Candied Sweet Potatoes

Let me show you how to make my favorite easy Thanksgiving side: candied sweet potatoes! They’re soft, buttery, extra saucy, caramelized, and sweet. I especially love this Thanksgiving side dish because you can prepare the elements of this recipe ahead of time AND purchase the ingredients in advance, too.

candied sweet potatoes

Forever my favorite Thanksgiving side dish, these classic candied sweet potatoes make an appearance on our holiday table every year. (I’m surprised I haven’t shared the recipe with you before– these are the best!) In fact, we love them so much that we don’t limit this recipe to only once per year. I love these for Christmas, Easter, or a random Sunday night throughout the year. They’re full of flavor and as far as Thanksgiving side dishes go, they’re REALLY easy.

These Candied Sweet Potatoes Are:

  • Soft & buttery
  • Caramelized on the edges
  • Absolutely packed with flavor: vanilla, brown sugar, maple, cinnamon, & ginger
  • Even better with orange zest, rosemary, & sea salt
  • Your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish too

I also appreciate that you don’t have to pre-cook the sweet potatoes. Unlike sweet potato casserole where you boil and mash the potatoes, this candied sweet potatoes recipe simply needs thick slices of peeled potatoes. Easy enough, right?

And the best part of all? You can purchase all of the ingredients NOW so you aren’t rushing around Thanksgiving week.

candied sweet potatoes

How to Make Candied Sweet Potatoes

Let me quickly break down the steps before leaving you with the recipe.

  1. Pick up your sweet potatoes. You need 3-4 pounds, about 5 or 6 medium sweet potatoes. Look for sweet potatoes with a reddish/copper skin that’s smooth and firm. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to use. Sweet potatoes are commonly sold as “yams” but it’s unlikely they’re actually yams.
  2. Peel & slice sweet potatoes. When you’re ready to make this dish, peel the potatoes and slice into 1/2 inch slices. The thickness of the slices is important because (1) any smaller and the slices will over-cook and (2) any larger and the slices will under-cook. Place potato slices in a large casserole dish and toss with salt.
  3. Make the sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients into a pot, boil 2 minutes, then stir in vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is a recent (and welcome) addition to our family recipe because it adds SO much flavor. Just wait until you smell the sauce when you stir in that vanilla– you’ll already know you’re making something delicious!
  4. Pour over sweet potatoes. Pour sauce over potatoes and toss everything together so the sauce evenly coats all the slices.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Stop and stir the sweet potatoes every 20 minutes to ensure the sauce caramelizes on each potato.

candied sweet potato ingredients

Buttery Brown Sugar Maple Sauce

These sweet potatoes would be nothing without the magical sauce. A recipe that we’ve been tweaking and perfecting over the years, the combination of ingredients is perfection.

Here are the ingredients you need:

  1. Butter: Butter is the base of the sauce. (And, honestly, why it’s so good!)
  2. Water: A few Tablespoons of water help liquify the sauce– it’s too thick without it.
  3. Brown Sugar: Name a better ingredient suited for sweet potatoes!
  4. Maple Syrup: Pure maple syrup adds incomparable flavor to this Thanksgiving side dish. The recipe is good without it, but even better with its addition. Skip “breakfast syrup” and reach for pure maple.
  5. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, & Ginger: This dish includes the season’s favorite warming spices. The ginger adds a bright burst of flavor.
  6. Vanilla Extract: Again, vanilla extract is a welcome addition. Stir it into the sauce after you remove the pot from heat.

The sauce thins out as it bakes due to the water content in the potatoes, but quickly thickens as it cools. Thick or thin, you’ll want to slurp up this sauce with a straw. Plus, it tastes fantastic with those other Thanksgiving dishes on your plate too! 😉

brown sugar maple sauce on sweet potatoes

Finishing Touches for Candied Sweet Potatoes

When I made these candied sweet potatoes earlier this month, I added orange zest to the sauce. This is totally optional, but it added an element of FRESH to the entire dish. Likewise, adding chopped fresh or dried rosemary after the dish bakes is equally refreshing. And to balance out the sweet, I love a sprinkle of sea salt all over the top.

This dish has it all: sweet, salty, fresh, buttery, saucy, soft, and caramelized. It doesn’t get much better than this:

candied sweet potatoes

More Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes:

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candied sweet potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These perfect candied sweet potatoes are soft, buttery, extra saucy, caramelized, and sweet. I especially love this Thanksgiving side dish because you can prepare the elements of this recipe ahead of time AND purchase the ingredients in advance, too.


Ingredients

  • 56 medium sweet potatoes (34 lbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • optional for garnish: chopped fresh or dried rosemary, sea salt

Instructions

  1. Peel then slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place in a greased 9×13 inch or other 3 quart baking dish. Sprinkle salt on top and toss to coat. I just use nonstick spray to grease.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
  3. Make the sauce: Cut stick of butter in half. (Helps it melt easier.) Combine all the butter, water, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the butter has melted. Stop stirring and bring to a gentle boil. Boil for 2 minutes without stirring. Remove sauce from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. (And orange zest, if using.)
  4. Pour sauce over potatoes and toss to coat.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, stopping and stirring the sweet potatoes every 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, I cover the dish with aluminum foil so the potatoes bake evenly.
  6. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt (if using), then cool uncovered for 10 minutes before serving. The sauce is thin right out of the oven but thickens as it cools.
  7. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Sauce will be thick after refrigeration, but thins out as you warm the leftovers up. Simply warm in the microwave.

Notes

  1. Make ahead tip: You can peel & slice the sweet potatoes 1 day ahead of time. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. You can prepare the sauce on the stove (step 3) 1-2 days ahead of time. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until thin and liquid-y, then continue with step 4. Dish can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then cover with aluminum foil and warm in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 25 minutes or until warm throughout.

Keywords: sweet potato, thanksgiving, side dish

63 Comments

    1. Hi Amanda, these are very sweet as written and I think adding marshmallow on top would be a little too much. If you want to try it, I would slightly reduce the sugar in the sauce.

      1. If you slice the sweet potatoes 1 day in advance AND make the sauce, can you combine them and store together in the fridge overnight or should they be kept separately? If kept separately, do you recommend reheating the sauce before adding?

      2. Hi Hilary! I recommend keeping the prepared potatoes and sauce separate, then combining right before baking. Warm sauce on the stove until liquid-y again, then combine with potatoes.

  1. Really similar to my family’s candied yams recipe. We also take one pineapple chunk and put it on each yam slice and then broil marshmallows on top.

  2. Candied sweet potatoes are my favorite! I have the best recipe that I’ve used forever and I’ve converted many people who say that they “don’t like” candied sweet potatoes. That being said, I’m going to take your tip and try adding vanilla extract to them this year because that sounds amazing.

  3. Your speaking my language with being able to buy ingredients now! My son has a dairy allergy, I think I may give these a shot with Earth Balance “butter” – may not taste quite as indulgent, but I bet it’ll still be delicious.

    1. Looks delicious! I’m going to add these to my Thanksgiving menu this year. Can this recipe be made in a slow cooker (to save oven space)? How long/what temperature would you recommend?

      1. I haven’t tried these in a slow cooker, but it should be fine on low. You will lose that slight caramelized texture on the potatoes though.

    2. I’ve done these with the country crock plant butters and they turned out amazing so I’ sure Earth Balance would work well too.

      1. I haven’t tried the new country crock plant butter yet, but I need too! I ended up making these yesterday with coconut oil since I was out of earth balance, and they came out heavenly.

  4. Sally now please show us your cranberry sauce recipe or one for your turkey. Or maybe add a cranberry sauce muffins recipe/quick bread.

  5. Sweet potatoes are my very favorite side dish! I usually do the sweet potato casserole, but this would be nice for a change. Trader Joe’s sells the little package of salty sweet pecans, and I think those would be amazing on this! Thanks, Sally!

      1. Sally— I just made these for Thanksgiving & they were a hit! Here were my “tweaks”— I only used 3/4 c. Brown sugar, I added 1 1/2 apples, peeled & sliced & about 1/4c. Candied pecans. I sliced the potatoes & made the sauce a day ahead, then cooked it today. The orange zest was amazing! Love this recipe & will have the leftovers for breakfast, cuz, why not?

  6. Looks delicious. I like mine really glazed and not runny. Is there a reason you do not peel the sweet potatoes, slice and partially boil in salt water and then add the sauce and bake? I am just curious because that it the only way I have done them.

    1. Hi Candice! I’ve actually never prepared them that way. Does the boiling step help the sauce adhere better? If you decide to try this recipe, you can always reduce the maple syrup or water so it’s a little less liquid-y.

      1. Not sure it makes the sauce adhere better, it is the only way my Mom done them but I think it helps remove moisture from the potatoes. My recipe is pineapple juice, white granulated sugar and butter. My family never added spices and vanilla which would really bring alot of flavor and the maple sugar and what a wonderful idea to use orange peel to brighten and flavor the potatoes. You know your stuff! I am going to have to give your recipe a try. I love trying someone else’s recipes and your recipes are always great. I know some people par-boil their peeled and cubed sweet potatoes with sugar! They swear by it. I am going to do a little experimenting! Thank you for putting so much passion and work into all your recipes.

    2. I also learned to boil the sweet potatoes first. Which I have already done earlier today before I just now found your recipe. It would be great to skip that step and much easier. Next time I make these I will definitely try it your way, by just making with the raw potatoes. I also wanted to add that I make mine with apple juice instead of water, I just use only cinnamon because I don’t like ginger nor nutmeg, the rest is the same as yours. I also add some amaretto, my mom always used apricot brandy which was good but I love amaretto!

  7. This looks absolutely delious! I have made a lot of your savory recipes and have really enjoyed them. So appreciate another Thanksgiving side dish recipe and I’ll make this next week for a trial run before the big day. Oh darn!!

    1. I haven’t tried these in a slow cooker, but it should be fine on low. You will lose that slight caramelized texture on the potatoes though.

    1. Hi Anita! I haven’t tried these in a slow cooker so I’m not sure of the result. It shouldn’t be a problem with the slow cooker set on low. You will lose that slight caramelized texture though.

  8. Hi Sally,
    Hosting my first Thanksgiving! Is it possible to cook this at 350 instead? What time adjustments would need to be made if so?
    Thank you!!

  9. I want to make these for a potluck for work… do you think I could keep these on warm in a crock-pot after cooking? Thanks in advance!!

  10. Sally, how would you recommend making a smaller quantity? The recipe above serves 8-10 but I need something in the range of 4-6. It’s only my husband and I, and he can’t eat sweet potatoes (medical diet, they’re high in potassium … and he doesn’t care for them). So basically, something that would serve 4-6 people would be the right quantity for me to have a meal and have leftovers two or three times. Thanks for any suggestion!

    1. Hi Mary! You can easily halve this recipe– the potato quantity and sauce ingredients, too. The potatoes may only take about 40-45 minutes in the oven.

      1. Thanks for the response — I wanted to ask because some recipes, particularly candies and baked goods, don’t always halve or double well and I wasn’t certain if the sugar/butter mix would still come together as a syrup after being halved. I’ll give this a try. Thanks again!

  11. Where I live Yams are orange fleshed and Sweet Potatoes are a pale yellow. I take it that this recipe would be for my Yams?
    Love your recipes and excited to make this one.

  12. This was almost my recipe but tried adding the vanilla and it’s great. I boil my sweet potatoes until tender, cool and remove the skin and the sauce adheres better. I also substituted ground cloves for the ginger and I add a 1/4 cup of Amaretto to the sauce while I’m making it. It adds a more sophisticated taste and even the kids like it.

    1. Hi Beverly, unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes don’t really turn brown or change in texture when exposed to air. Regardless, they will be soaked in sauce and baked anyway. 🙂

  13. I’m always slightly annoyed at the person who asks about substituting something completely different (like “can I sub a turkey leg for the feta cheese?”) but now I’ll be that person :). What do you think about this recipe with halved carrots? I love sweet potatoes but I’m thinking of this to go with a prime rib dinner at Xmas. Just a thought!! I love *everything* you post!!

    1. Hahaha – I don’t recommend turkey legs for feta 😉 but you should be able to use carrots here! I haven’t tried it but please let me know if you do!!

      1. Happy Post Tgiving! I tried this w/carrots & it was amazing! I cut back a little on the spices and subbed orange juice for water. Also subbed honey for half the brown sugar. Ok – different recipe but SOOOO good. I think I speak for all of your followers by saying we love and trust your recipes and LOVE when you go “off-brand” a little with entrees, sides and apps!!

  14. Good Morning Sally! As I type this I am making the candied yams & they SMELL so good. I followed the recipe as follows but I omitted the ginger as we don’t care for it. I have NEVER used maple syrup or ANY syrup for that matter & I’m sure my Mother is shaking her finger at me(LOL). But I am so happy to NOT have to boil the potatoes FIRST! I think it loses some flavor so THANK YOU again for making life a little easier in the kitchen. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you & your family!

  15. Made these today for Thanksgiving! Absolutely delicious! I added a cup of chopped pecans and did put some marshmallows on top last 20 minutes! Everyone loved them. They will be a traditional dish for years to come!

  16. Hi, I always use marshmellows in my sweet potatoes and they love them, but sometimes I cant get the sauce thick enough should I ADD MORE SUGAR?

    1. Hi Denise, The sauce thins out as it bakes due to the water content in the potatoes, but it should quickly thicken as it cools. I have not tried adding marshmallows to this particular recipe, although some people do toast marshmallows on top of this recipe instead of the pecan crumble: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/simple-sweet-potato-casserole-with-a-crunchy-pecan-crumble/

  17. This is the perfect Candied Sweet Potatoes! I used orange zest and left out the rosemary. This recipes a keeper!

  18. I made this recipe pretty much to the t, and they were so delicious. Perfect addition to all the other thanksgiving day dishes! I have never had candied sweet potatoes before and I must say I will definitely make them again year! I also made Sallys butternut squash mac n cheese, green bean casserole, pear and cranberry crisp!! All came out great. After having the homeade green bean casserole I can never go back the canned stuff. Thank you Sally!! Im going to have to make a Sallys Christmas menu as well 🙂

  19. We made these for Thanksgiving and they were the best sweet potatoes I have ever had! The spices with the orange zest is genius. I would not have said I was a fan of candied sweet potatoes before having these. I will be finding a reason to make them again before next Thanksgiving.

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