Best Lists for Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Yams and sweet potatoes have distinct differences in their botanical classification, shape, skin color, flesh color, taste, cooking method, texture, nutritional content, and culinary uses.

24 Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Botanical classification

Yams belong to the Dioscoreaceae family, while sweet potatoes are part of the Convolvulaceae family.


Yams are native to Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes are native to South America.


Yams are cylindrical, while sweet potatoes are typically more oblong or tapered at the ends.

Skin color

Yams have a rough, dark, and bark-like skin, while sweet potatoes have a smooth, thin skin that can range from light beige to dark orange.

Flesh color

Yams have a white, yellow, or purple flesh, while sweet potatoes have an orange, yellow, or white flesh.


Yams have a starchy, slightly sweet taste, while sweet potatoes are sweeter and moister.

Cooking method

People usually boil or roast yams, while they commonly bake or fry sweet potatoes.


Yams have a denser and drier texture, while sweet potatoes are softer and moister.

Nutritional content

Yams are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, while sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene, and potassium.

Glycemic index

Yams have a lower glycemic index compared to sweet potatoes, which means they do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.


Yams are primarily grown in Africa and Asia, where they are an important staple crop. They are also grown in some parts of South America and the Caribbean. In these regions, yams are typically more affordable and widely available.

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are grown in many different parts of the world, including the United States, China, and Africa. They are generally more widely available and affordable compared to yams in most regions.


Store yams in a cool, dry place for several months, but store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place and use them within a few weeks.

Yams prefer slightly cooler temperatures, around 13-16°C (55-60°F), while sweet potatoes prefer slightly warmer temperatures, around 18-21°C (65-70°F). 

Cooking time

Yams take longer to cook than sweet potatoes because of their denser texture.

Culinary uses

Yams go well in stews, soups, and casseroles; sweet potatoes are great for pies, puddings, and side dishes.


There are over 600 varieties of yams, while there are around 4,000 varieties of sweet potatoes.

Skin texture

The skin of yams is rough and fibrous, while the skin of sweet potatoes is thin and smooth.


Yams can grow up to 1.5 meters long and weigh up to 70 kg, while sweet potatoes are typically smaller and lighter.

Growing conditions

Yams grow best in warm, tropical climates, while sweet potatoes can tolerate cooler temperatures and are grown in a wider range of climates.

Harvesting time

Yams are usually harvested after 6-12 months, while sweet potatoes can be harvested after 3-4 months.

Culinary traditions

Yams are a staple food in many African and Asian cuisines, while sweet potatoes are commonly consumed in North and South America.

Culinary importance

Yams are a major source of food and income for many rural communities in Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes are also important in the agriculture industry and trade.

Cooking style

Yams are often cooked with spices and seasonings to enhance their flavor, while sweet potatoes are often prepared with brown sugar, cinnamon, and other sweet ingredients.


Yams are commonly used in dishes like yam fries, yam chips, yam pudding, and yam cake, while sweet potatoes are used in dishes like sweet potato casserole, sweet potato pie, and mashed sweet potatoes.

Culinary history

Yams have been a staple food in Africa and Asia for thousands of years, while sweet potatoes have a long history in South America.

Both are versatile ingredients used in many dishes, and have health benefits.

Scroll to Top