Whipped Sweet Potatoes and a Lesson on the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams

Published October 22, 2013 by jenmatteson

Have you ever wondered what the different between a sweet potato and a yam was?  Have you ever stood in the grocery store, staring at both, thinking, they look pretty much the same?  Well, technically, you’re right.  The USDA has perpetuated an error in labeling sweet potatoes “yams”.  In most cases, sweet potatoes are labeled with both terms, thus adding to the mass confusion.  There are two types of sweet potatoes, one with a creamy white flesh and golden skin, and the other with an orange flesh and copper skin, generally labeled as “yams” by the USDA.

The mis-label began in colonial times when Africans saw similarities in the sweet potatoes and their native yams.  The USDA decided to call them “yams” to differentiate the two varieties of sweet potatoes.

So, really, what is a yam?  Yams are native to Africa and Asia, as well as some other tropical regions.  They are starchy tubers that have a skin that is almost black and bark-like.  The flesh is white, purple or even reddish and they come in many varieties.  Yams are usually found in international markets, and somewhat unlikely that you’ll find them at your local grocer.  (Huffpost Taste)

There’s your lesson for the day, now let’s get down to the cooking!  Everyone loves mashed potatoes (don’t they?), but have you had mashed sweet potatoes?  Sweet potato fries and baked sweet potatoes are popping up all over in restaurants and kitchens across the country, and I think mashed (or whipped) sweet potatoes will be the next big thing!  In the latest Food and Wine, three different whipped sweet potato recipes were featured, and I couldn’t help but make them right away – just for you, just before the holiday season.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was fantastic.  It’s rich and creamy, and very satisfying.  Using the food processor ensures there are absolutely no lumps, giving a smooth, velvety consistency.  Try it out on your Thanksgiving table this year!  Stay tuned in this week for two variations on this basic recipe!

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 10-12 servings


6 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened or melted
1/2 cup sour cream (plain non-fat Greek yogurt would be great)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce sweet potato several times with a fork and bake on baking sheet for about one hour, until very tender.  Let cool slightly.

2. Peel sweet potatoes, chop roughly and transfer to food processor.  Add butter and sour cream and puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: