Candied Yams

Side DishHolidayVegetarianSweet Potato

Candied yams, garnet sweet potatoes, glazed with a brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, orange sauce. Perfect for Thanksgiving and the holidays!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome Hank Shaw as he shares his mom’s favorite way of preparing garnet sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. ~Elise

Candied yams have always been something of a mystery to me. Growing up, we only ever ate them on Thanksgiving, which was strange because they are such a perfect kid food: sweet, rich and tangy from the orange juice. And even on Thanksgiving, its sweetness was befuddling.

Candied yams are like a little preview of dessert, a treat for the sweet tooth before the serious business of pies and ice creams begin in earnest.

As an adult, I now realize that candied yams properly occupy the middle position between the mashed potatoes and the cranberry sauce. Potatoes are starchy and rich with butter and cream, while the cranberry sauce is sweet and intensely tart. The yams borrow from each and by so doing bind the traditional Thanksgiving plate together.

Know that with a dish so classic as candied yams, there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks! If you have a favorite way to make candied yams, please let us know about it in the comments.

Candied Yams Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds garnet or ruby sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1-1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Method

1 Boil the sweet potatoes 5 to 10 min: Place the cut sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with a couple inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt.

Boil the sweet potatoes for 5-10 minutes, or until you can just pierce them with the tines of a fork, but not fully cooked (you will continue to cook in the next step). Drain and set aside.

2 Simmer remaining ingredients: Mix the remaining ingredients (orange juice, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, butter) in a shallow, wide sauté pan and bring to a boil on high heat.

3 Add sweet potatoes, cook until sauce reduces to a syrup: Add the sweet potatoes and coat well with the sauce. Boil on high heat until the sauce reduces to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

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Candied Yams

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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

37 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Nina Olesen

    This recipe was a hit!! Everyone loved it!! Very easy !! I did make one change I only used 1/2 of the Orange juice. I am putting it on my list for the future.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Beth

    Really good, one of the family’s favorites. It was a bit soupy but they may be because I prepped it the night before? Not sure, but the flavor was excellent. Will definitely make again, it was very easy.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Shirley

    I think I will try this candied Yams recipe tomorrow. I am cooking a couple of weeks early for us. I enjoy looking at the yams because minor sauce surrounds them.

  • Laymond Radford

    That’s good

  • Jimmy Lawrence

    I only used the butter, 2 cups Brown Sugar, and 1 cup Egg Nog. Sauce came out creamy, sweet, and just enough spice. Topped of with chopped pecans. Delicious!

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