quick answer why is my sweet potato tough after cooking

Why Do My Sweet Potatoes Always Turn Out Tough After Cooking?

Sweet potatoes are a favorite amongst many, thanks to their smooth and creamy texture, coupled with their deliciously sweet taste. However, cooking sweet potatoes can be a bit challenging, as they tend to become tough instead of tender. This article aims to provide you with the reasons why your sweet potatoes may always turn out tough after cooking and what to do about it.

Understanding Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be categorized into two types; the firm-textured and the soft-textured sweet potatoes. Firm-textured sweet potatoes remain firm even after they have been harvested; hence they require longer cooking times to become tender and soft. On the other hand, soft-textured sweet potatoes become tender faster since they have a higher moisture content.

Sweet potatoes are packed with health benefits such as being a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene. In addition to providing the body with essential vitamins and nutrients, they also make for an excellent meal option for those seeking to manage their weight due to their low-calorie content.

Factors That Affect the Texture of Sweet Potatoes

Various factors can cause your sweet potatoes to become tough instead of smooth and tender. Below are some critical factors you need to consider when preparing your sweet potato meals.

Age and Size of the Sweet Potato

The age of the sweet potato significantly affects the texture of the potato after cooking. As sweet potatoes age, they become firmer and require longer cooking times to become tender. Therefore, when purchasing your sweet potato at the store or farmers’ market, go for those with a shorter shelf life since these are more likely to be younger.

The size of the potato also plays a significant role in determining its texture after cooking. Large sweet potatoes require longer cooking times to become tender compared to small ones.

Cooking Method Used

Different cooking methods require different lengths of time to make sweet potatoes tender. Various techniques can be used in cooking sweet potatoes, but two of the most common methods are boiling and baking.

Boiling versus Baking Methods

Boiling is a commonly used method for cooking sweet potatoes. However, it can cause the potato to become mushy or overly soft if not correctly timed. To avoid this problem, it is essential to keep an eye on your sweet potato while boiling and remove it from the heat when it’s soft enough but not overly mushy.

Baking, on the other hand, is one of the best methods for cooking sweet potatoes. Since baking causes the potato’s starches to caramelize, giving it a delicate flavor and texture.


Overcooking your sweet potato can make it tough instead of tender. Always ensure that you keep an eye on your cooking proces and remove them from heat when they are ready.

Best Cooking Methods for Sweet Potatoes

Below are some of the best cooking methods for sweet potatoes.

Baking Method

The baking method is one of the best ways to cook firm-textured sweet potatoes without making them tough after warming. Here’s how to do it:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (218°C)
2. Scrub your sweet potato with water and poke holes using a fork.
3. Rub olive oil over your potato skin
4. Place them directly on the oven rack, or use an aluminum foil or a baking sheet
5. Bake for 45 minutes on average, but you can increase or reduce the time depending on your preference.
6. Insert a fork into the potato; if it easily slides through, then your potato is ready.

Advantages of the baking method include that it takes a short time to prep and can be done in bulk. Baked sweet potatoes have crispy skin and tender insides, making them delicious and nutritious.

Boiling Method

This method involves boiling firm-textured sweet potatoes until they become soft and tender. Here’s how to do it:

1. Peel your sweet potato and cut them equally into small pieces.
2. Put the cubed potatoes in a pot filled with enough water to cover them.
3. Bring the water to boil, then reduce heat.
4. Cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender.
5. Drain off the water

The boiling method is suitable for soft-textured sweet potatoes since they get tender quickly using this method.

How to Determine When Your Sweet Potato Is Cooked

Apart from checking the clock or timing your recipe to determine when your sweet potato is cooked, there are some physical symptoms that indicate when a sweet potato is cooked or undercooked.


Cooked sweet potatoes should have an even golden yellow or orange color. This color signifies that the starch present in the potato has turned into sugar, giving it an appetizing appearance.


A fully cooked sweet potato should feel tender but not overly mushy when gently squeezed.

How To Fix Your Tough Sweet Potato

If you’ve ever had a tough sweet potato after cooking and wondering what went wrong during preparation, here’s how to fix it:

1. Cut your tough sweet potato open
2. Sprinkle some water over your sweet potato
3. Microwave it for one minute
4. Check the texture after microwaving; if it’s still tough, microwaving for a further 30 seconds should soften it.

Microwaving your sweet potato is a quick and straightforward way of softening up any tough, overcooked parts.

Tips For Better Results With Your Sweet Potatoes

Below are some tips to help get better results when preparing your sweet potatoes:

Choosing The Right Cooking Method Based on Your Preference

There are different ways to prepare sweet potatoes, depending on your preferences.

Crispy Skin or mashed: Baking is the best method if you want crispy skin. If you prefer mashed sweet potatoes, boiling them is most appropriate.

Color preference: Baking generates beautiful caramelization on the exterior while Boiling retains the orange color.

Common Mistakes People Make with Cooking Sweet Potatoes

Below are common mistakes people make when cooking sweet potatoes.

Overcooking Your Sweet Potatoes During Your First Cook

Boiling for too long or baking your sweet potatoes for an extended period can result in a tough and dry texture.


In conclusion, making tender sweet potatoes requires adequate preparation and management of cooking times by choosing the right method. You can also fix your tough potato using our tips mentioned above. In summary, Always keep an eye on your cooking process to achieve the perfect texture and flavor for a healthy, fulfilling meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I still salvage my tough sweet potato?

Definitely! If your sweet potato turned out tough after cooking, simply place it back into the oven and bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes at 375°F. This should help soften the texture and make it more palatable.

2. What causes a sweet potato to become tough?

There are a few factors that could contribute to a tough sweet potato, such as undercooking, overcooking, or using an old, dry potato. It’s important to make sure that your sweet potato is cooked thoroughly and evenly for the best results.

3. How can I prevent my sweet potato from becoming tough?

To prevent a tough sweet potato, make sure to cook it in a preheated oven at the correct temperature for the recommended time. You can also wrap the sweet potato in foil or poke some holes in it with a fork before baking to ensure that it cooks evenly.

4. Are there any other ways to cook sweet potatoes that won’t result in them being tough?

Yes! Sweet potatoes can be boiled, steamed, roasted, grilled, or even microwaved for a quick and easy side dish. Just make sure to adjust your cooking time and temperature based on the cooking method you choose to ensure that your sweet potatoes come out perfectly tender and delicious.

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