Candied Yams (Candied Sweet Potatoes) are a warmly spiced, simple, sophisticated side dish, coated in drool worthy brown sugar maple glaze!
These Candied Yams (Candied Sweet Potatoes) will be your new favorite way to devour sweet potatoes! This recipe is warmly-spiced, caramelized on the outside, luxuriously creamy, melt-in your mouth on the inside, drenched in a buttery, brown sugar maple syrup spiked with cinnamon, ginger, orange zest (and my secret ingredient!), all topped with crunchy pecans. Best of all, these Candied Sweet Potatoes aren’t too sweet, easy to make and reheat beautifully for all your company and holidays!
Sweet potatoes are always a favorite for the holidays in every form! We love Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Herb Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Gruyere and Bacon
and Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecans.
How to Make Candied Yams Recipe Video
Candied Sweet Potato FAQS
Sweet potatoes are lower in calories and higher in beta-carotene and vitamin C than yams. Yams have slightly more potassium and manganese. They both contain decent amounts of B vitamins. Both have great health benefits.
However, yams and sweet potatoes are very different and come from opposite parts of the world. Sweet potatoes come from South America and are a member of the morning glory family. Originating from Africa and a part of the lily family are our Yams. They are both tuber vegetables and have similar shapes.
Over 600 varieties of yams are known, and 95% of these are still grown in Africa. Yams are darker, almost black, and have a rough texture. Yams are also mushier (due to their higher water content) and have higher sugar contents. However, yams do not taste sweeter even with more sugar. Yams, true yams, can be hard to find, unless you frequent international or ethnic food stores. They are long like sweet potatoes, but do not taper at the ends.
Yes, you need to peel the yams before slicing and baking them. Sweet potato skin is edible, but it’s very tough and will interfere with the otherwise melt-in-your-mouth texture of these Candied Yams.
Yes! Candied Yams are actually Candied Sweet Potatoes! Most grocery stores mistakenly call sweet potatoes “yams.”
No, you must use regular brown sugar to make this recipe. Brown sugar will caramelize slightly in the oven, which is what makes these sweet potatoes “candied.” A sugar-free substitute won’t have the same effect. Similarly, trying to make this recipe with all maple syrup or another liquid sweetener will result in an incredibly runny, thin sauce.
When selecting your yams for this recipe, look for garnet yams – these are red sweet potatoes masquerading as yams! You may also use Jewel or Beauregard, which are also sweet potatoes. Look for yams that are firm with unwrinkled flesh, free of blemishes.
Ingredients for Candied Sweet Potatoes /Yams
Homemade Candied Yams /Sweet Potatoes come together quickly with basic ingredients! The yams are sliced, then roasted with a spiced syrup. Here’s a quick rundown of the ingredients you’ll need to make this elevated recipe:
HOW TO MAKE Candied Yams
This is an easy recipe for Candied Yams that anyone can master. Let’s take a closer look at how to make this side dish (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Slice the sweet potatoes. Square the ends of the sweet potatoes in order to make them a more uniform thickness, then slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Discard the ends. Transfer the sliced yams to a 9×13 or similar greased baking dish.
Step 2: Make the syrup. Add the ingredients to a saucepan and heat over medium heat, then simmer for a one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange zest and vanilla.
Step 3: Add the syrup to the potatoes. Pour the syrup over the sweet potatoes and stir until evenly coated.
Step 4: Bake. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender, then sprinkle with pecans and bake an additional 10 minutes. Finally, garnish with chopped fresh rosemary and serve!
Candied Sweet Potatoes pair well with any ham, chicken, or pork dish on a regular weeknight and of course pair well with any holiday sides or mains. They’d be especially perfect for your Thanksgiving or Christmas feast!
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- 3 ½ lbs garnet yams (sweet potatoes), peeled
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional, recommended)
- chopped fresh rosemary for garnish
Preheatoven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish (or 3 quart dish) lightly with cooking spray.
Square the ends of the potatoes (discard very tapered ends) and slice the potatoes into ½-inch-thick rounds; transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Whisk the cornstarch and orange juice together in a small bowl until completely dissolved. Add to a small saucepan followed by all of the syrup ingredients (up to the “Add Later”).
Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted, then bring to a simmer for 1 minute, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and orange zest.
Pour sauce over the potatoes and stir until evenly coated. Arrange the potatoes in two even layers.
Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir and continue to cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Sprinkle with pecans and bake an additional 10 minutes, uncovered, or until extremely tender.
Let cool for 10 minutes; the sauce will thicken a bit as it cools. Optional: If you would like a thicker sauce, transfer just the sauce to a saucepan and simmer for a couple minutes to thicken (a turkey baster easily removes the sauce).
Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and serve warm.
- Use similar sized yams: Look for medium sweet potatoes of a similar width. Avoid sweet potatoes that are very wide or your slices will be large and won’t bake as evenly.
- Apricot preserves: This ingredient makes the dish, please don’t skip! It adds a refreshing multi-dimensional sweetness, otherwise the sauce is too one note molasses tasting. If you can’t find apricot, try apricot-pineapple!
- Prep ahead: This recipe is best fresh from the oven. However, you can save time by preparing all of the ingredients beforehand. Slice the potatoes and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. You can also chop the rosemary ahead of time, zest and juice the orange, and measure out the spices if desired. You can go one step further and make the syrup, refrigerate, then reheat until pourable before using.
- Storage: Cover and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. They are delicious in salads!
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