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How to Cook Yams on the Grill

by M.T. Wroblewski, studioD

While outdoor grilling is popular, it's not always easy to find room for everything you want to cook on your grill. Main courses can easily edge out side dishes, which is why it's always a good idea to know several ways to grill the same dish. Necessity, after all, can be the mother of grilling invention. If your taste buds are set on yams, spread them out on your grill if you have the room and they'll cook in no time. But if grilling space is at a premium, wrap the yams in foil. Either way, you can grill your yams to perfection.

Spread them Out

Soften the yams by heating them in the microwave for a few minutes or boiling them in a pot of boiling water. Cool them off in a bowl of cool water and let them chill until you can comfortably hold them in your hand.

Turn your grill to medium-high. Spray your grilling rack or a sturdy piece of aluminum foil with nonfat cooking spray. Cut the yams into 1/4- or 1/2-inch rounds and arrange them in a single layer on your grill.

Brush the yams with olive oil or melted butter. For sweeter yams, top with brown sugar or a little maple syrup; for zestier yams, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a little onion powder and basil or, if you like the flavor, some rosemary.

Grill the yams for about 15 minutes, flipping them over about every five minutes to ensure that they cook evenly. If meat and other dishes crowd out the yams and you must grill them on a low flame, simply double the cooking time. Try to turn up the heat on the yams for the last few minutes of cooking to create a crispy, tasty edge.

Wrap Them Up

Wash your yams, and then cut them in half lengthwise. Use a heavy cutting knife and watch your fingers because uncooked yams are hard.

Cut a square of aluminum foil that's large enough to fold around two halves of a yam. Spray the dull side of the foil square with nonfat cooking spray and lay two yam halves on top, flesh side up. Brush the skin with olive oil or place little squares of butter on top of the flesh.

Season the yams to your liking with sweet or spicy ingredients. Wrap the yams loosely and set them on the upper rack of your grill for about 1 ½ hours. Rotate the yam packages about every 30 minutes or so to ensure even cooking.

Items you will need
  •  Aluminum foil
  •  Nonfat cooking spray
  •  Brown sugar or maple syrup (optional)
  •  Salt and pepper
  •  Onion powder and basil or rosemary (optional)


  • If you use the terms, “yam” and “sweet potato” interchangeably, you're hardly alone; many people do this including those who sell them; however, while they look similar, they are not the same. Most yams marketed in the United States are sweet potatoes with moist centers and orange flesh. The United States Department of Agriculture requires that sweet potatoes labeled and marketed as “yams” be labeled “sweet potatoes” as well.
  • You might want to try topping your grilled yams with shelled pistachios or raisins.

About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • Nick White/Photodisc/Getty Images