Saturday, November 21, 2009

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

A classic southern pie made with spiced fresh sweet potatoes, topped with toasted pecans and drizzled with syrup.

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

Southern Sweet Potato Pie was one of three pies that nearly always graced our holiday tables growing up - along with pecan, and pumpkin - though I seem to recall that me and Mama were the only two who truly indulged in the sweet potato pie. Somewhat likened to pumpkin pie, and certainly seasoned similarly, they really are different from one another, and if you put the two side by side, I'd be able to identify which is which, as easy as I can tell if it's homemade or made from a canned sweet potato pie filling. Not that there's a thing wrong with whipping up a pie using canned pie filling, but like homemade pimento cheese versus a commercial pimento cheese product, you can usually spot homemade.

Sweet potato pie is certainly a southern favorite and super easy to throw together though, so why not make a homemade pie filling instead? Fresh whole sweet potatoes are best - it'll probably take about 2 large ones - but frozen already chopped up sweet potatoes will work, or use an equivalent amount of canned or mashed pure sweet potatoes. Just don't use the sweet potato pie filling - at least not for this recipe.

Even though sweet potato pie might be more recognized as a holiday regular, it's pretty much welcome anytime, so if you have a family reunion, potluck, church supper or other gathering coming up, double this recipe and bring a couple of pies and see how quickly they disappear.

Here's how I like to make this delectable southern favorite.

Peel, dice and cook the sweet potatoes and let cool slightly.  Add them to the bowl of your food processor and toss in the brown sugar, egg yolks, half and half, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Process until smooth. You can also do this in a blender, with a mixer or by hand.

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to a mixing bowl and whip until foamy.  Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until whites are stiff. They are ready when you can turn the bowl upside down without the whites sliding out.

Add the pureed sweet potato mixture to the whipped egg whites and gently fold together until blended. Don't whip it vigorously or you will break down the whipped whites.

Flute the edges of the pie crust and pour the filling in.

Sprinkle the top of the pie with the toasted pecans and drizzle with a bit of cane, sorghum or maple syrup.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until center is set. Enjoy!

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Recipe: Southern Sweet Potato Pie

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 50 min |
Yield: About 8 servings

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 large)
  • 3/4 cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell, homemade or commercial (Pillsbury recommended)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon cane, sorghum or maple syrup, optional
  • Fresh whipped cream

Steam or boil diced sweet potatoes until tender; set aside to cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a skillet until fragrant. Put sweet potatoes in a food processor together with the brown sugar, egg yolks, half and half, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slice up the butter and add. Process just until well blended.

In a mixer bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add in 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. You should be able to hold the mixing bowl upside down without the whipped egg whites sliding out. Add the sweet potato mixture to the whipped egg whites until blended well; turn out into pie shell. Sprinkle pecans on the top and drizzle top with syrup, if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until set. Shield the pie crust edges with aluminum foil about halfway thorough cooking time to avoid overbrowning. Let cool completely before cutting. Top with fresh whipped cream. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Cook's Notes: Substitute one large (29 ounce) can of whole sweet potatoes, drained and mashed, or one small (15 ounce) can of mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato puree. If you use a canned sweet potato in heavy syrup, you'll want to drain well and take care with any additional sugar. Taste the mash for sweetness first before adding any brown sugar, then add a little, taste and adjust. Do not use sweet potato pie filling for this recipe.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on November 21, 2009

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  1. I love the look of your pie! It's been awhile, many years actually, since I had sweet potato pie from my grandma. So delicious! Wish I could reach through this screen and try a piece!

  2. Wow! Love your blog!! I will check out the recipes for Thanksgiving. Happy Saturday SITS Sharefest!

  3. Your pie looks gorgeous and sounds utterly delicious...

  4. Aww these recipes look fantastic! Can't wait to give it shot! Thank you for yor site!u

  5. Hello from a fellow Mississippi food blogger! I noticed you were also writing for Eat. Drink. Mississippi, so I decided to come check out your recipes. I have already bought the stuff to make a sweet potato pie for my inlaws Thanksgiving, but I'm starting to second guess my decision. I may have to make this instead. . .

  6. Hi Lisa! Nice to meet you & hope you enjoy the pie - Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. This might sound like a silly question...but is the ginger that it calls for the dry ginger in the spice isle or is it actual ginger minced or chopped?

    1. No silly questions here! It's just the regular ground ginger from the spice aisle. I should probably clarify that - thanks!

  8. Hi, are your sweet potatoes yams or the white flesh sweet potatoes? I don't know the difference actually.. Thanks.

  9. Hi Karen! The orange flesh sweet potatoes are what I am referring to here on my site anytime that I talk about sweet potatoes or yams, not the white flesh variety. I talk a little more about them here on this post. Hope that helps!

  10. Great! My BF loves sweet potato pie and ever recipe I try isn't right. Anxious to try yours!

  11. My Gramma made THE BEST sweet potato pie, but I don't remember it having many, if any, spices in it and it had meringue. I remember it tasting more like the popular casserole we make at the holidays. Sure wish she was here to ask. I have never made one myself. I will need to give yours a whirl this year! Mary, have you ever had a fresh pumpkin pie made without the evaporated milk......more like a chess pie? If not I will share the recipe with you. It is da bomb, but don't even think about using canned pumpkin.....I'm pretty sure it's against the law! :)

    1. Boy don't I know that Diane - I wish my mama were still here for me to ask some things like just exactly how did she make those cafeteria rolls at my elementary school back in the day!!

      I would love to see that recipe Diane - you can just shoot it to me on email if you like Thanks!

  12. Would you believe I've never tasted sweet potato pie? My reluctance goes back many, many years. Actually, I had never eaten a sweet potato until about 6 or so years ago, and I just turned 54. My "exposure" to sweet potatoes was pretty much limited to Thanksgiving & Christmas in the form of candied yams and I did not like them at all because they were entirely too sweet, which led me to believe that sweet potatoes were also too sweet. Back to six or so years ago....a dear friend talked me into taking just one bite of a baked sweet potato that had only some butter and a little salt. It was love at first bite and I've never looked back. Sweeties have become a staple in my kitchen but I've still been reluctant to try sweet potato pie, probably because I'm still thinking it will be too sweet. However, your recipe doesn't appear to contain too much sugar. Maybe when my sister comes to visit next month we will try this together. Thanks for sharing the recipe! Renee

    1. Hi Renee! I can believe it - some sweet potato dishes are sickeningly sweet especially when it comes to the Southern favorite casserole with marshmallows on top! My favorite way to eat sweet potatoes are just baked, split open and with salt and butter, though a pinch of fresh black pepper or Cajun seasoning is nice too for a little heat.

  13. Hi! I usually make grandma's sweet potato pie. However, I am cutting down sugar intake and I was looking for a recipe that has that. I noticed that yours did not alot of sugar. I am going to try it on Thanksgiving. I hope it still has the sweetness that I like. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Can I bake the sweet potatoes instead of boiling them? Will it change the consistency at all?

  15. What is the purpose of the cream of tartar? Can I omit if this is the only time I will ever use this ingredient?

    1. Hi Tim! I always use cream of tartar when I whip egg whites. It acts as a stabilizer and provides more loft but if you wouldn't use it, just omit.

  16. Hi Mary, why no egg yolks? And how come we gotta whip those whites and use that instead of just whole eggs? Just curious. I trust all your recipes 🙌

    1. You are using the egg yolks in the filling, but whipping the egg whites before folding them in, helps to prevent an overly dense pie. Makes it lighter!

  17. I have tried several sweet potato pie recipes this season and yours is the best. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I wanted to try this pie, but your restriction on copy & paste prevents that. I have bad eyes and I copy & paste to my word processor in order to blow it up enough for me to see and then I print. I tried blowing it up to 200% in print option but it gets distorted and shifted and prints right off the side of the paper.. Oh well.. :(

    1. My apologies & I understand your frustration, however, there is only a restriction on downloading the photographs due to theft. There has been a problem with folks taking photos from blogs like this and then matching them up with other recipes that don't even go with the photo, then republishing them that way. There is no restriction on copying and pasting the text. Please try again!


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