Sweet potatoes are a delicious, nutritious, and versatile veggie. But baking a sweet potato in the oven takes a while — anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes — so you probably don’t think of them as a quick and easy meal option.
If you learn how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave, however, it can be ready in minutes without sacrificing flavor.
“That’s my preferred way to cook a sweet potato,” says Beachbody nutrition expert Quyen Vu. “It’s so much faster and easier.”
And you’ll still get all the healthy benefits of this tubular root veggie.
“Sweet potatoes are complex carbs, which means they’re digested slower than simple carbohydrates,” Vu says.
One medium sweet potato has 114 calories and provides 4 grams of fiber. Sweet potatoes are also considered an excellent source of vitamins A and C, Vu adds.
Want to enjoy a sweet potato ASAP? Here’s how to cook sweet potatoes fast.
How to Cook a Sweet Potato
Step 1: Choose the Right Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes come in all shapes and sizes, but if you plan on cooking them in the microwave, look for sweet potatoes with a uniform shape and consistent thickness throughout.
This helps to ensure your sweet potato cooks evenly.
Step 2: Clean It
Even if your sweet potato looks clean, it might still have some dirt and growing slips (those long, root-like strings) attached to it.
Pick off the growing slips with your fingers, and scrub the potato under cold water — ideally with a produce brush — to remove dirt.
Step 3: Prep It
After scrubbing, pat the potato dry and pierce the skin multiple times with a fork. “This gives a way for steam to escape,” says Jenna Appel, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian and owner of Appel Nutrition, Inc.
Step 4: Cook It
Put the sweet potato on a plate. “Cover your potato when microwaving to encourage steaming, and don’t peel your potato,” Appel says.
“For one large sweet potato, microwave it on high for up to 6 minutes,” recommends Monica Nedeff, RDN, a registered dietitian and creator of The Traveling Dietitian.
Flip the potato halfway through to ensure even cooking.
But keep in mind microwaving a sweet potato isn’t an exact science. Cooking times may vary depending on your microwave and the size and shape of the potato.
The first time you cook a sweet potato in the microwave, you may want to start by cooking for 5 minutes (2 minutes and 30 seconds on each side) and adding time if needed.
If you want to microwave more than one sweet potato at a time, a good rule of thumb is to add two minutes for each additional sweet potato.
How to Tell When a Sweet Potato Is Done
You’ll be able to tell when it’s close to done because the skin will start to look puffy. Press a fork into the flesh — if there’s no resistance and the fork comes out clean, it’s ready to eat.
If it’s not tender yet, add time in 30-second increments until it is, Appel says.
What Do Microwaved Sweet Potatoes Taste Like?
Good news: You probably won’t notice much difference between oven-baked and microwaved sweet potatoes.
Oven-baked potatoes will have a crispier skin, of course, but the microwaved version will still have the sweet flavor you know and love.
Make sure to eat the skin to get all the fiber, Nedeff says.
Looking for more ways to enjoy sweet potatoes?