Nov 05, 2023
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Candied yams add a comforting Southern flair to your holiday table. Sliced yams are coated in a buttery, sugary, spiced glaze, and baked until beautifully caramelized. It’s one sweet side dish that will have everyone going back for seconds!
I’m a sucker for candied yams at Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect sweet side dish to balance all the savory options on the table (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself).
This recipe has Southern roots and is different from a sweet potato casserole which often has marshmallows on top (though I top mine with nuts). Candied yams have a roasted sweet potato base, which is then tossed in the most delicious, syrupy sauce, before being baked to perfection.
And let me emphasize just how good the sauce is. It’s simple, sweet, and spiced — making it hard to stop at one bite. So if you need a new potato dish to add to your Thanksgiving menu this year, you can’t go wrong with this classic Southern candied yams recipe.
Candied Yams Ingredients
- Yams: To simplify the confusion of yams versus sweet potatoes (which I talk more about below), just know that I’m using sweet potatoes in this recipe.
- Sugar: Most recipes use brown sugar. But today, I’m using a mix of coconut sugar and blackstrap molasses that gives the same effect — but with no refined sugar. Plus, it imparts a slight hint of caramel that I love.
- Butter: Make sure to grab unsalted butter, so it’s not overly salty.
- Orange Juice: You can use store-bought orange juice, though I do recommend freshly squeezed. Plus, you can use the orange zest to garnish your candied yams at the end.
- Spices & Flavoring: Vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger give this side dish so much seasonal flavor.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below
Yams versus Sweet Potatoes
Although we call these “candied yams,” most yams sold in the United States are actually sweet potatoes. True yams have rough brown skin and white flesh. They’re also much starchier and dry when cooked.
The average American sweet potato has red-orange skin, vibrant orange flesh, and is sweet when cooked (hence the name). So if this type of potato is labeled as “yams” at your local market, just know that they’re actually sweet potatoes.
How To Make Candied Yams
Peel and cut. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Peel the yams and cut them into chunks, about 1-inch to 1 ½-inches in size. Then, add them to a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
Make the sauce. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, orange juice, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
Coat the yams. Pour the sugar sauce over the yams, and stir them together so that the yams are well coated. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the yams are fork-tender and caramelized. Note: Don’t cover the pan with foil as you want some of the liquid to evaporate, so that you end up with a more syrupy sauce.
Garnish the yams. Before serving, I love to add fresh orange zest on top for an extra citrus touch.
- To store leftovers: Any leftovers (if there are any) will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- To freeze for later: Technically, you can freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. However, the yams will turn soft upon reheating due to the sauce and moisture from the yams.
- For reheating: Heating them in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes is the quickest way to warm them up.
- Make ahead-tips: To reduce stress on Thanksgiving, you can always peel and chop the yams ahead of time, place them in the casserole dish, and cover tightly with plastic wrap, before placing in the fridge. You can also make the glaze ahead of time and store it in a separate airtight container in the fridge. Then, just combine the two and proceed with the instructions for baking.
More Thanksgiving Sides
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Another staple to add to your Thanksgiving table.
- Stuffed Mushrooms: These are a great side dish or appetizer.
- Creamed Corn: Add this sweet and creamy pop of yellow to the table.
- Scalloped Potatoes: Cheesy potato goodness in one skillet.
- Balsamic Bacon Brussels Sprouts: The best way to serve Brussels sprouts.
- Parmesan Herb Roasted Acorn Squash: A savory twist everyone will love.
- For more delicious recipes, enjoy my curated list of Thanksgiving side dishes!
I hope this candied yams recipe is the perfect addition to your holiday dinner. If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community!
- Peel and cut. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Peel the yams and cut them into chunks, about 1-inch to 1 ½-inches in size. Then add them to a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
- Make the sauce. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, orange juice, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
- Coat the yams. Pour the sugar sauce over the yams, and stir together so that the yams are well coated. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the yams are fork tender and caramelized.
- Serve. Serve the candied yams warm, and if you'd like, you can garnish with a little orange zest.
- If you need to keep the candied yams warm while you wait for other dishes to be ready, you can cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil, and place in a 200°F (90°C) oven until ready.
- If you do think this recipe might sit in a warming drawer or on the table for a while before the main dish is ready, I’d also recommend under cooking them by a few minutes, so that they don’t get overly soft while waiting.
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