The Best Way to Bake a Sweet Potato in the Microwave

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Cooking sweet potatoes in the oven? Ain't nobody got time for that!

Cooking sweet potatoes in the oven? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Many of us turn our nose up at the idea of using a microwave as the primary method of cooking anything. “Microwaves should be used for reheating food and reheating alone,” you might say. Not so! Sure, some use their microwaves for cooking bacon and sausages. It’s an easy way to badly scramble an egg. Yes, they are machines that many are overly reliant upon.

But, the microwave does have applications other than just reheating leftovers. There are plenty of other foods that you can cook in it when you’re in a rush. Isn’t it wonderful to have such a machine to accommodate our busy 21st Century lifestyles?

How does a microwave cook food?

Microwaves direct electromagnetic radiation to the tiny water molecules within a food, exciting them enough to generate heat energy. Don’t worry, though. Microwave radiation is on low end of the electromagnetic spectrum, so the waves aren’t nearly high energy enough to give you cancer.

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The microwaves within the machine bounce back and forth off reflective metal walls until they reach the food. During the process, the food rotates within the microwave in order to ensure even cooking. Many foods can be cooked in the microwave from scratch—it doesn’t need to just be reheating. One such food is the sweet potato.

You can make delicious baked sweet potatoes using your microwave, and you’ll have results akin to those of the traditional oven, but in less that half the time.

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With the oven, you have to preheat, and the cooking process itself is about another 30 minutes. Who has time for that these days? Nobody. So follow these easy steps to make the perfect baked sweet potato in less than 10 minutes.

Microwaved Baked Sweet Potato

You can't even tell it wasn't cooked in the oven!

You can’t even tell it wasn’t cooked in the oven!

First, should scrub the potato until it is definitely clean. Root vegetables need extra cleaning, having come from the earth.

Next, pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork. This is really important. When you microwave a sweet potato, steam gathers between the flesh and the skin. If you don’t pierce it 8 or 10 times, your potato is going to explode in the microwave! You only need to break the skin, so don’t force your fork too deep inside the potato. You can get the same results by cutting a large X shape on the top.

Take a damp paper towel and loosely wrap your sweet potato in it. Make sure you don’t rip the paper towel. The paper towel will create a steaming effect on the baked sweet potato, making for a soft and fluffy inside and preventing it from shrinking.

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Never, ever use aluminum foil as a substitute for a paper towel. Aluminum will deflect the microwaves away from the potato and send sparks flying around the inside. Read about the best paper towels here.

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Cook your sweet potato in the microwave for 4 minutes on full power. After 4 minutes, turn it over and cook for a further 4 minutes. Afterwards, poke it with a fork to test its softness. Depending on the size of the potato and how many you’re making, it should be ready about now. If not, put it back in for 2 or 3 minutes.

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Serve however you like!

When fully cooked, remove the sweet potato from the paper towels. Cut in half and add a spoon of sour cream and some chopped spring onion. There you have it! A healthy, delicious snack for those with a time-is-money life. Try adding some bacon and sweet corn for a little more substance.

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A baked sweet potato is easy to make and easy to fit in between shifts in the office and activities at home. It also makes a great side dish to serve at a party or BBQ (here are some other great BBQ appetizers). And to think, you thought the microwave couldn’t cook up a delicious meal!

Can’t get enough potatoes? Check out this post on how to use a hand mixer for the fluffiest mashed potatoes. Or, perhaps you’d like to know how to make gnocchi!

For more great easy recipes, see the best foods to bring on a picnic and soup recipes to soothe a sore throat. You can also visit this post on how to prepare and cook Brussels sprouts.

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: iris and Miriam K.

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