Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Southern Candied Yams (Sweet Potatoes)

Sweet potatoes baked in a spiced, sugar syrup.

Candied Yams

We eat a lot of sweet potatoes here in the Deep South, and especially in Mississippi and Louisiana, because they are state crops for us, fresh and in abundance, especially in the fall and winter months.

They always show up on our holiday tables of course, often in the form of gooey sweet potato casseroles covered in traditional marshmallows or a pecan praline topping, or dripping in a sugary syrup. Even with those dishes appearing on the table, you're also very likely to see a platter of them simply baked. We eat them year round that way!

Mama made them, and my mother in law always has them on the table for every major holiday dinner. I eat them very simply - just split and topped with butter mostly, maybe a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar if I'm feeling adventurous. Some folks make them into mini sweet potato casseroles by mashing the pulp with some butter and spices and topping them with a pecan praline mixture or mini marshmallows before passing them under the broiler.

I call this recipe candied yams, because, well, that's what we call our sweet potatoes prepared this way in the South, even though we are well aware that they are not a true yam.

Here in The South, the terms "sweet potatoes" and "yams" are used synonyomously, as one and the same, though most often, when a recipe calls for "yams" they are often referring to canned sweet potatoes. If you look carefully, somewhere in small type on the label of yams, you'll usually find the words "sweet potatoes."

I talk about all that in a bit more detail on my sweet potato post, which includes a number of ways to prepare them, from good ole baked to french fried, roasted, grilled and this yummy twice-baked version.

Just eat 'em - they're good!

Here's another great way to enjoy them and it's very simple. Unless you are cooking them in a skillet on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, you really do need to pre-cook sweet potatoes for this dish, otherwise they take much longer to cook completely through in the oven, will often still be raw in the center, and you risk burning the syrup and making the whole dish bitter. The good news is that it's something that you can do ahead of time.

Once they've cooled, peel them, cut them into chunks, or slices about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in size, layer them into your casserole dish, make the syrup, pour over, toss and bake!

Recipe: Southern Candied Yams (Sweet Potatoes)

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 35 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 pounds of raw sweet potatoes, about 4 medium, cooked
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, optional
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-1/2 quart or 8 x 8 inch baking dish; set aside. Peel and slice or cut cooked sweet potatoes into chunks and layer into prepared dish, seasoning with salt in between layers.

Place water and sugars into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes, or until sugars are well dissolved. Add the spices, pepper and butter; stir in until butter is completely melted. Pour mixture over the sweet potatoes and gently toss to coat all of the pieces; taste and adjust for seasonings.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until fork tender, basting several times using a spoon or a bulb baster, to avoid breaking up the sweet potatoes. Remove and baste again before serving.

Cook's Notes: Boil sweet potatoes whole and unpeeled until tender, about 10 minutes, or may also bake at 400 degrees F for about 45-50 minutes, or just until fork tender. Actual times will be dependent on size. You want them tender but not mushy. Set aside until cool enough to handle for peeling and slicing. May be prepared in advance. I prefer to use a light brown sugar, but if you like a heavier molasses flavor, use dark. I also use unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, take care with additional salt, adjusting as needed, to taste. Double in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish for the holidays.

Slow Cooker: Peel and carefully slice raw sweet potatoes; add to slow cooker. Prepare syrup as above and pour over sweet potatoes. Toss, cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, checking first at 4 hours, or until tender, gently tossing several times.

Stovetop: Peel and carefully slice raw sweet potatoes and place into a large skillet. Prepare the syrup as above and pour all over the sweet potatoes. Toss, cover and cook over very low for about 1 hour, or until tender, gently stirring several times.

For Praline Yams: Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the syrup and pour over the cooked sweet potatoes; toss and bake as above.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

Requires Adobe Reader - download it free!
©Deep South Dish
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.

Check These Recipes Out Too!

Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
Ways to Cook Sweet Potatoes - Baked and More
Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Posted by on November 26, 2013

Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Recipes are offered for your own personal use only and while pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, please do not copy and paste to repost or republish elsewhere such as other Facebook pages, blogs, websites, or forums without explicit prior permission. All rights reserved.

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Oh yea, we can't have Thanksgiving without candied yams! They are one of the favorites at our table, but I confess I always bake them and top them with marshmallows too. I love your addition of spices Mary.

    1. I pretty much love them all - especially the casserole with gooey marshmallows! Happy Thanksgiving Lynda!!

  2. I am a yam lover too. I just like to bake mine and then eat like a baked potato, butter, and black pepper, and a little salt on them. So yummy, and good for you, too.

  3. Here in Canada, many families also include Sweet Potatoes (Yams) in our holiday menus. I bake them ahead of time in the oven. Scoop out and mash the potato and add butter, salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a casserole dish and drizzle 2 or 3 Tablespoons of 100% Pure Canadian Maple Syrup on top. When the turkey comes out the oven, the dish is put in to reheat. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

  4. I just discovered your blog and I am so excited! You're a woman after my heart! I was born in Southern Mississippi and grew up in Louisiana, so reading through your recipes makes me feel like I'm visiting with my late mother and grandparents. I haven't had candied yams in ages. Thank you for the memories and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Aw Ally, thank you so much and welcome! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!

  5. Just this week, I had a post on my blog about how I cook sweet potatoes. I bought 80 lbs. from a sweet potato farm for twenty-five cents per pound. I absolutely love sweet potatoes. Sometimes I bake them and use in my pumpkin pie recipe and my pumpkin bread recipe.

    1. Whoa! 80 pounds!! Guess there will be sweet potatoes in your future for a bit!!

  6. Just in time...I am taking Candied Sweet Potatoes to our Thanksgiving meal. Growing up, I was in charge of making this...butter and brown sugar in a cast iron skillet and continually basting. I love the idea of adding the spices! I will be taking this recipe today! Thanks also for the other cooking methods...I will do mine on the stove top...full oven... :)

  7. We like them, and call them candied sweet potatoes in the west. I have no idea if they are yams or sweet potatoes...but just like you, we eat 'em, they're good! Your way sounds real yummy!

  8. I love making this dish ,my grandmother from
    Natchitoches , LA. Sweet potatoes is our favorite.

    1. I eat them just about every way you can make them but you know my favorite is still simply baked with a little butter!

  9. I happened upon this website because I had pinned a recipe for hoecakes on one of my Pinterest pages and I just have to say these dishes all sound good enough to make me slap my mama! Lord help me--I'll never lose those 15 pounds with this many good recipes to cook up. Thanks for making a Mississippi girl who's living up in Kentucky, aka The Frozen North, very happy.

    1. Tell me about it - I'm a gal who loves food & hates exercise, but I decided to start a southern recipe site! Go figure, LOL!! Welcome to Deep South Dish and I hope this will bring a little taste of home to you up in Kentucky!

  10. I love these. Although I'll admit...I was lazy this year. I prepared Thanksgiving dinner for just the BF and I, and I was slack with the yams. I used a can of Bruce's, mashed them SLIGHTLY with my tater masher (leaving big chunks), mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon, then heated...then, I dropped a huge handful of marshmallows in the pan and put the lid on until they melted. Talk about lazy, but they were good!

    1. I am very familiar with Bruce's and Sugary Sams. Those make a delicious casserole dish!!

  11. These completely remind me of my grandmother, who made them like this all the time.

  12. Thanks! My grandma from Alabama made candied yams, and I have fond memories of them. I'll be trying to re-create her dish soon.

  13. You should include the time it takes to pre cook the yams at the beginning of the recipe.

    1. Hi Kyle! You probably just didn't read far enough, but I included directions on how to cook them in the "Cook's Note" portion of the recipe - both for boiling and for baking, though, of course, it also depends on their size.

  14. Just made these yesterday for Canadian Thanksgiving. Delicious and a big hit!

  15. Just discovered your site. Been on it for hours. Can't stop the merry-go-round. Been cooking in my restaurants for past 58 years and love every minute of it. I'm 75 years old and still working in the kitchen...great ideas I got from your site. What a great public service.

    1. I started this recipe blog after Hurricane Katrina when my long held job went west & didn't want to & then the economy tanked shortly after, making it impossible for a near 50 year old woman to find work in my field. I've enjoying cooking and sharing my recipes - it's a labor of love for sure. Thanks so much for your kind words today!


Thanks for taking the time to comment - I love hearing from readers and I read every single comment and try to respond to them right here on the site, so stop back by!

From time to time, anonymous restrictions and/or comment moderation may be activated due to comment spam. I also reserve the right to edit, delete or otherwise exercise total editorial discretion over any comments left on this blog.

Related Posts with Thumbnails