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The next time you reach for that beautiful sweet potato to roast in the oven, cut up for fries, or incorporate into a variety of delicious baked goods, consider mixing things up a bit and dicing instead of slicing! I think air fryer sweet potato cubes are going to be your new favorite side dish.
What you’ll love about these sweet potatoes
These potatoes require 3 ingredients. That’s it. And, you don’t even need that much of any one item. I believe in letting the sweet potato flavor shine, but feel free to experiment with seasonings that sound delicious to you!
Dicing the sweet potatoes into cubes is a fun way to serve sweet potatoes and mix things up a bit! What’s particularly nice about cubes is that you can have some fun with the presentation and get creative when serving; consider spearing them with eco-friendly toothpicks with a fun dipping sauce at a gathering, or adding the cubes to a grain bowl of your choosing.
The sweet potato cubes will cook faster than roasting an entire sweet potato (pretty obvious, right?). More surface area of each diced piece will get more heat exposure during frying and be ready relatively quickly. I’m all for some immediate sweet potato gratification – what about you??
Air frying with just a few simple seasonings creates a healthy alternative to get a lovely texture and flavor, but without the fat from traditional frying methods. Tons of flavor without the added calories makes for a winning recipe.
This air fryer sweet potato recipe is vegan and gluten-free. Though not oil-free as written, you are welcome to air fry without oil. The lack of oil will result in a less rich flavor, but you will still enjoy the natural sweetness of the potatoes.
We harness the power of sweet potato skins. When making these sweet potato cubes, you can skip the step of peeling the skins and elect to leave them in place – unless, of course, you don’t want any skin on the cubes. I would encourage everyone to try this recipe with the skin on, just to experiment with the texture. When you do, you add fiber and nutrients to the dish, still have a portion of cubes without skin (from the interior of the potatoes), and add a little texture.
Sweet potatoes. Two medium sweet potatoes should be enough to yield about one pound of cubes. If possible, select sweet potatoes that are locally-grown, organic, and non-GMO…or as many of those categories as possible. If you grow your own, you get MAJOR bonus points! Keep reading this post to see why you should use the sweet potato leaves/vine for other dishes in our “Sustainability Profile” section near the end.
Extra virgin olive oil. A good-quality, neutral olive oil is always preferred. Please note that less is more in this instance. Frequently, I see air fryer vegetable recipes that appear to be dripping in olive oil – and this can either be a mistake or just a taste preference. Regardless, we only want to lightly coat the sweet potato cubes in olive oil and not encourage the oil to mask the flavors.
Kosher salt. I use Pink Himalayan salt in many recipes, but suggest a kosher salt for my readers. A finer-grain salt will distribute more evenly and stick to the light coating of olive oil a little better.
Coarse sea salt (optional). If you enjoy the look and texture of coarse sea salt, you can sprinkle it over the sweet potato cubes after removing them from the air fryer.
Cutting board and good-quality knife. When dicing the sweet potatoes, don’t forget to remove any large knots.
Medium mixing bowl. All seasonings will be combined in the bowl. Since you are using your hands for this, it helps to have some extra room.
Measuring spoons. You will need one teaspoon size measuring spoons for the olive oil and salt.
Air Fryer. This recipe does not require the largest or most expensive/powerful air fryer on the market. If you have a smaller version, just be prepared to complete the air fry process with two batches of sweet potato cubes in order to not overpack the air fryer basket.
Tongs (optional). When I shake the basket, I don’t insert any utensils into the basket itself. When serving, I pour the sweet potato cubes onto a serving dish. However, it is a good idea to have tongs handy since they can help remove any stubborn sweet potato cubes.
How to make air fryer sweet potato cubes
Wash and dry the sweet potatoes.
If you insist upon peeling them, go ahead and peel the skin off the top layer. Otherwise, simply remove any obvious knots in the skin.
Dice and season.
Dice the sweet potatoes into cubes that are relatively even. This won’t be perfect as potatoes are typically imperfectly-shaped, so don’t worry about a more…rustic look. The goal is to get the size as uniform as is reasonable, so the smaller pieces don’t overcook in the air fryer.
Add the cubes to a medium bowl and coat with olive oil. Use your hands to coat the sweet potato cubes with a very light coating of oil. I suggest paying closer attention to the cubes with some skin on one side, to make sure oil is coating that thicker layer.
Once the olive oil has coated the sweet potato cubes, repeat this step with kosher salt. The salt will distribute a little faster (and it will feel kind of nice to your hands!).
Air fry the sweet potato cubes.
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Our air fryer heats very quickly, so I wait until the sweet potato cubes are seasoned to start the preheating process. If you don’t like preheating your air fryer, you can add them to the basket “from cold,” but be sure to add a few more minutes to the cook time.
Once the air fryer is heated, add the sweet potato cubes to the basket and enjoy the sound of the sizzle (that is my favorite part). Shake to create a single layer of cubes across the bottom of the basket; though, some overlapping is acceptable.
Air fry for about 17 minutes, shaking the basket half-way through to “turn” the cubes and prevent them from sticking. Some blistering of the sweet potato cubes – and darkening around the edges – is expected. Once they all have a little blistering and appear cooked, remove from the air fryer and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt, if desired. Enjoy immediately.
Air Fryer Sweet Potato Cubes
- 1 air fryer
- 1 pound sweet potato diced, about 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch coarse sea salt optional, for garnish
- Wash, dry, and dice the sweet potatoes. Leave the skin on, unless you prefer peeling.
- In a medium bowl, add the sweet potato cubes and olive oil. Use your hands to evenly distribute the olive oil over the cubes.
- Add the kosher salt and mix to evenly combine.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When ready, add the sweet potato cubes to the basket and shake to distribute so the cubes create a single layer (some overlapping is fine).
- Fry for 17 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through to "turn" the cubes.
- When ready, remove the air fryer basket and add sweet potato cubes to serving dish. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and enjoy!
Storing Sweet Potato Cubes
IF you happen to have diced sweet potato left over, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Please note that the sweet potato cubes will lose their crispy texture when they rest for a long period of time. Crisp them again in the air fryer for one to two minutes before enjoying.
If you decide to leave the skin on the sweet potatoes (as I do in this recipe), be sure to shave or cut off any knots or growths.
Pairing diced sweet potatoes isn’t particularly difficult; in fact, the combination options are endless! If you plan to serve these as an appetizer or incorporate with a main dish, here are some of my suggestions:
Dips and Sauces
Vegan sriracha sauce
Vegan barbeque sauce
Most savory dips of your choosing
It turns out that sweet potatoes pack much more of a punch than their nutrient-dense profile. They’re beneficial for the environment as well! And, at Inspired Epicurean, we are all about highlighting recipes that harness flavor, health, and sustainability. In fact, the resiliency of sweet potato production has led to an increase in its production on major continents; specifically, Africa and Asia. Sweet potatoes offer a substantial amount of “edible energy” per day than other staple crops, like wheat.
With climate change impacting weather, resilient sweet potatoes show promise as a crop that can withstand the intensity. These potatoes can grow in a variety of climates and don’t seem to mind dry conditions. Plus, sweet potatoes don’t require constant removal from the soil, aiding in soil health and requiring minimal resources.
If you’re interested to learn more about the sustainability of the sweet potato – especially its promise in several Caribbean countries – I highly recommend this article highlighting sweet potato superpowers.
Supporting environmentally-friendly sweet potatoes
- Select sweet potatoes that are labeled both Non-GMO and organic.
- Avoid the microwavable versions that are sold in single-use plastic. The best packaging for sweet potatoes is none at all. Be sure to wash them before eating, of course.
- If your climate supports it, consider growing your own and eating both the sweet potato tubers AND their leafy greens. If you’re familiar with spinach or turnip greens, you’re already one step ahead when it comes to cooking the camote tops (sweet potato greens). Briefly boil and then chop or sauté in your favorite seasonings! Using the entirety of the plant is a great way to maximize its environmental potential.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put raw sweet potato in the air fryer?
Please do! Air frying vegetables – especially raw sweet potatoes – is a fun and delicious way to achieve a roasted, caramelized flavor and wonderful texture. Adding some seasonings does allow you to make the sweet potato cubes, fries, or slices your own, but you can air fry raw sweet potatoes with no seasonings for a very simple result. Keep in mind that the flavors will be less rich, but sweet potatoes (like their name) do have a nice, natural taste that can be enjoyed solo.
Is it necessary to soak sweet potatoes before air frying?
No, there is no need to soak sweet potatoes before cooking them in the air fryer. The key to a crispy air fried sweet potato cube is showing restraint when adding olive oil (or the cooking oil of your choice) to the cubes and making sure you don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. As mentioned earlier, some overlapping is acceptable, but our goal is to fry and not steam, so air circulation is a critical component. Plus, cubes are small with greater exposed surface area, so achieving a crispy texture is actually a little easier than their sweet potato fry counterparts.
Are sweet potato leaves edible?
Yes! The leaves of the sweet potato (also known as camote leaves) offer both an opportunity to use the sweet potato plant in its entirety, while also benefiting from an added nutrient boost! Camote leaves are rich in a variety of vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin A, Thiamine, Riboflavin and more. As with many greens, eating them raw will yield a bit of a bitter flavor. Consider reducing the bitterness by briefly boiling in lightly-salted water, sauté with simple aromatics in your skillet, or finely chop to add to other greens in a delicious salad.
Do you have to peel sweet potatoes?
This is a personal preference, so peeling sweet potatoes is not necessary. I prefer not to peel sweet potatoes because the sweet potato skins hold fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants…as well as some nice texture. Remember that dicing the sweet potatoes into cubes will naturally create a combination of cubes that have skin and those that do not. It’s a perfect compromise!
How long do you air fry diced sweet potatoes?
The length of time needed to air fry diced sweet potatoes is a little less than what is necessary for sweet potato fries. You do need to consider a few factors that could impact cooking time: (1) the size of the air fryer basket and the amount of sweet potato added, (2) the power of your air fryer, and (3) the size of your diced cubes. If your air fryer basket is small, or you filled it with more sweet potatoes than the recipe states, you will need to check the sweet potatoes and prepare to add more time. Weaker air fryers will require a few extra minutes of cook time, and larger diced cubes need extra time to cook through to their centers.