Recipe: White Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes are up there with a good hair cut, purring cats, and sunlight through fiery autumn leaves. The simple sweetness is all I need on a chilly evening. But it’s not all about the coppery hued variety, which litter my counter tops like fallen leaves. There’s such a thing as white sweet potatoes, too.

Rwandans love sweet potatoes, especially white sweet potatoes which they boil, mash, and even fry. I first saw this in action on the a Peace Corps blog En Route Rwanda:

With help from some of our house mates and dinner guests, we peeled and sliced several kilos of knobby white sweet potatoes, which Zilpa then spent hours double-frying on the second charcoal stove.

Double frying white sweet potato fries. Photo by Vazza of En Route Rwanda.

According to the Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute:

Sweet potato is a major staple food in Rwanda and one of the second largest produces in terms of tons after bananas. The ability of sweet potato to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions, in both fertile and marginal areas, as well as its rapid growth rate as a ground cover to help in the control of weeds, makes it a versatile crop for Rwandan farming systems.Today I’m going to give you a few tips on frying white sweet potatoes.

Let’s do it, Rwanda-style.


White sweet potatoes
Oil to go halfway up the sides of medium pot


Time for a little bit of wonderful. Build yourself a kitchen fit for a Rwandan king…

A reconstruction of the traditional King’s palace at Nyanza, Rwanda. Photo by Amakuru.

Then, preheat a bunch of oil in a pot. The oil should only go halfway up the side of the pot to keep it from bubbling over when you add the potatoes. Then slice the potatoes up into batons – a.k.a. long, even sticks. Let them soak in cold water as you work.

Rinse, drain, and towel them off, getting them as dry as possible (so you don’t create dangerous oil splatters when you drop them in).

Fry the potatoes in batches… twice. First in 325F oil. Cook for 3 minutes until soft but not browning. Remove & drain.

Then cook at 350F for 2-3 minutes

The don’t really crisp up much because of the high sugar content in the sweet potato, but they do turn an interesting brownish orange color.

Plus, like any good steak fry, you won’t be able to stop eating them.

If you want them crispier, try slicing them like shoestrings and cooking more briefly.

Enjoy with a view that looks remarkably like, well, a sweet potato.

Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda.

Happy Friday, friends!

P.S. Have you ever had sweet potatoes?

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  1. Sweet potatoes are great stuff and I don’t eat them nearly as often as I should – you have inspired me to change that. I’ve never seen the white variety though, not sure I can get them here.

  2. I’ve never seen white sweet potatoes with light-colored skins. I have tried (and love!) the purple-skinned white-fleshed sweet potatoes that I can get at the local Farmer’s Market. They make excellent oven fries, although I’m sure deep-frying would be delicious too.

  3. Yam fries are incredible! Great post x

  4. Sasha Martin says:

    Thanks all – love to hear from you. I found my white sweet potatoes at Whole Foods, actually :)

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