Candied Sweet Potatoes – Daigaku Imo (だいがく いも)

3/5 (2)
Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
2 servings
Daigaku Imo


  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • oil for fryinh


Quick Directions

  1. Cut the sweet potato into large chunks. Soak in water to remove excess starch, then drain and pat dry.
  2. Prepare the syrup by mixing the honey, sugar and soy sauce in a small pan over medium heat. Stir until it is thickened, then remove from heat.
  3. Heat oil in a small pot over medium high heat. Add potato and fry 10-15 minutes until golden. Place on paper towels to drain.
  4. Return syrup to heat and once warm, mix in potatoes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

The Story

Imagine biting into a pillowy soft interior surrounded by a delightfully crispy yet sticky sweet shell. Sounds good, right? Well if you’re in Japan, you’re in luck!

Sweet potatoes have recently received a lot of popularity in the US over the past few years. What was once overlooked as just a holiday dessert has now become very prominent in a variety of dishes. Supposedly healthier than a regular potato, sweet potatoes are now seen as an alternative to conscientious eaters. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but either way, it is nice to see a wider variety of food in our palette! When I saw that sweet potato fries had gone all the way to hit the menu at a fast food restaurants, I realized just how mainstream this craze was getting, and for good reason!

If you like the taste of sweet potato fries, you are going to love the Japanese version of them. While sweet potatoes have only recently been popular here, they have been a favorite of the Japanese for years. Daigaku Imo, meaning “University Potatoes”, are just one of many dishes featuring Japanese sweet potatoes. Cheap and very filling, these potatoes have been popular among college students since the early 1900s, hence the name! They are often served at school festivals in the fall since they are a great street food to sell. These are one of my favorite ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, so please give it a try! And if you can’t find Japanese sweet potatoes which have a purplish skin and yellow inside, don’t worry, you can substitute the orange variety instead!

This recipe might be a little intimidating since it involves frying, but frying doesn’t have to be this huge ordeal. Anyone can fry things in the kitchen, it doesn’t need a huge pot and gallons of oil. All you need is a small pot, enough oil to cover the food, a utensil to get the food out of the pot, and paper towels drain the food. It might seem scary at first, but really it’s not that hard. For more tips on how to keep frying healthy, check out my post here.

Recipe – Candied Sweet Potatoes:

– Scrub the sweet potato then cut it into big chunks. You can remove the skin, but it’s traditionally left on for color.

Daigaku Imo

– Put the cut pieces into cold water to remove excess starch. Let soak for a few minutes, then drain, rinse with fresh water and pat dry with a towel.

Daigaku Imo

– Prepare the sauce by mixing the honey, sugar and soy sauce in a small pan over medium heat. Stir until it is blended and has a syrup consistency. The sugar will bubble but take care not to let it burn! Remove from heat and set aside.

Daigaku Imo

Daigaku Imo

– Heat the oil over medium high heat in a deep pot. Add the potatoes then fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, stirring every so often so they don’t burn.

Daigaku Imo

– Remove the potato from the oil and drain briefly on the paper towel to remove excess oil.

Daigaku Imo

– Return the syrup to a burner and turn it on to a low heat. Once the syrup has warmed up, add the potato to the syrup then stir to coat.

Daigaku Imo

– Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and enjoy! They are best when piping hot, but don’t worry if you can’t eat them right away, they are quite delicious cold too. Plus, the honey helps the pieces from clumping together as it cools!

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  • Erg

    I am jealous of your husband!

  • Angela

    I am not Japanese but I love Japanese food! I really want to learn how to cook it.
    Thank you for you wonderful recipe.

    • Dani

      I’m glad to hear you’re interested in Japanese food, I’ve always found it so foreign and complicated, yet familiar and simple, all at once, and that’s what makes it so fascinating! But although it seems foreign, it’s really easy to make, so I do hope you keep exploring it!

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  • Sara

    I think you should mention what temperature to heat the oil to, and also that the potatoes shouldn’t just be golden in color but have a crunchy outside so adjust frying time until you get that shell, since I fried them for 15 minutes and they did get golden but not crunchy yet.