Maple-Glazed Yams with Pecan Topping

A typical holiday feast around here is a rather colorful affair. Lots of browns, yellows, reds, and greens. And then there is orange. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving without a vibrant dish of garnet yams (a.k.a. sweet potatoes).

Usually we just mash them up with some brown sugar and spices. But a few years ago, we tried out this recipe from Bon Appetit and loved it! We’ve since adjusted the recipe a bit, removing the flour from the topping and replacing it with ground pecans for our gluten-intolerant family members.

Maple Glazed Yams Pecan Topping

I’ve also added a little orange zest to add a little balance to the sweetness of the dish. You could also add a dash of lemon juice for the same purpose.

Smothering yams this way, in brown sugar and maple syrup, almost turns this dish into a dessert—not for everyday perhaps, but just the thing for a holiday treat.

Updated, from the recipe archive. Originally posted in 2005.

Maple-Glazed Yams with Pecan Topping Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Put the salted water onto boil while you prep the ingredients.



  • 3 pounds of yams (red-fleshed sweet potatoes), peeled, cut into 1/4 inch-thick rounds
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (divided 2 Tbsp and 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, divided (3/4 cup and 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed


1 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a large pot of salted water (add a tablespoon of salt for every two quarts of water) until boiling. Add the yam rounds. Cook the yams until the water starts to simmer again, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, then rinse in cold water.

2 Butter a baking dish. Arrange the yam rounds in the baking dish, overlapping the pieces, layering the yam rounds to fill up the dish.


Sprinkle each layer liberally with salt. Sprinkle the yam rounds with orange zest if using. Pour maple syrup over yams. Dot with 2 Tbsp of the butter. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until yams are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

3 While the yams are baking put 3/4 cup pecans in a blender or spice grinder and grind into a coarse meal. Coarsely chop the other 3/4 cup of pecans.

4 Mix the ground pecans and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, mix in the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Mix in the chopped pecans.


5 Sprinkle the pecan mixture over the yams. Bake the yams, uncovered, until the topping browns, about 15 minutes.

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Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • Georgie Fear

    That crust looks delightful! I’ve been known to over-orange the holiday foods myself and worry I’ll turn us all into oompa-loompas. :)

    I also think this might be a fabulous dessert with apples instead of the yams. But with only 15 minutes bake time in your recipe, I’d try baking the apples first until tender, then adding the topping and returning to the oven for 15 minutes more. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks for all the fabulous eats and gorgeous photos you always provide!

    Hi Georgie, Hmm, I haven’t thought about trying this with apples. But if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  • bureaucrat

    Interesting recipe – but is this meant to be a savoury side dish or more of a dessert (am confused with the addition of salt and sugar)?

    It’s considered a savory side dish, but it is also quite sweet. ~Elise

  • alexxiscat

    Yummmm! I made this recipe and it was great! I really loved the pecan topping. The orange zest made it taste even better!

  • Angela

    My boyfriend always makes yams for Thanksgiving and last year his feelings were hurt when they weren’t so popular at dinner. I sent him this recipe and he made it yesterday. It was so delicious! He even got a few votes for the “best recipe at the table” contest! Thanks for sharing!

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