It's quick and easy to steam whole Murasaki sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot. Use the tender, steamed sweet potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes, snacking, easy meal prep and any recipe that calls for boiled or pre-cooked Japanese sweet potatoes or Korean yams.
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Starchy and fluffy, with a chestnut-like flavor, the flavor and texture of Murasaki sweet potatoes are sometimes described as a cross between Russet potatoes and orange sweet potatoes. Steamed sweet potatoes are naturally WFPB, gluten-free, nut-free, SOS-free and oil-free.
Baking Japanese sweet potatoes is my favorite method of preparing these, but steaming them is much faster and easier to know when they're done.
🧄 Ingredient notes
- Japanese sweet potatoes - This variety of sweet potato has a red-purple skin and white flesh inside when you cut into it. They go by many different names, such as: Murasaki sweet potato, Japanese sweet potato (satsumaimo), Korean yam (goguma) and red kūmara. You can buy these at Asian markets like H-Mart and Ranch 99, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
📋 Substitutions and variations
Here are some suitable substitutions for the ingredients in this recipe:
- Japanese sweet potatoes - instead of the pictured sweet potatoes with the red/purple skin and white inside, I have also used this method to steam up Stokes purple sweet potatoes and other starchy sweet potato varieties.
Looking to steam white potatoes, russets or gold potatoes? See this how to steam potatoes in the Instant Pot guide on my website!
Making "baked" sweet potatoes, steamed sweet potatoes or "boiled" sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot is super simple and easy. It's also hands-off, so you can be doing something else while the potatoes are cooking.
You can make just a couple sweet potatoes at a time. Or, you can steam up to 5 pounds of potatoes in the 6 quart size Instant Pot.
Wash and scrub sweet potatoes well. Remove any sprouts or bad spots.
Place wire trivet or steamer basket in Instant Pot insert.
Place all sweet potatoes on top of trivet/steamer basket, layering if necessary.
Add 1 cup of water to Instant Pot.
Cover the Instant Pot, locking the lid in place. Turn vent to "Sealing".
Then, press "Steam" button and increase time based on how large your potatoes are. For small murasaki sweet potatoes, steam for 15 minutes. For medium, steam for 20 minutes. For large sweet potatoes, steam for 30 minutes. See below for my visual guide to the sizes and how long to steam them.
After steaming, let pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, open vent with a utensil (be careful of the hot steam!).
How long to cook whole Japanese sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot?
- Small sweet potatoes (1.5 inches or 4 cm thick): Steam for 15 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes
- Medium sweet potatoes (2.5 inches or 6.5 cm thick): Steam for 20 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes
- Large sweet potatoes (3 inches or 7.5 cm thick): Steam for 30 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes
Your sweet potatoes are ready! If you prepared these for later use, allow potatoes to cool, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or, freeze for up to 3 months.
🧯 Food safety
- Wash hands with soap and water before cooking
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
⭐️ Expert tips
- These times are for Japanese sweet potatoes with a red/purple skin and white flesh inside. Times for other types of sweet potatoes may vary.
- Check your sweet potatoes for doneness by sticking a fork in the center. If it goes in easily, they're done. If not, steam again for another 5 minutes.
- Instant Pot or pressure cooker - This method requires a pressure cooker to steam the potatoes.
- Steam basket or trivet - to elevate the potatoes out of the water for steaming
🥡 Make ahead and storage tips
Allow to cool at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before refrigerating. Store the baked sweet potatoes in a container or bag in the refrigerator. Will keep up to 5 days.
These ingredients stand up well to freezing for up to 3 months.
👨👩👦👦 Serving suggestions
How to eat Japanese sweet potatoes for fat loss
Steamed Japanese sweet potatoes or yams make healthy meals for plant-based weight loss, since they are low in calorie density at about 450 calories per pound.
They are also highly satiating, meaning they make you feel full and satisfied.
Combine steamed potatoes with a non-starchy vegetable like broccoli, green beans or squash to further reduce the calorie density of your meal.
Here's some ways I season and eat steamed Japanese sweet potatoes:
- mashed sweet potato - mash with plant-based milk, salt and a little sugar
- snacking (just take a bite! Delicious cold or hot. Add a bit of salt and it's the ultimate FILLING and healthy fast food)
- everything bagel seasoning - slice open and sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning.
- cinnamon sugar Japanese sweet potato - peel steamed sweet potato, then cut into large pieces. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or brown sugar. Roast in 400 degree oven until lightly browned on edges. Enjoy!
Did you know my family and I ate nothing but potatoes for 10 straight days? Read why we did it, if we would recommend it and what our results were.
Korean yams (also called Japanese or Murasaki sweet potatoes) take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to steam, depending on the size.
Yes, you can eat the skins of Japanese sweet potatoes. If they have been baked, the skins may be a little tough, but they are a good source of fiber.
🗺 Cultural influences
Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams are enjoyed around the world by many different cultures, in many different preparations.
In my limited experience and research, the sweet potatoes pictured here in this recipe are called by the following names:
- Murasaki sweet potatoes - At Trader Joe's, they are packaged with this name. Murasaki means "purple" in Japanese. Although these have a Japanese name, they were cultivated to grow well in Louisiana and are grown mostly in California now.
- Japanese sweet potatoes - They are commonly called this online and in cooking shows. This variety is similar to Kotobuki sweet potatoes grown in Japan.
- Satsumaimo - this is the Japanese word for sweet potato, to my knowledge
- Korean yams or sweet potatoes - Goguma (고구마) means sweet potato in Korean. The most popular is bam goguma (밤고구마) and mul goguma (물고구마), which is the variety pictured here in this recipe.
- Kūmara - sweet potatoes in general are called kūmara in New Zealand. The murasaki sweet potatoes this post is about are called "red kūmara" or Owairaka Red.
This recipe is inspired by food experiences in my diverse hometown of Houston, Texas and by the strong cultural influences of my family and friends from New Zealand and Japan. See About for more information on my cultural influences and how I attribute recipes.
💜 More recipes you'll love
If you love this recipe, check out these other plant-based Instant Pot pressure cooker recipes!
Instant Pot Steamed Japanese Sweet Potatoes
- Instant Pot or pressure cooker
- Steam basket or trivet
- 3 pounds Japanese sweet potatoes washed
- 1 cup water
- Wash and scrub sweet potatoes well. Remove any sprouts or bad spots.
- Place wire trivet or steamer basket in Instant Pot insert.
- Place all sweet potatoes on top of trivet/steamer basket, layering if necessary.3 pounds Japanese sweet potatoes
- Add 1 cup of water to Instant Pot.1 cup water
- Cover the Instant Pot, locking the lid in place. Turn vent to "Sealing". Then, press "Steam" button and increase time based on how large your potatoes are. For small murasaki sweet potatoes, steam for 15 minutes. For medium, steam for 20 minutes. For large sweet potatoes, steam for 30 minutes.
- Let pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, open vent with a utensil (be careful of the hot steam!). Your sweet potatoes are ready! If you prepared these for later use, allow potatoes to cool, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or, freeze for up to 3 months.
How long to cook whole Japanese sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot?
- Small sweet potatoes: Steam for 15 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes
- Medium sweet potatoes: Steam for 20 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes
- Large sweet potatoes: Steam for 30 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes