It’s officially back-to-school time, so all week while kids are brushing up on their “3 R’s,” you can brush up on your “3 S’s” – Super Simple Sides. First up, Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Don’t let this sweet, salty, cinnamon-y side fool you. It might taste like dessert, but these crispy bites of sweet potato with maple syrup are brimming with nutrients including fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C. Grain free, vegan, and paleo, they magically meet most dietary accommodations.
Ready or not, September is here. Though summer days may be shortening, the beautiful thing about this particular seasonal transition is that you can take your time with it.
You’ve got time to adjust your pace at work now that all your colleagues are back from their scattered summer vacations. You’ve got time to acclimate to the kids going back to school (virtually, in-person, or some weird hybrid schedule). You’ve even got time to transition your wardrobe and seasonal decor.
That being said, if you’re anything like me, this isn’t an easy-breezy excuse to extend the lazy days of summer. Oh, no. This is planning season. This is preparing season. And I am SO here for it.
Getting back on a school night schedule can be tricky, but if one thing can make it easier, it’s meal planning. So I’m doing my part for the cause by packing this entire week with easy, simple side dishes. You know what this means: BONUS RECIPES! So get your checklists ready to check, Planners, because these sides are all:
□ Easy: No shenanigans involved. Simple ingredients, simple tools only. They’re all fast to prep (if not quick to cook).
□ Healthy: Each recipe features fresh, nutrient-dense key ingredients.
□ Flexible: Not only do these cross a variety of dietary lifestyles, they pair with just about any main dish you can think of, even if you threw in the towel and just boiled chicken every night. (Which I definitely don’t recommend. I’ve got lots of chicken recipes you can use.)
□ Kid-friendly: I tested them all on my picky ones and I didn’t even have to strap them down and force feed them!
□ Delicious: Duh.
So let’s kick this off with some sweet and simple cinnamon sweet potatoes.
Ingredients for Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes: scrubbed, but not peeled.
- Olive Oil: only use high-quality oil.
- Maple Syrup: use the real stuff. We recommend Grade B, which is pretty widely available at chain grocery stores.
- Cinnamon: use pre-ground or grate your own.
- Sea Salt: if you’ve got flaky sea salt, now is a perfect time to use it.
Key Tips for Perfectly Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Uniform size: 1-inch cubes are ideal. The more uniform the size, the more evenly they’ll roast.
- High Heat: we’re roasting, not baking.
- The Right Pan: use a large sheet pan, two if necessary. The less crowded the cubes are, the better they’ll roast. Use a non-stick sheet pan (I love these pans from OXO) or line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Motion: roasted sweet potato cubes are 3-dimensional, and you want deep caramelization on at least 2 sides. Flip 2-3 times during the roasting to ensure even cooking.
- Plenty of Fat: for caramelized, crispy skin and edges.
How to Make Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Cinnamon
Embrace the sweeter side of supper with Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes. They’re as simple as cube, coat, and cook. Honestly, all you need are sweet potatoes and a few pantry staples. Plus, once this easy side dish is in the oven roasting, you’ve got plenty of time to search OSK for an easy, healthy main dish, prep it, and cook it. How thoughtful of me!
- Dice the sweet potatoes into uniform 1″ cubes and place into a mixing bowl.
- Whisk the maple syrup, olive oil, and cinnamon until well-combined. Pour the maple cinnamon mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss until evenly coated.
- Spread the sweet potato cubes onto a large baking sheet and ensure the cubes aren’t touching or overlapping. Season with sea salt.
- Transfer to the oven and roast 30-40 minutes. Flip the pieces every 10-15 minutes to ensure evenly cooking and deep caramelization.
What’s the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?
You know those orange “yams” in Candied Yam cans on supermarket shelves? Check the fine print next time you’re at the store – they’re actually *gasp* sweet potatoes. Don’t be fooled – these two tubers are not equal, outside or in.
Since we all know it’s what’s inside that counts, first and foremost, yams aren’t actually sweet. In fact, they’re actually much closer in taste, texture, and color to a russet potato. Not to mention they certainly don’t have that fibrous texture that make sweet potatoes stand out.
As for the outside, most people liken a yam’s appearance to being covered in tree bark (regardless of color), whereas a sweet potato’s reddish-hue hints at the warm color inside. Then again, there are purple and white sweet potatoes, as well as purple and orange yams. Thank goodness for grocers!
If you want to dive deeper into this conundrum, sweet potato expert and cookbook author Mary-Frances Heck broke down the differences (and the reason behind the marketplace confusion) for Bon Appetit.
How to Choose a Good Sweet Potato
- Bigger isn’t always better – small and medium sweet potatoes are, in fact, less starchy.
- Not to be ageist, but steer clear of wrinkles.
- As with any other potato, avoid any obvious bruises or blemishes.
To Peel Or Not To Peel?
It’s a personal choice, but I rarely peel sweet potatoes. For one, who has the time? For two, the skins are packed with nutrients! For three, crisp sweet potato skin is delicious. If you choose not to peel, then give them a good scrub and pat dry.
More Simple Side Dishes
- Ranch Potatoes
- Lemon Garlic Asparagus
- Sweet Potato Hash
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Brown Butter
- Green Beans with Bacon
Did you make these Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet PotatoesPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 lb sweet potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
- ¼ c maple syrup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, then heat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the maple syrup, olive oil, and cinnamon in a small bowl or 1-cup measuring cup and whisk until well combined.
- Place the sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl and pour in the maple cinnamon mixture. Toss until the cubes are evenly coated.
- Spread the potatoes over the prepared baking sheet, ensuring they’re not touching or overlapping. Season with salt, then transfer to the oven. Roast 30-40 minutes, flipping frequently (every 10-15 minutes), until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.