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How To Cook Yams: A Beginners Guide

by admin

Yams, with their vibrant colours and earthy flavours, are versatile and delicious root vegetables that can be transformed into a variety of mouthwatering dishes. Whether you prefer them roasted, mashed, or as a delightful addition to stews and soups, mastering the art of cooking yams can open a world of culinary possibilities. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through different methods and recipes to cook yams and maximise their taste and texture.

Part 1: Preparing the Yams

Before diving into the various cooking techniques, it is essential to properly prepare the yams for cooking. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Selecting Yams: Look for firm and unblemished yams at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Yams come in different varieties, including yellow, white, or purple, each offering its own unique flavor profile.
  2. Washing and Peeling: Thoroughly wash the yams under cold running water to remove any dirt or residue. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, carefully peel the skin, ensuring to remove only a thin layer. Leave the yams whole or cut them into cubes or rounds depending on your intended cooking method.

Part 2: Cooking Methods

Now that your yams are prepared, let’s explore some popular cooking methods:

1. Roasting

Roasting yams brings out their natural sweetness and enhances their earthy flavors. Here’s how to roast yams to perfection:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Place the yam cubes or rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Drizzle the yams with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs or spices.
  • Toss the yams to ensure they are evenly coated with the seasonings.
  • Roast the yams in the preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until they are fork-tender and golden brown on the edges.
  • Remove the yams from the oven and let them cool slightly before serving. They’re now ready to be enjoyed as a delicious side dish or added to salads or grain bowls.

2. Boiling

Boiling yams is a simple and straightforward method that works well when creating mashed yams or adding them to soups and stews. Here’s how you can boil yams:

  • Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the yams.
  • Add a pinch of salt to the water and bring it to a boil.
  • Carefully place the yam cubes or whole yams into the boiling water.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the yams simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  • Drain the cooked yams and allow them to cool slightly before mashing, slicing, or adding them to your desired recipe.

3. Mashing

Mashed yams make for a rich and creamy side dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses. Here’s how to create velvety mashed yams:

  • Cook the yams by boiling, as mentioned in the previous section.
  • Once the yams are tender, drain them and transfer them to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add butter, a splash of milk or cream, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Use a potato masher or an electric mixer to mash the yams until smooth and creamy. Adjust the consistency by adding more milk or cream if needed.
  • Serve the mashed yams immediately as a tasty side dish or incorporate them into your favorite casserole recipe.

Part 3: Flavorful Yam Recipes

Now that you have mastered the fundamental cooking techniques, let’s explore some delightful yam recipes to broaden your culinary repertoire:

1. Yam and Coconut Curry

Create a sumptuously spiced dish by making a yam and coconut curry. Here’s a quick recipe to get you started:

  • In a large skillet or pot, heat some oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until fragrant and golden brown.
  • Sprinkle in your preferred curry powder or paste, along with turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Stir well to coat the onions and spices.
  • Add diced yams, chopped tomatoes, and coconut milk to the skillet.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the yams are tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley before serving.

2. Honey-Glazed Roasted Yams

For a sweet and savory twist, try honey-glazed roasted yams. Here’s a simple recipe to tantalize your taste buds:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • In a small bowl, combine honey, olive oil, soy sauce, and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Toss the yam cubes or rounds in the honey glaze until evenly coated.
  • Spread the glazed yams on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast the yams in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until they are caramelized and tender on the inside.
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.


Cooking yams opens up a world of culinary possibilities due to their versatile nature. Whether you choose to roast, boil, mash, or incorporate yams into flavorful recipes, these vibrant root vegetables will undoubtedly add texture, flavor, and a touch of elegance to your meals. So next time you spot those beautiful yams at the grocery store, embrace the opportunity to create delicious dishes that will impress family and friends.

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