Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping

HolidayBakingPieSweet Potato

Holiday sweet potato pie with a pecan topping. Dense and sweet filling with sweet potatoes, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, and bourbon. Topped with candied pecan topping. Delicious!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A Holiday Pie Starring Sweet Potatoes

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.

Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping

Add a Splash of Bourbon

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.

How to Make Sweet Potato Pie

Making sweet potato pie is a two part process: First, roast the sweet potatoes in the oven. Then, scoop out the soft insides, mix the mashed sweet potato with the other pie filling ingredients, and pour it into a pie crust to bake in the oven.

Bake your pie for about an hour at 350°F. When done, the filling should be set with just the barest bit of wobble in the middle. If the crust starts to brown before the pie is done, tent the edges with foil.

Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping

Caramel Pecan Topping Makes It Special

A sweet potato pie is fantastic adorned with nothing but a dollop of whipped cream, of course. But add a caramel pecan topping, and this pie becomes irresistible.

The topping is very simple. Just melt butter and brown sugar, then toss with the pecans until coated. Spread this over the pie and it’s ready for the dessert table.

Serve Warm or Room Temperature

You can serve this pie while it’s still warm from the oven, or after it’s cooled to room temperature.

You can also make this pie a few days ahead and keep it chilled in the fridge, but wait to top it with the pecans until you’re ready to serve. Warm the pie briefly in the oven before topping with the pecans and serving, or let it sit out while you’re eating dinner so that it comes to room temperature in time for dessert.

Leftovers should be kept refrigerated and will last for about five days.

Looking for more ideas for Thanksgiving pie?

This recipe is revised and updated from one we originally posted in 2006, which 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.

Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping Recipe

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  • Prep time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Chilling time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

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.

Ingredients

Pie Crust:

  • 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

Pie Filling:

  • 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

Pie Topping

  • 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

Method

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 tablespoons of ice water and pulse a couple of times. Add another tablespoon, 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.

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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.

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17 Comments / Reviews

No ImageSweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping

Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Cindy

    Hi Elise, do you think the pie would be just as tasty without the pecan topping (for nut allergy eaters)?

  • Prema

    I made this pie on Thanksgiving. It was absolutely delicious . I followed the recipe exactly. I am a pie novice (this was my first pie). I wouldn’t change a thing about the recipe. I am making it again for Christmas.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sharon

    Do you think this could be made ahead and frozen? I’m traveling for thanksgiving, and would love to bring this on the car ride.

  • Glenn Sullivan

    I made this last night, and it is DIVINE! The only thing I’d do differently is “draw” the cut marks for the slices in the topping before it hardens., so you aren’t trying to cut through a pecan to get a slice out. Thanks again Elise!

  • Carole Sveum

    Your pie looks wonderful. In cooking or roasting, sweet potatoes and “yams” are vastly different. Your picture looks like it is made from yams. Due to added moisture, can they be used interchangeably. Almost all recipes ask just for sweet potatoes, just don’t see how they can work. Thanks

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