How To Tell If A Sweet Potato Is Bad

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and healthy food that make the perfect snack or addition to a meal. Don’t you just love sweet potato fries and sweet potato casserole? Yum! But before you get to cooking or eating, you’ll want to make sure you start with fresh sweet potatoes. Read on to learn how to tell if a sweet potato is bad and how to store sweet potatoes to keep them fresh as long as possible.

How can you tell if a sweet potato is bad? A bad sweet potato will show changes in appearance and texture. It may develop brown spots or black spots and become soft or mushy. It can also look wrinkled from being dehydrated over time. Avoid eating a sweet potato that shows excessive sprouts (a sign that it’s old) or any signs of mold.

What does a bad sweet potato look like?

A sweet potato will start to develop discolored spots when it’s going bad. Sweet potatoes usually have red or orange flesh on the inside. If you see color change such as dark brown or black spots on the inside or outside of your sweet potato, it’s a sign that it’s no longer good to eat. 

You may see a sweet potato turn wrinkly. This is a sign that the sweet potato is drying out, likely due to its age and storage conditions, so it may not be safe to eat.

Another sign of a bad sweet potato is mold. If you see any signs of mold, it’s best not to take a chance and eat the sweet potato.

If you see what looks like surface-level marks and cuts on the skin of a sweet potato that are slightly different in color, this is a naturally occurring feature of a sweet potato and it’s nothing to be concerned about. After all, sweet potatoes don’t have perfect skin.

Another thing you may see is on sweet potatoes is white spots. This is the starch of the sweet potato in liquid form and nothing to be concerned about as well.

Additionally, you might start to see small growths called sprouts on the sweet potato. Sprouts on a regular potato are not safe to eat, but the sprouts on a sweet potato are edible. These sprouts typically start to form after a sweet potato has been untouched for a long time. 

A couple of sprouts here or there can be cut off or even eaten. The sweet potato itself will still be safe to eat too. If there are a bunch of sprouts, it’s a sign that the sweet potato is old and you should look for other signs that the sweet potato is still good and safe to eat.

What does a bad sweet potato feel like?

Sweet potatoes are usually very tough and hard in their raw form. One of the first signs that a sweet potato is going bad is a change in texture. The body of the sweet potato may start to have some soft spots. The sweet potato will eventually go from firm to soft and mushy.

If you notice that dark liquid starts to come out of the sweet potatoes when you hold or squeeze them, they are well past their prime and they should not be eaten. If there is a small amount of white liquid that comes out of your sweet potatoes when you cut them, the sweet potato is still edible as that’s the starch in liquid form.

The sweet potato may also smell unpleasant due to the presence of mold or the rotting process. Once it starts to smell off, it’s time to say goodbye. 

How long do sweet potatoes last?

The shelf life of sweet potatoes will last is going to vary depending on how well you store them. Sweet potatoes, like many other potatoes, have naturally high water content within them. This can cause them to spoil quite easily, especially with improper storage. 

The best way to store your sweet potatoes is in a dark pantry that is close to room temperature. If you store them this way, they will stay fresh for 1-2 weeks and possibly even up to one month. Store them where there is good air circulation versus storing them in a sealed container. If you are able to store them in a basement or cellar, where it’s dark and the air circulates well, they could last a few months or even as long as 6 months in optimal conditions. Always check for signs of spoilage before using them.

Be sure to keep your sweet potatoes dry. Do not wash them before storing them as this will add to their moisture and can lead to mold growth or premature sprouting due to moisture build-up.

If you want to cut up your sweet potatoes in advance to save time before cooking them, keep them covered with cold water and put them in the fridge. This should keep them fresh for a couple of days before you cook them. 

How to store sweet potatoes

The best place to store sweet potatoes to maintain their freshness is in a dark place such as a pantry. The sweet potatoes should be kept away from direct sunlight kept dry. They can also be stored in the fridge if you prefer. 

Can you freeze sweet potatoes?

Raw sweet potatoes don’t freeze very well. Unless they are flash frozen, they will lose a lot of their flavor if kept in the freezer. It’s best to keep them in the pantry and try to use them up before they start to spoil. 

Cooked sweet potatoes can be frozen. You can bake them, boil them, or prepare them in any number of ways. Place them in a freezer-safe container before putting them in the freezer. 

How long do cooked sweet potatoes keep?

Cooked sweet potatoes last 3-5 days when kept in the fridge. Place leftovers in an airtight container. If it’s been more than 5 days or you’re uncertain about the sweet potatoes, check for any sign of spoilage such as mold growth or an unpleasant taste or smell before consuming it.

Will spoiled sweet potatoes make you sick?

If a sweet potato has a small bit of discoloration in one area, you might be able to just cut around it and eat the rest of the sweet potato after it has been cooked. This should only be done with sprouts and spots. Don’t take a chance with mold. 

A bad sweet potato should not make you terribly sick, but the side effects of food-related illness are never pleasant or something to leave to chance. It could potentially make you gassy, give you stomach cramps, and leave you with an upset stomach. While food waste is never ideal, you don’t want to give yourself food poisoning. It’s better to be safe and toss, compost, or repurpose your sweet potato if you’re unsure that it’s safe to eat.


The sweet potato is a healthy, delicious staple with great nutritional value. It can last for months in its raw form so long as you store them in a dark and dry place at normal room temperature. Always check that your sweet potato is still good before eating it. Look for color changes, a softening texture, mold growth, unpleasant odors, and other oddities that may indicate spoilage.

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