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different types of sweet potatoes

12 Different Types of Sweet Potatoes | Do you know these?

Sweet potatoes, more than just a vibrant orange side dish, are enjoyed globally for their delicious taste and packed with nutrients. From creamy mashed varieties to crispy roasted fries, these versatile root vegetables come in a rainbow of colours, offering a surprising range of sweetness levels to explore.

In this article ‘Types of Sweet Potatoes’, we will delve into the fascinating world of sweet potato varieties, empowering you to choose the perfect one for every dish.

Unveiling the Types of Sweet Potatoes: A History and Global Appeal

The sweet potato boasts a history as rich and complex as its flavour. Unlike its orange namesake, the sweet potato is a root vegetable, and its origins can be traced back to South America over 5,000 years ago. Indigenous peoples cultivated these sweet tubers as a vital food source, and their vibrant colours and unique taste quickly captured hearts (and stomachs).

Sweet potatoes embarked on a global journey thanks to Spanish conquistadors, who brought them back to Europe in the 16th century. Initially met with suspicion, the sweet potato eventually found favour across the continent, particularly for its ability to thrive in harsher climates.

The versatility of sweet potatoes 

Today, the sweet potato reigns as the world’s fifth-largest food crop, a testament to its versatility and global appeal. Across cultures, sweet potatoes take centre stage in countless dishes. In Japan, they are enjoyed in candied form (candied sweet potato) or savoury noodles (sweet potato glass noodles).

American cuisine embraces them in creamy mashed sweet potatoes and crispy sweet potato fries. Korean cuisine features them in japchae, a stir-fry with glass noodles and vegetables. This is just a glimpse into the vast culinary landscape where sweet potatoes shine, showcasing their remarkable adaptability and ability to satisfy every taste bud.

A Spectrum of Sweetness: Exploring Different Types of Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes come in various types, each with distinct characteristics in terms of flesh colour, skin colour, and flavour. Here are some common types of sweet potatoes:

Types of Sweet Potatoes: Orange-Fleshed

  • Beauregard: One of the most common varieties in the U.S., known for its reddish skin and deep orange flesh. It is very sweet and moist.
  • Jewel: Similar to Beauregard, it has orange flesh and copper skin. It is often used in baking and roasting due to its sweetness.
  • Garnet: Recognizable by its reddish-purple skin and vibrant orange flesh. It is sweet, moist, and often used in baking.

Types of Sweet Potatoes: White-Fleshed

  • Hannah: This variety has pale yellow to white flesh with light tan skin. It is less sweet and has a drier texture compared to orange-fleshed varieties.
  • O’Henry: A relative of the Beauregard, it has tan skin and cream-coloured flesh. It is sweeter and creamier than other white-fleshed varieties.

Types of Sweet Potatoes: Purple-Fleshed

  • Okinawan: Also known as Hawaiian sweet potatoes, these have a light tan or beige skin with deep purple flesh. They are mildly sweet and have a drier, starchy texture.
  • Stokes Purple: Developed in the U.S., this variety has a deep purple flesh and skin. It is slightly sweet and retains its vibrant colour even after cooking.

Types of Sweet Potatoes: Red and Rose-Fleshed

  • Diane: Known for its rosy-red skin and deep orange flesh. It is sweet and moist, making it suitable for baking and roasting.

Types of Sweet Potatoes: Japanese

  • Murasaki: This type has deep purple skin and white to pale yellow flesh. It is very sweet and has a chestnut-like flavour with a dry texture.
  • Satsuma-imo: A traditional Japanese variety with reddish-purple skin and yellow flesh. It is sweet and often used in Japanese cuisine.

Specialty Variety Types of Sweet Potatoes

  • Bonita: Has a tan skin with white flesh, known for its sweetness and creamy texture.
  • Covington: Developed in North Carolina, it has rose-colored skin and moist orange flesh. It is very sweet and popular for its consistent quality.

Further Classification of the types of sweet potatoes

Skin Color: 

Forget the standard orange; sweet potato skins come in a vibrant array that will add a touch of whimsy to your dish. Here’s a glimpse into this visual feast:

  • Classic Orange: The familiar orange skin remains a popular choice. It often signifies a high-sugar content, perfect for those who crave intense sweetness.
  • Bold Red: Red-skinned sweet potatoes offer a stunning visual contrast. They can have either orange or white flesh, making them versatile for various culinary applications.
  • Mysterious Purple: Don’t let the vibrant purple skin fool you – these beauties aren’t just visually striking! Purple sweet potatoes boast anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant, that adds a touch of earthy flavour to your dishes.
  • Elegant White: White-skinned sweet potatoes offer a touch of sophistication. Their flesh colour can vary, but they often have a lower sugar content than their brightly coloured counterparts.

Flesh Color: 

The vibrant world of sweet potato flesh colour goes beyond aesthetics, impacting both taste and texture:

  • Classic Orange: The familiar orange flesh is a crowd-pleaser. It offers a balanced sweetness and a creamy, moist texture, making it ideal for mashing and baking.
  • Creamy White: White-fleshed sweet potatoes boast a milder sweetness compared to their orange counterparts. Their texture can be drier and slightly denser, making them perfect for roasting or using in stews and soups.
  • Vibrant Purple: Purple flesh, like the skin, signifies the presence of anthocyanins. These sweet potatoes offer a subtle nuttiness and a touch of earthy flavour alongside their beautiful purple hue.
  • Sunny Yellow: Yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes are a hidden gem. They offer a subtle sweetness and a slightly firmer texture, making them ideal for roasting or enjoying salads.

Sweetness Level: 

Not all sweet potatoes are created equal when it comes to sweetness! Here’s a breakdown to help you choose the perfect variety for your taste buds:

  • High-Sugar (Intense Sweetness): These varieties, often with orange skin and flesh, are perfect for those who crave a dessert-like experience. Enjoy them mashed with a touch of cinnamon or roasted with a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Medium-Sugar (Balanced Sweetness): This category offers a delightful balance of sweetness and savoury notes. Orange-fleshed or white-fleshed varieties can fall into this category, making them ideal for roasting, savoury casseroles, or even sweet potato fries.
  • Low-Sugar (Naturally Sweet): These sweet potatoes boast a subtle sweetness that allows other flavours to shine. White or yellow-fleshed varieties are common in this category, making them perfect for savoury dishes like stews, soups, or salads.

Remember, this is just a glimpse into the fascinating world of sweet potato varieties. With their diverse skin and flesh colors, and varying sweetness levels, these versatile root vegetables offer endless culinary possibilities. So, the next time you reach for a sweet potato, explore the rainbow beyond the orange and discover a new favourite!

Selecting the Perfect Sweet Potato

Now that you’re armed with knowledge about the vibrant world of sweet potato varieties, it’s time to translate that into action! Here are some essential tips for selecting the freshest sweet potatoes at the market:

  • Feel the Firmness: Just like selecting regular potatoes, firmness is key for sweet potatoes too. Give them a gentle squeeze – they should be firm and have no soft spots or yield to pressure. Softness can indicate spoilage or internal bruising.
  • Embrace Smooth Skin: A sweet potato’s skin is a window into its health. Look for potatoes with smooth, blemish-free skin. Avoid any sweet potatoes with green spots, wrinkles, or signs of mold. These can indicate age, sun exposure, or spoilage.
  • Size Matters – Consider Sweetness and Recipe: Remember our discussion on sweetness levels? The size of the sweet potato can also be a clue. Generally, larger sweet potatoes tend to have a higher sugar content, making them ideal for baking or mashing where intense sweetness is desired. For roasting or dishes where you want the sweet potato flavour to complement other ingredients, medium-sized sweet potatoes are a good choice. Smaller sweet potatoes often have a lower sugar content and can be perfect for salads or adding a touch of sweetness to stews and soups.
  • Storage Savvy: Once you’ve selected your perfect sweet potatoes, proper storage is essential to maintain their freshness and flavour. Sweet potatoes thrive in cool, dry, and dark places. Avoid storing them in plastic bags, which can trap moisture and accelerate spoilage. A well-ventilated basket in a cool pantry or a dark, dry cupboard are ideal storage solutions. Unlike regular potatoes, avoid storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. The cold temperatures can convert some of the sweet potato’s starches to sugars, altering the texture and taste.

Health Goodies in Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse packed with health benefits such as:

  • Vitamin A Superstar: Sweet potatoes are champions of beta-carotene, converted to Vitamin A in your body. This is crucial for vision, immunity, and cell growth.
  • Fiber Fantastic: Sweet potatoes are a rich source of dietary fibre, promoting gut health, digestion, and feelings of fullness.
  • Potassium Powerhouse: This mineral helps regulate blood pressure and supports healthy muscle function.
  • Antioxidant Arsenal: Sweet potatoes, particularly purple varieties, contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that fight cell damage and may reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Medley: These versatile vegetables offer a range of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, B6, and manganese, contributing to overall health and well-being.

A World of Flavor: Sweet Potato Recipe Inspiration

The beauty of sweet potatoes lies in their versatility. With their diverse sweetness levels and textures, they can be transformed into a variety of delicious dishes. Here’s a glimpse into the culinary magic you can create with different sweet potato varieties:

  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Orange-Fleshed, High-Sugar): Indulge in a comforting classic with a twist. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, known for their intense sweetness, are perfect for creamy mashed potatoes. Boil or roast them until tender, then mash them with butter, milk, and a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg for a heartwarming side dish or a satisfying vegetarian main course.
  • Roasted Sweet Potato Fries (Red or Purple-Skinned, Medium-Sugar): Transform sweet potatoes into crispy and colourful fries that are a healthier alternative to their traditional potato counterparts. Red or purple-skinned sweet potatoes, with their medium sweetness level, are ideal for this recipe. Cut them into wedges or sticks, toss them with olive oil, your favourite herbs, and spices, and roast them until golden brown and crispy on the outside, while remaining tender on the inside. Pair them with your favourite dipping sauce for a delightful appetizer or side dish.
  • Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers (White or Yellow-Fleshed, Low-Sugar): Embrace the power of plants! White or yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes, with their subtle sweetness, are perfect for savoury dishes like veggie burgers. Grate or mash them, and combine them with cooked black beans, breadcrumbs, and your favourite seasonings. Form the mixture into patties and pan-fry or bake them until golden brown and crispy. Serve them on buns with your favourite toppings for a satisfying and protein-packed vegetarian meal.
  • Sweet Potato Noodles with Peanut Sauce (Any Variety): Explore a world of textures and flavours with this Asian-inspired dish. Any variety of sweet potatoes will work for this recipe, depending on your desired sweetness level and texture preference. Use a spiralizer to create sweet potato noodles, or julienne them with a knife. Sauté or blanch them until tender-crisp, then toss them in a flavorful peanut sauce made with peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and a touch of sriracha for a delicious and healthy main course or side dish.


The humble sweet potato has unveiled its hidden depths! We’ve delved into the vibrant world of sweet potato varieties, exploring the fascinating interplay of skin colour, flesh colour, and sweetness level. 

From the classic orange-fleshed beauties perfect for creamy mashed potatoes to the vibrant purple varieties boasting antioxidants, each sweet potato offers unique characteristics to elevate your dishes.

Remember, selecting the freshest sweet potatoes is key. Seek out firm potatoes with smooth, unblemished skin, and store them properly in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Now that you’re armed with knowledge and practical tips, it’s time to join the sweet potato revolution! Don’t be afraid to explore the rainbow of sweet potato varieties beyond the familiar orange. 

Experiment with high-sugar varieties for intense sweetness in desserts or lower-sugar varieties for savoury creations. With their versatility and adaptability, sweet potatoes offer endless culinary possibilities.

So, grab your favourite sweet potato variety, embrace your creativity, and embark on a delicious culinary journey. Who knows, you might just discover your new signature sweet potato dish, one that tantalizes your taste buds and adds a touch of vibrant colour to your plate!

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