. After about 10 minutes of boiling (yes, they are very hard and slow to cook), when the sweet potatoes are softer, remove the lid and pierce them with a sharp paring knife to hasten the cooking process. As I am often in a hurry, this step is important because I usually prepare the whole meal (every part of it) at the same time. Sometimes when I forget to puncture the sweet potatoes, they take longer to cook than meat. Weird, right?
  3. Let the sweet potatoes cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until they are tender. Sweet potato is done when you can drive a knife straight through without resistance.
  4. When the potatoes are done, remove the pot from the fire and place a colander in the sink. Drain the excess water and set sweet potatoes aside until they are cool enough to handle.
  5. And now, for the peeling: Slice into the skin, using the paring knife. Peel off the skin, similar to the way you would peel a banana. You can also cut off the tip and scrape off the skin, using your knife. In this case, the skin will come off really easy, as it is basically already disconnected from the inside. That’s why this is easier for some people.

Peeling sweet potatoes with a paring knife

Yes, there is always an alternative. If you don’t own a peeler or you find it hard to peel the hard skin sweet potatoes have, then a regular paring knife might be the choice for you.

  1. The same goes for this technique - you need to clean the sweet potatoes first. After you have done that, place a single potato on the cutting board.
  2. Slice off one end of the potato. Slicing off the bottom will enable the sweet potato to be placed upright on the cutting board without requiring any other kind of stabilization. Stand the potato on the sliced bottom.
  3. Hold the rounded top of the potato. Peel off one section of the potato at a time with a sharp knife. Start at the top and peel off the skin until your knife reaches the bottom of the potato. Continue rotating it and cutting one piece at a time.

Try not to take off too much of the flesh of the sweet potato as you peel - this takes practice so be careful: at your first try you may end up with only a half of the sweet potato that you started with.

And, that would be it! Now you have a non-cooked sweet potato ready to be cut whichever shape and size you want. Just keep in mind that the smaller the pieces, the faster it will be done cooking.

My favorite dishes with sweet potatoes

You can do a lot more with sweet potatoes than just boiling, but it does usually always require getting rid of the skin first. Now that we got that part covered, let’s move on to some tasty meals and side dishes you can make with sweet potatoes.

1. Sweet potato casserole

There are a lot of recipes for sweet potato casserole, but my family likes the traditional one best.

Without exception, this is the dish I make every year for Thanksgiving. I mean, even if I wanted to leave it out (which I don’t), my husband wouldn’t let me - this one is his favorite.

Despite the popular opinion, casserole isn’t that hard to make. You need some sweet potatoes (peeled and cut in cubes), cooked until tender and then mashed

  1. You mix in cinnamon, vanilla extract, brown sugar, nutmeg and pecans (these spices are what gives these mashed sweet potatoes its sweet flavor).
  2. Top with pecans and mini marshmallows.
  3. Bake for about 15-20 minutes in the oven and that’s it!

2. Sweet potato soup

You know how I mentioned my husband’s excitement with sweet potato casserole? Well, sweet potato soup is my thing!

There are so many dishes you can make with sweet potatoes but I just needed to share this one with you. Even if you have some picky little eaters in your home (and if you have kids, chances are you surely do), trust me, they will love it. Everybody loves it and it’s extremely easy to make.

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small pieces.
  2. Place in a pot, and cover with chicken stock. 
  3. When the potatoes are done, puree them.
  4. Return pureed sweet potatoes to the saucepan. Slowly stir in heavy whipping cream, brown sugar, nutmeg, and butter.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. That’s it, you have your perfect sweet potato soup!

Wrapping it up

It is almost like I can not control myself when it comes to sweet potato dishes. The options are endless and I get so excited! You can make an appetizer, main course, side course, a dessert... with a variety of spices - everything goes well with sweet potatoes.

Now that you know the hardest part, which is the peeling, you can search for more recipes with sweet potatoes and include them in your regular diet.

I hope that after reading this, you are feeling as inspired as I am, because I’m heading to the kitchen to make some sweet potato soup and casserole! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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