What The Heck Is A Yam Anyway?

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Every Thanksgiving I am supposed to purchase yams to make them as part of our Thanksgiving dinner. It’s just been one of those traditional dishes and I hadn’t really thought anything of it until recently….What the heck is a Yam anyway? Is it a potato? Is it a squash? What is it?

what the heck is a yam anyway

How could I go so long eating yams year after year without knowing what it actually was? I figured hey, it tastes sort of like a sweet potato so maybe it’s that. Nope! It sort of looks like a squash too so maybe it’s that…NOPE!

Ugh, what is it?

So, what is a yam?


A yam is NOT a potato and definitely not a squash. Instead, yams are a monocot (whatever the heck that is! Just kidding it means a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and they are more related to lilies and grasses than anything else we eat.

Woah! Imagine eating a bowl of lilies at your Thanksgiving dinner. Crazy, right?

It’s funny how often I have heard that yams are really just sweet potatoes. I’ve also heard that many images of yams (including the one below) isn’t actually a yam. But when you Google “Yams” all the images look the same and look just like sweet potatoes so, who knows?!

All I know is that yams are supposed to be on your Thanksgiving table.

what the heck is a yam featured

Well, now that you know what Yams actually are (and what they are not) you can continue buying them and eating them on Thanksgiving year after year! Not to mention, this is going to be an awesome conversation starter.

Need help making yams this thanksgiving? Here are 5 Ways to Prepare Perfect Thanksgiving Yams.

perfect thanksgiving yams

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One Comment

  1. You have it backward. Yam has dark bark-like skin and white inside.You have pictured the sweet potato grown in the US with bronze skin with yellow or orange inside.

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