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/ Source: TODAY
By Alessandra Bulow

Loaded with vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and B vitamins, sweet potatoes have a higher nutritional value and lower calorie count than white potatoes — but they are just as versatile as their root vegetable cousins.

From fries to chips, baked sweet potato dishes are also incredibly easy to learn how to make.

HOW TO BAKE A SWEET POTATO

"Roasting or baking sweet potatoes brings out their flavor and natural sweetness in a way that boiling can't do," Sabrina Sexton, culinary arts program director at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, told TODAY Food.

Simply wash the sweet potatoes, get the oven preheated and you're ready to roll!

1. Baked sweet potato

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a washed sweet potato on a baking pan or sheet lined with parchment paper (or foil) in case the root vegetable oozes some liquid. Bake until the sweet potato feels soft all the way through when it is pieced with a knife or metal skewer, about 45 minutes.

Baked sweet potato, baked sweet potato with butter, whole baked sweet potato
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2. Baked sweet potato fries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1 pound of peeled sweet potatoes into 1/4- to 1/2-inch wide sticks. Place the fries in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. For extra heat and spice, add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Toss the fries until they are fully coated in the oil and spices. Spread the fries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Make sure to spread out the fries so they are not piled up on top of each other. Use two baking sheets, if necessary.

They can also be baked on top of a cooking rack placed inside a roasting pan (like this baking sheet and rack set).

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the fries and bake for another 10 minutes. If they’re not crispy enough, bake for another 5 minutes.

Baked sweet potato fries
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3. Roasted sweet potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1 pound of peeled sweet potatoes into 2-inch pieces. Place the chunks in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss the chunks until they are fully coated. Spread the chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake until the roasted sweet potatoes are tender and brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

If desired, add four to five strips of orange rind and 1 teaspoon of dried sage or 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh sage. Toss into the sweet potatoes and roast for up to 40 minutes until the spuds reach desired texture. For spicy roasted sweet potatoes, add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper before baking.

Roasted sweet potatoes
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4. Baked sweet potato chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Using a mandoline, slice 1 pound of peeled sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds, or slice them as thinly as possible with a knife. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Lay the rounds on a baking rack fitted inside a baking sheet. Bake until completely crispy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The chips can also be baked on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Be sure to spread out the potato pieces so they are not piled up on top of each other.

Baked sweet potato chips
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5. Microwaved sweet potato

Microwave for 3 minutes, then rotate the sweet potato. Then microwave in 1 minute intervals just until it is soft, about 3 to 4 more minutes.

Now that you're a potato pro, here are five delicious baked sweet potato recipes to try.

"I love sweet potatoes — in fact, I might even go on record as saying they are my favorite vegetable," chef Bobby Flay told TODAY Food. "They taste like dessert but they are super healthy, low in calories and high in beta-carotene. This is an especially great way to prepare them. Not only do they look impressive on the table, but the sweet, smoky flavor of the glaze also adds a bit of a crispy texture to the outside of the skin."

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

TODAY's Al Roker added a delicious mixture of cinnamon and cayenne pepper to his crispy baked sweet potato fries. Every bite is sweet, savory and spicy.

For a delicious, creamy side dish of mashed sweet potatoes, roast the root vegetable and sweet onions on the same baking sheet, then blend them into a puree. Serve with pork chops or any other juicy meat like baked chicken.

"This is one of my go-to easy meals," food blogger Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella told TODAY Food. "It is easy to throw together, and you just need a couple of fresh ingredients to make it; everything else is a pantry essential, so you save money and put what you already have to good use. And, it's still bursting with flavor thanks to the blend of spices, miso, garlic and chiles."

Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie

No one does sweet potato pie quite like super star singer Patti LaBelle. The potatoes are boiled, then pureed and mixed with sugar, spice and everything nice. The sweet mixture is poured into a buttery crust and baked until the sweet potato pie is just right. It's a sweet potato recipe worth singing about — that's for sure.

Going shopping for spuds? Learn about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes.