Grilled sweet potatoes are a delicious dish that is easy to make any time the grill is going. They’re a healthy side dish packed with flavor that is delicious with everything from burgers to barbecue.
To highlight the sweet potatoes’ natural flavors, this recipe uses a combination of maple syrup, chili powder, and a touch of butter along with the heat from the grill to create a magical side dish.
What makes this grilled sweet potato recipe work is the way it combines two simple techniques to create sweet potatoes that are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. We do this by starting the potatoes in foil until they’ve just cooked through and then finishing them on a grill topper over an open flame to add a touch of crispy char.
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A good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber sweet potatoes have become a popular global ingredient. Originally domesticated in Central or South America, sweet potatoes have become widely available because of how easy they are to grow, their long shelf life, robust flavors, and culinary versatility. (Wikipedia)
Grilling Sweet Potatoes
It can be a challenge grilling vegetables like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or carrots when they’re being grilled directly over the fire from the grill to cook them all the way through without drying them out or turning the outside into a burnt mess.
The best grilled sweet potatoes are slightly charred on the outside with a crisp exterior and soft fluffy interior.
Grilling the potatoes in foil avoids these issues by cooking them all the way through before finishing them on the grill over high heat.
Two Ways to Grill Sweet Potatoes – Foil or No Foil
There are a couple of basic techniques for grilling sweet potatoes. The first is to grill them over direct heat, often after they’ve been parboiled. The second is to cook them in a foil packet before finishing them on the grill.
We chose to wrap the slices of sweet potato in an alumunim foil packet for this recipe because it allows us to infuse the flavors from the maple syrup and chili powder into the potatoes while they cook. It also allows the interior of the slices to turn out nice and fluffy and to have the slices be large bite-sized pieces without having to worry about them falling through the spaces between the grates.
The slices are finished using a grill topper, which lets us crisp up the exterior without losing any of the rounds to the fire below.
Grilling the potatoes directly over the fire can work if they’ve been sliced into large wedges or planks and are well seasoned. A lot of recipes call for the potatoes to be parboiled before they go on the grill. The problem with this approach, especially if you’re trying to avoid warming up the house on a hot summer day, is that it adds an extra step and can easily heat up the kitchen.
How to Grill Sweet Potatoes in Foil
To grill sweet potatoes in foil, start by cutting them into rounds, wedges, or planks. The potatoes should be around an ⅛ of an inch thick to help them hold together during the cooking process.
A tip is to try and slice the potatoes so they’re all the same thickness, which helps them finish at the same time. Also, when they’re sliced too thin the potatoes will often fall apart.
There are many ways to season sweet potatoes. Our favorite is to use things that highlight the potatoes’ natural sweetness, in this case, maple syrup, along with a little heat from some chili powder. There are very few ingredients that do as well as sweet potatoes with a little sweet and heat.
The advantage of using foil is that it allows the potatoes to cook through without the exterior drying up or burning. It also provides an easy way to infuse the potatoes with the flavor from whatever they’ve been seasoned with.
It’s important to flip the packet every 10 to 12 minutes or so to make sure the potatoes cook evenly.
Cutting the potatoes in large bite-sized rounds, wedges, or planks gives you the option to finish them using a grill topper. Using a grill topper to finish the potatoes lets you add a nice char to the outside and crisp up the outside without drying the potatoes out.
The best grill topper or grill pan for this type of cooking is fairly large and flat with small holes in it to let the flames and heat come through. We like this Stainless Steel Grill Topper.
Tips for Better Sweet Potatoes
Here are a few tips for more delicious sweet potatoes.
- The potatoes should be washed and cleaned of any dirt before being sliced
- As a side dish, a good rule of thumb is 2 servings per sweet potato.
- The potatoes should be sliced around an ⅛ of inch thick.
- Sweet potatoes can be cooked with or without their skins on.
- If you’re doubling or tripling this recipe, make additional foil packets. When the packets get too large, they can be hard to deal with, and the potatoes don’t always cook evenly.
Leftover sweet potatoes should be kept in the fridge and will stay good for 3 to 4 days. The easiest way to reheat them is on the grill, using a grill topper and medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side. They also can be reheated in a 350℉ oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
If you love sweet potatoes, try making our Ancho Chili Sweet Potatoe Puree that’s filled with the flavors of the Southwest or our Sweet Potatoes with Andouille Sausage, which is one of our most popular holiday side dishes.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, (about 4 cups)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Wash and slice the sweet potatoes into rounds around an ⅛ of inch thick. If you’re working with really large sweet potatoes, cut the rounds in half to make them easier to eat.2 medium sweet potatoes
- In a small bowl, microwave the butter to soften it up. Add the maple syrup, salt, chili powder, and pepper to the butter, mixing everything to create a sauce. Mix the sauce and the slices together.3 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp pepper
- Layout a large sheet of heavy aluminum foil, place the potatoes in the center of the foil. Fold the edges of the foil over the potatoes like you’re wrapping a gift to create a nice package to cook everything in.
- Grill the sweet potatoes on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping them every ten minutes or so. The package should be completely sealed up to keep the moisture inside.
- The sweet potatoes will be done when they are cooked all the way through and are soft to the touch.
- To finish the potatoes, grill them on a flat grill topper on high heat for 3 to 4 minutes a side, until they’re crispy on the outside.