Yams Vs. Sweet Potatoes

Published on



Have you ever wondered about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes? Discover more about each of these foods and find easy at-home recipes.

Are you a fan of holiday foods? Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another cold-weather holiday, you'll probably notice that yams and sweet potatoes are often on the menu. 

Are yams and sweet potatoes the same? These words are often used interchangeably, but these veggies are not the same. Today, let's talk about why these foods get confused and how to appreciate both for their unique qualities. Then, we'll show you fresh, simple sweet potato recipes that can make dinner tasty. 

The Main Differences Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Here's the simple truth: yams and sweet potatoes aren't the same. For years, people have mixed up these two vegetables because they tend to look similar. Although these vegetables might have a few things in common, they're each a unique vegetable. 

The main difference between these two is that true yams are not a type of potato at all. These root vegetables belong to their own plant family (the morning glory family), while sweet potatoes belong to the nightshade family.

Why Do People Confuse Yams With Sweet Potatoes?

Have you ever seen sweet potatoes called candied yams on a menu or in a grocery store? There's a reason people confuse these two vegetables, and it has to do with southern U.S. Agriculture. 

In the early 1920s, sweet potato growers in the Southern U.S. decided to call their sweet potatoes the African word "yams." Ultimately, they wanted to distinguish sweet potatoes from regular potatoes so people wouldn't confuse the two. 

Even though sweet potatoes are very different vegetables from yams, you'll find this word on many sweet potato labels today — however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires these labels to also include the word "sweet potatoes" for more accurate advertisement.

All About Sweet Potatoes

Do you enjoy the creamy, sweet taste of sweet potatoes? These root tubers come from South and Central America, but you can find them in North American grocery stores. Though this starchy vegetable is part of the nightshade family, it's also closely related to carrots. Its thin skin and long, tapered shape are evidence of this connection. 

Common Questions About Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be a delectable addition to many warm dinners. It's no surprise these are so well-loved.

Let's talk about some of the questions people often have about this food. After that, we'll explore more facts about yams.

Do Sweet Potatoes Have Health Benefits?

You might find this surprising, but sweet potatoes contain a range of nutrients that help support your body. Here is a quick list of what sweet potatoes have to offer:

Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants which help fight off free radicals in your body. Eating these periodically can be a delicious way to provide your body with nutrients!

How Do You Find a Good Sweet Potato?

When shopping for groceries, you might wonder how to spot a quality sweet potato. As you evaluate them, try choosing one that's medium-size and doesn't have cracks or bruises. You'll want the skin to be smooth and firm. 

Can You Freeze Sweet Potatoes?

Sometimes, you buy things at the grocery store that you forget to use during the week –– it happens! The good news is that you can freeze sweet potatoes to enjoy later. It's not recommended to freeze them raw. Cooking them or boiling them first will deliver the best results. 

Are There Different Kinds of Sweet Potatoes?

Did you know there are sixteen different varieties of sweet potatoes? Some people say there are even more! Here's a quick list of the different types of sweet potatoes to help you distinguish them at the grocery store:

Can You Eat Sweet Potatoes Year-Round?

You might think that sweet potatoes have a particular season since they're popular in holiday side dishes like sweet potato casserole. However, this root vegetable is available in grocery stores year-round! 

What Makes Sweet Potatoes So Impressive?

You can thank the sweet potato and George Washington Carver for a variety of inventions. Carver used this vegetable to create dyes, shoe polish, synthetic silk, molasses, rope, wood filler, and more! Who knew this one food could be so versatile?

How To Make Sweet Potatoes More Delicious

Let's say you've decided to bake your sweet potatoes, and you're wondering how you can make them even tastier. Luckily, there are several easy ways to enhance the flavor of sweet potatoes! Here are a few easy ways to bring your sweet potatoes to the next level.

Ways To Cook Sweet Potatoes

Are you curious about ways to cook sweet potatoes? Here are a few quick ideas!

Everything To Know About Yams

Let's talk about yams. This vegetable often gets mixed up with sweet potatoes, though they're much different. After discussing questions you might have about this veggie, we'll show you a few recipes that can make cooking easy!

Where Did Yams Originate?

These edible tubers come from Asia and Africa. Their brown skin tends to be drier, and their insides are white. These don't spoil in humid conditions, making them excellent options for the climates where they grow.

They’re still extremely popular in West Africa. 

What Do Yams Taste Like?

One of the main differences between sweet potatoes and yams is their taste. Though they are not related to potatoes, their flavor can be similar. They have a neutral flavor, unlike sweet potatoes. 

It's important to know that yams are not edible when raw because their flesh can be toxic when not cooked. However, once you cook this food, it can make a versatile complement to many recipes. 

How Do You Find Yams?

Remember, packaging at your local supermarket can be misleading. If you want to try real yams, you won't be able to go to a typical North American grocery store. Instead, you'll want to visit a Caribbean or African market to pick these up. Once you purchase yams, you can cut them into round slices and boil them!

Simple Sweet Potato Recipes You Can Make This Week

Perhaps all our talk about sweet potatoes has inspired you to try more sweet potato dishes! Cooking with sweet potatoes can provide a host of nutrients for yourself or your household. Let's look at easy sweet potato recipes you can incorporate into your weekly meals!

Baked Sweet Potato With Blue Cheese

What better way to mix things up in the kitchen than adding an interesting cheese? Our Baked Sweet Potato With Blue Cheese recipe allows you to savor the decadence of creamy sweet potatoes with sharp blue cheese. Walnuts on top add the perfect crunch and texture! It only requires three minutes of prep work, and you can let your oven do the rest.

Balsamic Sweet Potato and Pecan Salad

Have you been looking for a good salad recipe? Our Balsamic Sweet Potato and Pecan Salad calls for feta cheese with arugula and tangy balsamic dressing. Enjoy this tasty dish between meals to stay nourished.

Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

Warm soups can make the perfect pair for rainy days or cold weather. This Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup adds even more warmth with delightful curry and ginger added to the mix. Enjoy the puréed mixture and its blend of flavors. It's a perfect dish for those who prefer vegetarian or vegan meals!

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Are you in the mood for a dish full of lively, vibrant spices? This Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry recipe combines sweet potatoes and lentils with vegetable broth, coconut milk, and brilliant spices. Try it for yourself to enjoy the spice of turmeric with tasty sweet potatoes.

Honey-Curry Pork Chops and Mashed Sweet Potato

Mashed potatoes never tasted so sweet. This mouthwatering pork chop dish includes a unique honey-soy flavoring! It's a perfect dinner idea when cooking for dinner guests.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Bowl

Sometimes, you want a little bit of everything to eat, and that's why easy bowl meals are such a great idea. This Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl features sweet potato cubes with quinoa, goat cheese, and spinach! Lemon, onion, and vegetable bouillon add an exquisite flavor to every bite. 

Sweet Potato and Hummus Bowl

Are you a hummus lover? This vegetarian-friendly sweet potato bowl includes yummy sweet potatoes with creamy hummus and crisp arugula.

Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Hash

Making breakfast can be tasty! This Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Hash can give your typical breakfast menu more variety. Enjoy feta cheese sprinkled in with delicious cubed sweet potatoes, a fried egg, and garlic for flavor. You'll love how this dish starts your day!

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

This puréed Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup is a perfect go-to for lazy days when you want a light, tasty meal. Enjoy the blend of carrots, sweet potatoes, lentils, and spices with heavy cream. 

Easy Cooking Can Taste Great 

Now that you know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, you'll never be duped again! You can also appreciate how versatile and tasty each of these foods can be. 

Whether you're preparing to cook sweet potatoes or searching for new snack recipes for your household, we're here to assist at Jow! Let us lighten the load of your grocery shopping, meal prep, and cooking this week. 


Sweet Potatoes | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams: What’s the Difference? | Mississippi State University