Sweet Potato or Yam?

What is the difference?  Sweet Potato or Yam?  I started this post ready to tell you those darker tubers are yams, not sweet potatoes.  But I learned something – I was wrong!

Flora & Fauna

Most Americans have never had a true yam.  Yams are starchy tubers, found commonly in Asia and Africa and are closely related to grasses and lilies.  Here is a good site that can show you what real yams look like.  

The food we have in the US are different varieties of sweet potatoes (related to morning glories).  The dark ones, called Covington Sweet potatoes, were dubbed by the slaves as yams because they closely resembled the yams of Africa.  The lighter ones (my favorite) are called O’Henry Sweet potatoes.


The deep orange variety, the Covingtons,  are softer and easier to cut.  They are also a moister, more stringy texture when cooked than the lighter variety.  As for flavor, they are very similar.  I personally think the Covington is sweeter.

The O’Henry sweet potato is much harder.  You have to be careful when you cut this guy!  The texture is dryer and more grainy than the Covington and the flavor is closer to a russet, but you can clearly taste the sweetness.

You can prepare them pretty much the same – Bake them, mash them – they are both an excellent source of vitamins A & C, as well as manganese, potassium, niacin and dietary fiber!  They not only taste good, they are good for you!


So next Thanksgiving, when they bring out those candied yams, you can tell everyone that technically, they are not yams at all!

© Copyright 2016 The Lazy Gastronome

This entry was posted in Potatoes, Side Dishes, Sweet Potatoes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sweet Potato or Yam?

  1. Alison says:

    I never realized there was a difference. You learn something new every day

  2. Mother of 3 says:

    I always wondered what the difference was; if any. Our favorite are sweet potato fries! Yum.

  3. I’ve never really understood the difference, thanks for the break down…I love them all equally :)

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