Crock-Pot® sweet potatoes are any sweet potatoes cooked in a slow cooker, often referred to by the name brand Crock-Pot®. Often associated with North American Thanksgiving, this dish usually includes extra sweetener and may contain marshmallows or other dessert ingredients. Despite their sweetness, Crock-Pot® sweet potatoes are usually eaten as a side dish. These versatile slow cooker meals can be made suitable for many different restrictive diets. Other sweet potato dishes may also be made in a slow cooker for any occasion, including spicy stews, gratins, and plain baked sweet potatoes.
Slow cookers are electric appliances with a glazed ceramic cooking pot inside, covered by a lid. These appliances are often called Crock-Pots®, regardless of brand, and can be used to cook stews, soups, and tubers like sweet potatoes over a long period of time. Slow cookers require little to no attention during the cooking process and trap steam inside, making them a good choice for moist dishes that need a long cooking time. Making sweet potato side dishes in a slow cooker allows the cook to focus his or her energy on other, more time-consuming recipes.
In North America, sweet potatoes are closely associated with Thanksgiving, and are usually served with added sweetness. Like their oven-baked or stovetop-cooked relatives, Crock-Pot® sweet potatoes usually contain extra-refined sugar or molasses, or sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey. Marshmallows are often included as a topping in these dishes, and dessert spices like cinnamon and nutmeg may play a large part. These very sweet recipes are usually served as side dishes alongside meat, potatoes, and vegetables, with pie, cake, or other desserts eaten after the main meal.
While the default recipe usually includes sugar, butter, and wheat flour, cooks can make Crock-Pot® sweet potatoes as a dinner suitable for a range of dietary restrictions. The substitution of vegetable oil or margarine for butter makes the dish appropriate for vegans or those with milk allergies. Using tapioca starch or corn starch as a thickener instead of flour renders a basic recipe gluten-free. Diabetics may omit the sugar and other sweeteners traditionally associated with this dish or substitute no-calorie sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame.
Not all Crock-Pot® sweet potatoes are sweet and associated with specific holidays. Cooks can also use slow cooker techniques to produce baked or stewed sweet potatoes combined with beets, turnips, and other tubers. Some recipes use ingredients from Asian cuisine, such as ginger, chili, and lemongrass. Sweet potatoes combine well with coconut milk, and are also used in some dessert soups containing this ingredient. The tubers can also be cooked in the slow cooker on their own, with just a little water, then served with butter and salt.