Sweet potato is one of those superfoods that we find in countless recipes and that is often recommended for a balanced diet. However, what can we do if we run out of sweet potatoes or if we just don’t like the taste?
A few varieties of potatoes are almost interchangeable with sweet potatoes, but there are also countless sweet potato alternatives you can use in your recipes to get similar or even better results.
The best substitutes for sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes have many varieties that can be swapped with little to no change in flavor. They’re rich in nutrients and a good source of fibers, minerals, and vitamins.
Depending on what kind of nutrients you’re looking for, you may want to balance your sweet potato substitute with additional side dishes, because not all the replacements can supply the same nutritional values.
If you’re on a diet, it would be better to ask your nutritionist for the best sweet potato replacement that fits your needs.
Not all of the following substitutes for sweet potatoes will give you the same results, some may improve your recipe, and some instead you might not like. As with most things in the kitchen, personal taste plays a key role.
1. Garnet potatoes
This red yam is the perfect substitute for sweet potatoes in any recipe. Despite being a little sweeter and containing more water, it has many nutritional values, including vitamin A and fibers.
Even though they’re usually referred to as red potatoes, their skin is actually yellow-orange, sometimes taking a brownish shade.
It is a low-calorie alternative to sweet potatoes that allows you not to renounce the superfood qualities and it’s even easier to find than the average white potato.
You can cook garnet potatoes in many ways, and they give you surprisingly good results even in the microwave. They are usually a Thanksgiving favorite!
2. Jewel potatoes
The jewel yam is actually another variety of sweet potato, and just like garnet potatoes it is often referred to as “yam”.
It has vibrant orange flesh and copper skin and it is actually well-known for sweet potato recipes. The flesh becomes tender and sweet when cooked, which makes this potato ideal for casseroles.
They’re not particularly flavorful, so you may want to give them a kick with some spicy addition or another seasoning if you’re planning to serve them alone as a side dish.
White sweet potato, garnet, and jewel potatoes are all part of the “camote” family of potatoes, so they’re perfectly interchangeable.
3. Japanese Sweet Potatoes
The Japanese sweet potato (Satsumaimo) is easily recognizable because of its purple skin. This variety of potato is very much loved in Japan during the fall season.
It is much sweeter than the average sweet potato, has a rich flavor, it is very versatile and its creamy flesh turns yellow when cooked.
The Satsumaimo is especially good when roasted. Its texture is very dry and firm, but its sweetness makes it the ideal ingredient for dessert recipes.
There is no limit to how you can cook this potato, whether roasted, boiled, steamed, or deep-fried, it always brings good results. On top of that, it’s a good source of nutrients, including carbohydrates, vitamins, potassium, and iron.
4. Yukon gold potatoes
The Yukon gold potato can be used in all the recipes that feature garnet sweet potatoes, but the same can’t be said for the contrary. These potatoes have golden skin, bright yellow flesh, and a creamy flavor.
The Yukon gold is very good when mashed because of their buttery flavor, or roasted because they get a delicious crunchy feeling when cooked. However, they can also be fried, grilled, boiled, or cooked in many other ways.
These potatoes contain potassium and twice as much vitamin C as the regular potato. They’re available year-round and can be found in most grocery stores.
Carrots are well-known for having many health benefits, as they’re rich in fibers, potassium, antioxidants, vitamin K1, and can help weight loss, improve eye health, and lower cholesterol.
While steamed carrots aren’t really popular, roasted carrots make for a delicious side dish that you can easily swap for sweet potatoes. In fact, they develop a concentrated flavor and caramelized edges when cooked in the oven.
They can make for a healthy snack or a colorful side dish that is easy and quick to prepare. Since they’re also very cheap, if you get tired of sweet potatoes, carrots are definitely worth a try.
Parsnips look like very pale carrots and surely their aspect may not be as alluring as their orange cousin. However, you should definitely give parsnips a chance, because they’re a good substitute for sweet potatoes.
The best time of the year to eat parsnips is January because when exposed to cold temperatures, the starch of the parsnips turns to sugar, which gives them a better taste.
Parsnips usually taste sweeter than carrots and have a nutty aftertaste. They’re rich in nutrients such as fibers, minerals, vitamin C, potassium, and phytonutrients.
When cooking parsnips, make sure to remove the skin the same way you would do with carrots. Given their high sugar content, they cook more quickly than carrots, so be careful not to overcook them.
Although most recipes feature cooked parsnips, you can also enjoy them raw in salads or coleslaw.
Sweet potatoes are a common substitute for pumpkin in many recipes, but the same can be said for the contrary. In fact, you can use pumpkin as an alternative to sweet potatoes.
When looking at the nutrients, pumpkin doesn’t fall far behind sweet potatoes. Pumpkin contains proteins, fibers, vitamins (B6, C, E, K), potassium, iron, and thiamin among other things.
Some people might prefer the creamy and dense texture of the pumpkin over that of the sweet potato. Especially around Thanksgiving time, there are many recipes that use either pumpkin or sweet potato, and the debate is always open.
Oftentimes, it is a matter of personal taste. Sweet potatoes are, as the name suggests, sweeter than pumpkins, but the latter can add a spicy flavor to your meal and not to mention, is a low-carb option.
Butternut squash is among the most delicious and healthy alternatives to sweet potatoes. It is often considered a “cold season superfood” because of its health benefits and the generous amount of carbs, higher than most other vegetables.
While sweet potatoes have more nutrients than butternut squash, they also have twice as many sugars, calories, and carbs. Butternut is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like beta-carotene.
It is suggested that a diet rich in butternut can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and can also slow down cognitive decline due to old age.
Butternut squash is delicious when roasted, sautéd, mashed, and toasted and it’s also great for soup.
9. Spaghetti Squash
Surely enough, you can’t swap sweet potatoes with traditional Italian pasta. Spaghetti is also the name of winter squash that is closely related to zucchini and pumpkin.
Spaghetti squash is low in calories but rich in vitamins and minerals. In particular, it is a good source of:
– Vitamin B6
– Vitamin C
Spaghetti squash owes its name to its stringy texture, which makes it also a good substitute for pasta and noodles. It has a mild flavor and it’s well cooked in many different ways, even microwaved.
Ube has many names, among which “purple yam” and “Dioscorea alata”. There is also a bit of confusion with the Japanese sweet potato because they are both originally from Japan and they both have purple skin, but they’re not the same thing.
The easiest way to tell them apart is knowing that the Japanese sweet potato has yellow flesh, while Ube is purple all the way.
Nutritionally speaking, Ube is very similar to other sweet potatoes, as it contains minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
The flavor of this potato is really peculiar and it’s hard to pin down, but the general consensus is that it tastes less sweet than the other sweet potatoes and it has a coconut or vanilla-like flavor to it.
This variety of sweet potato is often used in baked goods, so unleash your creativity with purple desserts!
Japan is the gift that keeps on giving, in fact, kabocha is another well-loved Japanese squash that will make for a delicious alternative to sweet potatoes, even though you can also cook both of them together.
Kabocha tastes like a mix of sweet potatoes and pumpkin and it has a fluffy texture that reminds of chestnut. Of course, it doesn’t lack health benefits: vitamin C, iron, and beta carotene are just some of the nutrients contained in kabocha.
Despite looking like a green pumpkin, kabocha is more similar to a butternut squash than to pumpkin. Its taste is not as sweet either, so it is not recommended to make “pumpkin pie” with kabocha.
However, kabocha is really good when stewed with other vegetables and it also makes for a tasty addition to rice and curry. You can also cut it into thin strips together with onion and corn to make a wonderful side dish for your grilled meat.
Acorn squash grows almost everywhere in the US, so it’s easy to find in stores. It is a very versatile squash as it can be baked, mashed, roasted, steamed, broiled, or even used in pie recipes.
Its buttery flavor matches well with a large variety of seasonings, in particular spicy and aromatic ingredients like cinnamon and ginger.
It’s also good for stuffing recipes because you can fill it with your foods of preference and serve it as it is, still in its shell. One single acorn can make a meal for two people.
13. Golden Beets
Beets are a renowned nutrient food since ancient times and they’re also the second biggest source of sugar after cane sugar, so it’s easy to see why they can be the perfect sweet potato substitute.
Golden beets, in particular, are sweeter and tasteless earthy than the most common red beet, and they also have several health benefits, including:
– Reduce blood pressure
– Good for anemia
– Reduce cholesterol levels
– Treat fatigue
– Help prevent heart diseases
– Good for the health of skin and eyes
– Help prevent some types of cancer
On top of that, golden beets are a good source of vitamins, iron, potassium, fibers, and minerals.
Golden beets are very versatile and you can have them roasted, baked, juiced, and pickled among other things, so they will fit perfectly in your sweet potato recipes.
14. Celery root
Celery root might not have an alluring appearance, but it’s actually a nutritional and low-carb alternative to sweet potatoes when cooked.
In fact, there are many ways to use celery root in your recipes and its taste varies depending on the way it is used.
Cooked celery root will develop a sweet taste that is similar to sweet potatoes, but you can also slice it thin and add it raw to your salad for a fresh and nutty taste.
There are, in addition, many recipes that feature both celery root and potatoes together, so you can have fun experimenting in the kitchen to find the recipe that best fits your taste.
15. White potatoes
Your first instinct when you run out of sweet potatoes may be that of swapping them with regular potatoes, but be aware they are part of different plant families and will give a different taste to your meals.
Regular potatoes also have some sort of bad reputation, mostly due to their fried version. Actually, both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and nutrients.
When cooked or baked, sweet potatoes rise higher in the amount of sugar and starch they contain, so it could be said that regular potatoes are a low-calorie alternative.
However, sweet potatoes actually have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes, which means they make blood sugar rise gradually as opposed to a sudden sugar rush, which can be a great difference for people affected by metabolic diseases like diabetes.
That’s not to say you can just have one or the other. Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes can fit into a healthy diet because they’re rich in vitamins, fibers, minerals, and carbohydrates that are important for our energy levels.
As with most things, the keyword is always in moderation. You can alternate sweet potatoes and white potatoes in a balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.
How to choose a sweet potato substitute.
Whether you’re looking for a specific alternative to sweet potatoes or you don’t know which replacement you will eventually pick, you can start by knowing how to choose your tubers and vegetables properly.
In fact, when buying some products like meat and vegetables, you can only trust your own judgment, because sometimes what you find at the store is not always as fresh as it seems.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best sweet potato substitute:
– Texture: fresh products are always firm to the touch, often with smooth and shiny skin. If you notice dark marks or some spots feel too soft and spongy, the product is probably past its prime.
– Smell: unlike fruits, with tubers and vegetables the scent doesn’t always play a key role in determining their freshness. However, if a product has an exaggerated sour or sweet scent, it’s probably not as fresh as it seems.
– Place: when buying special products like Japanese potatoes, it is always better to go directly to your local Asian market instead of buying it from the grocery store. You may also get some tips directly from the seller on how to cook them properly.
– Season: as a general rule, it is always better to buy seasonal products. Some vegetables like parsnips give their best during a certain season and their flavor can vary greatly from the rest of the year.
– Recipe: of course, you want your final dish to be good. That’s why a little research before you go shopping to know what kind of ingredients match well with the rest of your chosen recipe can go a long way to obtain the outcome you’re looking for.