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Have you ever been browsing the vegetable aisle and found yourself confused by the nearly identical yams and sweet potatoes? You got yourself asking, “What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?” 

Sliced sweet potatoes in a casserole dish
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Sweet Potatoes vs Yams

You are certainly not alone. It’s not uncommon for people to get these root crops mixed up. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast yams vs sweet potatoes.

So you can see for yourself the real differences between these two tasty and versatile tubers. Calling a yam a true yam these tips and tricks will show you the difference. Both of these options can be purchased at the grocery store.

These are both common in the United States.

Are Yams and Sweet Potatoes the Same?

Many people are actually confused if yams and sweet potatoes are two different types of vegetables or the same. In a nutshell: no, they are not the same. 

They have a common trait of being root vegetables, yet they are members of separate plant families and have distinctive qualities.

That said, it’s worth exploring more about the similarities and differences between the two.

What Is a Yam?

Yams are a root vegetable that has its origins in both West African word and Asia. Yams have tough, bark like skin that requires extra effort to peel. They’re also significantly more brown skin, starchy and dry in texture.

Their white flesh may be, yellow, or even purple. Moreover, they are commonly served boiled, roasted, or fried. Then topped with a wide range of sauces and spices in various regions of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Yams are also versatile and may be used in many different ways as they are both tasty and healthy.  Try Candied Yams Recipe and Crock Pot Candied Yams.

Sliced sweet potatoes in a casserole dish

What Are Sweet Potatoes?

The sweet potato is a root vegetable that’s a member of the morning glory family. When cooked, their sweetness comes out and they take on a smooth, creamy texture. 

There are two main types of sweet potatoes: firm and soft. Like many varieties of baking potatoes, firm sweet potatoes have lighter golden skins and a dry, flaky interior. 

Delicious soft sweet potatoes, on the other hand, have darker orange skins and a satisfying moist inside.

Try Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes and Easy Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe.

Yams vs Sweet Potatoes

Although they have a lot of similarities, yams, and sweet potatoes are technically two different types of vegetables. When compared to sweet potatoes, yams are far more starchy and dry. On the other hand, sweet potatoes are tender, sweet, and smooth in texture.

Nonetheless, the skin of a yam or sweet potato can be used as a distinguishing feature between the two. The thin, smooth skin of a sweet potato is usually orange or reddish in color. On the other hand, yams are typically covered in a tough, scaly covering that is typically dark brown.

When it comes to nutrients, sweet potatoes score high marks for providing dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Contrarily, yams are healthy too, but they have more calories than sweet potatoes.

Sliced sweet potatoes on a plate

What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes

  • Appearance: There is a visual difference between yams and sweet potatoes. The skin of a yam is rough and scaly, making it a chore to peel. But the skin of a sweet potato is smooth and delicate, making it easier to peel. Oftentimes, sweet potatoes are slightly shorter and more tapered, whereas yams are feet long and more cylindrical.
  • Taste and Texture: Sweet potatoes and yams have distinct flavor and texture differences. Yams are more starchy and dry in texture, with a mildly sweet, earthy taste. In contrast, sweet potatoes are sweeter in taste and have a moister, creamier texture. 
  • Cooking Methods: Sweet potatoes can be cooked in the oven, on the stovetop, in a microwave, or even fried. While yams are only typically boiled or roasted. Plus, because yams contain more starch, they need more time in the oven than sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato casserole in a baking dish

What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes

  • Nutritional Value: Yams and sweet potatoes share a wealth of nutrients that are vital to good health. They both contain beneficial nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamins. In fact, you can get more than 100 percent of the vitamin A you need in a day. From just one cup of cooked sweet potato or yam.
  • Versatility: Yams and sweet potatoes, both of which are similarly versatile, can be utilized in a wide range of recipes. They can be mashed, pureed, or added to soups and stews. They can be used in either sweet or savory dishes. 
  • Appearance: Both yams and sweet potatoes have distinctive appearances, yet they also have certain similarities in terms of look. Size and shape-wise, they’re pretty much identical, and you can get both white and orange flesh from either. Because they tend to have similar orange flesh, varieties of sweet potatoes are frequently misidentified as yams. 

Although yams and sweet potatoes do differ in a few key ways, they also have several similarities. Hence, they’re both healthy, adaptable, and useful in a wide range of recipes.

These orange sweet potatoes are perfect for Thanksgiving served with marshmallows. Perfect for many different sweet potato recipes including sweet potato pie. They are food staple every holiday.

sweet potato casserole in a baking dish

Can Yams & Sweet Potatoes Be Used Interchangeably

In some cases, you can substitute yams for sweet potatoes. But keep in mind that there are distinct differences between the two in terms of taste and texture. 

Yams have a more neutral flavor than sweet potatoes. With a hint of earthiness, and they absorb the spices and herbs they’re cooked with very well. On the other hand, sweet potatoes have a flavor that is more delicate and sweet.

Also, remember that yams are drier and starchier than sweet potatoes if you’re considering using them interchangeably. Thus, yams are more suitable for recipes like stews and curries, which call for a more solid consistency. 

Meanwhile, sweet potatoes’ softer texture and higher moisture content make them a better choice for baked goods like pies and casseroles.

That being said, it’s recommended to think about what else is in the dish first. When deciding whether yams or sweet potatoes are better. In certain cases, sweet potatoes are preferable to yams because they complement other sweet components better. 

Yams, on the other hand, are a good substitute for sweet potatoes. When a heartier stew or soup calls for a firmer ingredient.

The key is to think about the dish as a whole and the texture. You’re going for when deciding which to substitute.

To sum up, while yams and sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably in some recipes. The dish may turn out differently depending on the specific combination of flavors and textures employed.

As the differences in yam and sweet potato flavors and textures will likely alter the final product. But don’t cause confusion from the south America purple skin potato.

Easy Sweet Potato and Yam Recipes:

"What is the difference between yams vs sweet potatoes?" We will explain the difference so you can pick the right one for recipes. Many people are actually confused if yams and sweet potatoes are two different types of vegetables or the same. In a nutshell: no, they are not the same. #eatingonadime #yamsvssweetpotatoes #yams #sweetpotatoes

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