Sweet potato smoothies

Sweet potato cranberry smoothieIf you’ve never tried sweet potato in a smoothie before, you’re in for a treat. They add a nice creamy texture as well as some sweetness and subtle flavor. In some ways it evokes the pumpkin in the pumpkin pie smoothie, and you can substitute sweet potato for the pumpkin in that recipe.

There are two main types of sweet potatoes, and I go for the soft/moist/orange type, as opposed to the lighter colored dry type. I usually find Garnet or Beauregard varieties, but there are others that are interesting to try as well. There’s sometimes confusion* because these orange sweet potatoes are often sold as yams in the US. Technically they’re not actually yams, which are larger and are generally not available in the US, but they’re called yams here for historical reasons.

Sweet potato (yam)I like to bake the sweet potatoes when I get back from shopping, and then store them in the fridge for the week. I wash and scrub them with a vegetable brush, and then put them into the preheated oven. Lately I’ve been putting them directly onto an oven rack, and then putting a foil-covered cookie sheet on the rack directly below them to catch the drips, which will otherwise burn onto the bottom of your oven. I bake at 400 °F for 45-60 minutes depending on size, until they are soft (if you have kitchen tongs they work well for a quick squeeze test). Alternatively, you could steam or boil them, but I haven’t been doing that.

The skins are fine to leave on for smoothies in your high-powered blender. In this recipe I paired the sweet potato with cranberries (frozen are fine) and ginger, and then added an apple and some soaked walnuts to round it out. Other nuts would also work fine.

Sweet potato smoothie in Vitamix4 oz water
1 sweet potato (cooked)
½ cup cranberries
1 apple
¼ cup soaked walnuts
small piece ginger
6 ice cubes

This was a single large serving. Blend on high until smooth and enjoy.

*The question of yams vs. sweet potatoes confused me when I was looking for sweet potatoes to use in a recipe a few years ago. I was getting ready to make Bittman’s sweet potato salad, but at the grocery store the sweet potatoes that are like the ones he uses (and the ones I recommend for smoothies) are sold as yams. That first time to be on the safe side I got both kinds of sweet potatoes, but I later confirmed that the ones he uses are the ones I saw labeled as yams.

Update: For a different flavor, skip the cranberries and add some cinnamon—you’ll end up with a flavor that’s like a cross between apple and sweet potato pie. If you find them, you can have fun with purple sweet potatoes.

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Sweet potato smoothies — 26 Comments

  1. Protip:

    Cook sweet potatos whole or halved in the microwave in a semi-sealed container (lid open a crack to let vapour escape) for about 5-8mins (depending on size) on hi setting (800watts). Result is a soft potato with the skin bubbling off the flesh. You can then blend or eat plain, having saved yourself alot of time.

  2. Why bake them right when you get home, then let them sit for a week, then cook them again?

    And at what settings should they be baked right from the store?

    • The reason to cook them right away is so that they can then cool and be ready to make smoothies with all week. I do not cook them again. I bake them at 375–400 F for 40–60 minutes. It really depends on how big the potatoes are how long they take to cook.

      • Oh, I just read it wrong. I thought you meant you cook them, store them in the fridge, then bake them again when you’re ready to use for smoothies.

        My mistake =]


  3. Here is the question I notice some people have. I have tiny skinny sweet potatoes I buy organically in a bag. I buy the biggest sweet potato I can find to dehydrate for the dog. Soooooo, my question is: what is considered the average size sweet potato for this recipe? The range of sizes is amazing. Being new to Vitamix I have not learned the ins and outs of size to get the perfect smoothie. Thanks Adam.

    • Great question. I’ve been surprised at how big some sweet potatoes can get. I usually choose the ones that are on the medium-small size. I’d say average size is 1.25-1.5″ diameter and 4-6″ long. If you have big ones you can always start by adding a half or a quarter of one, tasting your smoothie, and then seeing if you want to add more.
      I try to buy ones that are similar in size so that I can bake them for the same amount of time.

  4. Adam … know this is an older post but WHY do you bake them first?

    (still waiting on my Pro 750 recond. to arrive … getting anxious!)

    Anyway … just curious if you do that to help blend it better as a smoothie.

    I have been juicing them … which are surprisingly sweet (well, ok, duh … sweet potato but still surprising nonetheless.)

    Thanks again for all the info on the site!


    • That is an interesting idea. I didn’t realize that sweet potatoes were edible raw. I looked them up and I see some people eat them raw. Now I’m curious: I’ll have to try them!

      I’m sure that a Vitamix or Blendtec would have no trouble blending the raw potato—it’s just a question of what it tastes like…. Also, cooked sweet potatoes give a smoothie a smooth creamy texture; I’m not sure if the raw ones will.

  5. Adam, I’m a novice cook, so I take your instructions quite literally. A couple questions and one compliment.
    1. Do you peel the skin of sweet potato before blending?
    2. If I substitute cranberry with blueberry (or other berries) or pomegranate, will it taste good?
    3. It’s extremely beneficial that may recipes of yours have a note on substitution at the end. Like I said I am a novice, I don’t dare to do random substitution on my own because I’m afraid I might mix things that really don’t taste good together and ruin the whole drink.
    Thanks much! CH

    • 1) I leave the skin on, and I’ve never noticed its texture in the smoothie.
      2) Yes, berries, cherries, and pomegranate all sound like they would be good as well. In fact, I used blueberries and purple sweet potatoes in my “purple pie smoothie.” The one thing that I tried that didn’t go well with sweet potato was orange. I think all citrus is probably best to save for other (non-sweet potato) smoothies.
      3) I’m glad to hear you appreciate my substitution notes. With blending there are always tons of substitutions you can make. Once you get a little more experience I’d recommend trying out your own substitutions and I think you’ll learn quickly which combinations you like.

      • I just made it, it’s very nice. I really enjoy using your creative ideas of combing foods together in a way that I’d never thought of. The only bummer is I think I used too much water (triple the amount you suggested) to reduce the thickness, but it dilutes the taste too much. In general, it seems every smoothie I make has the same problem and I have a Pro750!! For this recipe,
        1. I didn’t soak the walnut (too lazy) but I did blend the nuts first with water before I threw the rest in.
        2. After the pre-programmed smoothie setting completes, I reblended manually on high for another 45 seconds, and at the end, let it run on 1 for a minute or more to reduce bubbles.
        Not sure what else I could do to reduce the bubble and thickness without adding more water??
        Thanks much! CH

        • To make this less thick you could use less sweet potato. I usually use a small sweet potato, so you may have had more sweet potato in there.
          If you’re looking to thin things out without adding more water you could add some juicier fruits like grapes….
          For the bubble removal trick on the 750, the lowest speed on that machine is faster than on the classic Standard machines. If the speed is too fast to just slowly circulate, one thing you can try is to set it on speed 1 and then quickly pulse it on and off. Then the speed won’t have a chance to get as fast, and the bubble removal trick may work better.

  6. I just made a sensational smoothie with 1 large, roasted sweet potato (skin on), 2 handfuls of spinach-kale mix, 1 cup almond milk, about 8 frozen red grapes (skin on). a shake of cinnamon and a shake of tumeric. Delicious!

  7. I see this is rather old but I just found it so will answer why to cook the sweet potato first. Cooking will convert the starch to sugar and give you quite a different taste. Try both to see which you like best. Baking sweet potatoes makes your whole house smell wonderful. An easier trick to try if you are showing a home for sale than making up a pie. 🙂 However I do bake pies, have a wonderful recipe for pumpkin which I’d now like to try with purple sweet potatoes. I wonder, would it stay purple? Or turn black?

    • Good point about converting starch to sugar. I actually just recently came across Harold McGee’s discussion of this issue. (He discusses it in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.) Apparently there is an enzyme present in sweet potatoes that facilitates starch to sugar conversion at 135–170°F. So for the sweetest sweet potatoes, baking them for a long time at a lower temperature is best. Or you can take it a step further by par-cooking them in 160°F water.

      Meanwhile, in my experience, purple sweet potatoes stay purple when cooked, so they should stay purple in your pie.

        • I do not know of strong evidence one way or the other. My guess is that they may be a bit easier to digest when cooked, but if you’re happily digesting raw sweet potatoes I wouldn’t worry about it. I believe that eating them with a bit of fat (as you did in your described smoothie with walnuts) will help with nutrient absorption of things like vitamin A.

  8. Would the flavor and/or texture/consistency change dramatically if I left out the walnuts? My daughter is severely allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts. Is there something else you can recommend as an alternative to the walnuts?

    • I think it would be fine to just skip the nuts. Or, if you want something similar, I would recommend chia seeds. (That’s what I used in the purple sweet potato smoothie linked at the end of the post.)

    • I have not eaten raw sweet potato. I’ve heard that it can cause indigestion, but I’ve also heard from plenty of people who eat it raw. I’m sure a Vitamix blender would have no trouble blending it up if you want to try.

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