Yam vs. Sweet Potato

Which is which?

Sweet potato. Yam. Which is which? It a pretty confusing world out there when it comes to these troublesome tubers. And recipes don’t always help. Whether they’re calling for a yam or a sweet potato, there are a couple of things you should know.


Getting to the root of it

These two tasty tubers are very similar, but they are not even related at all. Yams sold in North America are all actually sweet potatoes. In Alberta, “yams” are really a soft-fleshed type of sweet potato. It has a moist, sugary texture when cooked and a bright orange colour. “Sweet potatoes” are lighter in colour with a dry, mealy texture.

Sweet potato

True yams grow in the tropics and come from a completely different plant species. Unlike sweet potatoes, yams contain higher levels of natural sugars, are moister and aren’t as rich in some vitamins (like A and C). Yams come in all shapes and sizes: From small like a potato to extremely large, over 7 feet long! 

In our recipes, we may ask for “yams” as an ingredient. What we really mean is the orange-fleshed sweet potato. When we ask for “sweet potatoes”, we’re referring to the white or paler-fleshed sweet potato. Regardless of the colour, here are some delicious sweet potato recipes to try: