Alternatives To Sweet Potatoes: 16 Unbeatable Substitutes


A few weeks ago I wanted to cook a sweet potato with my meal. There was one left and when I cut it open it was turning bad. If this has happened to you or you didn’t have any to cook, you’ll want a substitute. Therefore, what are alternatives to sweet potatoes?

The following are the best alternatives to sweet potatoes:

  1. Garnet Potatoes
  2. Pumpkin
  3. Butternut Squash
  4. Acorn Squash
  5. White Potatoes
  6. Jewel Potatoes
  7. Japanese Sweet Potatoes
  8. Ube
  9. Kabocha
  10. Yukon Gold Potatoes
  11. Golden Beets
  12. Parsnips
  13. Yuka
  14. Yams
  15. Taro
  16. Plantains

This article will list and explain each alternative, including how they’re similar and different than sweet potatoes. In addition, I prepared a table comparing the nutrients of each alternative to sweet potatoes and each other.

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Alternatives To Sweet Potatoes

1. Garnet Potatoes/Finger Yams

Garnet potatoes are also called finger yams and garnet sweet potatoes. They are very similar to a normal sweet potato having white skin, however, they have a long, thin shape 1.

Similarities between garnet potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Texture
  • Flavor profile
  • Cooking time
  • Shape and size

They are named after the precious stone garnet having a red color similar to the skin of garnet potatoes. The flesh of garnet potatoes is very similar to pumpkin and butternut squash. But, the texture of garnet potatoes are almost identical to sweet potatoes

They aren’t as sweet as a white sweet potato and have a unique earthy taste that regular sweet potatoes don’t have. 

Major differences between garnet potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Garnet potatoes aren’t as sweet as sweet potatoes.
  • Garnet potatoes have orange colored flesh.

In most supermarkets and vegetable stands, garnet potatoes and sweet potatoes are sold right next to each other.

How Garnet potatoes are prepared

Garnet potatoes can be cooked the same way as sweet potatoes. They can be boiled, baked, roasted, frilled and made into fries or chips.

Major differences between Garnet potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Garnet potatoes aren’t as sweet.
  • Texture isn’t as fibrous as sweet potato.
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2. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a large fruit that often gets called a vegetable 2. It grows along the ground as a vine. 

Similarities between pumpkin and sweet potato:

  • Cooking time
  • Texture
  • Flavor profile

Cooked pumpkin has a very similar texture to sweet potato. Pumpkin has an herby, aromatic flavor like a sweet potato, reminding you how healthy and nutritious they are. Many people would agree that pumpkin and sweet potato are as sweet as each other.

How Pumpkin is prepared

Pumpkin and sweet potato have about the same cooking time and can be cooked in exactly the same way. One limiting factor of using pumpkin over sweet potatoes is the skin is slightly bitter but in a delicious way.

In certain sweet recipes it won’t go well with the other flavors like in sweet potato puddings and desserts. Therefore, you need to remove the skin before or after cooking the pumpkin. After cooking, the skin of a pumpkin is very soft and much easier to remove.

Major differences between pumpkin and sweet potato:

  • The pumpkin skin has a noticeably more bitter taste.
  • The pumpkin texture is slightly softer and more moist.

3. Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash is almost identical to a pumpkin except the vegetable itself is a completely different shape 3. Like pumpkin it makes a great substitute for sweet potatoes. They grow in a similar way to zucchini where they form at the base of the plant. Unlike sweet potatoes, they grow underground.

Similarities between butternut squash and sweet potato:

  • Cooking time
  • Texture
  • Flavor profile

It has a very similar flavor to pumpkin, but is slightly sweeter. This makes butternut squash an even better substitute for sweet potatoes than pumpkin.

Although butternut squash are most abundant in winter as the last of the fall harvest, they keep very well. Typically, they’re available at the local supermarket or farmers market year round.

How Butternut squash is prepared

It can be prepared identically to sweet potatoes. For example, it can be baked in the oven and boiled. Once cooked the flesh turns soft like a sweet potato. The seeds of a butternut squash need to be removed before or after cooking.

The flesh of an uncooked butternut squash is very firm and difficult to cut. Therefore, it’s generally easiest to cook it first before removing the skin. But, the seeds can be removed before cooking by cutting it in half and scooping them out.

Major differences between butternut squash and sweet potato:

  • The texture is slightly softer and more moist than a sweet potato.

4. Acorn Squash

Acorn squash makes a great substitute for sweet potatoes, but I would rate other vegetables like pumpkin and butternut squash over acorn squash because of the taste.

Similarities between acorn squash and sweet potato:

  • Cooking time
  • Texture
  • Flavor profile

Acorn squash have a similar, sweet nutty taste like sweet potatoes, however, they aren’t as sweet. In addition, they have a blander taste than butternut squash and pumpkin.

Although the texture of acorn squash is more similar to sweet potatoes than butternut squash and pumpkin. It has a more fibrous and dry texture 3. Whereas, pumpkin and butternut squash are generally more moist and soft than a sweet potato.

How Acorn squash is prepared

Acorn squash is prepared in exactly the same way as sweet potatoes. The one difference is it has seeds in the center of the vegetable which are removed before or after cooking.

Major differences between acorn squash and sweet potato:

  • Acorn squash has a high seed to flesh ratio.

Acorn squash have a large number of seeds in the center of the vegetable, and far less flesh than a pumpkin or butternut squash. Therefore, you’ll spend more time preparing it compared to the other sweet potato substitutes.

5. White Potatoes

White potatoes, though not as sweet, have a nearly identical texture to sweet potatoes. White potatoes as well as other types of potatoes are in the same family as sweet potatoes 4. They grow underground in virtually the same way as sweet potatoes.

Similarities between white potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Texture
  • Flavor profile, although white potatoes aren’t sweet.
  • Cooking time

Potatoes are resilient to frost whereas most sweet potato varieties die to frost. Therefore, the growing seasons are a little bit different. White potatoes can be planted in winter, whereas sweet potatoes should be planted after the last frost.

How white potatoes are prepared

White potatoes are cooked the same way you would cook sweet potatoes. They can be baked, boiled, fried or shredded.

Major differences between white potatoes and sweet potato

  • Potatoes aren’t as sweet as sweet potatoes.
  • Potatoes are more bland and not as flavorful as sweet potatoes.

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6. Jewel Potatoes

Jewel potatoes have yellower flesh than white potatoes and tend to be more light and fluffy rather than waxy. This gives them a more similar texture to sweet potatoes than white potatoes.

Similarities between jewel potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Texture
  • Flavor profile, although not sweet.
  • Cooking time

Jewel potatoes grow in the same way as sweet potatoes 5. They share the same earthy, nutty taste sweet potatoes have.

Jewel potatoes have a more earthy taste than white potatoes, and many say are better overall than white potatoes as a substitute for sweet potatoes. However, both work very well. 

How Jewel potatoes are prepared

Jewel potatoes can be cooked the same way as sweet potatoes. Since they aren’t sweet like butternut squash, jewel potatoes should be a second choice for dessert recipes that call for sweet potatoes.

Major differences between jewel potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Jewel potatoes aren’t sweet.
  • Texture isn’t as fibrous as sweet potato.

7. Japanese Sweet Potatoes

Japanese sweet potatoes are sweeter than sweet potatoes and have a softer flesh. Overall, they have a similar taste and texture making them a great substitute 6. Their skin is semi-rough and is garnet colored with a purplish undertone.

Similarities between Japanese sweet potatoes and sweet potato:

  • Taste
  • Texture
  • Cooking time

Japanese sweet potatoes have a creamy white flesh which turns yellow after cooking. Their shape is typically round with narrowed ends and come in small and medium sizes.

How Japanese sweet potatoes are prepared

Japanese sweet potatoes can be prepared the same as sweet potatoes. They’re versatile and can be baked, boiled, steamed, roasted or fried.

Major differences between Japanese sweet potatoes and sweet potatoes:

  • Japanese sweet potatoes are sweeter.
  • Japanese sweet potatoes are better for desserts.

8. Ube

Ube taste nutty, earthy and mildly sweet making them similar to sweet potatoes. Their colors range from purple to bright lavender but can be creamy to plain white 7. In addition, they share a similar nutritional profile as sweet potatoes.

Similarities between Ube and sweet potatoes:

  • Both are sweet
  • Similar earthy, nutty taste.
  • Nutritional value

Ube is very similar to red yams and often gets mistaken for them because they both look like a root and are narrow. The flesh is a light purple and becomes darker when it is cooked.

How Ube is prepared

Ube has been used in deserts in the Filipino culture for years. They are often baked in muffins, cakes, cookies and ice cream. They can be pureed and added to pancake or waffle batters. Ube can be roasted, boiled and mashed just like sweet potatoes.

Major differences between Ube and sweet potatoes:

  • Subtle difference in texture.
  • Dryer than sweet potatoes.

9. Kabocha

Kabocha, also known as Japanese Pumpkin, is a hard squash 8. It is a slightly bumpy skin and is green with lighter green or white stripes. It tastes like sweet potato mixed with pumpkin and has a sweet flavor, although not as sweet.

Similarities between Kabocha and sweet potatoes:

  • Sweet flavor
  • Cooking time

Kabocha has a dark yellow flesh and its texture is fluffy similar to chestnut.

How Kabocha is prepared

Kabocha can be prepared the same way as sweet potatoes. They can be baked, steamed, roasted or stewed. Typically, they are not used for pies because they’re not sweet enough. They can be cut into strips, fries or used in casseroles.

Major differences between Kabocha and sweet potatoes:

  • Not as sweet
  • Color of the skin
  • Fluffier texture

10. Yukon Gold Potatoes

Anything sweet potatoes can be used for so can Yukon Gold potatoes. They are both root vegetables but from different families. Yukon Gold has a golden skin with a bright yellow flesh. Yukon Gold is similar in nutrients like fiber, carbs, vitamin C and B6.

Similarities between Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet potatoes:

  • Cooking time
  • Flavoring but not as sweet.
  • Moist flesh

How Yukon Gold potatoes are prepared

They can be cooked any way sweet potatoes are. Many people combine them in the same recipe for color variation. Yukon gold can be boiled, baked, fried, grilling or roasting.

Major differences between Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet potatoes:

  • Skin color
  • Flesh color

11. Golden Beets

Golden beets are a variety of beets lacking the red color. They are golden in color and sweeter than red beets making them a good substitute for sweet potatoes.

Similarities between Golden Beets and sweet potatoes:

  • Cooking time
  • Texture
  • Sweet

How Golden Beets are prepared

Golden beets can be boiled, steamed or baked. Steaming or baking is more recommended to preserve more of its nutrients. The skin is difficult to peel when raw. Therefore, it can be cooked with the skin and peeled after making it much easier.

Major differences between Golden Beets and sweet potatoes:

  • Different color flesh.
  • Less vitamins but more minerals.

12. Parsnips

Parsnip is also a root vegetable 9 but has a cream colored skin and flesh. They make a better substitute in January because their flavor gets sweeter in the colder months.

Similarities between parsnips and sweet potatoes:

  • Taste sweet
  • Similar texture

How parsnips are prepared

Many people mash parsnips as a sweet potato substitute. The process is the same by boiling them and mashing them up with a butter substitute. They can be roasted on a baking sheet in the oven. Some people shred them or make them into thin fries.

Major differences between parsnips and sweet potatoes:

  • Parsnips has more sugar and less nutrients.
  • Parsnips are longer and less round towards the bottom.

13. Yuka

Yuka, also known as Cassava, is a root vegetable. This vegetable has to be cooked, even though it makes sense as a sweet potato substitute, because raw it can be poisonous.

Similarities between Yuka and sweet potatoes:

  • Similar nutrients.
  • Nutty flavor.
  • Cooking time.

How Yuka is prepared

Yuka makes a good substitute for sweet potatoes 10 in many side dishes. Any way you would prepare sweet potatoes, the same can be done with Yuka. It can be boiled, used in soups or made into chips or fries.

Major differences between Yuka and sweet potatoes:

  • Yuka’s texture is stringy.
  • Not as sweet.

14. Yams

Yams and sweet potatoes often get confused 11. A true Yam has a dark, bark-like skin with hairs. Its flesh is a light color, dry and starchy. They are more like Yuka and most yams come from West Africa 12.

Similarities between Yams and sweet potatoes:

  • Similar nutrients but yams have less sugar.
  • Nutty flavor.
  • Cooking time.

How Yams are prepared

Since the flesh is dryer than sweet potatoes, it’s really good for soups or stews. In addition, they can be boiled, fried, roasted or baked.

Major differences between Yams and sweet potatoes:

  • Texture is stringier.
  • Harder to find in typical U.S. supermarkets. You can find them in specialty grocery stores.
  • Less sweet than sweet potato.

15. Taro

Also known as Eddoes, Taro is a starchy root vegetable with a creamy white or purple flesh 13. The outside is brown, rough and oblong.

Similarities between Taro and sweet potatoes:

  • Sweet taste.
  • Cooking time.
  • Nutty flavor.

How Taro is prepared

Taro can be substituted for sweet potatoes in any dish. They can be boiled, fried, roasted or baked. In addition, they can be added to bread and puddings. In Hawaii, taro is used to make poi by pounding roasted taro until it becomes pudding like.

Major differences between Taro and sweet potatoes:

  • Taro has a pasty consistency.

16. Plantains

Plantains are also known as the cooking banana. They look like bananas and can be easily mistaken for them. They are technically a fruit but are cooked and eaten like a vegetable.

Similarities between Plantains and sweet potatoes:

  • The sweetness of the plantain can be matched to a sweet potato.
  • Can be cooked the same as a sweet potato, even in its skin.

How plantains are prepared

Plantains are always ready to be cooked no matter what color or stage of ripeness. They can be used from appetizers to desserts. They can be boiled, baked, steamed, grilled or fried, the same as sweet potatoes.

To match the same sweetness of a sweet potato, use medium ripe plantains yellow or yellow with some black. Almost black, they are more sweet. Green plantains are not a good substitute unless you’re looking for a bland and starchy taste.

Nutritional Value Of Sweet Potato Alternatives

The following are the nutritional values of sweet potato alternatives:

1 Cup (Raw) Calories Fat Carbs Protein Sugar Fiber
Sweet Potatoes 114 0.1 g 27 g 2.1 g 5.6 g 4.0 g
Garnet Potatoes 150 0 g 38.1 g 2.3 g 8.1 g 4.6 g
Pumpkin 39 0.2 g 9.8 g 1.5 g 4.1 g 0.8 g
Butternut Squash 68 0.2 g 18 g 1.5 g 3.3 g 3.0 g
Acorn Squash 60 0.2 g 16 g 1.2 g 3.1 g 2.2 g
White Potatoes 104 0.2 g 24 g 2.5 g 1.7 g 3.6 g
Jewel Potatoes 115 0 g 26 g 2.3 g 8.1 g 4.6 g
Japanese Sweet Potatoes 112 0.1 g 26 g 2.0 g 5.4 g 3.9 g
Ube 119 0.1 g 29 g 2.5 g 0.6 g 4.0 g
Kabocha 53 0 g 12 g 1.8 g 5.3 g 1.8 g
Yukon Gold Potatoes 128 0.2 g 29 g 3.5 g 1.6 g 3.0 g
Golden Beets 54 0 g 21 g 5.4 g 5.4 g 5.4 g
Parsnips 113 0.5 g 27 g 1.8 g 7.2 g 7.3 g
Yuka 240 0.4 g 57 g 2.0 g 2.6 g 2.7 g
Yams 177 0.3 g 42 g 2.3 g 0.8 g 6.2 g
Taro 168 0.3 g 40 g 2.3 g 0.6 g 6.2 g
Plantains 183 0.5 g 48 g 2.0 g 26 g 2.5 g

The table above shows the calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sugar and fiber of all the sweet potato substitutes in this article 14. When choosing a substitute, check the table for particular nutrients which may be important to you 15. Bookmark this article for future reference.

If sugar content is important, the following substitutes contain the most:

  • Plantains
  • Parsnips
  • Jewel potatoes
  • Garnet Potatoes

If limiting carbohydrates is a concern, the substitutes with the most are:

  • Plantains
  • Taro 
  • Yams
  • Yuka

If you want to keep a close check on calories, the following substitutes contain the most:

  • Plantains
  • Taro
  • Yams
  • Yuka
  • Garnet potatoes

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How To Choose A Sweet Potato Alternative

  • Before choosing a substitute, determine what dish you’ll be cooking and the taste, texture and sweetness required.
  • If nutritional requirements matter, choose a substitute with similar nutrients. Check the table above.
  • If you don’t have time to plan, pick a substitute from the list above you already have in the house.
  • If you’re on a special diet, always check with your physician or nutritionist prior to choosing a substitute.
  • Choose items in season for the best quality and taste 16.

Read Next – More Food Alternatives Articles!

Should A Salad Be Served in a Bowl or a Plate?

Can I Replace Olive Oil With Coconut Oil

These Are The Best Mango Types For Pickling And More

The Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitute

5 Best Alternatives for Spinach When Cooking

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. SFGATE: How Do You Know When A Red Yam Is Ripe?[]
  2. University of Illinois Extension: Pumpkins and More[]
  3. University of Illinois Extension: Winter Squash[][]
  4. UCI Health: Tasty sweet potato casserole[]
  5. University of Illinois Extension: Sweet Potato[]
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Recent progress in sweet potato breeding and cultivars for diverse applications in Japan[]
  7. Wikipedia: Ube halaya[]
  8. Wikipedia: Kabocha[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients: Purdue Roundtable Executive Summary[]
  10. NC State: Jose “Pepe” Calderon Markets Sweet Potatoes Internationally[]
  11. University Bariatrics: Roasted Sweet Potatoes[]
  12. Library of Congress: What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?[]
  13. Wikipedia: Taro[]
  14. NutritionValue: Sweet Potatoes, raw[]
  15. USDA: Nutrition[]
  16. University of California: Posts Tagged: sweet potato[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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