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Can you cut sweet potatoes before cooking?

Sweet potatoes are a tasty and nutritious vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. One question that often comes up with cooking sweet potatoes is whether you can cut them before cooking, or if you should cook them whole first. There are pros and cons to each approach, so let’s take a closer look.

Quick Answer

Yes, you can absolutely cut sweet potatoes before cooking them. This will reduce the overall cooking time since smaller pieces cook faster than whole sweet potatoes. Cutting them into uniformly sized pieces will help them cook evenly as well. Just be gentle when cutting to avoid bruising the tender flesh.

Explaining Why You Can Cut Sweet Potatoes Before Cooking

There are a few key reasons why pre-cutting sweet potatoes works well:

  • Cuts down on cooking time – Smaller pieces will cook through faster than a whole sweet potato. Cutting them into 1-inch cubes or wedges before cooking can shave several minutes off the cooking time.
  • Enables more even cooking – Uniformly sized pieces will finish cooking at the same time. Whole sweet potatoes can sometimes end up with the outside overcooked while the middle is underdone.
  • Allows seasoning or oils to be added – When cut ahead of time, you can toss the sweet potato pieces with seasonings that get absorbed better than just seasoning a whole sweet potato.
  • Gives more control over texture – You can adjust the size of cuts depending on if you want softer or firmer sweet potatoes.

Just be gentle when cutting to avoid damaging or bruising the tender sweet potato flesh. As long as you use a sharp knife and handle them carefully, pre-cutting sweet potatoes can make the cooking process easier.

Best Methods for Cutting Sweet Potatoes Before Cooking

There are a few common ways to cut sweet potatoes before cooking:

1. 1-inch cubes

Cutting sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes is a versatile option. Cubes will cook evenly and are a good size for roasting or sautéing. To cut cubes, start by slicing the sweet potato lengthwise into 1-inch planks. Then, make perpendicular cuts across the planks into 1-inch strips. Finally, dice the strips into cubes.

2. Wedges or waffle fries

For oven-baked fries or wedges, cut the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Cut the wedges into sticks, about 3-inches long. Or for waffle fries, use a mandoline to create lattice-cut potato planks.

3. Matchsticks or julienne

For a different look, julienne the sweet potatoes by cutting lengthwise planks and then into 1/8-inch thick matchsticks. These thin sticks will get very tender when cooked.

4. Slices or rounds

If using sweet potatoes for casseroles or layering dishes, simply slice them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch rounds. The slices can be incorporated easily into layered bakes.

Tips for Cutting Sweet Potatoes

Follow these tips when prepping sweet potatoes for cooking:

  • Use a sharp knife to make clean cuts.
  • Avoid pressure and cut gently to not bruise the flesh.
  • Cut pieces to uniform size so they cook evenly.
  • Give peeled sweet potatoes a quick rinse to remove excess starch.
  • Pat dry before cutting to avoid slipping.
  • If baking fries or wedges, soak in water for 10 minutes after cutting to remove extra starch.

How To Cook Cut Sweet Potatoes

Here are some of the most popular cooking methods for pre-cut sweet potatoes:


Toss cubed or wedge-cut sweet potatoes with oil and seasonings. Bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway, until browned and tender.


Roasting brings out sweetness – coat cubes with oil, spread on a baking sheet, and roast at 425°F for 25-35 minutes.


Cook cubed sweet potatoes in a skillet over medium-high heat with butter or oil for 10-15 minutes until browned and fork tender.


Add cut sweet potatoes to a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam for 15-20 minutes until soft.


Boil cut sweet potatoes in salted water for 10-15 minutes until easily pierced with a fork.


Fry cut sweet potatoes in oil at 350°F for 2-5 minutes until crispy on the outside.

Pros of Cutting Sweet Potatoes Before Cooking

Here are some of the top advantages to pre-cutting sweet potatoes:

  • Shortens cooking time – Less time needed with smaller pieces.
  • Cooks more evenly – Uniform sizes result in even doneness.
  • Versatility – More dish options by pre-cutting into wedges, cubes, etc.
  • Absorbs seasoning – Spices and oils are absorbed better.
  • Control over texture – Adjust size of cuts based on desired firmness.
  • Ease of eating – Cubes or slices are easier to eat than whole potatoes.

Cons of Cutting Sweet Potatoes Before Cooking

There are a few downsides to keep in mind:

  • Potential for more oxidation – More cut surfaces can lead to browning when exposed to air.
  • Loss of nutrients – Some vitamin C and nutrients leach out of cut potatoes when soaked in water.
  • Potential to overcook – Smaller pieces are quicker to go from tender to mushy.
  • More prep work – It takes more time and effort to wash, peel, and cut potatoes.

Cooking Whole Sweet Potatoes

Cooking sweet potatoes whole is simple and requires little prep. Common cooking methods include:

  • Baked – Prick with a fork, rub with oil, and bake at 400°F for 45-60 minutes.
  • Microwaved – Prick and microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, flipping halfway.
  • Boiled – Place in boiling water and cook for 15-25 minutes until tender.
  • Roasted – Toss whole sweet potatoes with oil, roast at 400°F for 50-60 minutes.
  • Grilled – Cut a slit down the middle, rub with oil, and grill over medium heat for 40-50 minutes.

The skins help keep all the moisture in for creamy, tender insides. Test doneness by piercing with a fork.

Pros of Cooking Whole Sweet Potatoes

Here are some benefits to keeping sweet potatoes whole:

  • Minimal prep needed – Just wash and prick with a fork.
  • Retains nutrients and moisture.
  • Easier to avoid overcooking.
  • No oxidization from cutting.
  • Distinctive look when served whole.
  • Can infuse with flavors stuffed into slits.

Cons of Cooking Whole Sweet Potatoes

There are a few disadvantages as well:

  • Longer baking times.
  • Potential uneven cooking – Outer parts cook faster.
  • Hard to add seasoning or sauce.
  • More difficult to eat – Need to cut open and scoop out flesh.
  • Not ideal for certain recipes or meals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I peel sweet potatoes before cooking?

Peeling is optional. The skins are edible and contain fiber and nutrients. Peel them if you don’t like the texture of skins, otherwise leave them on.

What’s the best way to cook sweet potato fries?

Cut sweet potatoes into wedges or fry shapes. Soak in water for 10 minutes to remove starch. Dry well, toss with oil, and bake at 425°F for 25-35 minutes until crispy flipping halfway.

Do sweet potatoes cook faster when cut up?

Yes, cutting sweet potatoes into smaller pieces significantly reduces cooking time. A whole sweet potato can take 45-60 minutes to bake while 1-inch cubes will be ready in just 20-30 minutes.

Should you rinse cut sweet potatoes?

It’s a good idea to give cut sweet potatoes a quick rinse or soak to remove excess starch. This prevents them from sticking together when cooking. Pat dry before seasoning and cooking.

How do you soften sweet potatoes quickly?

Microwaving and boiling are the fastest cooking methods. Cut sweet potatoes into even sized pieces, boil for 10-15 minutes, or microwave 5-8 minutes until fork tender. Steaming also cooks them quickly.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s perfectly fine to cut sweet potatoes before cooking them – this reduces cooking time substantially.
  • Cutting uniformly sized pieces enables even cooking.
  • Common cut shapes include cubes, wedges, slices, matchsticks, and fries.
  • Cook pre-cut sweet potatoes by baking, frying, sautéing, roasting, boiling, or steaming.
  • Cooking whole takes longer but retains moisture and nutrients.
  • Use a sharp knife and handle gently to avoid bruising when cutting sweet potatoes.


Cutting sweet potatoes before cooking speeds up the cooking process substantially while still producing tender, delicious results. Preparing them in evenly sized pieces helps them cook through at the same rate. While leaving them whole does maximize moisture and nutrients, pre-cutting is perfectly fine and may even be preferred for certain recipes, meals, and cooking methods. Just be very gentle when cutting to avoid damage and discoloration. With the proper technique, cutting sweet potatoes before cooking can yield amazing results.