Sometimes meals can be stressful because you have to have multiple things on the plate. A piece of chicken is not a meal. It needs a salad or some other sides along with it. This full dinner plate issue gets compounded with kids, because they might reject the stuff you worked hard to make!
But, take a breath! These Twice Baked Southwestern Sweet Potatoes are literally an entire meal in one. You put this on the plate, and it is a FULL MEAL. It requires no sides or other things. It is filling, delicious, and easy.
If your kids are picky about food touching or food stuffed with other food (mine apparently are—see the report card below), then you can keep the filling and sweet potato separate, of course, or break it apart for them. Ideally, they would just dive in and realize how wonderful these savory ingredients pair with sweet potatoes.
TWICE BAKED POTATOES: ROASTED OR MICROWAVED
There’s an ideal way to make these sweet potatoes: Roast them in the oven.
This does require about an hour of time, though. If you have the time (or can plan in advance), I recommend it, because it cooks out a lot of the water in the potatoes and concentrates the flavors. Plus, the skin on the potatoes becomes crispy and delicious!
Of course, I’m a believer that the perfect is the enemy of the good in the kitchen, and so you can microwave these as well!
To cook sweet potatoes in the microwave, poke a bunch of holes in them with a fork and zap them for about 10 minutes, in five-minute increments. They will be VERY hot when they come out, but once they cool off, you can split them just like the roasted ones and stuff them full.
A VEGETARIAN TEX-MEX FILLING
This is a very simple vegetarian Tex-Mex filling with corn, black beans, and red peppers, but I find that the flavors go really well with the slightly sweet potato flesh and creamy queso fresco. If you can’t find queso fresco, you could substitute grated Monterey jack cheese. Kids also tend to be okay with all the stuff in this filling (or you can push their palates a bit, which is always good).
Of course, you could jazz up the filling more if you wanted to. A pinch of mild chili powder is a decent idea, or you could add some browned meat, like ground beef, if you wanted it to be more of a taco filling situation. If you did that, you would probably have leftover filling which can be eaten for lunch as a taco salad!
But you can’t go wrong with the basic vegetarian approach. It’s healthy, fast, and the flavors pair well.
MAKING THESE IN ADVANCE
These are sturdy things, and they can easily be made in advance, entirely or in part. Roasting the potatoes and making the filling can be done a day or two in advance. Then you can assemble them right away, or refrigerate the potatoes and filling separately, and then assemble them while your oven preheats.
If you are warming these up from the fridge, add 10 minutes onto the baking time, or bring them to room temperature beforehand if you have time.
I think these are best eaten within four to five days, and we have no problem going through a batch in that amount of time.
These would also freeze okay, but they are dense, and you would need to wrap them in foil, fully assembled, and bake them for about 45 to 60 minutes at 350°F to totally thaw and warm them back up.
The DAD ADD: Primo Tex-Mex Toppings!
These sweet potatoes are already pretty stuffed, but I like to reduce some of the bean/corn mixture and add some other flavors in my version.
If you have the time, some browned chorizo goes well on them. Otherwise, I also like to top them with pickled jalapeños, sour cream, and scallions when they come out of the oven.
Honestly, one of these stuffed to the max is a FULL MEAL even for a dad.
THE REPORT CARD
While the flavors in these sweet potatoes were all things my kids have had before (and eaten!), piling them all together was a step too far for my little ones. Even after I suggested I disassemble them for the kiddos, the damage was done, and they looked at their plates like, well, damaged goods.
If you anticipate this problem, feel free to keep all the fillings separate in small bowls for your kiddos, and they can assemble them to their liking!
We are all friends here, so I can admit that I eventually bribed my four-year old with an M&M if he tried the sweet potato. You can see the look of skepticism on his face. Of course, once he tried it, he agreed that it was, in fact, something he had eaten before and proceeded to eat more bites. I would venture that he even liked it!
My two-year-old looked at her plate as if it were straight from another planet. She’s a stubborn one, and no amount of bribery would bring her to touch this situation.
Fine. Tube yogurt for dinner it is.
MORE GREAT SWEET POTATO RECIPES!
Twice Baked Southwestern Sweet Potatoes Recipe
The sweet potatoes and filling can be made ahead and refrigerated separately, or they can be stuffed and then refrigerated for a later meal. If you are warming these up from the fridge, add 10 minutes onto the baking time, or bring them to room temperature beforehand if you have time.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 1/2 pound each
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup black beans, rinsed well
- 1/2 cup sweet corn, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
DAD ADD: Primo Tex-Mex Ingredients
- Browned chorizo
- Pickled jalapeños
- Sour cream
- Diced scallions
1 Cook the sweet potatoes: If you have time, bake the sweet potatoes in the oven. Poke some holes in them with a fork and bake them at 375°F for 45 to 60 minutes until they are very tender and give easily to a fork poke. Also, the skin should get dry and crackly.
Option two, if you are in a hurry, is to microwave the sweet potatoes. Poke holes in them with a fork and microwave them for two 5-minute intervals on high. They will be very hot after they come out, and the skin won’t be quite as good as the baked version, but it works well for this recipe.
2 Make the filling: In a medium skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, followed by onions, bell pepper, black beans, and sweet corn. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables soften, but aren’t browned at all. Remove from heat.
3 Stuff the sweet potatoes: When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, split them open with a knife and use a fork to mash up the sweet potato flesh. I recommend opening up the sweet potatoes by slicing horizontal slits near each end of the sweet potato, which will make it easier to spread open.
Once the sweet potato flesh is mashed, add some queso fresco to each potato and divide the sautéed filling among the potatoes. Stuff them full! Top with any extra cheese you might have.
4 Bake the sweet potatoes: Bake the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes at 350°F.
5 Serve: Serve sweet potatoes with Dad Add ingredients or just a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro.
Leftover stuffed sweet potatoes will store well in the fridge for 4 to 5 days and reheat best in the oven.
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