Candied Yams {Sweet Potatoes}

November 7, 2020

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Candied Yams – A classic Thanksgiving side dish that’s actually made with sweet potatoes (often referred to as yams), brown sugar, and here browned butter. This is my absolute favorite way to make them!

Close up image of candied yams on a red and white decorative side plate.

Candied Yams

The thing that really sets these apart from other candied yams is the browned butter.

I started using browned butter in many of my sweet potato recipes because it really is the ultimate way to upgrade sweet potatoes.

It perfectly compliments that sweet flavor while bringing a nutty, caramel-like flavor to the dish.

Once you try it this way you’ll never look back! It’s easily worth the few extra minutes to brown the butter.

When a vegetable becomes a total treat everyone will love them!

Image of ingredients used to make candied yams. Includes sweet potatoes, brown sugar, cream, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, vanilla and cornstarch.

Candied Yams Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes: Often these are referred to as yams so there’s quite a bit of confusion there. Look for garnet or jewel variety (red or orange peels).
  • Salted butter: Unsalted butter will work too, just increase salt to 1 tsp.
  • Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar here so it doesn’t overpower the browned butter.
  • Vanilla extract: This gives it a great flavor boost.
  • Salt: A critical ingredient to balance all the sweetness here.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger: The spices give it that classic autumn flavor. If you don’t love all of them then just use cinnamon.
  • Heavy cream: Why not add even a little more richness? A classic ingredient in Southern candied yams.
  • Cornstarch: This helps thicken up the sauce a bit.

Collage image of first four steps to make candied yams.

How to Make Candied Yams

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Layer sweet potatoes in rows in baking dish, set aside.
  3. Place butter pieces in a medium light colored skillet. Set over medium heat and let cook, stirring frequently until it has just browned. Right away pour into a medium heat proof mixing bowl so it doesn’t continue cooking.
  4. To butter add brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and stir to combined.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together cream and cornstarch until smooth and well combined (don’t worry if it’s runnier than that pictured, mine usually is). Pour cream mixture and vanilla into brown sugar mixture and whisk to blend well.
  6. Pour brown sugar mixture evenly over sweet potatoes in baking dish. Cover dish with foil.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 50 – 60 minutes until potatoes are nearly tender.
    Uncover, spoon sauce in dish over potatoes and continue to bake 10 – 20 minutes longer until potatoes are fully tender.
  8. Let cool slightly, then serve warm with sauce spooned over top.

Collage image of last four steps to make candied yams.

VARIATIONS

Can I use canned yams/sweet potatoes?

Yes here are the modifications:

  • Use 3 (29 oz) cans.
  • Since they come in light syrup be sure to drain well.
  • Reduce brown sugar to 3/4 cup.
  • Reduce bake time to just 25 minutes baking uncovered.

Do you have to place potatoes in rows?

No. You can just add to baking dish, then toss occasionally during baking so they bake evenly. Cover during baking still, as directed.

Can sweet potatoes be diced?

Yes, instead of cutting into round slices sweet potatoes can also just be cut into cubes instead. If going this route toss occasionally during baking for even cooking.

Can I add marshmallows or pecans?

Yes either can be used.

  • For marshmallows: just wait until the last 3 minutes to add. Increase temp to 450 to bake with marshmallows. Use about 3 cups.
  • For pecans: Wait to sprinkle over until the last 15 minutes. Use about 1 cup chopped.

Candied yams. Sweet potatoes are shown in rows in a casserole dish, they are coated in a butter, brown sugar sauce.Tips for the Best Candied Yams

  • Work to cut sweet potatoes evenly thick so they cook more evenly and finish at the same time.
  • Careful not to burn butter, but do let it cook long enough to get some rich color.
  • As the dish cools the sauce will tend to want separate, the solution is just to plate potatoes and stir to bind back together.

More Delicious Sweet Potato Recipes to Try

Candied Yams {Sweet Potatoes}

A classic Thanksgiving side dish that's actually made with sweet potatoes (not yams), brown sugar, and here browned butter. This is my absolute favorite way to make them!
Servings: 12
Prep20 minutes
Cook1 hour 20 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, sliced into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 1 cup (220g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Align sweet potatoes in rows in baking dish, set aside.
  • Place butter pieces in a medium light colored skillet. Set over medium heat and let cook, stirring frequently until it has just browned. Right away pour into a medium heat proof mixing bowl so it doesn't continue cooking.
  • Add brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to butter and mix.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together cream and cornstarch until smooth and well combined. Pour cream mixture and vanilla into brown sugar mixture and whisk to blend well.
  • Pour brown sugar mixture evenly over sweet potatoes in baking dish. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake in preheated oven 50 - 60 minutes until potatoes are nearly tender.
  • Uncover, spoon sauce in dish over potatoes and continue to bake 10 - 20 minutes longer until potatoes are fully tender.
  • Serve warm with sauce spooned over top.
Nutrition Facts
Candied Yams {Sweet Potatoes}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 290 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 27mg9%
Sodium 303mg13%
Potassium 538mg15%
Carbohydrates 49g16%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 24g27%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 21760IU435%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.