Candied Yams are a classic Southern side dish made up of thinly sliced sweet potatoes and a spiced candied mixture! These tender, sweet, and citrusy yams are so perfectly delicious and buttery! Serve them at your holiday table or your next Sunday family dinner! Similar to Candied Sweet Potatoes, this one is baked instead of done on the stove top.
Classic Candied Sweet Potatoes will forever be my favorite Thanksgiving side dish. These spiced, tender yams make an appearance on our holiday table every year! Sometimes, they’ll even show up to the Christmas party or occasional family gathering.
Most candied yam recipes are cooked on the stovetop and require a good amount of babysitting. By baking them instead you cut the work in half and save yourself some time. In just under an hour you can have the most tender, warm, and flavorful baked sweet potatoes you’ll ever have!
Southern Candied Yams only require about 10 ingredients to make, most of which you probably already have at home!
- Yams or Sweet Potatoes- yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. Yams have rough, dark brown skin that is often compared to tree bark, and their flesh is dry and starchy. Sweet potatoes have smooth reddish skin, softer flesh, and a sweet flavor. American grocery stores often use the two terms interchangeably, so you can pick up either and it’s totally fine!
- Brown Sugar- I like to use both light and dark brown sugar, it just depends on what I have on hand. Dark brown sugar will offer a deeper molasses flavor, while light brown sugar is a bit sweeter and more caramel-like.
- Cornstarch- It thickens the sugary liquid base so that it adheres to the yams.
- Cinnamon + Nutmeg- both spices offer warmth and depth of flavor. Feel free to adjust the measurements to suit your own personal taste.
- Apricot Nectar- With its vibrant orange color, slightly pulpy texture, vivid aromas, woody flavors, and delicate natural acidity, this fruit nectar is a great addition to these similarly sweet and earthy yams.
- Orange Juice + Zest- A bright, citrusy squeeze of orange juice and a little bit of the zest cuts through the sugar and brightens everything up.
- Vanilla Extract- Vanilla adds a fragrant, robust flavor to the yams.
- Butter- Unsalted butter adds smooth, sweet creaminess to the potatoes.
- Salt- Candied yams are intended to be very sweet, so we don’t need much for salt. It mostly just balances out flavor. I suggest using kosher salt.
How To Make Candied Yams
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out a 9×13 baking dish. You can lightly coat the pan with cooking spray or line the pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup but it’s not necessary.
Peel the yams with a peeler and slice them into ¼-½ inch slices. Add potatoes to a large pot with water and boil until just tender, not mushy though. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Once nice and cool, you can layer your yams in the baking dish.
In a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat, add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix everything in the saucepan up and store in the apricot nectar, orange juice, and zest. Keep whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Do not walk away.
Remove from the heat and add in vanilla extract and half of the butter. Pour the butter mixture over the yams. Gently stir to coat the yams evenly with butter. Take the remaining butter and cut into pats and place on the top of the potatoes.
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove the baking dish and baste the yams with butter candied mixture with a silicone brush or spoon.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I have to boil the sweet potatoes first? Some recipes call for par-boiling the yams and some don’t. I find that if I don’t par-boil the yams don’t reach the level of tenderness I want before the liquid gets thick and sticky. Be sure to only boil until a fork just barely pierces the potatoes.
- Can I add nuts to this recipe? Yes! It’s pretty common for folks to add nuts to their candied yams. Try adding pecans or walnuts during the last 15 minutes of baking to avoid accidentally scorching them.
- Why did my yams burn? Slicing the yams evenly helps with cooking them more evenly. If some slices are significantly thinner, they are more than likely to burn. Quarter-inch thick pieces are the way to go here.
How To Serve
Candied yams are typically a holiday dish and go well with turkey, baked ham, or chicken. If you’re making the classic southern side dish for a special dinner, a nice juicy steak will work well with the yams too!
Here are a few GBC recipes I love to serve with my yams:
- Honey Glazed Ham
- Southern Collard Greens
- Accordian Biscuits
- Southern Baked Chicken
- Southern Green Beans
Cooked yams can be easily stored in airtight containers after they’ve completely cooled. They will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. If you want to keep them for longer, place the leftover candied yams in freezer-safe bags or containers (press out excess air if using bags) and tuck them into the deepest part of the freezer. Your yams should last for up to 6 months.
When you’re ready to serve your leftover baked yams, remove them from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the potatoes in a baking dish, cover it with foil, and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until heated through.
Frozen cooked sweet potatoes, like mashed or roasted whole ones, should be thawed in the fridge overnight before reheating. Keep in mind that the texture will be a bit softer than when they were originally cooked.
Grandbaby Cakes Best Sweet Potato Recipes
Over at GBC we go crazy for sweet, tender yams! After you’ve tried this recipe, check out a few more of our sassiest sweet potatoes:
- Sweet Potato Grits
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Toasted Marshmallows
- Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Baked Candied Yams
- 3 pounds yams or sweet potatoes peeled and thinly sliced 1/4 inch thickness
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup apricot nectar
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice warmed until hot
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter separated
- Add potatoes to a large pot with water and boil until just tender, not mushy though. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature.
- Add the tender potatoes to a 9×13 inch sized baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Next add sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Next stir in the apricot nectar, hot orange juice, and orange zest and stir together then bring to a boil, stirring the entire time. Remove from the heat and add in vanilla extract and half of the butter.
- Pour the mixture over the potatoes then take the remaining butter and cut into pats and place on the top of the potatoes.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and potatoes are soft and completely tender.
- Some recipes call for par-boiling the yams and some don’t. I find that if I don’t par-boil the yams don’t reach the level of tenderness I want before the liquid gets thick and sticky. Be sure to only boil until a fork just barely pierces the potatoes.
- Yes! It’s pretty common for folks to add nuts to their candied yams. Try adding pecans or walnuts during the last 15 minutes of baking to avoid accidentally scorching them.
- Slicing the yams evenly helps with cooking them more evenly. If some slices are significantly thinner, they are more than likely to burn. Quarter inch thick pieces are the way to go here.