Raw sweet potatoes on wooden background closeup.
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11 Best Sweet Potato Substitutes

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Sweet potatoes are nutritionally dense and flavorful, but if you are looking for the right substitutes for them, then you have a couple of options!

What are the best sweet potato substitutes? Many vegetables mimic the texture and sweet flavor of sweet potatoes. You can substitute them with garnet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, parsnips, Jewel potatoes, taro, white potatoes, ube, golden beets, cassava, carrots, and more! 

Read below to learn more about sweet potatoes, why you might want to substitute them, and some of the best substitutes for this root vegetable!

What Makes Sweet Potatoes Unique?

Healthy Baked Orange Sweet Potato wedges with dip sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper.

Sweet potatoes are frequently confused with regular potatoes, even though both species are completely different with just some minor visual similarities.

Known for its sweet flavor and reddish color, this root vegetable is very affordable and a great source of vitamin A, carbohydrates, and basic nutrition, especially when compared to regular potatoes. 

Sweet potatoes are cooked the same way as regular potatoes and can be prepared in multiple recipes. However, the best way to eat them is to bake or boil them. 

There are at least 1000 sub-varieties of this root vegetable, which means that you can expect quite a lot of variances when shopping for them – but for the most part, almost all of them will provide you with the same great characteristics. 

Here are some of the main qualities of sweet potatoes!

Appearance

Sweet potatoes are usually larger than regular white potatoes and they have a distinct red, orange, dark yellow, or tan skin

Their shape is also unique and resembles more like a hybrid croissant than a potato, though several genetic variants will have subtly different visual characteristics. 

When cut into, you will find sweet potatoes to have an orange color — once cooked, this color may either deepen or lighten, depending on how you cook it. 

Sweet potatoes have a slightly thicker and more fibrous skin, which has all of the subtle characteristics of a regular potato – except for its color! 

Flavor

The flavor of sweet potatoes is predominately sweet with slightly earthy and nutty undertones. They have a familiar starchiness to them, much like regular potatoes, but can vary in how sweet they are. 

Usually, you will find every variety to have a distinct sweet and earthy flavor which can be somewhat enhanced if you choose to eat the potato with the skin on.

The skin offers a subtle yet unique flavor with the same sweet notes but also pronounced nutty and earthy undertones which amplify not just the overall flavor, but the texture of the sweet potato too.

Texture

The texture of sweet potato will vary depending on its type but in general, you can expect the texture to be either dry and crumbly or soft and moist. 

Raw sweet potatoes are generally very firm, just like regular potatoes, but they will become much softer once cooked. In some cases, they can retain more water, which adds to their tender texture. 

Some sweet potatoes can also have a fibrous exterior, especially if you cook them with the skin on. The skin provides a crunchy texture and since it is fully edible, you can add it to different recipes for an additional dimension of texture.

Uses And Cooking Method

sweet potato puree.

Sweet potatoes are highly versatile — you can bake, fry, boil, steam, and roast them. They provide a subtly unique flavor and texture when cooked via each method! 

Sweet potatoes can be cut and fried to make sweet potato fries, baked and garnished with butter and pepper, and also roasted and served as a side for numerous main courses. 

Their uses are as abundant as their regular non-sweet counterparts, so you can get creative and replace them in recipes that call for typical potatoes for a healthier and arguably tastier experience. 

Sweet potatoes can be cooked within 15-20 minutes. While they usually cook faster than russet potatoes, the cooking time will majorly depend on the size, density, and sub-variety of sweet potatoes you are using. 

You can also speed up the cooking process by using an instant pot or by peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes before boiling them.

Why Substitute Sweet Potatoes?

Organic Raw Sweet Potatoes on a Wooden Background.

There are many reasons why you would want to substitute sweet potatoes. The most common reason, though, is a lack of availability.

Even though sweet potatoes are one of the easiest root vegetables to sprout and grow, you can run out of your stock at home. Going on a grocery run just for sweet potatoes can be hard to justify, especially when you can substitute them. 

Another reason why you might want to substitute them is because of their sugar content — they are sweet potatoes, after all!

A baked sweet potato can have as much as 6-7g of sugar per serving – while this isn’t a lot, if you are trying to cut back on sugar then you might want to either limit your intake or avoid eating sweet potatoes in general. 

Don’t get us wrong, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index and are considered to be a healthy food that can even suit diabetics, but if you’re counting calories, then you should be wary of their sugar levels – they’re easy to overeat!

Sweet potatoes also take a long time to cook. On average, an unpeeled raw sweet potato can take up to 20 minutes to cook. In comparison, some of the substitutes mentioned below can be cooked within 5 to 10 minutes.  

Homemade Orange Sweet Potato Fries with Salt and Pepper.

A final and less common reason for substituting sweet potatoes might be because of their distinct sweet flavor.

Not many people enjoy sweet potatoes as a replacement for regular potatoes as their sweetness can cut through and, at times, dominate the other flavors in a dish. 

This is why knowing the right substitutes can help you make better cooking decisions and can also help you add a range of different textures and subtle flavors to your favorite recipes.

Substitutes For Sweet Potatoes 

Here are some of our favorite substitutes for sweet potatoes that you can use in the same way! 

1. Garnet Potatoes 

Horizontal photo of freshly cut Yams for cooking with knife and stone board.

Garnet potatoes, also called red yams, are the closest substitute to sweet potatoes — many people have a hard time telling the difference between the two!

They are very similar in texture, but they can be a bit sweeter. Although they provide fewer calories, they are just as nutritionally dense as sweet potatoes. 

Garnet potatoes have a moist interior and they can be easily found in any supermarket. Although they are a favorite during Thanksgiving, you can use them in virtually any recipe that calls for sweet potatoes. 

If you enjoy sweet potatoes for their distinctly sweet flavor, then this is likely the best option for you – but if you don’t want to go for a sweeter vegetable, you may want to look at the other alternatives. 

2. Japanese Sweet Potatoes 

Grilled or baked Japanese sweet potatoes on wood plate - Japanese food style.

Japanese sweet potatoes are a treat to eat and look at — they’re also the healthiest alternative! They have a beautiful purple color and are beloved in Japan during the fall season.

Japanese sweet potatoes are generally sweeter than sweet potatoes, which allows them to be used in several dessert recipes. They have a dry, firm texture that is ideal for salads and as a side for meaty and spicy main courses.

You can also use them in the same way as regular sweet potatoes – boil, bake, fry or roast them to get the most out of their delicious texture and flavor!

3. Yukon Gold Potatoes 

Yukon Gold potatoes offer a creamy and buttery texture when cooked, which makes them an excellent choice for mashed potato recipes

They are generally larger than sweet potatoes and can be best compared to garnet potatoes. You can substitute these potatoes in any recipe that calls for either garnet or sweet potatoes. 

This potato has smooth, thin, and “eye-free” skin with bright yellow flesh. It can be baked, boiled, steamed, fried, and even roasted. 

It has a balanced flavor profile that isn’t too sweet or too potato-y, and the best thing about them is that they can offer a variety of textures depending on how you cook them!

4. Parsnips 

Fresh Parsnip Root isolated on white background.

Parsnips may resemble carrots, but they are a root vegetable that can be compared to sweet potatoes.

These vegetables take on a sweet flavor after winter frosts which makes them even more comparable to regular sweet potatoes. 

They can be used in virtually the same way as regular or sweet potatoes and since they are loaded with micro and macronutrients, you get the same health benefits as sweet potatoes!

They are one of the preferred alternatives for sweet potatoes because of their balanced texture, flavor, and nutrition

5. Jewel Potatoes 

Yams at the market.

Jewel potatoes are a sub-variety of sweet potatoes known as yams and are easily found in any supermarket.

They offer more or less the same textures and visual characteristics as sweet potatoes, but with one important distinction: they aren’t as flavorful or sweet. 

This makes them an excellent substitute for people who dislike the sweetness of sweet potatoes

You can add seasonings and pair them with other flavorful ingredients to take advantage of their texture too!

6. Taro

Taro isolated on white background.

Peeled taro may look like potatoes, but they are completely different herbaceous vegetables!

They are usually very firm and need to be cooked just like sweet potatoes before they are eaten.

Taro can be fried, baked, boiled, and roasted. Taro is commonly stir-fried with herbs and spices and served with flatbread in Asia — it’s also a very popular flavor of milk tea!

You can easily use taro as a substitute for sweet potatoes in multiple recipes, but please note that taro isn’t sweet and has a rather earthy and nutty flavor which makes it best suited for recipes that call for regular potatoes. 

7. White Potatoes 

Potatoes isolated on white background.

White potatoes are the obvious choice for anyone who has a recipe that requires large batches of sweet potatoes. 

While these potatoes aren’t as sweet, they provide more or less the same texture and can also be a great option when you want to make mashed potatoes. 

They are a budget-friendly option that is widely available – we recommend using white potatoes in recipes where you want only lightly sweet undertones.  

8. Ube 

Ube is a rather unique alternative to sweet potatoes. 

This vegetable has a purple color, just like Japanese sweet potatoes – but unlike the Japanese variety, these purple yams are the same color inside and outside

Ube is known to be a nutritional match when compared to sweet potatoes (and taro), but they offer a slightly different flavor profile. 

These purple yams have a sweet flavor but with hints of vanilla and coconut – yes, you read that right. Thanks to their unique flavor, these vegetables can also be used in baking too! 

9. Golden Beets 

Fresh golden beets on a cutting board. Red beets in the background.

Golden beets are a great source of sweet flavors and are also nutritionally packed. Unlike regular beets, this variety has a goldish or yellow color that makes them look similar to sweet potatoes. 

They are firmer than regular potatoes, but once cooked, they will take on a tender and delicious texture along with a sweet and balanced flavor

They can be roasted, boiled, baked, or fried. We recommend using golden beets when you want an even more nutritionally dense and slightly sweeter alternative to sweet potatoes. 

10. Cassava

Close-up view of a cassava root (yuca) isolated on a white background.

Cassava is an excellent alternative to sweet potatoes because its root (known as yuca — but not yucca!) offers the same consistency as potatoes but with a slightly sweeter flavor

Although they are considered to be less flavorful than sweet potatoes, their texture allows them to be used in the same recipes as sweet potatoes. 

This root vegetable can be used in similar ways but, due to its creamy lighter color, it won’t provide the same presentation points as sweet potatoes.  

11. Carrots 

Fresh carrots in a basket on the table. Fresh food.

Hear us out. Like parsnips, carrots make for excellent substitutes for sweet potatoes due to their soft, slightly firm texture and delicious flavor

They are naturally sweet and if they are cooked the right way, they will offer a nutty flavor that rivals that of potatoes. 

For the best experience, we recommend roasting or lightly frying the carrots to soften their texture to make them even more delicious! 

Related Questions 

Sweet potatoes can be substituted with a variety of both root and regular vegetables. Now that you know all about these substitutes, here are some related questions.

Can you cook sweet potato substitutes in the microwave? 

Yes. Many root or herbaceous vegetables can be cooked in the microwave

Usually, firmer and denser vegetables like sweet potatoes or their substitutes will need to be cooked with a lid over them to trap in steam. This will help tenderize their flesh and bring out all of their flavors!

Can you use celery root instead of sweet potatoes?   

Yes. You can use celery root in recipes that call for sweet potatoes. Celery root may not look similar to sweet potatoes, but if cooked correctly, they can provide the same sweet and alluring flavor. 

They are a low-calorie alternative and can also provide varying textures depending on how you cut them. Thinly slice them and add them to salads for a crunchy texture, or boil/roast large chunks for a unique flavor and texture. 

Can you use any type of sweet potato as a substitute? 

Yes. With around 1000 sub-varieties, you can easily use any type of sweet potato variation for any recipe that calls for regular or specific sweet potatoes. 

Keep in mind that most sweet potato types will have the same texture and flavor with only slight differences – so you can freely switch between them in various recipes. 

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