11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (2024)

Root veggies are a core ingredient to hearty winter meals, like stews and curries, but they provide more than a cure for a comfort food craving. Here in the U.S., white potatoes are one of the most popular root veggies to incorporate into nourishing meals. And while the root veg certainly has its benefits, on the other side of the world, in Okinawa, Japan, another potato variety reigns supreme: purple sweet potatoes, also called Japanese sweet potatoes. (Not to be confused with ubes, with are purple yams.)

Okinawa is what's known as a Blue Zone, one of the few places in the world where people regularly live to be over 100 in good health. While Okinawans' longevity isn't attributed to diet alone—regular movement, having a sense of purpose, and a strong support system are also important—it certainly plays a big part. This vegetable is unique nutritionally in that it's very low on the glycemic index compared to other types of potatoes and sweet potatoes, meaning they won't have as strong an impact on your blood sugar levels. They also have high amounts of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Purple sweet potatoes grow easily in this part of the world and are incorporated into meals like miso stew with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and onions. Want to find them near you? If your local grocery store doesn't stock them, try a specialty Asian grocery store. If you're in need of some recipe inspiration, check out the 11 recipes below!

11 Japanese sweet potato recipes to try at home:

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (1)

1. Baked Japanese sweet potatoes

If you're looking for a recipe to help you enjoy the vegetable without much fuss, this is it. The recipe here explains step-by-step how to roast them in the oven at home. When they're done, add a little olive oil or butter, seasoning of your choice, and dig in!

Get the recipe: Baked Japanese sweet potatoes

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (2)

2. Cinnamon roasted Japanese sweet potatoes

You don't have to wait until dinner to enjoy your colorful 'taters—they make a great afternoon snack, too! Follow the recipe here to see how to turn them into sweet baked chips, sprinkled with cinnamon and olive oil.

Get the recipe: Cinnamon roasted Japanese sweet potatoes

Watch the video below to see why cinnamon is so good for you:

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (4)

3. Japanese sweet potato fries

Okay, this way of enjoying purple sweet potatoes probably isn't exactly common in Okinawa, but it's still a delicious way to enjoy the tuber. The potatoes are baked, not fried, which keeps the nutrition benefits front and center.

Get the recipe:Japanese sweet potato fries

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (5)

4. Whipped Japanese sweet potatoes

Just like white potatoes and orange sweet potatoes, this variety tastes delicious when mashed. Play up the sweetness by blending them with coconut milk and coconut oil. The end result is so sweet and flavorful that all you'll need to add is a little salt and pepper on top before digging in.

Get the recipe: Whipped Japanese sweet potatoes

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (6)

5. Japanese sweet potato manju

We see you cloud bread, and we raise you this purple sweet potato manju, a traditional Japanese dessert. Typically it's flour-based with something sweet in the middle. And in this recipe, that scrumptious center is the purple sweet potatoes. This snack is perfect to pair with an afternoon cup of tea.

Get the recipe: Japanese sweet potato manju

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (7)

6. Japanese sweet potato oven fries with wasabi aioli

If you've mastered baked purple sweet potato fries and are ready to step it up, consider this recipe Level Two. The tuber is baked with sesame seeds, togarashi or cayenne powder, scallions, and nori crisps. As for the dipping sauce: it's a wasabi aioli. Told you it was next level.

Get the recipe:Japanese sweet potato oven fries with wasabi aioli

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (8)

7. Japanese sweet potato rounds with sour cream

These rounds are simple to make and are a good snack, appetizer, or side dish. All you need to whip 'em up are the tubers, olive oil, garlic, onion, paprika, red chili flakes, chives, and sour cream. Easy!

Get the recipe: Japanese sweet potato rounds with sour cream

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (9)

8. Japanese sweet potato muffins and avocado tartare

Ready to step up your Japanese sweet potato game? Here, they're used shredded and used to make moist, savory muffins and topped with an avocado and cucumber tartate. The tartare is made with green onion, sesame seeds, cilantro, and smoked paprika and the end result is a flavor explosion that pairs perfectly with the Japanese sweet potatoes' natural taste.

Get the recipe: Japanese sweet potato muffins and avocado tartare

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (10)

9. Japanese sweet potato pudding

Like orange sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes can be enjoyed for dessert just as much as they can for dinner. Here, they're the main ingredient in an easy pudding. Combined with milk and sugar it tastes similar to caramel, like toasted candy.

Get the recipe: Japanese sweet potato pudding

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (11)

10. Daigaku imo pie

Like purple potatoes themselves, Daigaku imo pie's roots can be traced back to Japan. The potatoes are combined with sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and toasted sesame seeds. Aquafaba, aka chickpea water, is used in place of oil—a creative way to cut down on food waste in the kitchen.

Get the recipe: Daigaku imo pie

11. Gluten-free purple sweet potato tart

Japanese sweet potato also shines as a beautiful purple sub in sweet potato pie—perfect for holiday baking. Chef Sashah Handal shares how to make it (and keep it gluten-free, no less) in this episode of Well+Good's show Alt-Baking Bootcamp.

Get the recipe: Gluten-free purple sweet potato tart

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.

  1. Li, Aoran et al. “Research Advances of Purple Sweet Potato Anthocyanins: Extraction, Identification, Stability, Bioactivity, Application, and Biotransformation.”Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)vol. 24,21 3816. 23 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3390/molecules24213816

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Tags: Food and Nutrition, Healthy Recipes for Dinner

11 Recipes Featuring Japanese Sweet Potatoes, a Staple for Some of the Longest-Living People in the World (2024)


What is the history of Japanese sweet potatoes? ›

Introduction of Satsuma Imo (Sweet Potato) to Japan

This sweet potato is not native to Japan. Originally it came from Central South America. Then in 1605, it came to Ryukyu island (Modern day Okinawa ) from Philippines by way of the China. About 100 years later, in 1705, it started to spread widely in Kagoshima.

What is Japanese sweet potato used for? ›

Japanese Sweet Potato Recipes

Japanese sweet potatoes can be used in place of other sweet potatoes, especially in recipes where their sweeter flavor would be perfect for the dish.

Do sweet potatoes help you live longer? ›

The Okinawan diet primarily consists of sweet potatoes and other highly antioxidant vegetables and fruits. Their diet may contribute to healthy longevity by protecting cells from damage, which otherwise leads to cellular aging, inflammation, and diseases.

Who eats the most sweet potatoes in the world? ›

China is the world's biggest producer and consumer of sweetpotato, where it is used for food, animal feed, and processing (as food, starch, and other products).

Are Japanese sweet potatoes the healthiest? ›

Best of all they contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies need. Are Japanese sweet potatoes healthier than regular sweet potatoes? All varieties of sweet potatoes are good for you but these purple-skin tubers do have higher concentrations of specific vitamins and nutrients.

What is the difference between a Japanese sweet potato and a regular sweet potato? ›

Japanese sweet potatoes have a distinct, nutty flavor that sets them apart from other varieties of sweet potatoes. Their creamy texture also makes them perfect for mashed potatoes and pies. Overall, the taste and texture differences between Japanese sweet potatoes and yams make them suited for different culinary uses.

Why are Japanese sweet potatoes so healthy? ›

Japanese sweet potatoes are rich in healthy minerals, especially potassium, copper and manganese. The amounts, per potato, are as follows: ‌Potassium‌: 940 milligrams. ‌Calcium‌: 80 milligrams.

Can you eat the skin of Japanese sweet potatoes? ›

We eat the skin of Japanese sweet potatoes. That's why it's important to scrub and wash the sweet potatoes well before you bake them. Of course, you can peel it before you eat, but don't forget that the skin has plenty of nutrients!

Is it OK to eat Japanese sweet potato skin? ›

Sweet potato skins are both edible and highly nutritious.

They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that have health-promoting properties. Here are 6 nutrients in sweet potato skins that you may be missing out on by discarding them.

What organ does sweet potato help? ›

Just one sweet potato gives you 102% of the vitamin A you need each day. This helps keep your eyes healthy as well as your immune system, your body's defense against germs. It's also good for your reproductive system and organs like your heart and kidneys.

What happens when you start eating sweet potatoes everyday? ›

Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, and their excessive consumption can lead to hypervitaminosis A (vitamin A toxicity), in which excess vitamin A accumulates in the liver. Although it is not considered harmful, the color of the skin and nails may turn orange.

What food can you live off of the longest? ›

A balanced diet of survival food will ensure that your body is getting all the protein, carbs, minerals, and vitamins it requires to remain healthy. If you could only select five foods to survive on, potatoes, kale, trail mix, grains, and beans would get you pretty far.

Which country has the best sweet potato? ›

China currently accounts for more than half of the total global sweet potato output at 70,963,630 metric tons annually. This is due to the rich production yield of up to 30 tons per hectare. It is also treated as a catch crop.

What is the waste of sweet potatoes? ›

The cultivation and processing of sweet potatoes into a variety of products yields both solid and liquid organic waste. Solid waste includes peelings and trimmings from the sweet potato root and sweet potato leaves and vines.

Is sweet potato a super food? ›

Conclusion. The humble sweet potato's antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral values make it a top contender as a “superfood”. Getting some in your diet could give your health a boost!

Why is it called Japanese sweet potato? ›

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that originate from Central America, and found their way over to Japan sometime around the 1600s. In Japanese, they came to be known as "satsuma-imo" because they spread to mainland Japan from the Satsuma region (now part of southern Kyushu) in the south of the country.

What are some fun facts about Japanese sweet potatoes? ›

Japanese sweet potatoes have sweeter-tasting and softer flesh than most yams. Japanese sweet potatoes, with their reddish-purple skin, are an alternative to the traditional sweet potato. Naturally low in fat and high in nutritional value, they are packed with health benefits.

What is the origin of the sweet potato? ›

Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America. But archaeologists have found prehistoric remnants of sweet potato in Polynesia from about A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1100, according to radiocarbon dating. They've hypothesized that those ancient samples came from the western coast of South America.

Where did the Japanese yam come from? ›

The Japanese yam is native to regions of China and Japan, areas that are much colder than most yam cultivars can survive. Its first known cultivation can be dated back to 50,000 BC. It was introduced to Europe during the 19th Century potato blight as an alternative to the white fleshed potato.

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