Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

This recipe for bourbon sweet potatoes drowns the potatoes in butter, brown sugar, bourbon, and maple syrup. A great Thanksgiving side that’s still good for those of you who like it sweet but want something more elegant than a marshmallow pie.

Bourbon sweet potatoes in a white oval baking dish, sitting on a white and blue tea towel.

The turkey may be the centerpiece, but for me, the sides are the best part of a Thanksgiving feast. Each family member has that one side dish that is their favorite. For some, the entire holiday is in danger of ruin if the sweet potatoes are topped with something other than toasty brown marshmallows or the squash casserole is missing from the table.

I learned the hard way that side dishes can be added, but nothing can be removed from the menu. As a chef and unofficial person in charge of the Thanksgiving meal, I’ve tried to branch out a bit. This doesn’t mean I’ve been successful. An attempt to put panko breadcrumbs on the squash casserole deemed me an enemy of the state but this bourbon sweet potato dish is one that I’ll never change.—Virginia Willis

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes FAQs

What kind of sweet potatoes should I use for this recipe?

Tan or purple-skinned sweet potatoes are known as the “dry” varieties and aren’t recommended for this dish. We suggest that you stick with orange or red-skinned sweet potatoes, such as Red Garnet or Jewel. These are known as “moist” varieties and have a sweeter taste and a creamier texture.

Do I have to use alcohol in bourbon sweet potatoes?

If you’re alcohol-adverse, this might not be the recipe for you. With half a cup going into the syrup, the bourbon makes up a large part of the recipe and you’d have to replace it with something else. If you just don’t like bourbon, you can replace it with another alcohol like a different type of whiskey (or whisky. We see you, Canada), Scotch, or rum.

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

Bourbon sweet potatoes in a white oval baking dish, sitting on a white and blue tea towel.
Only a Southerner, inheritor of the infamous Southern sweet tooth, would add massive quantities of butter and sugar to sweet potatoes and still regard it as a vegetable. Add a shot of bourbon? No problem.

Prep 10 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr
4 to 6 servings
501 kcal
4.76 / 29 votes
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  • 4 to 6 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch (12-mm) thick rounds
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter plus more for the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum or maple syrup


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter an ovenproof gratin or casserole dish.
  • Arrange the sweet potato slices in the prepared baking dish and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, bourbon, and syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the sauce begins to boil, pour it over the sweet potatoes.
  • Bake the casserole, turning the sweet potatoes and spooning the liquid over the top occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
Print RecipeBuy the Bon Appétit, Y’All cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 501kcal (25%)Carbohydrates: 79g (26%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 12g (18%)Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 32mg (11%)Sodium: 145mg (6%)Potassium: 825mg (24%)Fiber: 7g (29%)Sugar: 42g (47%)Vitamin A: 32432IU (649%)Vitamin C: 5mg (6%)Calcium: 105mg (11%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Bourbon! Sweet potatoes! Need I say more? I’ve been pleased with all of Virginia Willis’s recipes from this great cookbook, but this one really turned heads…and noses. The smell of sweet potatoes baking in the bourbon mixture was delightful. This was a great side dish for a curry-spiced chicken and okra dish we made for some friends this weekend. This comment should tell you a lot: one of our friends who came over for dinner doesn’t even usually like sweet potatoes, but he practically rushed back over to the oven for seconds of these!

In terms of the recipe itself, I made this dish in a casserole dish to try and keep the potatoes in one layer. That made it easier to baste and rotate the potatoes throughout the cooking time. My potatoes were cooked at the 45-minute mark instead of the 60-minute mark. I loved this easy recipe and would love to try it again with some pecans or walnuts sprinkled on top.

Sweet potato yummy heaven! Make this for Thanksgiving, Superbowl Sunday, and every other fall/winter special occasion.

Anyone that makes this will tell you it was a treat just to open up the oven and smell this baking. Its wonderful goodness reaches you even before you take that first bite. The flavor that takes this to the top is the bourbon. It brings this dish together. All I can say is that any extras you may want to add will be an added bonus. I was tempted to add pecans.

These are pretty sweet, so they will be perfect for Thanksgiving, This is the second recipe I tested by Virginia Willis from her cookbook Bon Appetit Y’All. And that’s definitely a favorite saying down here in Louisiana. I’ll use her cookbook a lot more and am happy to own it.

If you like to justify what you eat, this could be called a vegetable side dish. However, this could just as easily be called dessert. The sweet potatoes come out tender, while the sauce becomes a rich, buttery glaze. It is so simple to make, it really doesn’t matter whether you eat it for dinner, dessert, or even breakfast (my husband said it reminded him of French toast). I’ll be making it again.

Originally published November 15, 2017


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. What’s the best way to make this in advance? Should I pour the sauce over and let it sit all day until I cook it – OR keep potatoes and sauce separate until baking time? I’m bringing this to a neighbor’s after-holiday party (it sounded so good – I only hope it turns out well)

    1. gayle, if you are going to prepare this well in advance, you may want to keep your sauce and potatoes separate. Please let us know how it turns out.

      1. 5 stars
        I did, as you suggested, and kept the sauce separated until cook time but forgot to take a pic until they’d been served. These were the BEST sweet potatoes I’ve ever eaten! And the party crowd thought so too. As we started to leave, I went to collect my dish and saw there were about 3 slices left. I reached to pack it up and the hostess said – oh please don’t take the potatoes! :):):) Yeah, they were THAT good!

        1. Fantastic, gayle! We love to hear when things are the best and that everyone at the party enjoyed them. Thank you for taking the time to let us know.

  2. 3 stars
    Sounded like a fabulous gathering of flavors. I made it and the sauce was really ‘runny’. Couldn’t fix it so we ate it as is. It was full of flavor — just wish the sauce had been more syrupy.

    1. Thanks for commenting, SJ. I’m glad you found it tasty, but sorry it didn’t quite meet your expectations.

  3. Is this very alcohol forward in taste? Doesn’t seem like a WHOLE lot of bourbon, but alcohol does funny things to food when cooked IMO. Will be serving to kids as well (but we’re not Puritans, so if they consume a bit o’ hooch in some cooking, it doesn’t bother me at all as a parent).

    1. Bruce, it’s not bourbon forward. But you can heat the bourbon in a small skillet and flambée it. That will burn off the alcohol; all that’s left is the flavor.

  4. I’m planning to try this recipe for Thanksgiving and am wondering if the sauce becomes syrupy? I’m hoping the answer is yes! It certainly sounds delicious!!

    1. Ivana, the sugar in the sauce will cause it to become syrupy. One of our testers described it as a ‘rich, buttery glaze’. Do let us know how it turns out for you!

    1. Kathleen, you should choose a bourbon that you enjoy the flavors of, but you don’t need to break the bank for it. Maker’s Mark or Knob Creek are good well-rounded bourbons that will work nicely here, but feel free to use what you have on hand or like best. Do let us know how they turn out.

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