Raw Sweet Potato Salad

Raw Sweet Potato Salad - The Messy Baker

09 Aug Raw Sweet Potato Salad

Raw Sweet Potato Salad - The Messy Baker

Sweet potatoes are confusing. People call them yams, but they’re not. Even though you’re far more likely to encounter a sweet potato than a yam here in North America, I think we embrace the term “yam” because it’s more fun to say. Weighing in at four syllables, “sweet potato” is a mouthful. Yam? One. Plus it rhymes with other food words like “jam”, “ham”, “lamb” and “Spam.” As for its counterpart? Short of “eat tomato” I’ve got nothing.

Let’s face it. The word is cumbersome. Unless you’re ordering sweet potato fries. Then it’s sheer poetry.

This unwieldy vegetable can also be confused with carrots. Truth. Raw and shredded, sweet potatoes look and taste a lot like carrots. In fact, this recipe fooled me the first time I had it.

When it comes to orange side dishes the only thing I know for sure is that everyone in our family likes this recipe.

Hallelujah and pass the (sweet) potatoes.

Raw Sweet Potato Salad - The Messy Baker


Raw Sweet Potato Salad
Recipe type: Salads
Prep / inactive time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 to 8
Raw sweet potato salad is a twist on the classic carrot salad. If you don't have sweet potatoes, you can always substitute raw carrots or golden beets.
  • 3 medium raw sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded (raw carrots or raw golden beets can be used instead)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • ½ cup toasted pecans or trail mix
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon fresh black pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded sweet potatoes, apples and nuts or trail mix. Toss to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the sweet potato mixture and toss well to coat evenly. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.
Sweet potatoes contain small amounts of oxalic acid. People with a history of oxalate urinary tract stones may choose to avoid them. If this is the case, substitute raw carrots or raw golden beets. The flavour is similar, although the texture of these two vegetables is slightly more crunchy.

For those who are confused about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams: We usually get sweet potatoes here in Canada. Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family, can be grown locally. They tend to be orange and very sweet. Yams are usually imported, starchier and come from a branch of the lily family that's hard to spell and has no common name for me to fall back on.


Related Post

  • jodi (bloomingwriter)
    Posted at 09:17h, 09 August Reply

    Sounds delish. Popeye would love it too. You know Popeye. “I yam what I yam.”

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:20h, 09 August Reply

      @jodi (bloomingwriter), ooooh! How’d I miss that one? Good call, Jodi! I bow to you.

  • Anh
    Posted at 23:29h, 09 August Reply

    This is new to me, but I love the idea of it! Thanks so much for sharing

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:15h, 10 August Reply

      @Anh, I think you’ll like it. Raw sweet potatoes taste almost exactly like carrots. They’re a bit more tender, but otherwise are interchangeable for salads.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 15:16h, 10 August Reply

    I’ve never thought of eating sweet potatoes raw, but I LOVE this idea! What a delicious-sounding dish. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:16h, 10 August Reply

      @Lauren, glad you like the concept. I admit if I hadn’t eaten it first, I’d have been skeptical.

  • haphazard inspiration
    Posted at 15:46h, 10 August Reply

    Never would have occurred to me to eat raw sweet potato. Now I have something new to try. Thanks!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:17h, 10 August Reply

      @haphazard inspiration, if you haven’t tried raw beets, they’re a colourful alternative to raw carrots — only they stain. Sweet potatoes are less of a hazard to messy cooks like me.

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 16:39h, 10 August Reply

    Huh. Why didn’t I ever think of eating a sweet potato raw? I love them but often buy them and leave them to languish in the cupboard because I’m too lazy to bake ’em up.

    This, I promise you, I will try! Brilliant.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:06h, 12 August Reply

      @Dana McCauley, yup, dead sweet potatoes are a challenge here too. Although I think I beat you on the lazy scale.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 16:54h, 10 August Reply

    Ok, I’m feeling a little dopey – more than a little dopey – because I had no idea you could eat sweet potatoes raw. What a revelation! Would love to try this but will save it for a night when I’m not serving the husband. He’s a marvelous eater, but has distain for most orange things, particularly carrots and sweet potatoes. This will be a solo dish for me. Thanks, Charmian!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:07h, 12 August Reply

      @The Diva on a Diet, don’t feel dopey. Judging from the comments, very few people knew you could eat sweet potatoes raw. And they are tasty.

      Enjoy your solo salad. I eat cauliflower on my own, so understand fully.

  • Jessica
    Posted at 14:54h, 13 August Reply

    I thought there was a difference between the two. I love ’em both though…! I also love this neat way of eating them. I usually just bake, boil or fry them, but this is much healthier. Thanks!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:52h, 24 August Reply

      @Jessica, love how versatile sweet potatoes are. Not crazy about them boiled, myself, but roasted? Oooooh. Bring ’em on.

  • Sophie
    Posted at 02:57h, 17 August Reply

    I quite like the idea of eating & savouring raw sweet potatoes. I have never tried that before & this salad looks great for the health & looks so appetizing too!

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:53h, 24 August Reply

      @Sophie, raw sweet potatoes seems to have caught many people by surprise. Glad it appeals to you.

  • sandy mackay
    Posted at 18:39h, 17 August Reply

    Who Knew? I’m anpther who didn’t knew, er, know, you could eat sweet potatoes raw. Well, maybe we can eat any veggies raw in the right form, can’t we?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:55h, 24 August Reply

      @sandy mackay, agreed. Beets spring to mind first. I can’t think of a vegetable you can’t eat raw, although some lend themselves to it more than others.

      • Dawn @ Small Footprint Family
        Posted at 23:51h, 14 December Reply

        Regular potatoes and taro root are toxic raw and should always be cooked. Thanks for this post. I love raw sweet potatoes, and now I have a new way to enjoy them.

        • Charmian Christie
          Posted at 15:31h, 15 December Reply

          Hope you like the recipe. If you don’t have raw sweet potatoes on hand, just carrots or raw golden beets. It’s very flexible.

  • Andrea Pretli
    Posted at 17:00h, 19 September Reply

    I had never thought of eating Sweet Potato raw but I tried this recipe recently and it was delicous! My husband liked it too and wants me to make it again. :) I didn’t have trail mix though and so used Almonds instead, and to us it tasted good. Next time will try the Trail Mix.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 19:50h, 19 September Reply

      @Andrea Pretli, Trail Mix isn’t essential. Any nut you like will do. Almonds would be lovely, as would pecans, cashews or hazelnuts.

      So glad your husband liked the recipe. Have fun experimenting with the nuts / trail mix.

  • Carol Flett
    Posted at 23:05h, 03 March Reply

    I discovered raw sweet potatoes by accident, a few days ago and have been nibbling on them ever since. Using them in salad sounds wonderful.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:18h, 17 March Reply

      I really enjoy them in salad now and again. I haven’t nibbled on them without the aid of dressing, nuts and raisins, but might give them a shot totally naked..

  • David
    Posted at 14:22h, 17 March Reply

    Do not eat raw sweet potatoes except in very small quantities, if at all.

    Sweet potato shows trypsin inhibitor activity. That means it contains an enzyme inhibitor that blocks the action of trypsin, an enzyme that digests proteins. The trypsin inhibitor prevents the digestion of protein. Sweet potatoes with higher protein levels have more of the trypsin inhibitor. This makes raw sweet potato difficult to digest. The trypsin inhibitor is deactivated by cooking.

    One way the raw food diet helps people is by supplying food enzymes. Food enzymes do part of the work of digesting the raw food. Enzyme inhibitors increase the amount of work that your body needs to do to digest foods. Enzyme inhibitors force your body to produce more digestive enzymes. This uses up resources that could be used to produce detoxifying enzymes. When animals are regularly fed enzyme inhibitors in research, they become sick. Sweet potato should not be eaten raw.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:37h, 17 March Reply

      Thanks for commenting. I have not trouble digesting sweet potatoes raw, so am curious to know if other people have an issue with this.

      Not to be argumentative, but this is the first time I’ve heard anything about raw sweet potatoes being harmful. Wanting to learn more, I tried to find studies about the toxic effects of raw sweet potatoes and couldn’t find anything current. Your site linked to FAO.org, which listed a number of studies, but they were all at least 3o years old. Do you know of any more current? I would love to know more before advising for or against eating sweet potatoes raw.


  • Andrea
    Posted at 13:43h, 18 March Reply

    I have had the Sweet Potato Salad raw since I first tried it last year after seeing you on CTV, and as mentioned in an earlier comment of mine, both my husband and I love it. However we don’t eat it raw every week….maybe once a month but always with dressing or something on it. It has never bothered my digestion or my husband’s, and I have a sensitive stomach that easily would be bothered if anything is hard to digest! I think the only way it MAY become harmful to the digestive system is if it’s eaten raw on a much more regular basis.

  • Charmian Christie
    Posted at 22:50h, 20 March Reply

    Thanks so much for letting me know you are sensitive yet don’t have any problems with digesting the salad. I’m glad you and your husband like it — and I’m even more glad you don’t have any stomach issues after!

    As with all things, moderation is key. Many foods we eat have trace amounts of naturally occurring toxins — cinnamon and strawberries spring to mind. And I’m not about to give those two ingredients up!

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with the dish. And your level-headed approach.

  • lara G
    Posted at 10:08h, 14 May Reply

    hi to all,
    just came across this site on my quest to find why is my tummy bothereing me so much after having some raw sweet potatoes while preparing them for cooking for our lunch.
    came across other sites that has said not to eat any…and also others that say yes, go ahead.
    The thing is…….my stomach hurts so bad that I will never dare to eat raw vegetables that I am not aware of. My tummy does not normally disturb me with any foods but this time does not feel good…and I didn’t have have that much! I have to say…tasted really good raw!
    please consider eating anything raw…look into it first and then eat.
    These cramps are not something anyone wants to have…..Really!!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:15h, 16 May Reply

      I’m sorry you’re having stomach issues. My family and I have eaten this recipe many times without any trouble. If you’re concerned about eating raw sweet potatoes you can always substitute carrots in this recipe.

      Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • Chelsea
    Posted at 23:20h, 05 March Reply

    I have to agree with David here. I recently ate raw sweet potato and have come down with a nasty case of stomach cramps and bloated belly. Really, unless you have a very strong stomach, it is advised that you don’t eat sweet potato raw because of the trypsin inhibitors.

    I have been told this by my primary care doctor (I called when I started developing the issues) as well as seen in on various websites on the internet… and now I have the unfortunate experience of knowing exactly why.

    Just… well… proceed with caution when you try this recipe, y’all. Please.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:00h, 06 March Reply

      Sorry to hear you had issues. The recipe can be made with carrots. I’ll update the recipe to make a note of this.

      My whole extended family can eat this salad and more than one member has delicate digestion and gets upset by other foods but not this. However, as you say, it isn’t for you.

      Thanks for taking the time to let readers know your reaction. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • sway
    Posted at 20:43h, 03 April Reply

    Soooo a little confused. This prob isn’t’t the site for answers either….I eat like almost a whole raw sweet potato to my self on a almost daily bases. I also have never experienced any I’ll effects from doing so. I do how ever want to know they are inhibiting my protein digestion in general. Like if a drink a protein shake then eat a raw sweet potato do I all the sudden lose the value of all that protein I just drank? Or does it just take longer to absorb. If that’s the case who cares…

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:04h, 05 April Reply

      I’m confused, too. I’ve never had an issue with raw sweet potato. I’m not an nutritionist but some people say they have trouble digesting raw sweet potato and a trypsin inhibitor gets blamed. I’m not sure what this means on a practical scale. I have done searches but can’t find anyone with an advanced degree talking about the issue — so I’m assuming (dangerous, I know) that this isn’t a big deal. However, this topic comes up often enough that I need an solid answer. I’ll be contacting a nutritionist and will post the answer. Thanks for being as confused as I am.

    Posted at 20:41h, 13 May Reply

    Hey, People I’ve been eating raw sweet potatoes all my life, my Mom used to chase me from the table I was eating them as fast as she was peeling and washing them, so eatup.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 18:50h, 14 May Reply

      Thanks for sharing your raw sweet potato experience. I can just see a kid sneaking slices as Mom works away. I was like this with apples and carrots.

      My mom requested this salad for her Mother’s Day dinner last night. We all ate it and so far no one has had stomach issues. I can’t speak for the people who tell me they get indigestion from raw sweet potatoes, but in our family (and yours) it’s not an issue. Thanks again for weighing in.

  • Angela
    Posted at 17:46h, 08 March Reply

    Sasi Kiran K and Padmaja G 2003: Inactivation of trypsin inhibitors in sweet potato and taro tubers during processing. Journal of plant foods for human nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum) published by Springer Netherlands in Volume 58, number 2/june, 2003 pages 153-163.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 01:36h, 10 March Reply

      Thanks, Angela. I appreciate you pointing out this study. However, it’s now 10 years old. While taro should not be eaten raw, the current thinking supports raw sweet potatoes as a healthy option. The only caveat I can find regarding sweet potatoes (raw or cooked) is that they contain small amounts of oxalic acid, which might worry someone with a history of kidney stones. If anyone is nervous about eating sweet potatoes, substitute raw carrots or golden beets in this recipe. For cooked sweet potatoes, squash in an option.

      • Charmain
        Posted at 17:17h, 24 November Reply

        Beets of any color are on the extemely high oxalate list, much higher in oxalates than sweet potatoes.

Post A Reply to sway Cancel Reply

Subscribe to my newsletter.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s informative.


Receive weekly tips, recipes and advanced notice of upcoming events.

Yes, please!