Candied Yams

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Candied Yams are a classic Southern side dish that must be on your Thanksgiving table. Tender yams, or sweet potatoes, are glazed in a brown sugar sauce. The results are rich, sweet, buttery, and ready in only 30 minutes.

The sweet side dish recipe cooks quickly on the stove, freeing up valuable oven space for your holiday meal.

A fork holding a sliced yam over a plate.

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Why We Love This Recipe

  • Southern Classic – A holiday favorite recipe that is a must make.
  • Perfectly Sweet – The brown sugar sauce is the perfect balance of sweet with warm spices.
  • Easy to Make – Just boil the sweet potatoes then fold into the easy glaze.

Ingredients For Candied Yams

You only need 4 ingredients plus a few simple spices to make this old fashioned side dish.

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Brown Sugar – I used light brown sugar, but you can use dark brown sugar as well.
  • Butter – I prefer to use unsalted, but you can use salted and just adjust the salt added.
  • Orange Juice – pulp free is best
  • Spices – Ground Cinnamon, Salt, Ground Black Pepper, Nutmeg
Ingredients for candies yams.

Are Yams and Sweet Potatoes the Same Thing?

Yams are actually not the same as sweet potatoes but in the US (in the culinary world) the terms are used interchangeably. A true yam has a barky skin and pale inside. 

How To Make Candied Yams

Get a detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.

Only a few simple steps to make this easy holiday side dish! The entire recipe is made on the stove or check out the variations for how to make them in the oven.

  1. Boil Potatoes – Start by getting a large pot of water boiling and peel the potatoes then slice them ½ inch thick. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender, drain, and set aside.
  2. Make Sugar Mixture – Add the remaining ingredients to a tall-sided frying pan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil while stirring to combine. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cook until it reduces by half. This will help the sauce thicken up.
  3. Toss in Sweet Potatoes – Toss the cooked sweet potatoes in the sauce to coat and cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and bubbly.
  4. Serve – Remove from heat and serve.

FAQs

Are yams good for you?

Yams are loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, potassium, and B5. They also have lots of fiber.

How do you pick good sweet potatoes?

There are a few tips to picking the best sweet potatoes at the grocery store:
1. Pick small to medium-sized potatoes as they will be sweeter.
2. Choose potatoes that have firm, smooth, and blemish-free skin.
3. The darker the skin on the sweet potato, the richer the flavor will be.

Serving Suggestions

This recipe is a must to serve alongside your Thanksgiving Turkey. Round out the meal with some other classic holiday side dishes:

Candied yams in a large white casserole dish.

Variations

  • Bake in the Oven – If you prefer, you can finish the recipe in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare the sweet potatoes and place in a 9×13 baking dish. Make the sauce as directed and pour over the sweet potatoes. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the sauce is thick and bubbly.
  • No Orange Juice – This recipe can be made without orange juice if you reduce the sauce simmering time. 
  • Add Nuts – For a little crunch, you can either fold in some chopped nuts or sprinkle them on the top before serving.

Storage and Reheating

Storage – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Reheating – For best results, reheat the leftovers in a 350 degrees F oven for 10-15 minutes. Place them in a baking dish, covered with foil, for reheating. You can also reheat smaller portions in the microwave, but the oven will give better results.

Wooden spoon with brown sugar glaze pouring over sweet potatoes.

Expert Tips

  • Simmer Time – You can adjust the thickness of the sauce to your liking by simmering more or less. The longer you let it simmer, the thicker it will get. To thicken the sauce, simmer longer.  To thin out the sauce, add a touch more butter. 
  • Don’t Over Cook the Potatoes – Be careful not to over boil the potatoes. Cook just until done and remember they will simmer in the sauce for a bit before serving. 
  • Even Sized Pieces – Make sure to cut the sweet potatoes into even-sized pieces so they cook evenly.
  • Fold Gently – When folding the cooked sweet potatoes into the glaze, be gentle so they don’t break apart too much.
  • Time-Saving Hack – You can boil the potatoes whole in the water to quickly remove skin. 

More Sweet Potato Recipes

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Candied Yams

5
Candied Yams are a classic side dish that's perfect for Thanksgiving. Tender yams, or sweet potatoes, glazed in a buttery brown sugar sauce.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar packed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup orange juice pulp free
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare potatoes by peeling and slicing ½ inch thick.
  • Boil prepared potatoes for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
  • In a tall sided frying pan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, orange juice, cinnamon, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk or stir to combine.
  • Lower heat to simmer until it has reduced by half. The longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce will be. (About 5-8 minutes)
  • Add the sweet potatoes to the pan and toss to coat. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the sauce is thick and bubbly and has reached desired consistency.
  • Remove from heat and serve.

Notes

To make in oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the sweet potatoes and place in a 9×13 baking dish. Make the sauce as directed and pour over the sweet potatoes. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the sauce is thick and bubbly.
Storage – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
Reheating – For best results, reheat the leftovers in a 350 degrees F oven for 10-15 minutes. Place them in a baking dish, covered with foil, for reheating. You can also reheat smaller portions in the microwave, but the oven will give better results.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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