Sweet potatoes
Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Sweet potatoes appear on many U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, but you can find them throughout the year. This root is high in antioxidants, vitamin A and has a lower glycemic index than white potatoes. Popular cooking methods for sweet potatoes include baking or boiling. You can bake sweet potatoes in the oven or microwave. Either baking method offers you some advantages.

Baking Preparation and Cooking

Wash and pat the potatoes dry. Use a knife or sturdy fork to poke holes in the potato skin. Rub the skin with butter, margarine or cooking oil before cooking. This makes it easier to peel the sweet potato after baking. You can wrap the oiled potato in foil before placing in the oven so the potato cooks evenly and the moisture and oils stay with the potato. Or, place the oiled potatoes on a cookie sheet or in a pan and bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 50 minutes. Check to see if the potato is done by gently squeezing it with your hand in an oven mitt. If the potato feels soft, you can carefully peel it or slit the potato and mash the potato with a fork before adding your favorite ingredients.

Microwave Preparation and Cooking

Wash and pat the potato dry before piercing the skin with a knife or fork. If you don’t pierce the skin before microwaving, your sweet potato may explode in your microwave. Place the potato in a microwave safe baking dish or place it on a paper towel directly on the turntable. Microwave on high for four to six minutes for one potato, six to eight minutes for two, eight to 12 minutes for three, 12 to 16 minutes for four or 16 to 20 minutes for five potatoes. Stop the microwave in the middle of the cooking time and turn each potato over before restarting the microwave to complete the cooking process. The potato will still fill quite firm when the cooking time is complete, but the potato will soften as it stands for four to five minutes.

Cooking Time and Texture

Cooking takes less time in the microwave than in a standard or convection oven, but some people find the texture of the oven baked potato preferable to the microwaved potato. The microwave tends to cause some skin shriveling, and the punctures allow moisture to escape from the potato. If you don’t try to microwave the potato until it is soft, you will find this much less of a problem.

Combination Cooking Method

For those who like the texture and look of the baked sweet potato with the time convenience you get with the microwave, use a combination method to cook your potato. Place the uncooked sweet potatoes in a dish that is both oven and microwave safe, such as a ceramic or glass baking dish. Microwave your potatoes for four minutes and then transfer them to a 450-degree oven and cook for an additional four to five minutes.