Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes (Yams)

HolidayGluten-FreeVegetarianSweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potato yams with butter, brown sugar, and holiday spices. Perfect for Thanksgiving!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Mashed sweet potatoes or garnet yams can always be found on our holiday or Thanksgiving table. Most often we make a double or triple recipe because everyone wants the leftovers! Usually we just bake them, scrape out the insides, and mash with some butter and brown sugar.

Here’s the thing with sweet potatoes, they pair beautifully with oranges and holiday spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes

My father first came upon this idea in an old issue of Bon Appetit. The recipe includes grated orange peel, lemon juice, and the spices you would normally find in hot mulled cider. We’ve reduced the sugar from the original recipe, and added some salt and pepper.

The spices give the yams a wonderfully festive holiday accent!

Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes (Yams) Recipe

  • Prep time: 2 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

You can easily make this recipe a day or two ahead and reheat right before serving.

If you don't have a fresh orange for the rind, you can stir in a little orange juice instead.


  • 3 to 4 pounds red-fleshed sweet potatoes (yams)
  • 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Bake the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with the tines of a fork (this is to help release pressure as the potato cooks).

Put the potatoes on a foil-lined roasting pan or thick, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the sweet potatoes are completely tender, about 50 minutes to an hour or more. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to touch.

2 Remove the cooked sweet potato flesh from the skins: Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the insides into a large bowl.

3 Mix with brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, orange zest, spices: Stir in the brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, orange peel, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.

Use an electric mixer (or by hand with strong arms) to beat the sweet potatoes until they are completely smooth.

Sprinkle with a little ground black pepper to taste. Then taste! (But don't eat them all, even though you will be tempted.)

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Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes here on Simply Recipes

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary from Sally of A Food Centric Life

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

31 Comments / Reviews

No ImageHoliday Spiced Sweet Potatoes (Yams)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. James Moberly

    Elise, thanks for the delicious recipe, my family loved it when I did tried out the recipe a few days ago.
    Can these be frozen once made?
    Many thanks . James

    Show Replies (1)
  2. fabiola donnelly

    We’re making your version this year! I love that you used orange zest. And thank you so much for sharing my recipe :).

  3. Dan Kosta

    Thanks for all the great recipes on your site. I tried this recipe and loved it and will make it again. I also do my own simpler version that several friends have also liked. I pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork then microwave for about 6 minutes. I cube the cooked sweet potatoes and mash wit a little margarine. I add in a bit of orange juice to thin it a little and a pinch of cinnamon for extra flavor. A friend who hated sweet potato casserole (I hate it too) tried this method and became a sweet potato fan. Hope you like it.


  4. Ginny McMeans

    What a perfect side dish. It’s not too sweet and the spices are great. I have some old Bon Appetit’s too and love them.

  5. Gil Ferguson

    My local produce stores stock both yams and sweet potatoes, so you really do need to know what you are asking for and expect.

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Holiday Spiced Sweet PotatoesHoliday Spiced Sweet Potatoes (Yams)