Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping
Have you ever had sweet potato pie? It’s the Landcruiser of holiday pies. Heavy, dense, feeds many. Similar in some respects to a pumpkin pie, but whereas pumpkin pie is all about the spices, sweet potato pie is all about the sweet potato.
You can actually taste the wonderful flavor of sweet potato in this pie, which is only enhanced, not supplanted by the additions of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla.
We’ve also added a splash of bourbon to the filling (of course, right?). You can skip the bourbon if you want, but if you have some bourbon in the house, by all means use it.
This recipe is revised and updated from one we originally posted in 2006. That recipe we adapted from Martha Stewart. We’ve changed everything except the pecan topping, which is crazy good. I’ve adjusted the pecan topping instructions a bit from the original. I find that as soon as the pecans are coated with the brown sugar caramel sauce they need to be poured over the pie, no waiting or they will seize.
We've given directions for making a homemade crust with a food processor. If you want, you can use a pre-made frozen crust. Look for a deep dish one. If you use a shallow frozen crust, you may have enough filling for two pies. In that case you may need to reduce the cooking time.
- 1 1/4 cups (160g) all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (skip the salt if using salted butter)
- 10 Tbsp (140g) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 Tbsp ice water
- 2 eggs
- 2 pounds (900g) sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sized sweet potatoes)
- 3 Tbsp melted butter
- 1/4 cup (55g) brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp granulated white sugar (can reduce to 1 Tbsp if you want less sugar)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp bourbon whisky (optional)
- 7 ounces (210ml) sweetened condensed milk
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup (64g) brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup pecans (110g), half of them roughly chopped, the other half whole
1 Make the pie dough: If you are making the pie crust from scratch, make the pie dough at least an hour in advance of making the pie. To make the dough, put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to blend.
Add half of the butter and pulse several times. Add the rest of the butter and pulse several more times, until the butter pieces are not bigger than the size of a pea.
Add 2 Tbsp of ice water and pulse a couple of times. Add another Tbsp, and maybe just a teaspoon more if needed, and pulse, just enough so that the dough holds together when you pinch it with your fingers.
Empty the food processor bowl onto a clean surface and gather the dough into your hands and form a ball. Flatten to a smooth disk about 6 inches wide. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
2 Bake the sweet potatoes: Pierce the sweet potatoes with the tines of a fork in several places.
Put on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 1 hour, or until cooked through and soft.
Remove the sweet potatoes from oven when done and let cool.
3 Roll out the pie dough, line pie dish, freeze: Remove the dough disk from the refrigerator and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before rolling it out. Place it on a clean, lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 14-inch round, large enough for a 9-inch pie plate.
Place on dough on and in the pie dish, turn the edges under and crimp the edges. Poke the bottom of the crust a few times with tines of a fork.
Place into the freezer to chill.
4 Mash the cooked sweet potatoes: When the cooked sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher. You should have 2 cups of sweet potato purée.
5 Beat eggs with sugars, spices, bourbon, sweetened condensed milk: In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla extract, bourbon whisky (if using), and sweetened condensed milk.
6 Combine egg mixture with mashed sweet potatoes, pour into pie shell: Whisk together the egg sugar mixture with the mashed sweet potato until smooth. Pour into the frozen, unbaked pie shell. Smooth surface so that it is even.
7 Bake: Bake at 350°F for one hour or until the filling has set. Remove from oven and let sit to cool down for 30 minutes or so.
8 Make pecan topping: Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and cook, stirring, until smooth, a couple of minutes. The sugar should bubble up a bit.
Stir in 1 Tbsp of heavy whipping cream. The mixture should bubble up a lot. As soon as you've mixed in the cream, add the pecans. Stir to coat the pecans with the sugar mixture.
As soon as the pecans are coated with the sugar mixture, pour them over the top of the pie. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread them out in an even layer on the top of the pie.
Let the pie cool for a few minutes before serving.