16 Shades of Sweet: A Sweet Potato Guide

Know your spuds before you turn them into delicious sweet potato recipes

Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile, but before you can use them in all their glory, you have to know what kinds of sweet potatoes you’re dealing with. Yes, there’s more than one type of sweet potato at your local grocery store. Here are 16 different sweet spuds in a range of colors, textures, and flavors to consider as you make your favorite sweet potato recipes.

The jewel sweet potato, with its copper skin and deep-orange flesh, is probably what you think of when you think sweet potato. It’s traditionally used for baking and casseroles, especially around holidays. But there are also sweet potatoes, such as the hannah variety, that doesn’t have an orange interior at all. We’d bet you’ve never heard of a speckled purple sweet potato either. It’s never too late to become well-acquainted with these lovable spuds.

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Speckled Purple

Speckled purple sweet potatoes are named for their flecked magenta flesh. They remain firm when boiled or fried and have a mild, nutty flavor.

Heirloom (Envy)

An heirloom variety with pale orange skin and flesh, envy is mild, moist, and sweet; a good choice for baking, roasting, and casseroles.


Hannahs have tan skin and an off-white interior. When baked, the flesh takes on a yellow cast, a lightly sweet flavor, and a dry texture that's great mashed.


With copper skin and deep-orange flesh that's moist and tender when cooked, the jewel is a go-to potato for traditional baking and casseroles.


Garnets, named for their red-purple skin, have orange flesh that has a moist, heavy, pumpkin-like quality when baked in a sweet potato pie.

Korean Purple

Korean purple, an Asian heirloom variety, has speckled purple skin and white flesh. Baking or boiling coaxes out its chestnut-like flavor.


Dusky red-skinned Beauregard is the most widely grown commercial cultivar. This versatile variety lends itself to baking, boiling, mashing, or frying.


Creamsicle, named for its combination of cream-colored exterior and sugary, vibrant-orange interior, has firm flesh great for frying or boiling.


Developed from a mutation of the Beauregard, the O'henry's cream-colored flesh is lightly sweet, and dense and heavy when baked.


Willowleaf is an extremely rare heirloom variety with orange-red skin and orange flesh. Native to Missouri, it has a nutty flavor when baked.


Okinawa sweet potatoes have tan skin and sugary magenta flesh that holds its shape well whether baked, roasted, boiled, steamed, or scalloped.


The rose-skinned Covington's orange flesh turns malty sweet when baked. It's a favorite in the South, where it's used in side dishes and desserts.


Nugget sweet potatoes have rosy skin and light orange flesh that's dense and holds its shape when cooked—an excellent variety for roasting and glazing.

Amish Bush Porto Rico

Amish bush porto rico potatoes grow in bushy clusters (hence the name). They have rosy skin and orange flesh that bakes up buttery and lush.


Purple sweet potatoes have firm, lightly sweet flesh and a slight, pleasant tartness that takes well to generously seasoned savory roasted dishes.

Stokes Purple

Stokes purple potatoes are purple all the way through. Earthy and fibrous, they're best baked at a low temperature because of their low moisture content.

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