Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping

Holiday sweet potato pie with a pecan topping. Sweet potatoes baked with eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup and spices into a pre-baked butter pie crust, topped with pecans.

  • Yield: Serves 8.


  • 1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup plus another 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust (see pie crust recipe for instructions on pre-baking a pie crust)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of pecans, half of them lightly chopped, the other half whole


1 Make the pie crust. (See pie crust recipe for instructions on pre-baking a pie crust.) If you use a store-bought frozen crust, you do not need to pre-bake it, just defrost it 10 minutes and prick the bottom all over with a fork before using.

2 Make the sweet potato purée. In a large saucepan, cover the sweet potato pieces with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato pieces are soft when poked with a knife or fork. Drain. Purée in a food processor until smooth. You may need to add back a little liquid (a tablespoon or two of water) to get a smooth consistency. Let cool completely before using.

3 Prepare the pie. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place rack at bottom of oven. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and maple syrup until smooth. Add the sweet potato purée, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 3/4 cup of cream. Mix until completely smooth. Pour into cooled crust.

4 Bake the pie. Bake on lowest rack for 50 minutes, until filling has set. You may want to tent the edges of the pie with aluminum foil or a pie crust protector to prevent the pie crust edges from burning. Cool on rack for one hour. Then transfer to refrigerator and chill completely.

5 Make the 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, about 3 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp cream, and mix in. Add the pecans, mix to coat the pecans with the sugar mixture. Let cool for 1 minute. Pour mixture over cooled pie. Use a rubber spatula to spread topping over the top of the pie. Cool until topping has hardened, about 30 minutes.

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  1. Michele

    I grew up eating sweet potato pie (my grandfather being a chef and from the south it was a holiday favorite). I make mine with pecans too. Yours looks wonderful!

  2. Deb

    Elise, if you had never had sweet potato pie, then probably you’ve never had “little” sweet potato pies (with the sweet potato filling placed inside a rolled out biscuit and folded over, sizzled in frying pan, sprinkled with 10x sugar, and eaten immediately.) Delicious.

    I just bought some sweet potatoes yesterday and plan to make these little pies. I will try and take a picture of them and put the recipe on my blog–hopefully in the next day or two. Thank you for the “big” sweet potato pie recipe.

  3. BBQ Junkie

    My grandmother-in-law, who makes the best sweet potato pie, told me that the secret to her pies is “a lot of butter and a lot of sugar.”

    I have found that you can pretty much apply this secret to any dessert :)

  4. Lori

    I love sweet potato pie, actually more than pumpkin pie. I’ve never made one myself. This one sure looks good. I think I’ll try it this Thanksgiving. Gotta love Everyday Food magazine – you’re making me want to resubscribe! :)

  5. Deb

    The little sweet potato pies recipe is now posted here:


  6. Ben

    As a northern, I’m new to sweet potato pies. I’ve always been a fan of pumpkin pies and pecan pies as well as of sweet potatoes in general. So I had to try this recipe. I made two and served one last night at Christmas Eve dinner. It was delicious and well received. I will say, though, that it was difficult to cut because the topping really hardens like a candy coating. So with that and the whole pieces of pecan, it is easy to push the topping into the pie in the process of cutting. Also, I had doubled the recipe to make two pies and bought 9″ pie crusts, but I ended up with enough filling to make a third (possibly exceeded the amount of potato a little). I may attempt to make the third pie by mixing the topping ingredients straight into the filling. If I do, I’ll post the results.

  7. sucheela

    I made this for the office’s Thanksgiving party this year (2007). Everybody loved it. I baked the pie in muffin pan and got 18 mini pies.

    Thank you very much for the recipe.

  8. Lisa

    I made this pie for a potluck yesterday. Someone else made a sweet potato pie also. Mine was gone. His wasn’t.

    This recipe got raves! I did make one substitution, though. I used condensed lowfat milk instead of the cream. The pie still set up nicely. Very good.

  9. anna

    I think Pecans make the pie. I made this yesterday and I tried one of the pies this morning just to make sure I can serve it as I have never really made or tasted sweet potatoe pie before- I thought it was good but nothing special this morning. A few hours ago however I finished the pies by making the Pecan topping and OMG mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Sugar + Nuts, being all sticky on top of a pie. Sooo sinfully delicious. Thank you Elise!

  10. Jason - 16 years old - from Belgium

    I’ve seen recipes using sweet potatoes so many times; when I saw they were available at the market, I bought some pounds straightaway. At this time, I worked on mashing them and freezing several portions. I baked some Orange Sweet Potato Dried Cranberry Muffins the day I froze the purees and my family and I pretty enjoyed them. Today, I’ve wanted to try to bake a sweet potato pie. I searched a really-good recipe a few times ago and I decided I’ll try this one, ’cause it used more potatoes than the other ones, and ’cause of the pecans I love. I made a lovely pie crust and a wonderful filling; but I totaly miss the pecan topping! I think the problem came when I was putting the sugar in the saucepan and cooked it with the melted butter, it was kind of crumbly, and the cream didn’t arrange the thing. So, I put the pecans and cooked the topping with the pecans hoping it would be smoother.. I finally tried to spread it on the top of the cooled pie.. It was a complete disaster: the caramel hardened really quickly and I just had a crumbly caramel in the center of my pie. I was so angry and upset that I wanted to throw it away.. But I hate to waste food (and these organic products I always use), so I managed to remove the topping and this pie became a “simple” sweet potato pie. Believe it or not, I really enjoyed the piece I ate. Thanks for the recipe :)!

  11. Ashley

    Hey Elise, I was just curious do you actually use Sweet Potatoes or do you use Yams for this recipe? I have looked at several different recipes and people often call yams, sweet potatoes and mostly mean yams when they say sweet potatoes. My last attempt at a sweet potato pie I used a combination of both sweet potatoes and yams. It worked but I’m still wondering.

    Great question. Actually here in the U.S. what we call yams are orange-colored sweet potatoes. I use them interchangeably in cooking. ~Elise

  12. Christian

    Just made this. Added vanilla to it too. It was fab. Thanks for all the great ideas. This is my go to website for food.

  13. sheila

    Great recipe. I tried it and it tasted so good. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Sarah

    This recipe rocked Thanksgiving. Thank you!!!

  15. Jenn

    I also was wondering which “sweet potatoes” you were referring to in the recipe. So, does it call for sweet potatoes or orange-colored sweet potatoes (aka yams)? And is there a drastic difference if I used either or?

    I made this pie for my Christmas dinner (with yellow sweet potatoes) and it was ah-may-zing! I thought Pecan Pie was my favorite, but it’s definitely Sweet Potato Pie now.

    Much thanks!

    I don’t think it makes much of a difference which color of sweet potato you use for this recipe. ~Elise

  16. Menaka D

    Hi Elise,

    I’m planning to bake this pie for Thanksgiving (which is on Monday 11/10/2010). But I’ll be heading to my in-laws house and I rather bake this pie at my house. We’re doing the supper on Thanksgiving eve so if say I bake this on Thursday, can I freeze it? If yes, how do I thaw etc?

    Hi Menaka, I have no idea. ~Elise

  17. Tony Bastarache

    Love this blog! I am definitely going to use this for Thanksgiving, but I would like to suggest pricking the potatoes with a fork and wrapping them in foil and baking for an hour at 375 (or until they feel soft when squeezed… depends on how large they are). The potatoes will concentrate in flavor instead of having it wash away in the cooking liquid. I use this method for my sweet potato casserole, and it makes a world of difference as far as flavor is concerned.

  18. Kristina

    I want to make this for Thanksgiving, but I don’t have a food processor. Can I just use an electric hand-held mixer? Or will that totally change the consistency?

    I think you might find the sweet potatoes a little too thick to beat up with a hand mixer. You might try just cutting them up into bits, mashing them with a fork, and then beating them by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon. ~Elise


    Have you ever used canned yams instead of fresh? I will be making this to go with our New Year’s Day Dinner…thinking about adding toasted coconut in with the topping. Have you ever tried this? Thanks for your input.

    No on both counts. But if you try either, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  20. S. Willis

    I hated this. I’m from the Deep South where sweet potato pies are sweet! We achieve this by using Carnation milk instead of cream; cane sugar instead of brown and we are much more generous with the ingredients. We also use Cloves. It has an aromatic, sweet, “woodsy” flavor and seems to spice things up [pun intended]. Lastly, the measurements are just a guideline; you should always taste your batter and adjust accordingly. The only thing they got right was the topping but even that can be caramelize with brown sugar, cane sugar or syrup. This recipe was mediocre at best and I was unimpressed.

  21. Hdc

    Wish I would have found your instructions first. All other websites have you put in sweet potato filling then pecan and bake. While it taste fine,it isnt servable. Arg! This us not a cheap pie to make. Guess I will try again tonight. The bourbon sauce is actually whipped cream that is hinted with bourbon. That part turned out great.lol.

  22. H.S.

    I am also from the Deep South where lard runs free through recipies. This pie was FABULOUS!!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I tested it on my family, to use for the Holidays as well as a ‘cook-off’ that we always participate in every year with our friends. I have no doubt that this pie will get me in the top 5. Yummy!!!!

  23. k3v0

    i like to hit the sugar crust with a torch to really make it crisp and toast the pecans.

  24. Martha

    Hello, I just made these in little muffin tins using white yams and walnuts. I will be serving them tommorrow evening for one of my desserts on New Years Eve. I thank you for this recipe!!! ps, my hubby alrteady stole one and says it Terrific!!!!