If you’re after a side dish that’s easy to make, tastes delicious and looks incredibly appetising, look no further than these satisfying sweet potato slices. Bake them in thyme and garlic infused butter for a sweet and richly flavoured dish.
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
Just like all our side dishes and salads, we love being able to showcase staple pantry ingredients in a fun and slightly different way.
By slicing these sweet potatoes into perfectly round discs, the roasting process creates these perfectly baked slices that are soft and slightly crisp. Stack them up on your plate as the smell of the butter wafts through the dinner table.
Sweet potatoes are great ingredients to accompany so many different main meals, making them a truly versatile side dish. At the same time, its natural sweetness is great for mains that need a little lift.
Oh, and did I mention it’s crazy easy to make?
Are Sweet Potatoes the Same as Yams?
The quick answer to this question is no. Sweet potatoes are not the same as yams.
In the US, there seems to be much confusion about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. It would seem that yams in the US are, in actual fact, sweet potatoes. Most Americans most likely have never even really cooked with yams before.
Growing up in southeast Asia, we consumed both root vegetables regularly, cooked up for different dishes and uses. They are indeed very different from what it looks like to its texture and its tastes.
Why is Sweet Potatoes Called Yams in the US?
So why the confusion?
In the US, you can find 2 different types of sweet potatoes. Ones that are firm and ones that are soft. The firm sweet potatoes were the first variety to be produced in the US, and those are the ones that were called sweet potatoes, and rightly so because that’s what they are!
In the 1930s, Louisiana scientists developed a new type of sweet potato: the softer variety and bright orange flesh. It is believed that when they started growing this variety for commercial use in the slave era, the African word “nyami”, which means “to eat”, was used to describe these sweet potatoes. A shortened version of the word yam was therefore used.
To differentiate the 2 varieties, the name “yam” kind of stuck. It was simply easier for growers and grocers to tell their customers that one is the firm kind and the other is the soft kind.
So, yams are actually sweet potatoes, despite being from 2 different plants. The sweet potato is from the morning glory family, while yams are related to grasses and palms. They are not even related to each other!
Yams have tough brown skin and, to be honest, looks ugly. They are not sweet in any way and have a fairly bland taste. Sweet potatoes have smooth, light colour brown skin with bright orange flesh and nowhere near as starchy as a yam.
Flavour/Texture: These roasted sweet potato slices are tender on the underside while slightly crisp on the top. Mixed through with the butter mixture and you get these velvety flavours at the same time.
The lovely notes of the woody and earthy thyme sprigs do wonders in the overall flavour profile. Sweet, buttery, earthy and spicy. Sounds good, right?
Ease: A really easy sweet potato side dish to make any time of the week. With the help of a mandoline, which we highly recommend you invest in if you don’t already have one, slicing sweet potatoes into perfect discs of equal thickness is easy.
Melt some butter in a saucepan and pour over. Let the oven do the hard work.
Time: Don’t let the time put you off, and it is not an indicator of difficulty. The sweet potato slices in the oven are what takes up 1 hour and 15 minutes, but you’re just leaving it in there, setting the alarm and coming back to it when it’s ready.
Time it right with your main meal and serve at the same time for a piping hot side dish.
Sweet potatoes: Try and buy 3 sweet potatoes of the same size and ones that are nice and straight. This makes it easier to slice evenly and will allow for a more uniform presentation.
Butter: Get good unsalted butter. This way, you can adjust the level of saltiness to your liking.
Garlic: Mince the garlic well to infuse into the butter better. It will also spread out more evenly throughout the sweet potato slices. Use a garlic press for a faster and better result.
Thyme: This woody, earthy, and slightly floral fresh herb is perfect for roasting as it can withstand the heat well as it works its magic. The glorious smells of the thyme throughout the sweet potato is a lovely combination.
Cayenne pepper: This delicious hot chilli pepper powder is a fantastic way to add a little kick to any recipe. Sprinkle it into the butter mixture and then pour into the baking dish. If you like it spicier, feel free to add more. The sweet and spicy flavours are really delicious!
Salt and pepper: To taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F.
Peel the sweet potato. Using a mandoline, slice at 3 cm thickness.
In a small saucepan, add butter, minced garlic, leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme and cayenne pepper. On low to medium heat, cook until butter is fully melted.
Using a small baking dish, pour in ½ the butter mixture.
Stack the sweet potato slices side to side. Drizzle the rest of the butter mixture on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the remaining 4 sprigs of thyme, whole, in between the sweet potato slices.
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and allow it to bake for a further 15 minutes so the top softens and browns further.
Variations and Substitutions
Vegan version: Vegan butter can be used. The nut-based vegan butter would have a better flavour profile for this side dish than the coconut-based butter.
Thyme substitute: Oregano and marjoram would be a good replacement but the dried version. It would withstand the long roasting process better than using fresh leaves.
Level of spiciness: The level of heat can be adjusted by adding less or more of the cayenne pepper. Alternatively, you can also try any of the paprika varieties.
Great Mains for This Side Dish
Blood orange glazed chicken thighs: This recipe pairs perfectly with baked sliced sweet potatoes. The baked sweet potatoes along with the sweet and spicy glaze from the chicken are a great flavour combination.
Filipino beef steak: Popularly known as Beef Bistek, this is a flavourful dish made with simple ingredients. This beef recipe pairs well with the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.
Roasted pork tenderloin: A delicious and unique 30 minute dinner recipe, roasted pork tenderloin with strawberry jalapeno salsa is a savoury, sweet and spicy dish. These sweet potato slices will add to the sweetness of the pork tenderloin recipe for a truly complete meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cayenne pepper is a thin, red chilli pepper that is spicy! It is well known in its powdered form and is used to flavour and spice up dishes.
Said to have originated from Cayenne, French Guiana, this Capsicum annuum is a member of the Solanaceae family. It also boasts several health benefits, including giving your metabolism a bit of a boost as well as improving digestive health.
Sweet potatoes can last quite well. You can make this dish in advance, but it will need to be reheated just before serving. The butter at the bottom of the baking dish will start to cool and harden, so you will need to heat it to melt it.
This would be really useful if your mains are also in the oven and you don’t want to roast the two together. When you take out the main dish, put the sweet potatoes in as you prepare the main for service.
You can absolutely, although you would need to try and slice the sweet potato as evenly as possible. The advantage of the mandoline is that it will give you the same thickness throughout all the discs to bake evenly. The mandoline also makes the process so much easier and faster.
These roasted sweet potatoes with thyme are such a crowd pleaser and will no doubt have a special place on your dinner table. Buttery, sweet and a hint of spice will surely complement your other dishes perfectly.
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Baked Sweet Potato Slices
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- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F.
- Peel the sweet potato. Using a mandoline, slice at 3 cm thickness.
- In a small saucepan, add butter, minced garlic, leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme and cayenne pepper. On low to medium heat, cook until butter is fully melted.
- Using a baking dish, pour in ½ the butter mixture.
- Stack the sweet potato slices side to side. Drizzle the rest of the butter mixture on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the remaining 4 sprigs of thyme, whole, in between the sweet potato slices.
- Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and allow it to bake for a further 15 minutes so the top softens and browns further.
- Serve hot.
- For a vegan recipe, vegan butter can be used. The nut-based vegan butter would have a better flavour profile for this side dish than the coconut-based butter.
- For a thyme substitute, oregano and marjoram would be a good replacement but the dried version. It would withstand the long roasting process better than using fresh leaves.
- The level of heat can be adjusted by adding less or more of the cayenne pepper. Alternatively, you can also try any of the paprika varieties.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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