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Burning Question: What's the Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes?

Burning Question: What's the Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes?

While they're often used interchangeably here in the United States, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing. In fact, the two are not even distantly related to one another!

Sweet potatoes originate from South America, and come in two different kinds: a pale-skinned variety, which has a thin yellow skin and a crumbly flesh similar to a baking potato, and a darker-skinned variety, which is often confused with the yam. The darker-skinned potato has a thicker, dark orange skin and a moist, soft interior.

Yams, which originated in Africa, are naturally sweeter than sweet potatoes and have a higher moisture content. The skin of a yam, while also dark brown, is dull in color and rough in texture compared to a dark-skinned sweet potato.

The tuberous two are easily confused because they do truly have many similarities. Both are in season from October through March, and can be prepared using the same methods, including baking, steaming, deep-frying, and microwaving. And, of course, both taste insanely delicious with brown sugar and marshmallows!


Join The Conversation
bsanf3 bsanf3 6 years
If you haven't been potatoed enough the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission even
Mr-Mac Mr-Mac 8 years
Unfortunately, this answer isn't really accurate. For a better answer check the North Carolina Sweet Potato Comission at or the USDA
patricia-feltus patricia-feltus 8 years
the sweet potatoe makes the best pie.also has no strings. hate the strings.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I love yams. I have them every night for dinner. They're a good carb.
corcar86 corcar86 8 years
i had no idea they were so different! But I have to admit both are just a little too sweet for my taste
Tami715 Tami715 8 years
I've always wondered what the difference was. I have this awesome candied yams recipe from my dad, and I usually just use whichever I come across first in the store.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i have to admit that i knew that they were different, but i didn't think that they were THAT different - so thank you for sharing this with us. i think that it's always helpful to be a more educated cook when you know that although foods have a lot of shared characteristics, they truly aren't the same thing. (and it helps with jeopardy questions too)
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 8 years
I just asked the chef in my dining hall this same question yesterday and all he could say is that one was sweeter. Thanks for posting this! I had sweet potatoes with marshmallows for the first time about six months ago. So GOOD. I can't believe I had been missing out on that
kittyhill kittyhill 8 years
Thanks for posting this, Yum!
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