There is nothing more Southern than this Candied Sweet Potatoes recipe. Sweet potatoes are cooked until tender and soft in a buttery and sweet glaze filled with spices and deliciousness making the best Candied yams dish ever!! Serve this as a side dish at Sunday Supper or at major holidays like Thanksgiving with other sides like my Baked Candied Yams, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Honey Glazed Carrots, Collard Greens, Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Corn Muffins for the best dish ever.
My Mama’s Perfect Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe!
If you’ve ever sat down for a Southern holiday meal you’ve seen your share of candied yams; sometimes topped with marshmallows and other times formed into a mash. Yams are tender and sweet, an amazing contrast to savory roast turkey and sharp, stewed mustard greens. But lets think beyond the holidays, wouldn’t you love to enjoy this Southern treasure on any given day of the week? These potatoes are the perfect comfort food that can be served as a delectable side dish or own their own by the bowl full!
Candied Yams OR Candied Sweet Potatoes? What’s the difference?
Now you might ask yourself, are candied yams and candied sweet potatoes one in the same?
Well the answer is no. Sweet potatoes are not a type of yam, and yams are not a type of sweet potato. Yams are starchier, drier and don’t have that beautifully signature orange hue.
Now, if you’re at the grocery store and you see what appears to be a sweet potato with the label “yam” it means they are differentiating two different kinds of sweet potatoes, firm and soft. The soft variety are what we in America, especially in the South, have adopted as our version of the “yam”.
How to Make Candied Yams – Candied Sweet Potatoes Ingredients
With all that being said, Candied Yams are a Southern staple that are close to my heart and a joy to my stomach. Here is my favorite go-to recipe, enjoy!
Whether you select sweet potatoes for this recipe or yams, you can pretty much use the same ingredients. Starting with the potatoes, we usually select about 6 medium sized sweet potatoes. You will begin by peeling them then thinly slicing them on a diagonal. Now this isn’t the way EVERYONE makes candied sweet potatoes but it is the way my mother makes them.
This creates hefty sized strips that are a bit more sturdy. You also get a nice amount of potato in each strip.
Glaze for my Mama’s Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe
The following ingredients are key for making a sensational glaze.
For Candied sweet potatoes, my mama really loves to use simple ingredients in a meaningful way.
Butter is truly essential in creating a wonderful glaze. By melting it down, it starts the glaze liquid and also creates a delicious rich flavor. Because this recipe only has a few ingredients, you need to make sure that you use a high quality high fat butter. No margarine or substitutions will do!
For the sugar, my mama prefers to use granulated sugar. It provides just clean sweetness and doesn’t take away from the delicious sweet potatoes. It only serves as an enhancement.
Tip: If you want to personally add some depth of flavor, substitute some of the sugar for brown sugar.
Vanilla extract is a great addition as well. Just a little will add amazing flavor to these potatoes.
Finally, a hint of spice. My mama uses nutmeg and only nutmeg. She doesn’t believe in adding cinnamon to her sweet potatoes.
Final Tips for Making Candied Yams Recipe
I know a lot of people prefer making Baked Candied Sweet Potatoes however my mama makes her candied sweet potatoes on the stove top. It is a wonderful way of really reducing the liquid into a thick glaze and being able to watch it until it creates the perfect consistency that you enjoy.
Water is a huge component in this recipe. The water, once boiling, will help to melt down the potatoes until they are perfectly soft and tender.
Tip: Before stopping your potatoes from cooking, make sure you test them with a fork to ensure that they are completely melt in your mouth tender. If they even have a hint of toughness, continue to cook them.
Another tell that will alert you to the recipe being ready is the actual glaze. It should be thickened and coating the back of a spoon. The water will evaporate until the potatoes reach this point.
Tip: if you start to see the water evaporating and almost done, check your potatoes first for doneness. If they are ready, check your glaze.
If your potatoes aren’t done, you can add more water to continue the boiling/cooking process.
If the potatoes are indeed done, then you are just waiting for the glaze to reach perfect doneness.
Do NOT OVERCOOK YOUR GLAZE! Watch carefully as you get to the end of your water evaporating.
Love Candied Sweet Potatoes? Want more perfect Sweet Potato Recipes?
Here are some additional recipes you should check out if you are a sweet potato fan!
- This Sweet Potato Pie is essential for any holiday dessert!
- These Stacked Sweet Potatoes are seriously so delicious and gorgeous too!
- Serve these at Friendsgiving too and you have a hit on your hands!
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Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe
- 6 medium sized sweet potatoes peeled and thinly to medium sliced
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Add sliced potatoes to large pot and fill with water until it completely covers the potatoes. Turn heat on stove to high.
- Next add butter, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg to potatoes and water.
- Bring mixture to a boil and cover. Cook for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender then remove lid and continue cooking for an additional 20-30 minutes or until water has evaporated leaving a sweet syrup over the potatoes.
Cynthia Marie Thomas Chappell says
This is the way my mother always made them. And I continue to make them this way today. They bring her right back to my kitchen. She used smaller potatoes for candied sweets, bigger ones for pies.
I saw a recipe for baked sweet potatoes and thought about trying it this year but then this recipe popped up and I’m back to my mother’s way!! If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!!!
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
I totally get it! That’s exactly how we do it and we will continue to do it this way too!
Haven’t tried it yet but, will let you know how it turns out,my moms was the best…I thought so so that’s what mattered to me
never knew what she used,I’m sure it was simple like this one.
This is how we do it also but the only different’s is I use Yams. I disagree with you about the Yams being starchier and I like the color of the Yams a lot better, and to me Yams are sweeter. I have been using Yams for my candied Yams and my sweet potato pies.for the longest. My Grandmother is from the old school and she use to use sweet potatoes until one day she happen to pick-up yams and has been using them ever since, but it’s really a personal preference.
This is a wonderful recipe. I’ve tried to accomplish this using the oven method numerous times. I never achieved the delicious thick “candy” glaze this stovetop process produces. The nutmeg and vanilla are just the right spice!
I’ll be saving this one!
Thank you Jocelyn!
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
Fantastic! This makes me so so happy. My mother has been making this recipe forever!
OMG!!! Love this recipe I cook my yams the same way, with nutmeg only and it’s the best….thanks for sharing
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
This post brings back so much nostalgia back in the day my Grandma would make the best-candied yams, topped with brown sugar and marshmallows. Thanks for the memories!
sharyl connor says
Have you or anyone use any other favor like lemon juice, orange juice or either karo syrup in you candied yam. Thank you so much for all of your recipes. This one brings back memories. Do you have any recipes for a moist sheet cake?Thank you so much.
I do. I put fresh orange juice with a bit of fresh lemon juice. I sometimes slice the fresh oranges in top while in skillet or in the oven. It tastes delicious.
Yes I have used all that plus pineapple juice also!!
Matt Ivan says
Love southern food and looking forward to adding this to my holiday menu!
Taylor Kiser says
These candied sweet potatoes are going to be perfect on the Thanksgiving menu! Yum!
These sweet potatoes look delicious! I’ve never tried them cooked like this before, can’t wait to try these.
Raia Todd says
I’ve never made candied yams before. Such a southern favorite.
Paula Montenegro says
It looks divine and I love anything candied! Sadly, I don’t get yams where I live, only sweet potatoes, but this recipe will be put to the test asap! Thanks for sharing.