Crispy Sweet Potatoes

Yams Are Not Sweet Potatoes and Other Tales

crispy-sweet-potatoesWhen the holidays roll around, we’re all inundated with recipes for “sweet potato” somethingorother. Except in 80% of the recipes, the sweet potatoes that are shown in photos have the orangey tone of what are labeled in the supermarket as yams.

In the majority of stores that I’ve shopped at (on the coasts), sweet potatoes are a light outer skin, paler than a baking potato, with a pale, whitish flesh. Yams have a dark red skin and orangey flesh.

But it turns out that supermarket labels actually have no bearing on reality and exist only to make me crazy, according to the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, which informs me that in reality, when talking about true yams and true sweet potatoes, the colors are reversed.

This doesn’t help the conversation one iota.

So, being unable to look at a photo on a blog and determine if it’s a true yam masquerading as a sweet potato or a true sweet potato masquerading as a yam, I decided to hedge my bets.

Behold: a variation on the Crispy Sweet Potato Roast from Smitten Kitchen in which I use both sweet potatoes and yams (supermarket variety) in an alternating design. Because I can. Because it’s pretty. And because you might choose to serve something like this for your Easter meal.

I scaled the recipe to fit into a round cake pan, which worked out to be one large yam and one large sweet potato. Your mileage may vary depending on the size of your cooking vessel.

Crispy Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6
Prep time 40 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 40 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Website Smitten Kitchen
Tired of the same old sweet potato side dish? These crispy sweet potatoes have flavor, texture and visual appeal.


  • 1 sweet potato (large)
  • 1 yam (large)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Step 1
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Step 2
Heat butter and oil together. Remove from heat. Add minced garlic to the butter mixture and set aside to cool slightly. This gives the garlic a chance to flavor the butter without being too potent.
Step 3
Using your mandoline slicer, evenly slice your potatoes just thick enough that they can stand on their own, approximately 1/8" inch (3 mm). Please use the finger guard. It's there for a reason.
Step 4
Drizzle a bit of the butter/oil/garlic mixture into the bottom of your pan to coat.
Step 5
Using the extra hands of The Assistant, arrange the slices of sweet potato and yam vertically in an alternating pattern.
Step 6
Drizzle with the remaining butter/oil/garlic mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove foil and continue cooking for 10 minutes until the tops of the potatoes become crispy.
Step 7
Serve with pesto, chimichurri or any other herb-and-garlic sauce that strikes your fancy.


Weekend-MostIf it involves the mandoline slicer, it’s definitely going to be a Major Holiday Recipe. It’s not something that I would make every weekend, but I really liked the contrast between the tender potatoes and the crispy tops. And garlic… I don’t think garlic gets enough attention on the holiday table.

The Assistant liked it well enough, but when faced with the dizzying array of other foods on a holiday table, root veggies aren’t going to win his favor.

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One Response

  1. Oh, how I miss orange sweet potatoes! (Orange yams?) Here we can get purple or white. The purple are VERY sweet and the white have a consistency closer to yucca. Which is great for making imitation yucca fries. Not so good for the many orange sweet potato-requiring recipes I either already have or see and would like to make. Who’d have ever thought that one of the things I’d most miss about the US was access to orange potatoes? Not me.