When I was growing up, my mom put out canned yams, so I always looked forward to the holidays when my aunt Nisha made the real-deal candied ones. Now that I’m making my own, I do them in the oven rather than on the stove, because when they bake up in that syrup, they come out even more tender and sweet.–Rosie Mayes

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for candied sweet potatoes--sweet potatoes, butter, spices, white and brown sugar, and vanilla.
  • Sweet potatoes or yams–You can use traditional sweet potatoes, or their starchier cousin, yams, for this dish. The cooking time will be slightly longer if you make the recipe with yams.
  • Butter–If you have only unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt along with the rest of your spices when you melt the butter.
  • Sugar–This candied sweet potato recipe calls for granulated and brown sugar to create a sweet caramel syrup that bathes the potatoes. I recommend using both–the flavor’s wonderful–but if you’d like the syrup to be less sweet and more buttery, feel free to reduce the amount of sugar.

How to Make Candied Sweet Potatoes

Sliced sweet potatoes in an oval baking dish and a butter melting in a pot on the stove.
  1. Arrange the sweet potatoes in 2 or 3 layers in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, letting the slices overlap slightly.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.
Sugar and spices added to melted butter on a stovetop and vanilla being added to the cooked mixture.
  1. Add the sugars and spices and mix well to combine.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Syrup poured over sliced sweet potatoes and a person brushing partially cooked potatoes with the syrup.
  1. Pour the spiced butter over the sweet potatoes. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Baste the sweet potatoes with the sauce in the baking dish, then return them to the oven and bake until tender.

Common Questions

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are different root vegetables. Yams are starchy, with a brown exterior and light-colored interior. They’re commonly grown in Latin America and Africa.

Sweet potatoes, which are what you’ll usually find at the supermarket, have a reddish-colored skin and interior and are creamier than yams.

Can I make these in advance?

Yes. You can slice the sweet potatoes and prepare the spiced butter up to 1 day before baking. Store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake, warm the spiced butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat.

Alternatively, you can cook the baked candied sweet potatoes, cool completely, and store them in the fridge, covered, for up to 1 day before serving. Warm in a 300°F oven until heated through.

Do I need to boil the sweet potatoes first?

No. I don’t recommend parboiling the sweet potatoes. The slices will soften perfectly as they bake.

Helpful Tips

  • Yams will take slightly longer to cook than sweet potatoes, so I recommend using only one or the other.
  • Store leftover potatoes in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in a covered dish in a 300°F oven until warmed through.

More Superb Sweet Potato Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

An oval baking dish filled with slices of candied sweet potatoes in a brown sugar syrup.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

5 / 4 votes
These candied sweet potatoes are basted in a sweetly spiced butter mixture and roasted until tender. A Southern classic.
David Leite
Servings8 to 10 servings
Calories431 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 5 medium (about 3 pounds) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and sliced about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick
  • 1 stick (4 oz) salted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • In a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish, arrange the sweet potatoes in 2 or 3 layers, overlapping them slightly.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Remove from the heat and give the spiced butter a good stir. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
  • Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes and turn to coat them thoroughly. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and baste them with the candied mixture in the dish. Cover again and bake until tender, 20 to 40 minutes more.
  • Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Baste them again with the spiced syrup in the pan before serving.


  1. Using yams for this recipe–Yams will take slightly longer to cook than sweet potatoes, so I recommend using only one or the other.
  2. Storage and reheating–Store leftover potatoes in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in a covered dish in a 300°F oven until warmed through.
I Heart Soul Food Cookbook

Adapted From

I Heart Soul Food

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 431 kcalCarbohydrates: 80 gProtein: 3 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.5 gCholesterol: 30 mgSodium: 109 mgFiber: 7 gSugar: 33 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Rosie Mayes. Photos © 2020 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Sliced yellow and white candied sweet potatoes in an oval baking dish.

These old-fashioned candied sweet potatoes remind me of Southern candied yams, which are very sweet but so flavourful. This recipe delivered what was promised. Hands-off oven-baked sweet candied potatoes.

I made half the recipe to accommodate only 2 of us, so I used two large sweet potatoes and had lots left over. I was peeling my potatoes and was surprised to find one of them was a white one. I haven’t seen a white sweet potato in quite a few years and thought it would make a nice change.

The white potatoes are harder, less sweet, and starchier than their orange counterparts. The white took an additional 15 minutes to cook, but luckily I don’t mind potatoes that are really soft, so the orange turned out just fine for me. I removed the foil for the last 15 minutes to try and thicken the sauce.

These would be perfect served with baked country ham or a salty component to dinner, and the two colours were quite attractive together. Hopefully, I can find white sweet potatoes next time I make these.

Talk about a holiday comfort food that comes together in a snap and is…sort of healthy! This dish is fabulous and a front-runner for my go-to holiday sweet potato recipe. It’s very sweet—truly candied—so while it would be stellar on your Thanksgiving plate, it could also be a stand-alone dessert.

This is delicious as-is, although I’d consider adding some grated ginger to the candied mixture next time and perhaps serving it with some lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Easy and delicious. These traditional candied sweet potatoes taste like childhood and are so easy to prepare. If you like things a little less sweet, you can cut down on the sugar.

The only thing I’d change is to cut back on the granulated sugar, and I’d use 8 to 10 sweet potatoes, as my mine were swimming in the deliciously-sweet candied sauce. I personally don’t like food that sweet, but these were still delicious. I can’t see any child, or adult for that matter, turning them down.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Garlic Butter Steak Bites

These juicy bites of sirloin, smothered in garlic and herb butter, will satisfy any steakhouse craving for a fraction of the price.

25 mins

Chocolate Muffins

Those of us who prefer a restrained sweetness and a more pronounced cocoa taste will adore these muffins. Nothing overtly sweet here. And we’re okay with that.

1 hr

Seared Skirt Steak with Salsa

Hungry for something flavorful and good-for-you? This seared skirt steak is jam-packed with everything you need.

50 mins

Leave a comment

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

Recipe Rating