How to Cook Yuca Root

Yuca is a carb-o-licious versatile root vegetable used in all sorts of comfort food recipes worldwide. Let’s dive on in!

How to Prepare Yucca Root #rootvegetables

When I went to the Dominican Republic a few months ago, I was blown away by the cuisine. Aside from the wide range of saucy slow-cooked meats (my favorite!), there was an abundance of fresh salads and stewed vegetables. I became hooked on cassava (more commonly called, “yuca,” in the U.S.) and couldn’t stop eating the stuff. I was determined to incorporate it into my own cooking as soon as I got home, but then something happened: I couldn’t find yuca root anywhere.

I had all but given up my search for yuca, when I finally spied a pile of it in my grocery store, right next to the turnips. Being as it is root vegetable season, yuca is now easier to find. And perfect timing, because the super carby and cozy veggie is perfect for incorporating into your fall and winter stews and side dishes.

Yuca root is very dense and starchy and is used just like a potato in many delicious dishes worldwide. It has a mild flavor, which makes it versatile for incorporating into numerous types of recipes. The root is native to Central and South America, and you’ll commonly see it incorporated in to a variety of dishes in Latin American countries, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean Islands. Most roots can be consumed raw, but yuca is one of the few roots that must be cooked, as the peel contains cyanide. Another fun fact: yuca is where tapioca pearls and tapioca flour come from!

How to Prepare Yucca Root #rootvegetables

Although the root is very tough to peel, once you break through the outer layer, it can be made into fries, added to soups, stewed on its own with butter, salt, and spices, or even pureed and made into custard-like desserts and cakes. This versatile root is the third largest source for carbohydrates in the tropics. Full of Vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber, yuca doesn’t boast the same high-octane antioxidant properties as other roots such as beets, but still does its part in boosting your immune system and keeping your digestive system regular.

Let’s learn how to prepare yuca!

1. Chop the tip and tail off of the yuca root.

2. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice down the full length of the yuca root. Be sure to cut through both the brown peel and the thick white layer.

How to Prepare Yucca Root #rootvegetables

3. Start at the thicker end of the root (if one side is thicker) and work your thumbs under one side of the cut. Be sure to get underneath the first white layer, too as it will help you peel the skin off in large chunks. Once you’re underneath the peel, you can work your thumbs down the length of the root, peeling the skin off like a jacket.

How to Prepare Yucca Root #rootvegetables

4. Once the root is peeled, chop it into chunks.

How to Prepare Yucca Root #rootvegetables

[Alternative method: Slice the tip and tail off the yucca roots, then chop them into quarters. Stand each chunk of root up on a cutting board, and slice off the peel using a knife. You need to be careful not to cut yourself using this method, and you will also lose a good portion of the root itself. ]

5. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring it to a full boil. Place the hunks of peeled yuca root in the boiling water, and allow them to cook Peel steam for 15 minutes, or until the root is very soft when poked with a fork.

And that’s it! Stay tuned for recipes using yuca root, or try these out:

How to prepare yucca root #rootvegetables

Yuca. Make it your new russet potato.

 

 

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Comments

    1. Julia Post author

      Isn’t the cyanide thing crazy?? I’m certainly glad we can simply peel and cook the things because I love yucca root. How was it prepared at the Dominican restaurant? I’m looking for some prep ideas 😀

      Reply
      1. Yesenia Lara

        Peel the yucca boil it with little salt until get very soft then take it out drain it the put lots of olive oil to get hot then fry the yucca until golden brown then put paper towel for the excess of oil. Serve it with deep fry pork meat cut into small squares and cabbage salad cabbage salad with tomatoes cucumbers carrots and lime n salt

        Reply
  1. DessertForTwo

    I’m obsessed! I used to live in Costa Rica, and love yucca! I also love yuca, a totally different animal and popular as fries in Texas. I love anything full o’ carbs, clearly!

    Reply
  2. Alissa

    I just saw yucca at my supermarket for the first time ever yesterday. I really wanted to buy some (because I pretty much always want to buy unfamiliar produce) but thought I should figure out what to do with it first. Done! Your post came at the perfect time. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Susan

    One place I used to find yucca regularly was at a large Asian grocery. Where I live now, I would probably find it at a Mexican specialty shop. Thanks for publishing this tutorial – I haven’t cooked yucca in years, and now may have to do so again…

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Great thinking! There are both Asian and Mexican stores in my area, so I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for yucca there. Hope you enjoy! xo

      Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Aaaabsolutely! It wasn’t until I figured out how to peel the skin off like a winter coat that I began enjoying the process of preparing yucca…cause seriously, it was a task and a half when I sat there and picked off the peel little piece by piece!

      Reply
  4. Phuong

    I’m from Vietnam and just want to share that we love yucca root here, but are always careful about cooking it. Some yucca roots contain cyanide also in their meat so we always soak them in water for hours before cooking, or boil them a couple of times before eating. Better be on the safe side!

    I loved peeling yucca roots as a kid :’)

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing, Phuong! Definitely best to be on the safe side. I’ve always peeled the yucca prior to cooking – if you soak it, can you leave the peel on and roast it? Thanks so much for your input!!

      Reply
      1. Marlene

        NOOOOO! Do NOT boil it with the peel on! You must REMOVE THE PEEL before soaking it or boiling it the way that Phuong explained.

        Reply
  5. Caroline

    During my dietetic internship in 1973 I worked for a Dr. who specialized in “tropical Diabetes.” He had a suspicion that the cyanide in yuca was related to the high incidence of diabetes in the tropical belt around the globe. I never found out if he was able to prove a connection, BUT soaking the root is what many cultures do to get the cyanide out. This is similar to California natives soaking acorns to remove toxic compounds before grinding them for flour. Just thought the readers would be interested in this.

    Reply
  6. James

    Please help. I bought these frozen from my supermarket. After boiling for 2 hours, they had STILL not fully cooked – the outer parts were soft and transparent but in the centre it was still white and less soft. What is going on?

    Reply
    1. Marbel

      Hi James, I am Cuban American and yuca is a staple in our diet. My mother had told me that one of the old secrets to cooking a tender yuca is to “scare it”. I’lI’explain what this means below. Both natural or frozen yuca should be rinsed with water first. Then fill a large pot with lots of water and place the yuca inside (Add some salt and a little lime juice). Bring the water to a boil (I usually cover it to get the water boiling faster). Once it starts boiling, uncover the pot or if you can get away with it, keep the cover placed slightly over the pot so that it sort of covers it a little. Boil it for a total of about 45 minutes to 1 hour (you shouldn’t need more than 1 hour to cook yuca).

      Now here’s the secret to having the yuca cook inside. After about 30 minutes of boiling, add about a cup of cold water to the pot (this is what “scaring the yuca” means) LOL. I’m not sure why, but something happens when you scare it that it allows it to be cooked thoroughly. It has something to do with lowering the temp and bringing it back to a boil. This should give you a fully cooked, creamy and tender yuca.

      We normally make a Cuban “Mojo” sauce to pour over the yuca. It’s very simple – Cook some diced onion and garlic in a sauce pan w/olive oil and add juice from 3 limes & 1 orange (use fresh products only). Add a little dried oregano, salt and black pepper. You can alter the limes and oranges to your licking to make it less bitter if you prefer. Add this mojo over the yuca. It is very delicious. Hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
  7. SARAH E CAVENDER

    I like the peeling instructions! I always used a potato peeler and it didn’t work well. Yucca and Yuca are not the same. Yuca and cassava are the same. Tapioca comes from the cassava shrub. I have them growing along my back fence..shrubby trees that have a pretty cannopy and proliferate when they drop their fruit.
    Yucca grows as a decorative plant too.. It looks more like agava. It’s the old fashioned spikey plant you see growing on either side of walkways and steps to old homes in the South that may or may not be there any longer. A marker of where homes were. They have these great spikes of white bell shaped flowers.
    I am not sure what variety the Yucca in the grocery store is, and you can’t plant it because it is waxed. However there are many roots you can eat that are grown as ornamentals in yards around the US including the Day Lily!
    I love Yucca, I discovered it while living in Miami, and with the help of some lovely sisters from Nicaragua working with me in business and home, I learned about preparing yucca, malanga, green mangos and green plantains! Yum!

    Reply
  8. Marlene

    I love Yuca, and my grandmother, who owned a restaurant with her dad in Puerto Rico, was the most amazing cook ever! She used to boil the Yuca the way that Marbel described, after soaking it overnight. She used to make fried stuffed Yuca by grating or mashing it after it was cooled and drained, forming small meatball sized patties out of them mixed with a little seasoning. She would flatten it a little, put a small amount of grated onion, and a cube of cheese on it, fold it over and fry it until golden on both sides….OH MY GOSH they were sooo good! I have one in my kitchen and I’m gonna make it tomorrow. I cannot make it like my grandma did because my family cannot eat fried foods for health reasons, but the boiled way is delicious also.

    Reply
  9. Mellissa

    so do you boil them before you can prepare them in any dish? Like if I want to make them into fries, do I boil them first and then slice and bake them?

    Reply

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