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The Difference Between Yams And Sweet Potatoes

Autumn is almost upon us, which means we’ll be breaking out all of our favorite fall recipes! Pumpkin pecan bars, autumn veggie soup, and our famous autumn breakfast casserole! Another fall classic is sweet potatoes – whether you use them in a stew, a casserole, or just bake them and have them as a side dish, there’s no denying this is one of our favorite flavors of the season! There is, however, some confusion on sweet potatoes vs. yams. What’s the difference? Is it just a name? We’re glad you asked! Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of sweet potatoes available, as well as some fun ideas on how to use them!

What’s In A Name?


You may be surprised to learn that yams and sweet potatoes are… the same. At least, in the US. That’s right! The yams you find in most American grocery stores are sweet potatoes. You’ve been lied to your whole life. It’s ok to take a moment to let that sink in. According to Bon Appétit, the term, “Yam,” comes from Louisiana sweet potato growers. They marketed their orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as “yams” to distinguish themselves from other sweet potatoes on the market. This genius marketing move happened in the 1930s… and is still around today.

Real yams are an entirely different kind of root vegetable. They have a bumpy, rough texture, much like tree bark. They are plain in flavor, and best served boiled so as to break down their tough texture. Authentic yams are actually pretty hard to come by in the US. These veggies are used in West African cooking, as well as Caribbean dishes. So, now that we have that cleared up, let’s look at some of the varieties of sweet potatoes we can readily find in stores.

Garnet Sweet Potato


These orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are great for candied yams, sweet potato casserole, or as sweet potato fries. Try this Salted Caramel Pretzel Sweet Potato Casserole if you’re looking for a fun new recipe this season!

Jersey Sweet Potato


The Jersey sweet potato, also known as the “white” sweet potato, has a much firmer texture and is ultimately drier than the Garnet sweet potato. Of course, you can use these two interchangeably in recipes that call for sweet potatoes, it just depends on what you’re looking for! These sweet potatoes would be great for any slow cooker recipes. You could try replacing regular potatoes with Jersey potatoes in this Loaded Slow Cooker Baked Potato recipe!

Stokes Sweet Potato


These potatoes aren’t just pretty – they are the sweetest potatoes of the bunch! The great thing about Stokes sweet potatoes is that they stay purple even after you cook them, unlike a lot of purple veggies that fade after being introduced to heat. This means the purple sweet potato will add great color to any meal you want to throw it in!

Get more details about the different kinds of sweet potatoes below!

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