Sweet potato fries will always be a favorite of mine but let’s see which is the best sweet potato substitute in case you can’t find to buy some or you just want to try a different vegetable for your recipes or for your diet.
If I eat sweet potato fries, done in the oven or in the air fryer, I feel like I don’t even need dessert.
For me, this is the sweetest vegetable. Which also means that it won’t be easy finding the perfect substitute. But we’ll try. And there are quite a few nice replacements.
By the way, if you want to know more about sweet potatoes and how good they are for our diet, you can check out this article from thehealthscienceacademy.org.
If you want to know about another product that can be made from this root vegetable, I should tell you that you can also use sweet potato starch as a substitute for potato starch or cornstarch.
Best Sweet Potato Substitute: 18 Tubers, Vegetables & Fruits
I will admit that we might not consider sweet potatoes to be the best looking vegetable in the market but they are some of the most delicious. I still think that they’re pretty hard to replace.
The best sweet potato substitutes are:
- red potatoes
- butternut squash
- red yams (garnet potatoes)
- jewel potatoes
- Japanese sweet potatoes
- Yukon gold potatoes
- white potatoes
- acorn squash
- yuca (cassava)
- kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
1. Red potatoes (easy-to-find sweet potato substitute )
If you’re looking for the best sweet potato substitute that is easiest to find, then go for red potatoes.
I love their taste, their texture, and the color of their skin when they’re baked. I absolutely love red potatoes and this is a substitute that’s both easy to find and cheap.
They’re obviously not as sweet but they do have a really nice flavor. Red potatoes are very versatile, easy to cook with, and have an awesome texture.
They’re less starchy and more sugary than regular potatoes so, for me, they’re at top of the list when I’m shopping for the best sweet potato substitute.
Moreover, it certainly doesn’t hurt that red potatoes are considerably cheaper.
They’re my favorite recommendation as a substitute in savory recipes that call for sweet potatoes because a lot of people can easily find red potatoes, no matter where they live.
2. Butternut squash
Can you use butternut squash as the best sweet potato substitute? You definitely can.
Butternut squash is one of the most versatile fruits that can be used to make savory dishes, desserts, and smoothies.
In terms of taste, many people will say that butternut squash tastes like sweet potatoes. It has a moist, sweet, and nutty flavor.
Nevertheless, you must take a few things into account when making your replacement.
Butternut squash is a wetter vegetable and has a totally different texture. It also doesn’t have the same intense flavor.
Butternut squash has a variety of uses but you should check out some info about cooking with butternut squash so that you know exactly what to expect and which are the approximate cooking times.
In the oven, it takes about 40 minutes if you cut it into cubes.
It pairs well with various herbs and spices, including rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.
If you want it sweeter, use honey, brown sugar or maple syrup.
It can be used to make savory dishes with beef, chicken, ham, bacon, turkey.
You can also use it for pasta, rice, soups, and even for smoothies.
3. Red yams (Garnet potatoes)
Sweet potatoes and red yams are very similar, from their shape, their size, and the color of their flesh.
The skin is a bit different in color, red yams get their name from their skin color.
Their texture is quite similar, too. Red yams are more starchy and more watery, squash-like.
What about taste?
The best way to describe the flavor of red yams is mildly sweet with a savory earthiness.
They’re not as sweet as sweet potatoes and they have a more earthy, neutral taste, if we compare the two.
4. Jewel potatoes
As one of the best sweet potato substitutes, jewel potatoes are very similar to what we’re trying to replace: from the light orange skin to the orange body and the sweet taste.
Jewel potatoes are less sweet but they’re still tasty and a very nice replacement.
5. Japanese sweet potatoes
I don’t think that many of us can have easy access to them but, if you get the chance, get some and see if this is a vegetable that you want to experiment with again.
They can also be referred to as Japanese yam or Satsumaimo.
The skin is a beautiful red that looks phenomenal when baked.
Japanese sweet potatoes have a drier, starchier texture than sweet potatoes.
Their taste is subtly sweet, nutty, with a chestnut-like flavor. It sounds as exotic as you would expect.
6. Ube (best sweet potato substitute for desserts)
If you’re into Filipino food then you’re already well acquainted with ube.
It’s a purple yam originally from the Philippines.
Since this is basically a bright purple sweet potato with an even sweeter and more mellow taste, it will work wonderfully as the best sweet potato substitute for desserts.
If you’re into making all kinds of desserts at home, give ube a try. Just that beautiful purple color is enough to make everything look good.
7. Yukon gold potatoes
This potato variety doesn’t have much in common with sweet potatoes. Yukon gold is a cross between a yellow and a white potato.
It’s definitely not my favorite substitute and I only use these if I have nothing else around.
Yukon gold is characterized by thin, smooth, eye-free skin and yellow-tinged flesh.
The taste is indeed slightly sweet and it has a concentrated delicious flavor that doesn’t need much seasoning but I still prefer red potatoes. But that’s just a personal preference.
If you’re making oven roasted vegetables and you want to replace sweet potatoes, you could use parsnip.
Parsnip has a completely different taste but it could be a nice option, a good opportunity to experiment with another root vegetable.
You’ll still get a sweet vegetable in the mix but with a more earthy taste.
You can also make parsnip fries fried in bacon grease to replace sweet potato fries. Or you can fry them in lard or duck fat.
Carrots have their unique taste and they don’t definitely taste like sweet potatoes.
However, these two root vegetables do have sweetness in common.
Due to that, we should include carrots when talking about the best sweet potato substitute, especially when it comes to making oven roasted vegetables.
Carrots have another major advantage. Their versatility. They can be used to make desserts, in savory dishes, and for smoothies and juices.
Carrots have a rather neutral flavor but they offer amazing sweetness to any dish.
You can substitute a 15-ounce can of pumpkin for 2 sweet potatoes.
You can go for either pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie. You’re going to love both.
Pumpkin can also be used in savory dishes although it’s not as flavorful or as sweet as the vegetable we’re replacing.
11. Taro (similar taste to sweet potatoes)
When peeled and cooked, taro can sometimes be confused for potatoes.
Some would say that taro tastes similar to sweet potatoes. That’s the best reason for considering taro a wonderful option as the best sweet potato substitute.
However, I’m also well aware that not everyone can easily buy taro. I definitely believe that it’s easier to find sweet potatoes than it is to find taro.
Taro is an edible tuber that absorbs other flavors quite easily. Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable, unlike regular potatoes and taro which are tubers. But that’s a difference that has no impact on how wonderful taro is an ingredient.
It’s also absolutely versatile.
We can even use taro to make desserts. I would say that taro is right up there with ube when it comes to the many desserts that can be made with them. Isn’t that absolutely amazing?
In savory dishes, taro can be steamed, boiled, fried, stir-fried, baked, and braised.
12. White potatoes
If you can’t find anything else to use as the best sweet potato substitute, then I recommend buying white potatoes.
Or just buy whatever potato variety is the most popular in your area and just use that one.
It will work perfectly for a wide variety of savory dishes: boiling, mashing, steaming, roasting, potato soups, etc.
You can absolutely substitute regular potatoes for sweet potatoes in savory dishes. If you find that the taste is not as sweet as you’d like, you can add some sugar to your ingredients.
13. Acorn squash
This squash gets its name because the fruits are shaped like acorns. It’s got quite an adorable look.
Acorn squashe have thick green skin with prominent ridge. They’re a bit more difficult to chop up for cooking than the smooth surface of the butternut squash.
While some people will enjoy eating the skin of butternut squash or kabocha, they might find that the skin of acorn squash is too thick for them, even after being properly oven-roasted.
Acorn squash is milder in taste and slightly more fibrous in texture than butternut squash. The sweet and nutty taste is a bit overpowered by its high water content. Still, it’s a good ingredient to cook with.
Let’s consider this simple thing: plantain chips are so much better-tasting than potato chips.
Plantain chips have a crunchy texture with a bit of sweetness, whereas potato chips are more starchy and neutral-tasting.
Just judging by this comparison alone, we can definitely say that plantains can be awesome sweet potato substitutes.
Pork and plantains go very well together.
Beans and plantains are another sweet and savory combo that you should consider.
Spicy plantains with rice and peas also sounds like a wonderful recipe.
Plantains are not as versatile for savory dishes as yams, red potatoes, butternut squash or taro but they’re still an ingredient to keep in mind.
Can you use eggplants as a sweet potato substitute? You can but don’t expect a similar taste at all.
Eggplants have a mild flavor. Would I describe them as tasting sweet? We could say, although it doesn’t come close to the sweetness of sweet potatoes, pumpkins, yams, butternut squash, etc.
Eggplants has a flavor similar to summer squash or zucchini.
When cooked, they’re tender, mild, and sweet with a slight vegetal bitterness. They also absorb the flavor of the other ingredients. Raw, they’re very bitter.
16. Yuca (cassava)
The cassava plant is grown for its starchy, edible tuber known as yuca, manioc, or mandioca. Thus, we have another tuber that can serve as a sweet potato substitute.
When it comes to how yuca tastes, there are two distinctions that we can make.
The starchy flesh has a grainy texture similar to potatoes.
The meaty flesh has a mild, sweet, somewhat nutty flavor. It’s very similar to our description of butternut squash.
If you want a few recipes to introduce you to yuca and how to best prepare it, check out this article here.
17. Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
This Japanese pumpkin has a wonderful taste that is actually a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato.
The flavor of kabocha is quite wonderful. It tastes sweet and it has an earthy flavor with hints of chestnut.
Kabocha is a round squash with dark green skin. It looks great.
18. Sweet potatoes vs yams
These 2 are not the same. Sweet potato is a vegetable that belongs to the morning-glory family, Convolvulaceae, while the yam is a vegetable that belongs to the yam family, Dioscoreaceae.
Yams are mostly grown in western Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and the Caribbean Islands.
Sweet potatoes grow throughout the world and can grow even in the worst of soils and climates.
Sweet potatoes live up to their names in sweetness, while yams have a more neutral taste and are more earthy. Even so, red yams are a good substitute if you have access to them easily.
How to cook with sweet potatoes
If you do decide to skip on my recommendation for the best sweet potato substitute and want to give this vegetable a try, let’s talk about how you can cook with it.
First of all, you just peel the skin thoroughly because it can hold onto dirt.
The skin is also a lot tougher than a regular potato so don’t go thinking that you’ll be enjoying the skin because you probably won’t.
Secondly, this vegetable will oxidize pretty quickly. Peel it and cut it right before cooking so that you don’t spoil this deliciously sweet vegetable.
Another way for preventing the flesh from getting dark is to put it in salt water immediately after peeling. Use 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 quart of water.
If you’re concerned about preserving as many minerals and vitamins, you’ll prefer steaming sweet potatoes.
On the other hand, if you want more variety in your cooking, you’ll choose to cook them in many different ways: boiled, oven roasted, baked, grilled, fried.
If you have a mandoline, I definitely recommend making some chips. You just have to preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, place some parchment paper in a tray, place the thinly sliced sweet potatoes in a row, season with salt, spray them with cooking spray and bake them for 35-45 minutes.
Popular sweet potato recipes
We’ve see how many options we have when it comes to choosing the best sweet potato substitute. Now, it’s time to see which are the recipes that might benefit from these substitutes.
Roasted sweet potatoes
There are so many variations of roasted sweet potatoes. They’re all absolutely delicious.
In this case, you can use any other tuber, vegetable or fruit to replace sweet potatoes.
You can roast yams, squash varieties, pumpkin, parsnips, celery root, parsley root, carrots, eggplants, taro and whatever else you might want.
The easiest to find sweet potato substitute for a roasted recipe is whatever potato variety you can find where you live. I recommend red potatoes but you can also use gold or white potatoes.
Add a bit of sugar if you want the roasted regular potatoes to taste sweeter.
Sweet potato fritters
We can make fritters from all kinds of vegetables, fruits, meat or seafood.
We can make them from shredded zucchini, carrots, red/white/gold potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, taro, yams, etc.
Glazed sweet potatoes with lentils
We can use red yams or red potatoes as our best substitutes for sweet potatoes for this glazed sweet potatoes with lentils recipe. But you can also use any of the other substitutes that I recommended in this article.
Sweet potato oatmeal
Use very ripe plantains or roasted butternut squash, pumpkin.
Sweet potato wedges
Instead make the wedges from carrots, yams, taro, yuca, any regular potatoes variety, parsnips, etc.
The same substitutes apply if you want to make sweet potato fries.
Sweet potato desserts
If you want to replace sweet potatoes in desserts, I recommend ube, taro or carrots as your top options. For most people, carrots are the easiest to find option. Zucchinis can also work in some dessert recipes.
For me, in most cases, the best sweet potato substitute is red potatoes but there are other replacements to choose from if you’re looking for more interesting flavors or if you’re looking for substitutes for desserts and smoothies.