Should You Peel Sweet Potatoes? 

The whole point of cooking sweet potatoes is to enjoy their delicious orange flesh. Indeed, most home chefs assume you must peel off a sweet potato’s skin before preparing it. However, some cooks can’t be bothered to do so. If you’re curious whether peeling sweet potatoes is a high-priority or pointless prep, then you’ve got to check out the research we’ve compiled below.

You don’t have to peel sweet potatoes before cooking them. However, most people prefer the smoother texture of peeled potatoes, especially in sweet dishes like sweet potato pie. If you keep the skins on your sweet potatoes, please remember to wash and scrub them well before cooking them. 

Are you on the fence about peeling sweet potatoes? If so, you should consider a few of the popular Q&As below. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know to peel (or not peel!) sweet potatoes like a pro. 

Sweet potatoes ( Ipomea batatas) in a basket.Peeler, potato and potato skin on the side. Should You Peel Sweet Potatoes

Should You Peel Sweet Potatoes?

As long as you wash your sweet potatoes and give them a good scrub, it’s not unsanitary to cook them with the skin on. In fact, the good folks over at the Idaho Potato Blog claim potato skin could add some healthy “roughage” to our daily diet. 

Fresh sweet potatoes peeled ready to cook

So, if sweet potato skin is so great for us, why do people peel it off? Well, the key reason many chefs don’t like sweet potato skin has to do with its texture. Even though the skin may seem paper-thin, it will add a “tough touch” to your dish. While there’s nothing wrong with eating sweet potato skin, not everyone appreciates its “coarse contribution.”

This is especially true if you’re making a dish that’s supposed to have a smooth texture. For instance, it’s unheard of to bake a sweet potato pie without first peeling your potatoes. 

Typically, unpeeled sweet potatoes work best if you’re cooking fries, roasts, or baked potatoes. It’s also possible to shred skin-on sweet potatoes and make hash browns or latkes. 

FYI: You could find out more tips on shredding sweet potatoes in our blog post, “How To Shred Potatoes In A Food Processor.” 

How Do You Cook Sweet Potatoes Without Peeling Them?

Sweet potato in basket on wooden background

There’s no secret to cooking sweet potatoes with the skin on. Indeed, in most cases, you’ll use the same recipe notes you use to cook de-skinned sweet potatoes. Leaving the skin on may give your potatoes a tougher external texture, but it shouldn’t significantly influence cooking time. 

To make mashed sweet potatoes with the skin on, most people add chunks of their potatoes to boiling water for about 30 minutes before straining, mashing, and serving. You could also poke holes in sweet potatoes, add them to a 425° F oven, and remove them after about 50 minutes for a tasty baked sweet potato. It’s also quite common to add strips of sweet potatoes to a baking sheet and pop them in the oven—or air fryer!—for sweet potato fries. 

For more sweet potato recipe inspiration, be sure to watch this video:

No matter what method you choose to use, please always remember to give your sweet potatoes a good scrub under cold water. Since potatoes spend most of their lives underground, they are susceptible to a lot of grime. Not only that, potatoes often end up on the yearly "Dirty Dozen List" due to their high pesticide absorption rate.

Find out more about this fun scrubber on this Amazon link.

Is There An Easy Way To Peel Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potato with slices isolated on wooden board

The traditional way to peel a sweet potato goes as follows:

  • Wash and scrub your sweet potato in cold water.
  • Cut off both ends of a sweet potato.
  • Glide a peeler from the root to the tip until you’ve removed all the skin. 
  • Throw the potato’s skin in the trash or garbage disposal.

Here’s a video demonstration of how this method works:

Honestly, there’s no “special technique” for slicing your potatoes faster than other cooks. However, some chefs claim serrated peelers work better than traditional peelers. Whether you go with a serrated or smooth potato peeler, be sure your peeler has plenty of good reviews from the cooking community. 

Find out more on this Amazon link.

Oh yeah, and there are electric machines that will peel potatoes for you (gotta love technology!). So, if you don’t mind splurging for extra convenience, these electric peelers may be a worthwhile purchase. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

Can You Peel Sweet Potatoes Without A Peeler?

sweet Potatoes in a basket and glass bowl placed on a bamboo place-mat. Peeler and potatoes skin on the side.

You can peel sweet potatoes without a peeler, but you first have to cook them. Here’s the most straightforward technique you could use to peel potatoes without a peeler:

  • Wash, scrub, and dry your sweet potatoes.
  • Put a medium pot of water on the stovetop over high heat. 
  • With a sharp knife, gently score around the center of your sweet potatoes.
  • Put the potatoes in hot water and let them come to a boil.
  • After a few minutes in boiling water, transfer your potatoes to a bowl of ice water with tongs. 
  • Let potatoes rest for five minutes.
  • Pull out your potatoes and remove the skin with your hands.

If you’d like a visual demonstration of this method, please check out this video:

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to peel raw sweet potatoes without a peeler. While you could use a knife, this method is rather dangerous and wastes a lot of your sweet potato. If you’re dead set on peeling raw sweet potatoes, it’s best to add a good peeler to your kitchen toolkit. 

How Do You Peel Cooked Sweet Potatoes?

Close up of Baked Sweet Potato

Just because you’ve just boiled a batch of sweet spuds with the skin on doesn’t mean you can’t remove that outer casing. After your potatoes have cooled a bit, follow this simple strategy to quickly peel the skin off of whole, boiled sweet potatoes.

  • Cut off both ends of your sweet potato.
  • Make a thin slice down one side of the potato.
  • Grab one end of the skin with your fingers and peel it off (like a potato present!).
  • Keep peeling off the skin until you’re left with your orange sweet potato.

If you’re having trouble with this method, you may want to dunk your baked sweet potato in an ice bath before trying to peel off the skin. Just a few seconds in ice water can make it easier to get a hold of this spud’s skin. Don’t believe us? Well, check out this informative YouTube video:

Since we’ve been talking about boiling potatoes so much, you may be wondering how long to keep these spuds in hot water. Luckily for you, KitchenSeer has a lengthy post that will teach you everything you need to know about “How Long To Boil Potatoes.” 

To Peel, Or Not To Peel? It’s Up To You!

Contrary to what you may have heard from superstitious chefs, sweet potato skin isn’t poisonous. In fact, some people claim unpeeled sweet potatoes taste delicious. While leaving the skin on your potatoes will change their texture, there’s no “cooking law” that says you must peel every sweet potato. Just be sure to wash and scrub your sweet potatoes before you start cooking them. 

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