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Difference Between Yams And Sweet Potatoes

Updated on June 9, 2013

Yams vs Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are sometimes even called sweet yams but they are not actually yams. In fact, even though they are both ground provisions, yams are tuber while sweet potatoes are storage root. The sweet potato is more closely related to Morning Glory plant than yams. The taste, texture and general appearance of these ground provisions differ widely.

According to the Library of Congress website which says the “U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term yam to be accompanied by the term sweet potato. Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!



Scientific name

Dioscorea Species


The skin on yams tends to be thick and rough resembling the bark of a tree is some cases. The flesh is usually on the starchier side when compared to sweet potatoes.


Yams tend to have a dry and starchy flavorless taste compared to sweet potatoes. Flesh tend to be white sometimes yellow (Usain bolt says he eats yellow yam)


Yams are generally harder to find in the US since none are grown there. They also will be advertised as sweet potatoes in supermarkets if any are found. Yams originate from the African and Asian and Caribbean regions.

Some of many Sweet Potato Types

difference between sweet potatoes vs yams
difference between sweet potatoes vs yams
difference between yams and sweet potatoes
difference between yams and sweet potatoes | Source
sweet potatoes
sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Scientific name

Ipomoea batatas


When cooked the sweet potato flesh ranges from firm like English potato to soft like pumpkin.




The flesh inside the sweet potato ranges from white/yellow to red or orange. The skin is smooth and thin and can be yellow/orange, brown, purple or white.

Difference Between Yams Vs Sweet Potatoes

Long story short you do not want to bake a sweet potato pie using yams! You will have some very unhappy guest. But there are many yams recipes out there on the internet.


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    • anatomynotes profile image

      Edmund Custers 5 years ago

      I have seen at least two types of sweet potatoes. I also know that there are at least two types of yams - white yams and the yellow yam. I have tried both of them. I prefer white yams to yellow yam. I think the yellow one tastes slightly better.

      I can eat sweat potatoes raw, it's like eating carrots raw. But I don't think I can do that with yams.

      I like eating potato chips. I tried making chips once with yam. It didn't turn out the way I expected, I couldn't eat it.

      Thanks for pointing out the differences!

    • easyguyevo profile image

      easyguyevo 5 years ago from Barbados

      Thanks for the comment Alecia Murphy. Good luck with finding some.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      We call sweet potatoes yams in the south but I've never had real yams. Now that I can notice the difference, I'm going to see if I can find some to try. Great hub!