By Chef Alli on November 3, 2016

Sweet Potato...Sweet Potato...Sweet Potato...YAM?

Chef Alli shares her go-to sweet potato recipes just in time for Thanksgiving.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Gratin

Why do so many supermarkets across the U.S. call sweet potatoes yams? Great question!  It seems the confusion began at the time that enslaved Africans referred to American sweet potatoes as nyami, a West African word for yam.  The term stuck and has since been used interchangeably when referencing sweet potatoes within the grocery industry.  

While it's true yams do slightly resemble sweet potatoes, in reality they are a completely different vegetable.  Common in many parts of Africa, Yams boast thick skins and a pale, fleshy interior.  

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are availabe locally in hundreds of varieties and in many different colors, including both the inside flesh as well as the outer skins.  

To bake a superb sweet potato, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Rub the outer skin of the sweet potato with a bit of vegetable oil.  
  3. Place oiled sweet potato directly onto the center rack of preheated oven.  
  4. Bake 50-55 minutes or until soft to the touch when gently squeezed.  Skin will be crispy/crackly.  
  5. Split sweet potato open lengthwise and dress with a slather of butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper as desired.  

Below are two of Chef Alli's favorite sweet potato dishes for the holidays that have received good reviews from guests. Choose dark orange sweet potatoes, found in nearly every grocery store in the land and probably labeled (mistakenly) as yams.  

  • Chef Alli

    Chef Alli is a wife, mom and chef. She's been stirring up a love of farm fresh cooking for more than a decade.  To see more of Alli's recipes, go to