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.
Curtis Wright says
Every last one of your recipes I tried has been hitting. The best dish I made was the candied yams. When I make them in the oven, my yams taste bland. This recipe right here is a headbanger and all my kids love it.
I used this recipe for my Easter Sunday dinner, and they did not turn out for me. I followed the recipe and covered them with water, but I think it was too much water. They were tender but I was disappointed with my out come.
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
I’m so sorry you had trouble with the recipe. It must be cooked down completely and turn into a sugary syrup. If the water is still high or still thin, it hasn’t cooked down long enough.
Excellent recipe! My mother used the same ingredients and they were the best.
I follow the recipe also except I boiled the potatoes, slice and them candy them in the oven. My mom always said Nutmeg is for sweet potatoes and cinnamon is for apples.
You are doing a great job!
Pat Moore says
This recipe is exactly the way my mother made her candied sweet potatoes except she baked them in the oven. I love and use this recipe and the family loves it.
SHEILA SMITH says
Super easy to follow and the results are excellent! I finally have a recipe that tastes like my mom’s. You won’t be disappointed!
Excellent recipe Jocelyn! I was looking for a recipe similar to my grandmother’s, and you nailed it! Tried the recipe and it was perfect. Thank you so much for sharing and the excellent tips you provide.
Susan Q says
I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit!
I was taught to never add water to the sweet potatoes. I use all of the ingredients that you listed.
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
You can do what you were taught, and we do what we were taught. Deal?
I am confused. The recipe says bring water to a boil and to keep the top on until the water has evaporated and then take the top off until the water evaporates
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
The potatoes should just be pretty tender during the first covered cook and then remove the lid and cook until the water completely evaporates.
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.
These are so so Yum!!
CYNTHIA SIGMAN says
THIS WAS MY MOM’S RECIPE TOO. AFTER SHE PASSED AWAY WE’VE ALL TRIED TO MAKE THEM LIKE HERS. I’VE DONE IT A COUPLE TIMES WHERE IT COME OUT LIKE HERS. SHE MADE REALLY GOOD CANDIED SWEET POTATOES. CAN MAKE A MEAL OFF THEM.