If you have a sweet potato on hand, you have the foundation for plant-based a meal. I can’t tell you how often a baked sweet potato, topped or stuffed with beans and greens and sauce, has turned into dinner.
As life reopens, many of us are excited to spend less time in the domestic sphere. I know I’m not the only person who’s gone through phases of major cooking fatigue this year.
Yet cooking still gives me joy, when it doesn’t overwhelm me. I’ve found that the trick is to keep making recipes that feel simple and manageable. Many of these 20 vegan sweet potatoes are wonderfully simple, including the quinoa kale stuffed sweet potatoes that I’ll be sharing at the end.
Sweet potato benefits
Sweet potatoes are as nutrient dense as they are tasty. They’re famously good sources of beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A, in turn, contributes to healthy vision, growth, proper cell division, and immune function.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber. They’re complex carbohydrates, which is a type of carbohydrate that is digested relatively slowly and impacts blood sugar steadily, without dramatic rises or falls.
In addition, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, which plays a role in protein metabolism, and potassium, which aids in nerve function and fluid balance.
How to bake sweet potatoes
In spite of the fact that there are many ways to prepare sweet potatoes, I end up baking them more often than not. Many of the following vegan sweet potato recipes feature potatoes that have been oven baked.
There are different approaches to baking sweet potatoes, including a “low and slow” method that works well. However, I usually opt for a shorter baking time.
My main way of baking sweet potatoes is to scrub them, prick them, and transfer them to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. I bake them in a preheated, 425F oven for 40-60 minutes.
The big variance in cooking time is because sweet potatoes vary a lot in size! A small sweet potato might take 40 minutes, while a large one can take 60 or even a little more.
You’ll know your sweet potatoes are ready when they can be easily pierced through with a fork or knife. I like sweet potatoes that are almost meltingly tender.
Types of sweet potatoes
Potatoes are often lumped into broad categories of white vs. sweet, but there are many varieties of sweet potato. I use sweet potatoes with orange flesh most often, usually jewel or garnet sweet potatoes.
That said, I also love purple sweet potatoes. There are many varieties of these, and they vary in color and size. I use Murasaki sweet potatoes and Stokes Purple sweet potatoes often. I love their distinctive flavors, and I especially love the color of Stokes Purple sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato meals make me feel grounded and nourished in a very particular way. It’s part of why I love eating them so much. The following vegan sweet potato recipes showcase the many ways in which sweet potatoes can be used.
Tahini Mustard Sweet Potato, Lentil, and Arugula Salad
This lentil tahini sweet potato salad is bursting with flavor, texture, and plant-powered nutrition! Made with roasted sweet potatoes, juicy cherry tomatoes, lentils for protein, and a bold, mustardy tahini dressing.
These unfussy sweet potato black bean burgers come together easily, but they pack a lot of flavor! They're also full of healthful ingredients, including black beans, sweet potatoes, rolled oats, and pumpkin seeds. Great for meal prepping and freezing.
Take your sweet potato tacos to new heights with homemade black bean spread!These vegan tacos are a terrific plant-based meal and quick to make. Top with homemade vegan feta or my go-to cashew cheese recipe, and enjoy!
This vegan sweet potato red pepper soup is so easy to make! Keep it simple, or use one of my seasoning suggestions to vary the flavors. It can be prepared with fresh red peppers in summertime or roasted bell peppers from the jar.
These sweet potato chickpea burgers are vegan, gluten-free, and so easy to make. They're also a versatile plant-based protein! Serve them traditionally, in a burger bun, or add them to bowls, wraps, and salads.
This citrusy sweet potato bulgur salad is so hearty and filling, yet fresh and bright! It's made with nutritious roasted sweet potatoes, bulgur wheat, an orange-infused dressing, and chopped fresh mint. It's equally good hot or cold, and you can make it for any season of the year.
These roasted red pepper sweet potato quesadillas are a healthy and tasty vegan lunch! They use creamy sweet potato and white beans in place of traditional cheese. You can roast your sweet potatoes in advance to cut down on preparation time.
This vegan sweet potato hummus is a non-traditional spin on chickpea hummus. It has the most wonderful creamy texture and slight sweetness, thanks to cooked sweet potato. You can roast, steam, or microwave your sweet potato—it's all good! Perfect for dipping, snacks, sandwiches, and more.
Vegan sweet potato lentil shepherd's pie is the perfect hearty and wholesome main dish for your holiday table. It's an untraditional version of the classic dish, made with layers of herbed lentils and pillowy mashed sweet potatoes.
Vegan lentil sweet potato loaf is healthy comfort food at its finest. It's made with nutritious lentils, sweet potato, and rolled oats. This is a great dish to freezer or make ahead for holiday gatherings!
It’s worth highlighting those tasty stuffed sweet potatoes above. I first made them years ago, when I was still a pre-med student. At the time, I was often caught between my desire to eat wholesome, homemade food and the scarcity of my time.
If I could put aside a (mostly passive) hour for baking, then I could very quickly make those stuffed sweet potatoes. They were always super nourishing and healthful, packed with fresh veggies. But they also tasted great. Win, win.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Prick each potato a few times with a fork. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until each potato is fork tender. Allow the potatoes to cool for about 15 minutes, or until they can be handled.
While the potatoes cook, place the quinoa in a fine sieve. Rinse it under running water for about a minute. Transfer it to a small saucepan and add 1 scant cup water. Bring the quinoa to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer the quinoa for 13 minutes. Remove the quinoa from heat, fluff it gently with a fork, and then re-cover and allow it to steam for 5 minutes.
Place the kale in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk together the oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, agave syrup if using, salt, and pepper. Massage this dressing into the kale, until the kale is very well dressed and softening. Add the cooked quinoa, carrot, pepper, celery, and green onion. Mix well.
When the potatoes have cooled, cut them in half lengthwise and then gently scoop out most of the flesh. Chop the flesh roughly and add it to the quinoa kale mixture, along with the almonds. Stuff as much of the quinoa and kale salad as you can into each half of the sweet potato skin. Serve, along with any leftover filling.