Candied Sweet Potatoes


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6


Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

Often made with a heavy, cloying, canned commercial syrup and covered with sickening melted marshmallows, candied sweet potatoes have earned a bad reputation throughout the South. Today, however, cooks are learning to respect the dish more, and when candied sweet potatoes are prepared properly, there’s no more luscious addition to the holiday table—or, for that matter, to any formal or informal buffet. I knew one lady in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who always sprinkled a big handful of crushed pecans over her potatoes before baking them, an idea I still borrow when I want to highlight the rich dish.


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about pounds)
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till the potatoes are barely tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, cut into ½-inch rounds, and arrange the slices overlapping in a shallow -quart buttered baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine ¾ cup of the brown sugar, the cinnamon, cloves, water, and butter, bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and stir till the syrup is well blended.

Pour the syrup evenly over the potatoes, sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar over the top, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking till the potatoes are tender and nicely glazed, about 10 minutes, basting once with the syrup.

Serve the potatoes hot, directly from the baking dish.