| | | |

Best Southern Candied Yams (Soul Food Recipe)

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

These southern candied yams are sweet and buttery and feature brown sugar and warm spices. A traditional soul food candied yams recipe passed down from generation to generation.

Marrekus makes the best candied yams! This classic soul food side dish was passed down from his grandmother to his mother and then to him. He recalls her peeling and slicing sweet potatoes, then coating them in a brown sugar candied sauce. When his grandmother would bake them in the oven you would think that a pie or cake was coming out. This is hands down the best candied yams recipe and is perfect for Sunday dinner and even special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.

candied yams

This easy candied yams recipe isn’t just reserved for the holiday table. We make this classic soul food recipe to go with smothered chickenfried chickencabbagefish and spaghetti, and collard greens. It’s the perfect holiday side dish but also a classic southern dish for Sunday supper.  

Making southern candied yams is easy! This recipe calls for fewer than 10 ingredients, and you likely already have most of them in your pantry. 

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • FLAVOR – The natural sweetness of yams, enhanced by a rich candied mixture of sugar, butter, and spices, creates a comforting and indulgent flavor that appeals to pretty much everyone.
  • TRADITION – Candied yams are traditionally served for Sunday dinner in the South. They’re also often a staple for holiday gatherings, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. 
  • QUICK & EASY – The simplicity of the recipe makes candied yams accessible to both experienced and novice cooks. With basic ingredients and straightforward steps, it’s a dish that can be easily mastered.

What are Candied Yams?

Candied yams are a classic holiday side dish and Southern soul food recipe made from sweet potatoes. These vibrant, naturally sweet tubers are transformed into a delicious side dish by cooking them in a sweet, sticky syrup. 

While the terms “yams” and “sweet potatoes” are often used interchangeably, especially in the United States, real yams are quite different and not commonly found in American grocery stores.

Ingredients

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes (bright orange flesh, about 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (start with less and adjust to taste if using any other type of salt)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • nonstick cooking spray or softened butter

Recipe Variations

  • Marshmallows: Mini marshmallows are added to the top during the last few minutes of baking. They become gooey and toasted for an extra layer of sweetness!
  • Pecans: Add a delightful crunch by incorporating chopped pecans or pecan halves into the dish. The nuts complement the sweetness and provide a contrast in texture.
  • Bourbon: For an adult twist, add a splash of bourbon! The bourbon imparts a warm, smoky flavor that complements the sweetness of the yams.
  • Citrus: Use citrus fruits like oranges or lemons to add a fresh and tangy twist. Citrus zest, juice, or slices can be used to infuse bright flavors.
  • Healthyish: Make a lighter version by using a sugar substitute like honey or agave nectar. You can also use olive oil instead of butter for a healthier alternative.

Note: Taste the candied mixture before pouring it over the sweet potatoes, and adjust the sugar quantities if needed. Some people prefer a sweeter dish, while others may opt for a more balanced sweetness.

Tools you’ll need

To prepare this Candied Yams recipe, you’ll need the following special equipment and tools:

  • 9″ x 13″ Casserole Dish
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Spoon
  • Foil

Directions

Step 1: Preheat and Prep

  • Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). While the oven is preheating, take a moment to generously coat your 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter. We want those yams to come out easily.
  • Now, scrub your sweet potatoes clean to get rid of any lingering dirt. Then, peel and slice them into lovely ½-inch thick rounds. Arrange them in the prepared dish.

Step 2: Create the Sweet Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan, set over medium to medium-high heat, melt a stick of butter. Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and both types of sugar. Whisk it all together until it’s well incorporated.
  • Once everything’s combined, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 

Step 3: Coat and Bake

  • Pour the sweet syrup candied sauce mixture all over your sweet potatoes. Make sure each slice gets a generous coating. Now, take a piece of aluminum foil and securely cover your baking dish. 
  • Slide the dish into the preheated oven and let those sweet potatoes bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 4: The Finishing Touch

  • Carefully take the dish out of the oven. Using a spoon, generously coat those candied yams with the buttery syrup that has formed at the bottom of the dish. 
  • Now, re-cover the dish with foil and let them keep baking until the sweet potatoes become tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. The sauce will also thicken up, enough to coat the back of a spoon. This usually takes an extra 15-20 minutes.
  • Note: If you want that sauce to be even thicker and stickier, you can remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking, allowing it to reduce further.

Step 5: Rest and Serve

  • Once they’re done baking, take them out of the oven, and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Even Slicing: Try to slice the sweet potatoes into even rounds (about ½-inch thick) to ensure uniform cooking. This helps all the slices cook at the same rate.
  • Basting the Sweet Potatoes: When you uncover the dish to baste the sweet potatoes, be generous with the candied mixture. This additional coating enhances the flavor and adds a glossy finish.
  • Checking for Doneness: Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork after the initial baking period to check for tenderness. They should be soft and easily pierced.
  • Adjusting Sugar Levels: If you prefer your candied yams less sweet, you can adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.
  • Serve Warm: Candied yams are best enjoyed warm. Serve them directly from the oven for the most flavorful experience.
candied yams for thanksgiving with turkey, macaroni and cheese, and cake

What to Serve with Southern Candied Yams

This Southern candied yams recipe is a popular Thanksgiving side dish that is best served alongside turkey and cornbread dressing. Here are some additional dishes that can complement candied yams:

  • Collard Greens: Slow-simmered greens with smoked ham hocks, onions, seasonings, and a dash of red pepper flakes. It’s a quintessential Southern comfort food dish that will transport you to a cozy Sunday dinner at grandma’s house.
  • Smothered Cabbage: Braised cabbage with onions and bacon offers a light and crunchy element that complements the richness of the other dishes.
  • Fried Cabbage: A comfort food side dish elevated by the combination of crispy bacon, smoked sausage, and a medley of seasonings.
  • Mac and Cheese: Our recipe features cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella, and is made without a roux. It’s decadent and comforting, and an absolute must-try for anyone looking to savor a taste of the South.
  • Fried Chicken: Crispy, golden, and full of flavor! We skipped the buttermilk soak and embraced a salt, sugar, and water brine for juiciness for this recipe. Our blend of flour, cornstarch, and seasonings guarantees an irresistibly crispy coating every time.
  • Smothered Chicken: Fall-off-the-bone tender thighs simmered in rich brown gravy and spooned over a bed of fluffy white rice. Smothered chicken and rice is an irresistible southern soul food classic that’s perfect for Sunday dinner!
  • Fried Pork Chops: With a golden, crispy exterior and a juicy, tender interior, these chops promise a comforting and satisfying meal! Pair them with Southern Candied Yams for an all-around delicious dinner experience.
  • Black Eyed Peas: Our Hoppin’ John recipe is made with smoked neck bones, onion, bell pepper, and celery. With just a handful of ingredients – black eyed peas, the holy trinity, a few spices, and a hint of smoky meat, this simple and humble dish is heartwarming and full of flavor. 

Leftover Candied Yams

Allow candied yams to cool to room temperature before storing. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Candied yams can also be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

    Reheating Leftovers

    In the Oven (Preferred Method)

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). If the candied yams were frozen, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Place an oven-safe dish and add a little bit of butter. Cover with foil and heat for 20-25 minutes, or until they are heated through.

    In the Microwave

    1. Transfer the yams to a microwave-safe dish. If frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator first. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Stir halfway to ensure even heating.

    Commonly Asked Questions

    What type of sweet potatoes (yams) should I use? 

    This recipe calls for sweet potatoes, which have dark reddish brown potato skin and orange flesh. 

    Do I need to peel them before cooking?

    Yes! Peel and slice them into ½-inch thick rounds.

    How long should I bake candied yams and at what temperature?

    Bake at 350°F (175°C) for a total of 50 minutes. The initial bake is 30 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and spoon the candied sauce mixture at the bottom of the dish over the sweet potatoes. Continue baking until they become tender when pierced with a fork, and the sauce has thickened. This typically takes an additional 15-20 minutes.

    Should I cover the dish while baking?

    Yes! Cover in foil to avoid burning. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking, allowing the liquid to reduce further.

    How do I know when the candied yams are done cooking?

    Candied yams are done when they become tender when pierced with a fork, and the sauce has thickened.

    Summary

    This is the best southern candied yams recipe! They are are sweet and buttery and feature brown sugar and warm spices. It’s an easy recipe passed down from generation to generation. Whether it’s a holiday dinner or Sunday dinner, they’re perfect for any time of the year. Try it today!

    Print
    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

    Best Southern Candied Yams (Soul Food Recipe)

    • Author: cooks with soul
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 50 minutes
    • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
    • Yield: 6 servings 1x
    • Category: side dish, thanksgiving
    • Method: oven
    • Cuisine: soul food

    Description

    These southern candied yams are sweet and buttery and feature brown sugar and warm spices. A traditional soul food candied yams recipe passed down from generation to generation.


    Ingredients

    Scale
    • nonstick cooking spray (or softened butter)
    • 5 sweet potatoes (medium, orange-fleshed, about 3 pounds)
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (start with less and adjust to taste if using any other type of salt)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 cup granulated sugar 
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
    2. Generously coat baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
    3. Clean the sweet potatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt. Then, peel and slice sweet potatoes into ½-inch thick rounds, and arrange them in prepared baking dish.
    4. Melt the butter in saucepan over medium heat.
    5. Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and both types of sugar.
    6. Whisk until all the ingredients have combined with the butter.
    7. Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
    8. Pour melted butter mixture evenly over sweet potatoes, ensuring that each slice gets coated thoroughly.
    9. Cover baking dish securely with aluminum foil. Place the baking dish into the preheated oven and let sweet potatoes bake for approximately 30 minutes.
    10. After this initial baking period, carefully take baking dish out of the oven. Use a spoon, generously coat sweet potatoes with candied mixture. Then, re-cover the dish with foil.
    11. Continue baking until sweet potatoes become tender when pierced with a fork, and sauce has thickened, enough to coat a spoon., about 15-20 minutes.

    12. Once the sweet potatoes are done baking, remove from oven.
    13. Allow candied yams to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

    Notes

    If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking, allowing it to reduce further.

    This is a Yummly original recipe created by Marrekus and Krysten Wilkes of Cooks with Soul that has been upgraded and adapted for this website.

    Keywords: candied yams, candy yams, candied sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes, thanksgiving, side dish, soul food

    11 Comments

    1. These sweet potatoes were a hit in my household and I’ll definitely be making them again. Thank you!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

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