The Best Way to Boil and Cook Yams

Yams that have been boiled and cooked can take on any flavor — savory or sweet — that you prefer.
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A baked yams dish is a familiar item on menus for special occasions, especially holiday meals. Some cooks add toppings or spices, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or sugar to achieve a candied yam dish.


Some prefer a firm yam, while others cook the yams until they have the consistency of mashed potatoes. While the ingredients may vary, the basic steps remain the same. The preparation of baked yams begins with boiling the yams before baking them in the oven.

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While there is a difference between sweet potatoes and yams, in the U.S., you most likely have sweet potatoes regardless of the label.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 yams or sweet potatoes

  • Butter

  • Olive oil

  • Brown sugar

  • Salt and pepper

  • Water

  • Saucepan

  • Colander

  • Baking dish, 9 by 13 inches


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and apply a light coating of butter to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
    • You may use a small amount of olive oil or a cooking spray instead of butter, if you prefer.
  2. Wash 4 to 6 six yams or sweet potatoes, place them in a large saucepan, cover the yams with water and place the pan on a medium to high heat.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, cover the saucepan and allow the yams to continue a gentle boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. The yams are done when you can pierce them easily with a knife. Avoid overcooking the yams, because they'll spend time cooking in the oven.
  4. Remove the yams from the heat and drain them in a colander. Allow them to cool a little before continuing.
  5. Peel the skin from each yam using a knife. Lift or scrape the skin from the yam and set the skin aside for discarding.
  6. Slice the yams into 1/2-inch thick slices and lay one layer of slices in the baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle your choice of seasonings over the layer of yams and add additional layers until you have used all of the slices.
    • Some recipes use brown sugar, salt and pepper, nutmeg or cinnamon on each layer of yams.
    • You might prefer to make a glaze to pour over the yams if you're making candied yams.
    • You may also cut the yams into quarters.
  8. Bake the yams uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. Some cooks place marshmallows on top of the yams during the last 5 minutes of cooking so the marshmallows melt a little and brown.
  9. Remove the yams from the oven when done.

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