Sweet Candied Yams Recipe: A Comfort Food Side Dish to Celebrate by Donna John

Sweet Candied Yams Recipe: A Comfort Food Side Dish to Celebrate

February is Black History Month. Always interested in what other races, ethnicities and cultures eat, I researched some popular African American foods. Comfort food is the name of the game here! Topping the list are macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, red beans and rice, cornbreadgreensmashed potatoes, gravy, sweet tea and candied yams. And while it's not the healthiest, it is delicious, downhome food.

I grew up eating candied sweet potatoes, which lead to more research. Are yams and sweet potatoes the same thing? As it turns out, nope, they're not. Yams have a dark brown skin and the flesh is starchy. Sweet potatoes have a reddish skin, softer flesh and are sweeter. Both are tasty, but different.

This easy candied yams recipe has only six ingredients and is the perfect side dish for chicken, pork or beef. You could use sweet potatoes for this recipe if you can't find yams. Be sure not to overcook the yams when they're boiled so they stay together and have texture. This sweet yam recipe would be perfect with that Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham or a weeknight dinner in any month during the year.

Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6


  • 3 large yams (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into pats

Here's how to make it: 

  1. Put the yams into a saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until yams are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Put the yams into a casserole dish in a single layer. 
  2. Put 3/4 cup of the reserved water, brown sugar and vanilla into a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. 
  3. Sprinkle the yams with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the sugar mixture over the yams. Cover the top of the yams with the pats of butter. 
  4. Bake in a 400-degree F oven for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Let the yams cool about 5 minutes before serving (sauce will thicken as they cool). 

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I’m definitely a fan of yams anytime of the year, even though they’re definitely holiday food too.
Elisa Schmitz
So delicious, Donna John , thanks for sharing. I'm with you on trying recipes and foods from all over the world!

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