Learn the best way to make baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes for the perfect texture and flavour in this simple guide. Called Yaki Imo in Japan, these nutritious spuds are creamy, sweet and taste like cake. The ultimate healthy and satiating snack! (+ other cooking methods).
I'd like to think I'm a Japanese Sweet Potato connoisseur-- I've been eating these since I was born and to this day, they are still one of my favourite foods. Especially when baked (also known as Yaki Imo in Japanese). In fact, I think if I had to choose one food for the rest of my life it would be these gems. Not only are are they super sweet and taste like dessert— they're also incredibly nutritious, healthy and satiating. Plus, they are so versatile!
What are Japanese Sweet Potatoes?
In Japan, these potatoes are called Satsumaimo (さつまいも). They have a red toned purple skin with a pale cream interior that becomes a creamy yellow colour after cooking. They're typically much smaller or slender than other varieties. In Japan, these gems are a signature flavour of fall next to chestnuts and kabocha. You'll find limited edition Satsumaimo flavoured ice cream, cakes, drinks, chocolate and all sorts of snacks.
Japanese Sweet Potatoes vs. Orange Sweet Potatoes
Aside from the obvious difference in the colour of their skin, both colour and texture inside is also quite different. Orange sweet potatoes are orange on the inside and stay orange after being cooked. The texture is a lot more moist and wet kind of like pumpkin. Japanese ones are creamy white on the inside and then turn creamy golden yellow after being cooked. The texture is starchier and dryer (in a good way like a russet potato), almost fluffy like a dense cake. They're also a lot sweeter, caramelize and ooze out sugar on the outside when baked and has a subtle nutty flavour. It's often described to have a sweet chestnut-like texture and flavour.
Nutrition & Health Benefits
We all know sweet potatoes are healthy and full of complex carbs. They're an excellent source of energy, high in dietary fiber and are rich in vitamins and minerals (notably, Vitamin C, Vitamin A & Vitamin B6).
Here's a nutritional breakdown per 200g:
- 264 calories
- 2.4g protein
- 0.4g fat
- 63g carbs
- 4.6g fibre
They're super hearty and satiating so great for meal prepping, adding it on the side or snacking.
Where to Buy Japanese Sweet Potatoes
I'm able to find them at most of my local Asian grocery stores but I've also seen them at Whole Foods and some farmers markets! If you're from the US, I've seen some people purchase them at Trader Joes as well.
How to choose the best ones
Choose slender and smaller sweet potatoes with a smooth skin. About 250-350g is ideal.
Note: Japanese sweet potatoes are different from the Okinawan sweet potatoes, which have a vibrant purple skin and flesh.
How to store
They are best kept stored in a cool, dark and dry place for about 3-4 weeks.
How to Bake Japanese Sweet Potatoes (Best Methods)
There are several methods to making baked Japanese sweet potatoes but I want to share some tips, tricks and ways to cook them to your ideal texture and so they taste like true yaki imo.
Oven Baked / Roasted
The most common method and my personal favourite. Baking at low temperature allows the enzyme amylase to break down more starches into sugars resulting in its dessert-like sweetness.
- At 325 F (162 C): for 70-90 minutes – produces a cake-like texture and super sweet
- At 375 F (190 C): for 50-65 minutes – produces a super sweet, buttery cheesecake-like texture with a crispy and caramelized outside
- Best baked naked or with ONLY foil (see below)
- MY personal favourite: Baked at 325 F with foil, and then I reheat at 375 F naked.
- Roasted at 400 F (200 C): for 45-60 minutes – produces a creamy chestnut-like texture and flavour with crispy outside
- Best baked naked OR with news paper AND foil
- Wash, wrap in foil (or leave naked) and place on a cast iron skillet (affiliate link) covered
- Cook on low heat for 60 minutes, turning them every 20 minutes
- Turn heat off when you can pierce them with a chopstick and then let it rest for 10 minutes before eating
- Produces a super creamy cake-like texture much like baking it at 325 F
Microwave (in a ceramic stone pot)
I don't recommend just microwaving it on a plate like you would a orange sweet potato because it tends to dry out. If wanting to microwave, I highly recommend using a ceramic stone pot (affiliate link) that is meant to cook Japanese sweet potatoes like yaki imo. Place the washed, rinsed and prickled sweet potato in the ceramic stone and microwave for 5-8 minutes, rotating the sweet potato half way. Let it sit in the sweet potato maker for 5 minutes.
Steamed / Instant Pot
I do not recommend steaming or cooking these sweet potatoes in an instant pot if because they get too wet, lose their flavour and texture. But, if you just need them for a recipe:
- Steam: Chop into 1 inch chunks and place in a steamer basket over boiling water.
- Instant Pot: Add 1 cup water (for 6 quart instant pot) and place the sweet potatoes whole on the trivet. Make sure valve is on 'sealing' and then cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release before opening the lid. However, if making a recipe out of it and just want to cook it, then chop the sweet potato into cubes and steam over a steamer basket for about 10 minutes.
Tips & Tricks
- Piercing: don’t pierce your sweet potatoes too deep or it actually makes it take longer to bake
- To wrap or not to wrap:
- No wrap: creates a crispy outside
- Foil: gives a ‘cake’ like texture yet still moist
- Foil & newspaper: more like a steamed texture and moist
- Rest the potato: rest for at least 15 minutes post cooking— this finishes it off and ensures the middle is cooked.
- Time: this will vary depending on the size of the potato but all times listed above are for ones that weigh 250-350g.
- To store: After being baked, let them cool completely and then store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Simply just thaw them at room temperature before eating.
How to eat them
Baked Japanese sweet potatoes tastes amazing straight out of the oven on their own! Just peel the skin and eat as you would a churro-- it's honestly one of the best portable grab and go snacks since they come with their own package.
Sometimes, I find them almost too sweet so I'll drizzle some almond butter or tahini to balance it out. When I'm feeling a little fancier, I'll drizzle a tad bit of vegan butter too (warning: i n c r e d i b e ).
Like savory food? These are great for savory dishes too! Think stuffed potatoes, roasted or air fried, stews, soups, curries, gratin or baking them into fries with some spices and salt.
Okay, talk about versatility but they are also used in a lot of sweet recipes like tarts, pies, smoothies, cakes, breads, pastes, ice cream, mochi and more.
If you try this Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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Perfect Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes
- Total Time: 1 hour 3 minutes
- Yield: 5 servings 1x
A simple recipe to achieve the perfect baked Japanese sweet potato that tastes just like authentic Yaki Imo: crispy and caramelized on the outside, creamy sweet on the inside, and taste like cake! The best healthy snack to have during the fall and winter.
- 5 Japanese sweet potatoes (approx. 250-350g each)
- Wash and dry the sweet potatoes. Prick a few holes into them with a fork. Wrap with foil or leave them as is (see blog post for details).
- Without pre-heating, place them into the oven (you can use a baking tray or place them straight onto the wire rack int he oven) and bake at 325 F for 70-90 minutes OR 375 F for 50-65 minutes (see blog post for textural difference between the two temperatures) or until you can insert a chopstick through the potatoes easily.
- Turn off the oven and them rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
- Other cooking methods are written in the post above.
- Helpful Equipment: ceramic sweet potato maker, cast iron skillet
- Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer) based on a 200g sweet potato.
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: sides
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, japanese
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 264
- Sugar: 13g
- Sodium: 8mg
- Fat: 0.4g
- Saturated Fat: 0
- Unsaturated Fat: 0
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 63g
- Fiber: 4.6g
- Protein: 2.4g
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: roasted sweet potatoes, japanese sweet potato, satsumaimo, yaki imo
SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓
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I love Japanese sweet potato, I live in Japan and every time I go to Don Quixote I buy one... Or two and eat them with peanut butter, it's addictive!
I love how simple and straight forward this recipe is! It’s also very easy to read and shows more than one option for texture, which you rarely see nowadays. 11/10 will make these again!
I recently moved to Scotland and have been struggling with SAD and the " I want to eat the whole world" type of feelings that seem to accompany SAD for me. Japanese sweet potatoes have been such a huge and helpful addition to my days. My favourite way to have them is baking them unfoiled, and drizzling a little tahini and coconut aminos on top. They are super filling and taste decadent but don't leave me feeling bloated or have cravings.
For anyone living in a colder climate or northern place, I highly recommend treating yourself these potatoes!
Omg tahini and coconut aminos - I tried this today based on your recommendation and it was DELICIOUS. Thank you!!!
Thank you so much for this wonderful easy recipe. Yesterday I bought Murasaki sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's and steamed them with carrots and brussels sprouts for my dinner - delicious. I will roast the rest following your recipe for a crispy sweet treat! I went plant based 8 years ago and it saved my life. I lost 60 pounds and I'm slim, fit and healthy and in the best health of my life at 71. I only wish I had become vegan when I was younger, my life would have been very different!
I adjusted the baking time of this recipe to bring out the sweetness of sweet potatoes and eat as a dessert. If you remove the skin, sweet potatoes may be dried up.
How did you adjust the baking time? I'm also looking to make a sweeter version.
Fernanda Galvez says
I really appreciate your detailed explanation of the resulting flavor and texture from each cooking temp and time. I’ve always cooked JSP on 400 for 1 hour and then let them rest in the oven until the oven has cooled. I will def try out the lower temp and wrapping them!
Of all the recipes I've tried, this little guide gets the closest to what you get from the little carts/konbini in Japan! My favourite winter snack 🙂
Chu Yu says
The most detailed guide ever on how to cook amazing sweet potatoes 🥺 Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes as always! ❤️
Thanks!! They turn out perfect every time!!
After finding this recipe page I have fallen in love with Japanese sweet potatoes! So easy and delicious! Thank you😊
I like it! Very concise and simple recipe. I'm trying to experiment a little. Have you tried baking naked but not piercing any holes? I've seen some videos where they just the potatoes in the oven after washing without pricking the skin. Wondering what the turn out will be if they aren't prick.
Amazing guide! After reading through every method, I decided to bake at 375, and I ended up cooking them for just over 60 min to reach the perfect cake-like texture with a crispy outside. Each potato was around 210g, but I think the reason I needed to cook them a little longer was because the rack was too low. I think 55min would have been perfect if I remembered to move the rack to the middle. Also I highly recommend topping with a little salted vegan butter- it truly enhances all the flavors in the yaki imo!
Caroline Yu says
OMG I love this recipe, I usually steam these guys but tried your recipe roasting with the 375 for 1 hour and it was delicious!
I am tempted to eat the skin too, is it ok to eat the skin?
I just made them tonight and had them with garden purple broccoli, butter, sour cream, chives, vegan bacon, salt and pepper! After reading the above comments I'll definitely be trying them with tahini next time. We actually planted some in the garden this year so hopefully they grow well and we get to enjoy them later in the season. 🙂 And to someone's question above, you DEFINITELY can eat the skin. In fact it's healthier if you do!
It's fine to eat the skin too if you like. Cooked without the foil, the baked skin has a slight crunch to it, offering contrast to the soft fluffy chestnut flavored treasure inside.
You can definitely eat the skin, and I strongly recommend it. It is very, very thin, and if baked, turns crisp and slightly caramel/burnt (in the best possible way), not thick and leathery like regular orange sweet potatoes. The skin texture/flavor is the perfect complement to the sweet, fluffy interior.
Eva Lei says
Sooo good. It’s like eating candy and it’s so simple 🥰 I will definitely be using the oven to prepare sweet potatoes from now on!!
I think I found my new favorite vegetable thanks to this! I used your 375F unwrapped method and my life is forever changed. So delicious! I eat the skin too because bits nice and crispy. Love this! Thanks.
So helpful! I’m using Japanese sweet potatoes for a blondies recipe, and this put me on the right track for how to prep them. Thank you for all the detail and options.
MALCOLM KRONBY says
Air fried dry at 400 for 30 minutes. No Foil.
Unseasoned or some Taijin.
I roasted my Japanese sweet potatoes your favorite way— 375 with no foil and they turned out so creamy and delicious!
Who knew a sweet potato could be sooo delicious?! I followed the “favorite way” and baked without foil for 65min at 375F.
It came out cooked though and perfectly fluffy. I’ll definitely be following this method from now on.
Thanks for this comprehensive article. I love these potatoes and they don’t always come out soft. Your instructions and options are wonderful.
Love these tips on how to cook japanese sweet potatoes. I was missing these being away from home and my mom who is obsessed with eating these. She normally steams them but I decided to try baking them in the oven a la Okonomi Kitchen and I'm really glad I did! I wrapped it in foil and threw two skinny ones in for probably 30-40 minutes at 350-400 (I don't remember and our oven also doesn't have a timer or a very accurate dial yolo. I think it'd be hard to mess these up though. It was delicious! Quite creamy inside texture and crispy outside. I'm going to try the tip next time to throw them in without foil and actually follow the timings to try to get the cheesecake-like texture on the inside and even crispier outside.
Hi there, do you have recommendations for the best way to reheat sweet potatoes that have been stored in the fridge?
I’ve been cooking them at 375 for 60 min without foil.
Lisa Kitahara says
I reheat them in my toaster oven and 'toast' them for about 3-5 minutes!
This was my first Japanese sweet potato, and I actually bought them specifically from seeing this recipe. I loved the explanation of how different factors will change the outcome, but even more so I appreciated the specific descriptions of the final product. Thank you for sharing 🧡
SO GOOD!!! They DO taste like cake, or pudding. I baked them without foil, and they turned out perfectly.
I bake my sweet potatoes in an air fryer at 200C for about 28-30 minutes and they always turn out super fluffy and tender. I actually prefer to eat my sweet potatoes when they're cold because IMO refrigerating them gives the sweet potatoes a sweeter taste. I also drizzle some warm pecan butter and add a sprinkle of cinnamon for an indulgent yet healthy dessert/snack 🙂
Hi, I have a bit of a heavier sweet potato, about 550g. How would you recommend adjusting cooking temp/times so it cooks through?
Lisa Kitahara says
I would just bake until it is fully tender (pierce with a chopstick)! 🙂
Like everyone else I love eating these.
I have a 700 gram white sweet potato that I want to cook this way…any thoughts on how long in the oven.
For added flavor put naked on a grill, cover and grill for 60 minutes. Turn over at 30 minutes.
Katharine Kearns says
Oh my goodness!! So delicious and so easy! Me and my twin enjoyed this recipe today and it was so yummy. I added some Tōgarashi to mine.
Hi, mine had a very little sweetnesses and was earthy. It had purple wrinkled skin and a white inside. Do you know what is wrong. Could it be a wrong type of Japanese sweet potato? Could it have went bad?
Akeel alrasheed says
Very yams I could eat from it all day long
Just tried this recipe to surprise my wife and daughters. It was really easy to follow and the potatoes were very delicious . I’m going to start calling myself the Yaki Imo man.
hi Lisa. help!! several times i baked them now the flesh comes out green, very dense, and dry, not at all like what your picture shows 🙁 today i baked 3 and one was green and dry but finally the other two were yellow and moist with the soft texture. what is going on here, is it because they're old or is it a different cultivar? i buy at whole foods labeled 'organic japanese sweet potato'
Finally, I've learned how to make these gems the right way. I've been baking and eating them for over a year and it has been hit and miss. I finally googled and came up with your recipe. I am overjoyed. Thank you so much for sharing these vital tips. I will be cooking them the way you suggest for the rest of my life.
Stoobie the Foodie says
So I did the air fryer (bowl type), 30 minutes at 400F. I was pretty good right out of the air fryer. Microwaving it back up dialed it down. Then I tried baking (375 for 60) for 4 different potatoes with different aspects (1 small, 2 medium, and 1 large, 2 tinfoil, 2 naked). I tried the small one first (naked). HOLY COW! 15/10, it was creamy, skin fell off, and I just had some salted butter. Next was a medium (tinfoil). It was... ehh 7/10, it needed longer in the over, at least 10 more minutes from the original 60. Still a bit rough and the skin was hard to peel unlike the other. The other 2, I haven't tried, but I think the secret (my opinion) is really the skin and the resistance of the fork/chopstick. If it slides through and the skin falls off easily, perfection. I'll put a reply for the medium vs large.
My quest for the Yaki Imo began when I found a woman in my local Korean grocery store selling roasted sweet potatoes at a stall - 3 for $5 (USD). And honestly, they were so insanely good: sweet, cakey, comforting, and not dry at all. Until then, I had been cooking yams/sweet potatoes in the microwave, so I thought they were supposed to be gummy and off-putting.
Then I was fortunate enough to find your article. This is such an awesome recipe. I love the explanations and how you've included all these different options. I used the toaster oven (wrapped in paper and then foil). I cooked 3, and they're all great-- just like I remember at the store. What I've learned here is that slow and steady wins the race. Thanks!.
Tetsuo M says
How long do you reheat your sweet potatoes for? I am going to try cooking these a day ahead for a Thanksgiving sign.
Lisa Kitahara says
Depend on the microwave but usually around 45 seconds!
I had some Japanese sweet potatoes on hand, and found this recipe along with all the reviews just before bedtime and it was soo hard to wait till morning to try this! Baked them both ways at 165C for 90 mins and they were perfect and delicious! I have a preference for the naked ones, the crispy skin was extra yummy and made it like a comforting dessert but without the guilt of empty calories! Fed this to my baby for breakfast and she loved it too! This is totally awesome! Thank you for the extra thorough instructions!
Will never cook my sweet potatoes any other way! They come out perfect every time - the inside perfectly creamy and the outside nice and crisp 👌🏼