Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe

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5 from 8 votes
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Candied Sweet Potatoes make an easy and delicious side dish! Sweet potatoes are cooked until tender and caramelized around the edges in a sweet buttery glaze.

Candied sweet potatoes make a classic Southern side dish. Made with five simple ingredients, my Grandmother’s recipe for candied sweet potatoes couldn’t be easier. Along with sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and hashbrown casserole, they are always a favorite Thanksgiving side dish. But they are also great throughout the year at Christmas, Easter, and for a cozy Sunday night meal.

Candied sweet potatoes in a cast iron skillet on a marble countertop.

I originally shared this recipe in 2011 with a wonderful story of how I received this recipe from my Grandmother Verdie. That story is still included (how could I not!?), but is below the recipe if you’d like to read it. The recipe post has been updated to include step-by-step photographs along with additional cooking methods that you may find useful. I hope your family loves these candied sweet potatoes as much as my family does. It is a treasure!

Why You’ll Love These Candied Sweet Potatoes

  • Delicious side dish. The sweet potato bakes in a sweet buttery glaze until tender and caramelized. It is delicious with turkey, chicken, and beef.
  • Easy recipe. You’ll have a delectable side dish with just a handful of simple ingredients. The majority of the hands-on time in this recipe is in peeling the sweet potatoes!
  • Versatile recipe. You can include seasonings such as ground cinnamon and nutmeg if you like or enjoy it without depending on your preference. You can also cook it on the stovetop or in the oven.

How to Make Candied Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.

Ingredients used to make candied sweet potatoes on a baking sheet: sweet potatoes, butter, water, vanilla extract, and sugar.

For this recipe, you’ll need five basic ingredients. I’ve also included optional ingredients you may want to consider including.

  • Sweet potatoes – choose five to six medium, firm, sweet potatoes. I love to use organic when available.
  • Butter – I use salted butter in this recipe. If you use unsalted, you may want to add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Sugar – this recipe traditionally uses granulated sugar. However, you can also use brown sugar if you prefer.
  • Vanilla extract – the addition of the vanilla extract at the end of cooking adds so much flavor to the final dish. Don’t skip it!

Optional Ingredients

Seasonings – you can also include 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and/or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to the recipe.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prep. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch slices.

Make the candied sweet potatoes. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sweet potato slices, sugar, and water. If using the optional seasonings, add these now as well. Stir to coat the sweet potato slices. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook until the potatoes are glazed and fork-tender, 1 hour.

Candied sweet potatoes in a black skillet with a metal server.

Remove from heat and serve. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the vanilla extract, and toss the sweet potatoes in the glaze to coat. Allow to cool a few minutes for the glaze to thicken before serving.

Recipe Variations

Baked Candied Sweet Potatoes

While my Grandmother’s original recipe was made in a skillet on the stovetop, you can also bake this delicious side dish in the oven. Here’s how.

Preheat the oven to 425º F. As the oven preheats, melt the butter in a 9×13 baking dish in the oven. Once the butter has melted, carefully swirl the baking dish to make sure the bottom and sides are well coated. Then, add the sugar, water, vanilla extract, and the optional seasonings (if using). Add the sweet potato slices and toss to coat. Bake until fork tender, about 1 hour, spooning the glaze over the sweet potatoes halfway through baking. Cover the baking dish with foil the last 30 minutes of baking.

Candied sweet potatoes with buttery sweet glaze.

Storage Tips

To store. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350º F oven until warm throughout, about 30 minutes. Spoon the glaze over the sweet potatoes and serve.

To make ahead. Use the baked candied sweet potatoes recipe variation. Prepare the candied sweet potatoes through coating the sliced sweet potatoes. Wrap the baking dish tightly and store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator while the oven preheats. Bake as directed checking to make sure fork tender.

To freeze. Cook and cool the candied sweet potatoes. Store in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350º F oven until warmed throughout, about 30 minutes. Spoon the glaze over the sweet potatoes and serve.

Here’s my family’s Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe. I hope you love it as much as my family does!

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe

5 from 8 votes
Candied Sweet Potatoes make an easy and delicious side dish! Sweet potatoes are cooked in a sweet buttery glaze in this 5 ingredient dish!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions 

  • Slice sweet potatoes into round slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet and add sweet potato slices to the skillet.
  • Pour sugar and water over sweet potatoes. Stir gently, reduce heat to low, and then cover with a lid and cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 1 hour.
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Spoon the glaze over the sweet potatoes. The glaze with thicken as it cools.

Notes

Baked Candied Sweet Potatoes

While my Grandmother’s original recipe was made in a skillet on the stovetop, you can also bake this delicious side dish in the oven. Here’s how.
Preheat the oven to 425º F. As the oven preheats, melt the butter in a 9×13 baking dish in the oven. Once the butter has melted, carefully swirl the baking dish to make sure the bottom and sides are well coated. Then, add the sugar, water, vanilla extract, and the optional seasonings (if using). Add the sweet potato slices and toss to coat. Bake until fork tender, about 1 hour, spooning the glaze over the sweet potatoes halfway through baking. Cover the baking dish with foil the last 30 minutes of baking.

Storage Tips

To store. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350º F oven until warm throughout, about 30 minutes. Spoon the glaze over the sweet potatoes and serve.
To make ahead. Use the baked candied sweet potatoes recipe variation. Prepare the candied sweet potatoes through coating the sliced sweet potatoes. Wrap the baking dish tightly and store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator while the oven preheats. Bake as directed checking to make sure fork tender.
To freeze. Cook and cool the candied sweet potatoes. Store in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350º F oven until warmed throughout, about 30 minutes. Spoon the glaze over the sweet potatoes and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 122mg | Potassium: 411mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 24397IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

I’ve mentioned before how my Grandmother on my Mama’s side of the family gave me one of my most prized possessions when I was engaged to be married. You see, a friend of my soon-to-be mother-in-law hosted a wonderful recipe shower for me before our wedding.

It was an wonderful shower that was so much fun. Each person who attended brought one of their favorite recipes along with a dish to prepare or to cook the recipe.

My sister-in-law gave me a recipe for cookies that she knew my husband loved growing up along with cookie sheets. A friend of the family gave me a recipe for a chicken salad that I really should share with y’all soon along with a beautiful, huge glass bowl that I use all the time. My Mama gave me a recipe box full of blank cards and a note that she hoped I filled it with recipes my family loved through the years, just as she had filled her own. She also gave me a separate set of recipe cards that were filled with recipes she’d made all my life – some that I loved and some that she promised I would love “one day”.

There were so many other gifts, none costing the giver more than the time to write the recipe and the cost of the utensil or dish they gave me, but they were each as precious as the next.

Then, as the last gift of my shower, my Grandmother handed me a stack of two presents I could tell she had meticulously wrapped. The ribbon tied around the package had her signature bow, the same one she’d showed my sister and me when helping us tie our shoes when we were little.

I opened the larger of the two boxes to find a green glass bowl that had graced her table with fruit salad, creamed corn, and so many other dishes over the years. With tears in my eyes, I opened the second of the packages. Off came the white paper with the silver swirls to uncover the white gift box with the raised, embossed design. As I lifted the top of the box, I caught a glimpse of a spiral bound notebook – the kind that my Grandmother always seemed to have on hand. She would keep notes of prayer concerns, notes to write, friends to call, and a few months before the family reunions she’d always have a notebook full of planning details.

I lifted the notebook from the box and noticed it was already slightly worn around the edges of the cover. As my eyes caught with hers, she said, “I’ve been working on your notebook for a while now. It has our favorites.”

I couldn’t have asked for a more prized family heirloom.

My sister married a few years after I did and just like the carefully wrapped box I received, Grandmother had also prepared a special notebook for her.

Before my Grandmother passed away, she gave my Mama another of her spiral notebooks. She had jotted important things in it, including a few more notes on recipes she’d gotten from friends as they’d shared meals with one another. Written inside Grandmother’s notebook was my recipe for Spiced Caramel Apple Dip I’d made for a Thanksgiving lunch many years before.

When I saw my Grandmother’s loopy swirls with the tips a bit more wrinkled from years of arthritis, my heart caught in my throat at the honor of our recipe writing and sharing going full circle.

Now I want to share with you one of the recipes Grandmother shared in her notebooks to my sister and me. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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