Microwaving is by far the easiest and fastest, and maybe even the best way of cooking a delicious whole sweet potato.
Dressed with a pat of butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup, a microwaved sweet potato makes for an easy side dish.
Depending on the size of your sweet potato, the amount of time needed for the cooking process may vary, but not by more than a minute or two.
So, if you are in a pinch, this is the ideal cooking technique for you, really the fastest way we’ve found.
In just a few minutes, you will have sizzling hot sweet potatoes ready for a filling dinner or for a quick lunch. Cooking sweet potatoes in advance makes for a great option for meal prep, too.
We have a few sweet potato recipe toppings for you also.
One of the cooking methods is to wrap your sweet potato in a damp paper towel, but we found it’s not really necessary as it doesn’t reduce the cook time by much. Regular potatoes don’t seem to need it for cooking either, only reheating.
The potato cooks in the microwave oven on high power in just a few minutes regardless.
Dive right in to learn more about how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave.
How to prep a sweet potato for the microwave
Prepping a sweet potato for the microwave is easy. All you need to do is poke small holes in the sweet potato flesh with a paring knife and place it on a microwave-safe plate.
This will allow the steam to escape your sweet potatoes, so they don’t burst while cooking.
You can use a knife or fork to pierce the potato on all sides.
It is a good idea to season the skin if you plan on serving a sweet potato.
You can use a little olive oil or butter and a little salt and pepper to season the outside, but you can also wait until they are done cooking before adding anything to it.
How to cook a sweet potato in the microwave
Set your poked, salted sweet potato on a microwaveable plate. Set your microwave to the highest power and cook for five minutes for a medium, five-inch-long potato. Poke with a knife or fork to test. Continue heating if needed, or remove done potato with tongs.
We have a 4Ts method of microwaving food that we’ve learned is a good way to end up with the best outcome for evenly heated food because microwave oven power varies so much, and the size and density of food can be so different.
“Turn, Time, Test, Taste”: 1) Turn food over 2) Watch the time because it’s so easy to overheat food, especially when reheating 2) Test vegetables for doneness with a poke 4) Taste to make sure it’s adequately heated through.
How long does it take to cook a sweet potato in the microwave?
The cooking time varies, depending on the size of the potato and the cooking power of the microwave.
However, the general rule of thumb is that a medium-sized sweet potato, weighing around 8 ounces, cooks in around five minutes on 100% power.
As there is no hard and fast rule in regards to the cooking time, it is best to cook large sweet potatoes in one- minute increments after the first five minutes.
How to store a microwaved sweet potato
Now that you know how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave, let’s take a look at how to store microwaved sweet potatoes.
Place fully cooled, microwaved sweet potatoes in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator.
Microwaved sweet potatoes will last for up to 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
How to tell when a sweet potato is cooked all the way
If you can easily pierce it with a fork or slide a knife all the way through the skin of a sweet potato to the center of the potato, your sweet potato is ready to be served!
If it gives resistance after only a ⅓ of an inch or so, it needs to keep cooking. We want it to be fork tender.
Cook the sweet potato in bursts of one minute after the initial five minutes on high.
Check the vegetable after every minute or two of cooking to see if it is cooked all the way.
You can tell when a sweet potato is cooked all the way when you pierce it with a fork or knife and the utensil slides a full two inches or more easily into the flesh of the potato.
Should I wash my sweet potato before cooking it?
Yes, it is recommended to wash the sweet potato before cooking it even if you plan on removing the skin later.
Can I microwave more than one sweet potato at a time?
Yes, it is possible to cook multiple sweet potatoes simultaneously. However, you will have to add 3 minutes for each additional vegetable.
So, for example, if you are cooking two sweet potatoes, you should set the timer for 9 minutes (original cooking time of 5 minutes + 3 minutes for the additional sweet potato).
To heat evenly, most food cooked in the microwave should be turned over at least once during cooking. (Even when you have a turntable that spins the food slowly.)
What are some good sweet potato toppings?
Use a mixture of protein, veggies, and cheese to top your microwaved sweet potatoes and turn them into a full meal or lighten it up for a quick snack. Remember, you can top leftover sweet potatoes, too.
Here are some ideas for sweet potato toppings and delicious fillings.
- Bacon, onion, and rosemary topping
- Any nut butter (like almond butter, some decadent Nutella, or cashew butter) and agave
- Sour cream
- Feta cheese and paprika
- Thai curry paste and coconut milk topping
- Chopped pecans and maple syrup topping
- Coconut oil and cinnamon sugar
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 t olive oil
- 1 t coarse salt
- Wash and dry the sweet potato. Be sure to scrub the sweet potato to remove any dirt that may be stuck to it.
- Pierce the sweet potato with a butter knife or a fork multiple times all around the potato.
- Rub the potato with olive oil.
- Sprinkle salt all over the potato to coat it.
- Place the potato on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave the potato at full power for 5 minutes.
- The potato is done when you can easily pierce it through the center without much resistance. Cook times vary based upon the microwave wattage and the size of the potato. If it isn't done, cook it in 1-minute increments until it is.
- Remove the potato from the microwave with tongs, hot pad or kitchen towel. Be careful, it will be very hot.
- Cut the potato with a small knife to open it up. Be careful because steam will likely come out of the potato.
- Use a fork to fluff the potato. Add your desired toppings, such as butter and brown sugar.
The bottom line
I am such a huge fan of sweet potatoes in general. As a kid, it seemed like they were only served tossed into the pan next to the giant turkey at Thanksgiving. They came out kind of flavorless to me, and it wasn’t until my friends and family introduced me to how the different texture and sweet flavor could be versatile and mouthwatering.
Have more time to dedicate to your precious sweet potatoes? We’ve really got a whole Sweet Potato Guide going. Try our simple but flavorful sauteed sweet potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes that make a great meal prep or base for sweet potato casserole. How to tell if a sweet potato has gone bad.
Microwaving sweet potatoes instead of baking them in a traditional oven cuts down the cooking time by around 45 minutes to an hour. It’s a fairly foolproof method that is my favorite way to get them done in less time.
Now that you know how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave, you can prepare sweet potatoes and enjoy them with your favorite toppings within minutes!