How to Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave

The best ways to cook a sweet potato and serve it up for a convenient meal

Are you short on time and looking for a quick, delicious meal? Skip the long baking process and cook your sweet potatoes to perfection in the microwave instead! Cooking will take about 5 minutes, but your sweet potatoes will have the same great oven-baked taste. Read on for a complete guide to cooking a sweet potato in the microwave, complete with different ways to prepare it and a list of tasty toppings.

[Edit]Things You Should Know

  • Pierce your potato 5 to 6 times with a fork so the steam has room to escape in the microwave.
  • Microwave your potato for 3 minutes before turning it over and cooking for another 2 minutes. If it still isn't cooked, microwave it in 30-second increments.
  • Garnish your microwaved potato with savory topping combos like salt, pepper, and butter. Alternatively, you could use sweet toppings like brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple syrup.


[Edit]Cooking a Whole Potato

  1. Wash and dry the potato before piercing it with a fork. Run your sweet potato under cool water and use a produce scrubbing brush to clean it. After drying it off, grab a fork and pierce the potato’s skin 5 to 6 times all around the potato. You don’t need to stab the potato deeply; just poke small holes to allow steam to escape as the potato cooks in the microwave.[1]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 1 Version 5.jpg
    • Heating a potato in the microwave causes steam to gather, so piercing holes in the potato prevents it from exploding from the pressure.
    • Washing your sweet potato before cooking is especially important if you also plan to eat the potato’s skin.
  2. Place the potato on a paper towel and microwave it for 3 minutes. You can also put the potato on a microwave-safe plate. Load it into the microwave and set it to cook on high heat for 3 minutes. By using this technique, you’ll quickly cook your sweet potato one side at a time.[2]

    • Never microwave a potato when it’s wrapped in aluminum foil. This is a fire hazard and will likely also break your microwave.
  3. Turn the potato onto its other side and cook it for another 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, the flesh on both sides of your potato should be fully cooked all the way through. Remember to be careful when you flip your sweet potato—it’ll be hot![3]

    • This is the standard cooking time for 1 potato. If you’re cooking multiple sweet potatoes at once, add 2 minutes to the total cooking time for each potato.
    • For example, you’d cook 2 potatoes for 7 minutes total, 3 potatoes for 9 minutes, and so on.
  4. Test the sweet potato with your fork to determine when it’s done. After cooking the potato for 5 minutes, pierce it with a fork once again. Your potato is fully cooked if the fork can easily slide into it, but the center of the potato is still a little firm. If the potato isn’t quite done after 5 minutes, keep cooking it in 30-second increments until tender.[4]

    • Be careful when you test the potato! It’s likely to be quite hot.
    • When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of undercooking, as an overcooked potato may burn or explode in the microwave.
  5. Let the potato cool, then split it in half and serve it. Wait for about 5 minutes after pulling the potato out of the microwave so it can cool slightly. Then, grab a sharp knife and split the potato down the middle or cut it in half. From there, you can either season the potato as you like or dig in as it is![5]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 5 Version 5.jpg
    • Letting the potato cool allows it to finish cooking—and helps the flesh of the potato get fluffier before you eat it.
    • To save the potato for someone who’s running late to dinner, wrap it in aluminum foil. That’ll keep the potato warm for a remarkably long time!
    • If you need to store the potato after cooking it, you can put it in a sealable container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat the potato in the microwave at 50% power.

[Edit]Mashed Sweet Potatoes

  1. Cook the sweet potato as directed above and let it sit for 5 minutes. Mashed sweet potatoes are simply a sweeter version of good old mashed potatoes, and they’re easy to make! Once the sweet potato is cooked all the way through, let it sit until it’s cool enough for you to handle.[6]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 6 Version 5.jpg
    • You’ll need to hold the potato for the next step, so check to ensure you can touch it without your hands getting burned before proceeding.
  2. Remove the potato peels and put the potato flesh in a bowl. Slice off both ends of the potato and make a single shallow cut down the center of the potato from end to end. Then, carefully peel away the potato’s skin with your hands, starting along either side of the line you carved. Keep peeling until the skin is entirely gone.[7]

    • Since your potato is cooked, the skins should fall away easily as you pull.
    • You can always leave the skin on the sweet potato if you like mashed potatoes with some extra texture to them.
  3. Cut the potato in half and mash it with butter and salt. Place both halves of the cooked potato into a bowl and toss in a pat of butter and a dash of salt to season them. Then, mash the potato using a potato masher until it looks smooth and ready to eat.[8]

    • You can also mash the potato using a fork if you don’t have a potato masher or use a food processor to do the job.

[Edit]Sweet Potato Chips

  1. Lay parchment paper over a plate and spray it with cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper that’s just big enough to cover the microwave-safe plate you’ll use to cook the sweet potato. Coat the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray to ensure the potatoes don’t stick to it—and make cleanup easier.[9]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 9 Version 5.jpg
  2. Use an adjustable blade slicer to thinly slice your sweet potato. Adjustable blade slicers, also known as mandolines, allow you to make multiple extremely fine (and even) cuts, so you don’t have to cut the entire potato by hand. Simply use the mandoline slicer to cut the entire potato crosswise into circular slices, as thin as you can make them.
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 10 Version 5.jpg
  3. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the paper and season them. You likely won’t be able to fit all the slices in a single layer on the plate, so don’t overload it to make them all fit. Just cook a few slices at a time! Place about a quarter of the slices on the plate, then sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Do the same for the next 3 batches of sweet potato chips as well.[10]

    • You can add other spices to your potato slices if you like! You might add a dash of garlic and chile powder to savory chips, or a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar to sweet ones, for example.
  4. Microwave the potato slices for 4 minutes or until they’re crisp. Stick the plate in the microwave and set it to cook on high for 4 minutes. Check the potatoes after to see if they’re crisp. If not, continue cooking them in 30-second intervals until they’re cooked to your satisfaction. Once again, do this for each batch of potato slices you cook until you have an entire serving of sweet potato chips.[11]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 12 Version 3.jpg
    • Feel free to add another dash of salt once the chips are done cooking if you like!

[Edit]Serving Ideas

  1. Season the sweet potato with salt, pepper, and butter. If you like keeping things simple, salt, pepper, and butter are the classic baked potato toppings. Add a pat of butter to the potato (or place a pat on either side if it’s been halved) along with a pinch of salt and a few dashes of pepper. This should give the potato a little extra kick while still allowing you to enjoy its natural sweet flavor.[12]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 13 Version 3.jpg
    • If you want to add more to your sweet potato, add a couple of other classic toppings—namely, a scoop of sour cream and a few diced chives.
    • You don’t have to add anything on top of the potato if you like its flavor as is. There’s no hard and fast rule on how to serve a cooked sweet potato, after all!
  2. Add savory seasonings like parmesan, cumin, or smoked paprika. If you’re looking for a little more flavoring than salt and pepper, experiment with other savory toppings. Add a dash of cumin and smoked paprika to your sweet potato, or a dash of garlic powder and a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.[13]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 14 Version 2.jpg
    • You can also sprinkle small pieces of bacon or sliced sausage over the potato if you enjoy meat.
    • Feel free to experiment! Play around with savory toppings like olive oil, avocado, pico de gallo, salsa, sauteed vegetables, and condiments like mustard, ketchup, and steak sauce.
  3. Use sweet seasonings like cinnamon, maple syrup, and brown sugar. To really bring out the sweetness in a tasty sweet potato, top it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar, and a drizzle of either maple syrup or honey. Add a pat of butter to the potato, and you’re all set to enjoy the perfect sweet (and nutritious) treat.[14]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 15.jpg
    • You could even serve this sweet version of a baked potato up as a desert if you like!
  4. Crisp the potato in the oven after cooking it in the microwave. If you like your sweet potatoes with crispy and delicious skins, you can easily get them right at home! Once your potato is cooked using the above method, place it on a baking sheet and bake the sweet potato in an oven preheated to 400 °F (204 °C) for 20 minutes.[15]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 16.jpg
    • This method is great if you want oven-crisp potato skins in less than half the normal cooking time! Normally, sweet potatoes take 45 to 50 minutes to bake in the oven.
  5. Pair your sweet potato with a side to make a full and well-rounded meal. Luckily, there are tons of great pairings no matter what your preferences and dietary restrictions are. Lots of people enjoy serving sweet potatoes with meat—like chicken, steak, or pork chops. However, you could also serve them with fried eggs, a salad, or a roasted vegetable medley if you want to go meatless.[16]
    Cook a Sweet Potato in the Microwave Step 17.jpg
    • For a lighter fare, pair your sweet potato with something quick and tasty like yogurt or applesauce!



  • Some microwaves have a "baked potato" button; use that when in doubt.
  • Sweet potatoes and yams are different vegetables.[17] Most sweet potato varieties are the same shape and size; they have tapered ends and are smaller than yams, although both tubers have a similar flavor. If you have accidentally buy yams, you can cook them the same way; chances are you won’t know the difference.


  • If you don’t plan to cook sweet potatoes right after you purchase them, you should store them in a cool, dark and dry place. Don’t store them in the refrigerator or they’ll dry out.

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

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[Edit]Quick Summary