Food and Nutrition

Why Starting With Frozen Potatoes Is the Secret To Nailing Perfectly Fluffy Spuds (Chefs Agree)

Kells McPhillips

Photo: Stocksy/Cameron Whitman
Hello, and welcome to sweet potato season. Although the sweet spuds are always a delicious, fiber-rich addition to your plate, the soul-warming dish really hits the spot this time of year. And thanks to a viral TikTok trend made popular by the creator Chaheti Bansal aka @rootedinspice, we've all been made aware of a trick for achieving the ideal sweet potato texture every single time: Freezing—yes, freezing—the potatoes before you throw them in the oven.

"This is the frozen sweet potato technique for recreating the common Chinese street food of whole roasted sweet potatoes, created by chef Lucas Sin," explains Bansal. Indeed, this method is nothing new; it's been executed by chefs and street vendors in China (as well as Japan and South Korea) for many years. The dish is, for obvious reasons, most commonly-consumed in the wintertime, where Chinese cooks will roast frozen potatoes in large iron drums until perfectly fluffy, tender, and caramelized. "Basically, you freeze your sweet potato and then you bake it until the burnt sugar oozes out. You get this really fluffy texture and smoky flavor. I added an egg and tempered spices," Bansal adds.

@rootedinspice freeze your sweet potatoes 🍠#sweetpotato #breakfastideas #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #snackideas #temperingspices ♬ manifest - Rook1e

Below, celebrity chef and cookbook author Katie Chin breaks down why this method works so well, and shares how to make fluffy sweet potatoes with the help of your icebox at home.

The science behind using frozen sweet potatoes

"Freezing sweet potatoes before baking them results in a nice and charred exterior and the most fluffy inside, because freezing the potatoes allows their interior flesh to macerate from the inside out," says Chin. (FYI, "macerate" is the chef word for soften.) "Because the skin of the potato isn't punctured, the high roasting temperature caramelizes the sugars, but the skin protects the sugars from burning. As the potatoes bake, caramelized sugars will seep from them, and the trapped steam will naturally separate the skin from the flesh," she adds. The result? Fluffy potato perfection every single time.

Whether you're whipping up a sweet potato for a last-minute lunch, or eating one as a snack—as is common in China, Japan, and South Korea—we asked Chef Chin to walk us through how to make fluffy sweet potatoes every single time. And just in time for hibernation season.

How to make fluffy sweet potatoes, according to Chef Katie Chin

Chin recommends picking out small or medium-sized sweet potatoes for the best results. The larger potatoes are starchier, and therefore harder to cook evenly. "I prefer purple skinned Japanese Satusmaimo sweet potatoes because of their size and sweet and rich flavor but any sweet potatoes will do," says Chin. Next, follow the simple steps below.

1. Scrub your potatoes and allow them to air dry.

2. Place them in the freezer for one to two hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

4. Bake them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil for about one hour, or until you hear a hollow sound when you tap the potatoes with tongs.

5. Remove from the oven and slice the sweet potatoes open so they're ready for toppings (aka the best part).

Chef Chin's go-to savory toppings include avocado, cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, and/or tempered spices such as fennel seed, cumin, mustard seed, and red pepper flakes. To keep things sweet, try sunflower butter date syrup, maple syrup, cinnamon, granola, or toasted oats. Talk about a bounty of options! Start by deciding if you want sweet or savory, then go to town.

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