This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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 in a baking dish

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.
  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.

2 images of peeled sweet potatoes and ingredients for candied sweet potatoes in a saucepan

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! 😉

pouring brown sugar maple sauce on sweet potatoes and mixing the sauce into the 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:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
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 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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.


  • 56 medium sweet potatoes (34 lbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) 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


  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.


  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

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. I made 4 potatoes as an experiment came great, using real maple syrup. So today 1 day before Thanksgiving I made over5 lbs the same way but I ran out of real maple syrup, and used aunt Jemima ( which has corn syrup and etc. in it) did exactly the same way, but when cooled down after baking the sauce got hard as glass??? Could the fake syrup be the problem:-(

      1. Hi Linda, the syrup could be the culprit here. Pure maple syrup is best. Did you make any other ingredient substitutions by chance?

  1. Are they just as good making the day before then just warming them up?

  2. Made for Easter. They were a hit with everyone. I only used the brown sugar, butter and bit of water. That was all I needed from this recipe. Next time I’ll use orange rind and some spices.

  3. These were my favorite way I’ve had sweet potatoes or yams. I only had 3 potatoes but I love a lot of sauce so I doubled the batch(used about 3/4 of that) and added two table spoons of honey as well. After placing in the pan I sprinkled a healthy amount of the dark brown sugar on top and added drops of honey to the top. I made this with a pork roast in the oven so I had to bake them on 300 for 1 1/2 hours. They came out perfect! I love brown sugar and honey…the other spices added a great flavor to these potatoes.

    1. Lol. Tracie must be from the North. They take the sugar out if everything and they have never understood that desserts are supposed to be sweet. Poor girl. They are very good.

      1. Actually I can’t speak for Tracie, but I am a northern girl. We love healthy food and I serve this dish as a side not a dessert. IfHave you heard of diabetes??

      2. Jon,
        Hey now, I’m a Northerner and I don’t vilify sugar eaters from atop my judgy throne! LOL
        It annoys me beyond measure when people complain about desserts and/or obvious sweet dishes (such as this one) being too sweet or having too much sugar. If someone has an aversion to sugar–why are they looking at a recipe for CANDIED Sweet Potatoes?? Hmmmm….yes, that’s a head scratcher! This recipe looks perfectly delicious…(as everything from Sally’s Baking Addiction does)….and I cannot wait to serve it on Thanksgiving!

      3. You are an idiot, Jon. Being a Northerner myself, that is simply not true. You must be from the South. I made this recipe- with all of the sugar lol- and it turned out great. Instead of orange peel, I used fresh lemon zest and added it late in the cooking process, last 20 minutes or so. Would definitely make this again

  4. I substituted spiced rum for vanilla, didn’t have any bourbon or would have tried that!!

  5. Any way of making this with just the pure maple syrup instead of adding
    brown sugar?

    1. Hi Cheryl, we don’t recommend eliminating the brown sugar completely, but you can try reducing the sugar to 2/3 C. You might also enjoy this sweet potato casserole which is made with only 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the full cup here. Let us know what you try!

  6. I’m going to make this recipe. It sounds delicious and not having to cook the yams before baking the dish sounds like a great idea! The orange zest and fresh rosemary fragrances have to be phenomenal with the spices as they waft through the kitchen!

  7. The basics of this recipe are what I learned from my mother and have been baking myself for the past 50 years, like the ingredients used by @celeste f. I’m excited about the addition of the spices and orange zest! It can only make it better in nuance and depth of flavor.
    I do par-bake the sweet potatoes for two reasons. 1. They are incredibly easy to peel when cooked and cooled. 2. I use authentic, unrefined, dark brown sugar. Most brown sugar that is available in stores is reconstituted from refined white sugar and molasses to approximate unrefined brown sugar. My brown sugar has a higher molasses content and must be cooked for a shorter time to prevent burning. The caramelization from this brown sugar is to die for!
    @Cherri Huebner Yes! Make a double recipe so that you will have leftovers. They are still, maybe even more, delicious the next day.
    @Tracie Yes, they are extremely sweet, the amount of brown sugar and maple syrup called for in the recipe indicates that will be the result. The name of the recipe is Candied Sweet Potatoes and is completely apropos. If you don’t want sweet, stay away from recipes with ‘candied’ in the name.
    @Mel Cambel Seriously? Diabetes? I make this recipe twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Special occasions of celebration that call for indulgence and tradition. Enjoy the recipe for what it is. As you said, it’s a side dish. No one is going to eat the entire dish by themself.

    1. Eva, here is your virtual standing ovation! Nicely put! I agree 100%! I might try to par bake myself….Happy Thanksgiving!

      1. I appreciate the make-ahead tips. If you cut the potatoes the day before and store in refrig, do you have to cover them with water like regular potatoes. Thank you.

  8. Just wanted to say thank you for the recipe! I’m an avid Pinterest pinner, but only make about 1% of the things I’ve pinned! I have to say I’ve made this 3 times now! and please visit us:

  9. Making these today. I try to eat healthy, but I see nothing wrong with once in a while. I’m making these with ham, pineapple stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked beans and steamed asparagus. I think the potatoes will be a perfect compliment. Will respond after eating them

  10. I grew up with sweet potatoes similar to these. I made these tonight. Did not use the orange zest or rosemary even though it sounds like it would be delicious. Instead of maple syrup I used Steens cane syrup. When I tasted them a flood of amazing childhood memories flowed through my head. Wow! Plan to freeze and heat for Thanksgiving. Thanks so very much!

  11. Can I bake the dish the night before, cover, refrigerate and reheat the next day?

    1. Hi Alma, absolutely — see recipe notes for make ahead instructions.

    1. Hi Muddah, we haven’t tried these in a slow cooker so we’re 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. Let us know what you try!

      1. Thank you so much for your response! If I try the crockpot I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    1. Hi Leslie, you can use salted butter. You may wish to reduce the salt in the recipe.

  12. The recipe is labeled “sweet potatoes” but I think you used yams. Will the flavor be the same?

  13. Wow, this is a great recipe! I was planning on making this for one of my Thanksgiving Day sides, so I wanted to test it first. I cut the recipe into 1/4 and was keeping my fingers crossed it was good. I’m not kidding, it totally knocked my shoes AND my socks off! Not only does it taste and look beautiful …it also smells so great while it is cooking too. Plus the fact that I can make the 2 parts ahead of time is a great help to me. Thank you so much for posting and I am sure I will be asked to pass on the recipe. Happy Thanksagiving to all!

  14. Recipe was a huge hit at recent Friendsgiving! I did 1 & 1/2 the recipe and added a bit more cinnamon and vanilla, along with a few traditional marshmallows roasted at the end for that authentic holiday feeling. They were perfect!

  15. Just wow! I’ve always done candied sweet potatoes with just brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. The additional spices and the maple syrup really took it to the next level. I didn’t have nutmeg on hand and was too lazy to run to the store, so I used ground mace instead. Best part was not having to pre-cook the sweet potatoes. Glad I made them in advance, because I baked them for 1.5 hours, and they could still stand to be baked longer. The potatoes are tender, but the sauce didn’t thicken enough for my liking. When I reheat them, I’ll probably go with an hour to make the sauce get more glaze-like. Overall extremely happy, and this will now hold a permanent place on my Thanksgiving menu!

  16. I love your recipes…they are the best I’ve ever found, always hitting home with texture and flavor…never too sweet, it’s amazing. So…I really want to use this candied sweet potato recipe. But family tradition calls for a layer marshmallows melted on top—would that work for this recipe?

    1. Hi Emily, These are very sweet as written and adding marshmallow on top might be a little too much. If you want to try it, we would slightly reduce the sugar in the sauce. Let us know how it goes!

  17. If I prep the potatoes and the sauce in advance, may I combine them? Or do I need to keep them separate until it’s time to cook?

    1. Hi Deborah, we 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. Done! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Sauce looks and smells great. Can’t wait for the finished product!

      2. I made these last year and they were incredible but I’d like to try prepping today for tomorrow. Do the sliced potato’s turn brown overnight in the fridge if I follow the directions for making ahead and keeping sauce separate?

  18. Can these be made in a sauce pan on top of the stove? Oven will be doing double duty tomorrow and I won’t have the time and space to bake them.

    1. Hi Bj, we’ve only ever baked them before. I’m not sure if you can achieve the same texture on the stove, but let us know if you test it.

  19. Thoughts on not peeling the potatoes and just slicing them? I kinda really love potato skin.

  20. Can these be cooked in a large cast iron pan? I only have one 9 x13 pan, which is already in use. Will the cast iron get too hot for the candy?

    1. Hi Pat, We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

  21. I’m going to give this a try tomorrow morning (T-Day!). The potatoes are already cooked and slice and layered in a 12 x 12 corningware casserole dish (it has a lid). I also want to use some caramel salted whiskey and/or fireball whiskey (cinnamon) – just a bit of each, maybe less than 1/2 T ea., and the idea of mace is intriguing; ‘cept I don’t have any. What about a tiny pinch of cloves? Yes? No? I saw a recipe earlier today that called for adding a bit of apple cider vinegar, too. So perhaps instead of all water I’ll add those other mentioned ingredients and then add water ’til I get to what the recipe calls for. Should be interesting! Diana

  22. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. I’m just finishing baking the sweet potatoes now.! I have added thinly sliced blood oranges or oranges to the mix and they get caramelized as well during the bake process, so many great ideas here, i’m glad to hear everybody loves candied sweet potatoes- oh by the way, I mix in both yams and sweet potatoes and it works out great. I think I spend more time pinning over the sweet potatoes than any other dish!

  23. Easy and excellent tasting! Skipped the ingredients I didn’t have (maple syrup, ginger, rosemary, sea salt) but still oh so yummy! Made 2 batches of sauce to have enough to cover the potatoes. One batch was not enough.

  24. These were delicious. I tried to cut back the sugar and shouldn’t have. It would have been perfect as written.

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.