Candied Yams (The BEST Southern, Soul Food Style)
“Sweet, tender, buttery candied yams made the Southern way!”
Video Recipe: Learn how to make candied yams from start to finish!
For some reason, a heavy holiday meal just isn’t the same without a pan of southern baked candied yams! It adds that sweetness and beautiful color to the plate that just balances out all the other salty, smokey, savory flavors. Growing up, I could eat bowls of my grandma’s candied yams and I wasn’t alone!
Whenever we’d have new people over for Sunday dinner they’d always comment on how delicious the candied yams were. Everybody wanted to know “the secret”. There was no secret, really. Just a lot of love and patience like most southern recipes.
What’s so good about this candied yams recipe?
There are many ways to prepare candied yams. This recipe relies on cooking them slowly in a candied mixture of butter, sugar, heavy whipping cream, maple, vanilla, and warm spices. That slow baking time really allows them to hang out in all that yummy, syrupy mixture until it is sweetened all the way through.
The results? Heavenly, tender sweet candied yams that would put many restaurant versions to shame! But before we get into the recipe, let’s get a few frequently asked questions out of the way.
Are yams and sweet potatoes the same thing?
People often think of yams and sweet potatoes as being the same thing, however, yams are actually a variety of sweet potatoes.
Yams are actually starchier, with a light-colored flesh and more like a white potato. They are drier than sweet potatoes and not very sweet but can easily be flavored to make them sweet or savory.
The Covington or Japanese sweet potatoes are probably what you’re used to seeing in the grocery store. They are naturally sweet with bright orange flesh (there are also white and purple varieties). Here’s more info on the differences between yams and sweet potatoes.
For this “candied yams” recipe, you’ll want to go for those sweet, gorgeous orange Covington or Japanese sweet potatoes!
What are candied yams?
Candied yams are a side dish that is very popular in the South. It typically involves cooking yams/sweet potatoes with butter and sugar until they are super tender and very sweet. This can be done by baking, boiling, or roasting sweet potatoes. It’s one of those side dishes that could be sweet enough for dessert!
Here are the ingredients needed to make a pan of these delicious candied yams!
Sweet potatoes: The main ingredient for this dish are sweet potatoes. When buying sweet potatoes, make sure you choose medium-large-sized sweet potatoes that are firm and without bruises or cracks.
Butter: Unsalted butter sets the base for the candied glaze and it gives these candied yams so much flavor.
Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar works best for this recipe. It adds the sweetness required for candied yams. Brown sugar works also but can make the sauce stickier.
Heavy whipping cream: Heavy whipping cream creates a creamy and rich syrup.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon has a slightly sweet, woodsy, and citrusy flavor with a hint of warmth. It is the perfect addition to candied yam!
Nutmeg: Nutmeg is known for adding aroma and flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. It has a nutty and warm flavor that resembles clove.
Clove: Clove has a prominent, slightly sweet, and bitter flavor. It also adds warmth to the dish.
Real maple: Real maple has a beautiful aroma. It has a distinct caramel-like and sweet flavor.
Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds a depth of flavor. However, it is an optional ingredient, and you can skip it if you don’t like it or have any on hand.
Cooking Equipment & Tools Needed For This Recipe
Making candied yams is a pretty easy process. Here is a list of all the tools and equipment you’ll need to make these candied yams. You can find all of these items in my affiliate Amazon store!
- A peeler and a sharp knife to peel and dice the sweet potatoes.
- 9×13 casserole dish to bake the candied yams. (You can use a smaller dish but you may need to increase the baking time)
- A medium-sized pot or a saucepan for making the sauce.
- Aluminum foil to cover the casserole dish while baking.
- Slotted spoon for serving
Instructions: How To Make The BEST Candied Yams
Now let’s get into the steps needed to bring this delicious side dish together! You’ll love how simple this recipe is!
- Prep the sweet potatoes. You’ll want to wash, dry, peel, and slice your potatoes/yams into 1/2 inch circles. Cut them all the same size to ensure even baking and then place them into a 9×13 baking dish.
- Make the candied glaze: Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in sugar until combined. Keep the heat on medium-low. Next, add in all the other remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust if desired
- Pour and bake: Pour the candied glaze all over the sweet potatoes. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
- Serve: Using a slotted spoon, plate the sweet potatoes on a plate and serve immediately.
- Clean well. Make sure you wash and scrub the sweet potatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt.
- Slice them in equal sizes. This is important to ensure even cooking.
- TASTE! Once you have cooked the sauce, taste it and adjust the flavors according to your liking.
- Add toppings! These candied yams are PERFECT as is, but you can certainly dress it up by adding on candied pecans, toasted mini marshmallows, homemade streusel, or simply splash of fresh orange juice.
Candied Yams FAQ’s
Can you make candied yams from canned yams? Canned yams usually come ready to eat in a corn syrup mixture. However, the taste can be a bit flat. If I was going to make yams from a can I’d certainly drain off this syrup and create my own with real butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract for a more homemade, slow oven-baked flavor.
Are Bruce’s yams really yams? Bruce’s canned yams are a popular brand of canned yams sold in stores. As per their ingredient list, their candied yams consist of Sweet Potatoes, Sugar, Water, Salt, Butter Flavor (Maltodextrin, Butter [Cream, Salt, Annato Extract], Non-Fat Dry Milk, Butter Milk, Beta Carotene), Spices, Citric Acid, EDTA. Their plain canned yams consist of Sweet Potatoes, Water, Corn Syrup, Sugar.
Do you boil yams before baking? Boiling yams before baking help reduce the baking time. You can certainly boil them before cooking but I love yams that have been slowly roasted in the oven.
Making this dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Be sure to check out my Holiday Menu guide!
And that is it! You now know how to make a pan of delicious Southern candied yams! If you’re a candied yam lover then you will adore the taste of these sweet, buttery, cinnamony baked yams! Happy baking!
Want more sweet potato recipes?
Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Sweet Potato Fried Pies
Get the Recipe: Candied Yams| Best Baked Southern Candied Yams
- 4 large sweet potatoes, (washed thoroughly)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, (1 stick)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 ½- 3 teaspoons cinnamon, (can use less if desired)
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1-2 pinches ground clove
- 1 ½ - 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
- 1-2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cut off the tips of sweet potatoes.
- Peel and then slice into ½ thick circles.
- Place into a 9x13 baking dish. Set side.
- In a medium-size pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.
- Add sugar and stir until combined.
- Add heavy whipping cream and stir until creamy.
- Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, maple, and vanilla extract.
- TASTE THE MIXTURE AND MAKE SURE IT TASTES YUMMY. ADD MORE SPICES IF NEEDED.
- Pour mixture over sweet potatoes.
- Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove foil, baste and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Plate the candied yams using a slotted spoon. Serve immediately.
Hello and Happy Thanksgiving! Im hopping you can answer this question before I bake these incredible looking yams. Can I pre bake these the night before for 40 mins then refrigerate and finish them for the last 20 or so minutes when I take my turkey out to rest? I’m short on oven space but don’t want to risk them getting mushy if I pre bake the day before. Your thoughts? Love love love your blog and cooking channel! P.S. just made your buttermilk brine for the turkey…I know it’s gonna be GOOD! it! Oh, and made the sweet potato pie, too. Looks and smells amazing! Can’t wait to dig into this stuff!
Okay, so I went ahead and baked these for 40 mins, took them out when my turkey went in, then popped them back in for 30 mins when my turkey came out. Perfect! These yams were out of this world! Looked and tasted incredible! My family and guests were blown away by these…and all the other diva recipes I tried…turkey, gravy, and sweet potato pie. All delicious. That pie was beyond fantastic! Thank you so very much for making me shine and for the tastiest Thanksgiving on record!
Thank you so much for this great recipe. I am great with cooking southern food, but cooking candied yams is my weak spot. I’ve read so many candied yams recipes but was not sure which one I should use. This recipe is perfect.
Oh my maple goodness! These look…wow, I can’t even find the words. Can’t wait to try these gems out on Thursday! Had to giggle at your intro… You are too funny, girl! Thanks again for the great recipes and your sunny smile, girl!
Do you have any written instructions on how to prepare this dish??
yes, there is a print recipe link at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you posted this cuz I’m cooking a holiday dinner at a women and children’s homeless shelter and I wasn’t sure how to properly season sweet potatoes.
I’m actually 49 and have been a chef and foodie for most of my life but I guess the part of the south I’m from was not big on sweet potatoes.
My mother and grandmother were big on the cabbage sauteed in bacon grease and the southern green beans like you posted but sometimes they would add cut up potatoes to that and of course the collards.
I’m going to make this (the candied yams) for the women at the shelter for thanksgiving cuz I know from past experience that I can trust your recipes.
In the future, maybe from you or grandma, how bout a sausage gravy biscuit breakfast recipe?
I actually can make it really good, sage is the key, but my grandmother used to make it the best, it was dark and spicy and I was wondering if you know maybe how she made it that way.
Hi there, I am sooo happy that I discovered this website. I loooove yams and this year I am cooking my first thanksgiving dinner for my new family. I wanted to start some new traditions and was looking for some yummy southern recipes. I will be stalking your blog for atleast the next week. This is awesome…