Types of Sweet Potatoes: Japanese, Hannah, Jersey and More

Sweet potatoes stand out from regular potatoes in both their appearance and taste. There are numerous varieties of sweet potatoes that are highly regarded in different countries, such as Beauregard and Jewel. Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes come in various shapes and sizes. Depending on the type, sweet potatoes can have either white or orange flesh, and there are even certain varieties with purple flesh.

One remarkable aspect of sweet potatoes is their versatility in cooking. They can be prepared in a multitude of ways, including cooking, casserole dishes, and baking. In some countries, purple sweet potatoes are even used to add color to desserts. Exploring different types of sweet potatoes, whether they are white or purple, promises an enjoyable culinary adventure. This article focuses on the most common sweet potato varieties, delving into their skin, flesh, and flavor profiles, providing you with valuable insights.

What are Sweet Potatoes?

All sweet potato varieties share the botanical name “Ipomoea batatas” and belong to the Convolvulaceae family, which includes morning glory plants. These varieties have starchy roots that grow in tuberous forms and fall under the Solanales order. Sweet potatoes originated in tropical countries in Central and South America, and they are commonly known as “batatas” in Spanish-speaking nations. Many countries with hot and humid climates have successfully cultivated sweet potatoes.

In North America, sweet potatoes, also known as yams, are a popular vegetable. They are now grown in various countries worldwide, including Australia, Asia, Pacific islands, and Europe. The orange and white flesh varieties are particularly favored in these regions.

Sweet potatoes feature large tubers that have an oblong or oval shape, tapering to a point, which is the part we consume. The skins of sweet potatoes come in a range of colors, such as pink, red, orange, creamy white, copper, and light tan. However, the flesh color is not determined by the skin tone. For instance, the Japanese Okinawa purple sweet potato cultivar has beige skin but boasts dark purple flesh. Another well-liked variety is Hannah, which has a light tan skin and yellow flesh, making it a popular choice among sweet potato enthusiasts.

Yams or sweet potatoes – what’s the difference?

It’s quite surprising to discover that sweet potatoes are often labeled as yams, even though they belong to the tuberous roots of the Dioscorea genus in the Dioscoreaceae family. True yams, on the other hand, are an entirely separate type of tuberous root. Despite the similarities in appearance, such as form, skin color, or flesh color, yams and sweet potatoes are unrelated. In fact, distinguishing between yams and sweet potatoes can be challenging based on photographs alone.

In terms of composition, true yams have higher starch content and lower water content compared to sweet potato varieties. Furthermore, while sweet potatoes are native to the Americas, yams originate from Asia and Africa. The tubers labeled as ‘yams’ typically found in local stores are most likely one of the many varieties of sweet potatoes. True yams are relatively uncommon in the United States. Interestingly, during the late 1800s, it became popular in the United States to refer to sweet potatoes as yams, leading to the common misnomer.

Is a sweet potato a true potato?

There is ongoing debate regarding whether sweet potatoes can be considered a type of regular potato. Traditional potatoes, commonly used for making fries, mashed potatoes, and roasted potatoes, belong to the Solanaceae family, also known as the nightshade family. In order to distinguish them from sweet potatoes or batatas, regular potatoes are sometimes referred to as “white potatoes” or “Irish potatoes.” It is clear, therefore, that sweet potatoes are a distinct vegetable separate from regular potatoes.

Types of Sweet Potatoes With Pictures and Names

Embarking on a journey through the world of sweet potatoes, we will begin by delving into the most beloved and commonly enjoyed varieties.

Garnet Sweet Potato

Garnet sweet potatoes have gained popularity due to their delightful blend of mild sweetness and moist texture. These oblong tubers are characterized by their dark-orange to red skin and deep orange flesh. In the United States, you may find this sweet potato variety marketed as ‘garnet yams.’ Additionally, there is a variation called Red Garnet, which features reddish-purple skin and vibrant orange flesh.

Jewel Sweet Potato

Jewel sweet potatoes are known for their vibrant deep orange flesh, offering a similar sweet taste to garnet sweet potatoes. One minor distinction lies in their copper-colored skin, which is slightly lighter than that of garnets. Jewel sweet potatoes are highly favored for baking and making delicious casseroles, making them one of the top choices among sweet potato enthusiasts.

Hannah Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes that boast a light tan skin are often known as Yellow Hannah or Sweet Hannah. Once the skin is peeled away, you’ll discover creamy white flesh beneath it, offering a pleasantly sweet flavor. When cooked, Hannah sweet potatoes take on a lovely light yellow hue. Many chefs particularly recommend using Hannah sweet potatoes for creating sweet mashed dishes due to the smooth texture of the flesh.

Beauregard Sweet Potato

In the United States, the Beauregard sweet potato stands out as one of the most prevalent varieties. These plump tuberous vegetables feature a luscious orange flesh encased in rose-colored skin. The popularity of Beauregard sweet potatoes can be attributed to their exceptional flavor and vibrant orange hue. Regarded as highly versatile, sweet potatoes offer a multitude of culinary possibilities. Whether they are baked, mashed, or fried, the moist flesh of sweet potatoes always delights the taste buds.

Covington Sweet Potato

Among the most beloved sweet potato varieties, the Covington cultivar stands out as a delightful choice. Recognized by its rosy skin and vibrant orange flesh, this versatile starchy root vegetable offers a wide range of culinary possibilities. From baking to crafting mouthwatering desserts, working with the moist orange flesh of Covington sweet potatoes is a breeze. Renowned for its exceptional flavor, Covington is often hailed as one of the finest varieties available. When cooked, its starchy flesh develops a delectable combination of sweetness and a hint of maltiness, adding an extra layer of culinary delight.

Jersey Sweet Potato

When looking at photographs, the Jersey sweet potato may seem similar in color to conventional potatoes. They have pale tan to creamy skins and white flesh. While regular potatoes tend to have a sweeter taste, Jersey sweet potatoes are not as sweet as some of the orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties.

Allgold Sweet Potato

Originating from Oklahoma, the Allgold sweet potato variety showcases a beautiful tanned skin that envelops its delicious tuber. Its flesh offers a mild sweetness, making it a delightful choice for various culinary creations.

Carolina Ruby

Carolina Ruby, a sweet potato cultivar, was created using Beauregard sweet potatoes as a parent variety. One distinctive feature of Carolina Ruby is its deep reddish-purple smooth skin, which encases bright orange flesh. When cooked, the skin takes on a beautiful ruby color, lending this sweet potato cultivar its name. Carolina Ruby is known for its moderately sweet flavor and moist flesh, offering a delightful taste experience.

Diane Sweet Potato

Diane sweet potatoes are among the widely found varieties of sweet potatoes. These tubers bear a long and oblong shape, reminiscent of yams, and boast dark-red skin. Once cooked, the skin gives way to reveal the dark, sweet orange flesh of the sweet potato, which is truly enticing.

White Delight

Among the diverse range of sweet potatoes consumed in the United States, one standout is the White Delight. These starchy root vegetables feature a distinctive light purple or occasionally red skin, accompanied by luscious white flesh. Like other sweet potato varieties, White Delight is packed with fiber and vitamin C, making it a nutritious choice.


True to its name, Creamsicle sweet potatoes display cream-colored skins and offer an incredibly sweet flesh. These elongated and wiry root vegetables maintain their firmness even after cooking. With their sweet and delectable flavor, Creamsicles are excellent for frying, boiling, and incorporating into stews and casseroles, offering a versatile option in the kitchen.


Distinct from regular potatoes, the O’Henry cultivar is a unique type of sweet potato that deserves recognition. Developed from the Beauregard sweet potato variety, O’Henry exhibits an oblong shape with tapered ends. Its flesh boasts a creamy-white color, while the skin appears light tan.

These white-fleshed O’Henry sweet potatoes have gained popularity due to their delightful sweetness, approaching that of orange-fleshed varieties. When cooked, boiled, or fried, the smooth flesh reveals a sweet and nutty flavor that adds a delightful touch to various dishes.

Puerto Rico (Porto Rico) Sweet Potato

Numerous varieties of sweet potatoes stem from the beloved Bush Porto Rico, a popular type of sweet root vegetable. These vibrant orange sweet potatoes exhibit a stunning rosy-pink color and possess an exceptionally sweet flavor. When baked, Porto Rican sweet potatoes transform into a delightful, buttery mash, and their flesh boasts an irresistibly smooth texture.

Carolina Nugget

Resembling Puerto Ricans, the Carolina Nugget is a sweet potato cultivar. These oblong-shaped potatoes feature pink skin and vibrant orange flesh. With their sweet orange flesh, they are perfect for making delicious sweet potato wedges, and their dense texture holds up well during cooking.

Hernandez Sweet Potatoes

Hernandez sweet potatoes are characterized by their red skin, oval to oblong shape that tapers at one end, and moist orange flesh. Considered one of the tastiest varieties, Hernandez sweet potatoes have been shown in studies to contain more sugar than Beauregard, Covington, and Diane varieties.

Brinkley White

Brinkley White sweet potatoes have a creamy skin and white flesh. Their oblong shape tapers at both ends and bears a resemblance to traditional starchy potatoes in color.

Envy (Heirloom Sweet Potato)

Heirloom sweet potatoes encompass the older cultivars or heritage varieties that hold a special place in the hearts of home gardeners. These unique varieties are often grown in smaller quantities and cherished for their historical significance. Among the popular heirloom sweet potatoes is the ‘Envy’ variety, known for its light orange skin and flesh. Envy sweet potatoes offer a subtly sweet flavor and moist flesh when cooked, making them a versatile ingredient for roasting in the oven or adding to stews. This selection of veggies is truly an excellent choice for those seeking a taste of the past.

Cordner Sweet Potatoes

Within the Cordner cultivar category, various types of sweet potatoes can be found. One such variety is the Texan Cordner, which features copper-colored skin and medium orange flesh. Another cultivar within the Cordner family is Cordner’s Red, originating from Oklahoma. It showcases reddish-purple skin and sweet, orange flesh.

Korean Sweet Potatoes

In several Asian countries, you can find sweet potatoes with black skin and white flesh. These varieties exemplify the beauty of Asian vegetables, particularly in Korean cuisine. The skins of these sweet potatoes range from pale purple to crimson, while the flesh offers a delightful sweetness. One notable distinction between Korean sweet potatoes and their American counterparts is the thicker flesh and sweeter taste they possess. Traditionally, Korean sweet potatoes are enjoyed as a snack when roasted or steamed, showcasing their unique flavors and textures.

Murasaki Japanese Sweet Potato

Originating from Japan, the Murasaki sweet potato stands out as a captivating variety among Asian sweet potatoes. Its elongated shape, deep purple skin, and tender white flesh make it visually distinct. What sets this Japanese variety apart is its drier flesh compared to other sweet potatoes. However, it retains a delightful nutty flavor, characteristic of all sweet potato varieties.

Types of Purple Sweet Potato

Indulging in the world of colorful and exciting vegetables, purple sweet potatoes take the spotlight. Not only are they visually appealing, but they also offer a host of nutritional benefits. The vibrant purple hue of these sweet potatoes is thanks to the presence of anthocyanins, potent antioxidants also found in grapes. Let’s explore some of the popular varieties of purple sweet potatoes available in the market.

Stokes Purple Sweet Potato

Among the widely recognized purple varieties, Stokes purple sweet potatoes stand out. With their striking purple skin and purple flesh, these long and plump roots might be mistaken for beets at first glance. The fibrous flesh of this purple root vegetable offers an earthy and slightly sweet flavor. Due to their thick flesh and low moisture content, these purple potatoes are best baked at a lower temperature and for a longer duration compared to orange or white sweet potatoes. This ensures that their unique texture and flavors are fully developed.

Japanese Purple Sweet Potato

Hailing from Japan, these Japanese purple potatoes, also called Murasaki Imo, boast an elongated and slender oblong shape. They come in various skin colors, including dark red, purple, or dark brown. The flesh of these potatoes has a dry and starchy texture, displaying a vibrant purple hue. When cooked, Japanese purple sweet potatoes transform into a delightful blend of sweetness and creaminess, with subtle nutty undertones adding to their appeal.

Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato

Within the Convolvulaceae family, the Okinawan cultivar stands out as a distinct type of purple sweet potato. Also referred to as Hawaiian sweet potato or Uala, this purple tuber showcases light brown skin and vibrant purple flesh. In its natural state, the potato flesh exhibits a subtle white marbling effect. However, when cooked, it transforms into a rich violet-purple hue with hints of deep blue. Hawaiian sweet potatoes are known for their delicate sweet flavor and smooth consistency, offering a delightful culinary experience.

Ube Purple Yam

The Ube sweet potato, also known as a purple yam, is a tuberous root that belongs to the Dioscoreaceae family. It is important to note that Ube yams (Dioscorea alata) should not be mistaken for sweet potatoes, as they are distinct entities. Ube yams have thicker skin compared to sweet potatoes, making them the only genuine yam in our discussion.

The flesh of young Ube yams exhibits white speckles and a light purple hue. However, this color intensifies after cooking. In many Asian countries, Ube purple yams are a beloved culinary ingredient, particularly in desserts. Their sweet and nutty flavor adds a delightful touch to various dishes. Additionally, Ube yam powder, extract, purple Ube jam, and grated frozen roots are also available for purchase, offering convenient options for incorporating this unique ingredient into recipes.

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