Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes

When it comes to classic Southern comfort food with a mouthwatering aroma, vibrant color, and a perfect balance of sweetness, look no further than these candied delights.

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes have secured their spot as a delicious holiday side dish on many family tables year-round, especially during the holidays. They are made with sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla, then caramelized in the oven – resulting in a sweet and indulgent flavor. 

To me, they are the ultimate comfort food and make a sweet, simple, and satisfying side dish for your holiday table.

picture of candied sweet potatoes with text overlay.

Recipe Origin

Step into a world where sweetness meets warmth with a beloved classic side dish. Sweet potatoes have captivated hearts and taste buds for generations. With their buttery caramel toffee flavor, enchanting aroma, and tender texture, these delightful vegetables have earned a special place as a classic southern dish, especially during festive gatherings and cherished holiday feasts. Candied sweet potatoes are a timeless dish and southern staple steeped in holiday traditions, but perfect to be served all year long for any occasion. 

My mother-in-law introduced me to candied sweet potatoes for the first time over 30 years ago, and they have always been a staple on our holiday table. This candied version is a family favorite, and I hope it becomes a favorite for you and your family as well.

Why Candied Sweet Potatoes Are Fantastic

These potatoes are quick enough to put together on a busy weeknight and so simply delicious for a holiday table. In addition, they make a delightful and satisfying side dish. There’s nothing more southern than a big bowl of candied sweet potatoes.

Flavor: The combination of butter, brown sugar, and vanilla creates a flavor explosion that complements the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. The buttery syrup and mouth tender sweet potatoes make this recipe a keeper for years to come.

Simplicity: The recipe’s simplicity makes it great for both seasoned cooks and beginners. With just a few basic ingredients and straightforward instructions, anyone can create this delicious and classic recipe without problems.

Comforting: Candied sweet potatoes bring feelings of comfort and nostalgia that go hand in hand with the holidays. The buttery caramel toffee flavor is mouthwatering and delightful.

Versatile: While the classic recipe is fantastic, it allows for customization. Add nuts for crunch, marshmallows for indulgence, or a little orange juice for a citrusy note; just make it your own to satisfy your preference. 

Appealing: The vibrant colors of the candied sweet potatoes create an appealing presentation for the eyes. 

Year-Round Side Dish: While this dish is usually served on special occasions, it’s versatile enough to be enjoyed throughout the year. It’s not just for Thanksgiving dinner. Serve it at a summer cookout, a cozy fall dinner, or a brunch. Candied sweet potatoes are the perfect side dish for any holiday meal, special occasion, Sunday dinner, or weeknight delight.

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes are buttery, sweet, simple, and delicious. So this year, instead of making them ordinary, make them extraordinary.

Sweet Potatoes also go great with southern collard greens.

Ingredients Needed for the Perfect Sweet Potatoes

ingredients for candied sweet potatoes with text overlay.

This is truly a simple and great recipe to make for the holidays. This recipe only takes minutes to prepare, and the simple ingredients are easy to find in your local grocery store or you may have them already in your pantry. See the printable recipe card below for the full recipe and complete list of amounts.

  • Sweet Potatoes (about 2 pounds) – Sweet potatoes come in various sizes. Using large sweet potatoes will only take about 2, depending on the weight. I prefer to use orange flesh potatoes for this recipe. Look for fresh sweet potatoes with no signs of decay, mold, or sprouting.
  • Butter – Everything is better with butter. Use what you have in your refrigerator. I usually use salted butter, but unsalted butter will also work.
  • Water – A little water to get things cooked.
  • Brown Sugar – Light brown sugar, as well as dark brown sugar, will work. I have used both, and the outcome is the same.
  • White Sugar – White granulated sugar adds more sweetness.
  • Karo Syrup – helps control sugar’s crystallization for a nice and glossy outcome.
  • Vanilla – Vanilla extract for flavoring.

Yams vs Sweet Potatoes- What’s the Difference?

Yams and sweet potatoes are entirely different vegetables. Some grocery stores will mislabel them and call them both sweet potatoes or vice versa, but it is incorrect. Yams and sweet potatoes are different in looks and taste.
Yams have dark brown and rough skin. The inside (flesh) is more starchy and compares to a regular white potato.
Sweet Potatoes usually have a smother skin with a reddish color. The inside (flesh) is orange, soft, creamy, and sweet. Sweet potatoes are more easily found in grocery stores year-round.

Cooking a Turkey couldn’t be easier. Be sure to check out How To Cook a Turkey in a Bag for a moist and delicious turkey every time.

How To Make Candied Sweet Potatoes

These potatoes are pretty simple to make, and the magic of a few simple ingredients are transformed into a delightful treat with a sweet and sticky sauce. A delicious recipe that takes sweet potatoes to a new level.

This recipe begins with fresh, peeled sweet potatoes, which are then sliced into fry style and combined with a mixture of butter, sugars, and vanilla extract. The sweet potatoes absorb these flavors as they cook, creating a luxurious and sticky caramelized glaze. You will need a sharp knife for slicing the potatoes.

Steps for making candied sweet potatoes with text overlay.
  1. First, start by peeling and slicing your potatoes – fry style.
  2. Then, melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet on low heat. Add water, sugars, syrup, and vanilla. Heat and stir until all is melted.
  3. Add potatoes and toss well until coated. Bring to simmer and cook for 20 minutes on the stovetop. Gently stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure the potatoes are evenly coated and not sticking.
  4. After 20 minutes, carefully move the skillet to a 350-degree oven and bake for 40-45 minutes without stirring.
  5. Allow potatoes to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the sauce to set on the potatoes.

Be sure to try my Southern Chicken and Dressing for the holidays.

Are Candied Sweet Potatoes Just for the Holidays?

No, sweet potatoes are not just for the holidays. While they are commonly enjoyed as part of holiday dinners, such as Christmas Dinner, and Thanksgiving Dinner, they are versatile and nutritious vegetables that can be enjoyed year-round in various ways.

Sweet potatoes are readily available in most grocery stores throughout the year, making this recipe perfect for everyday cooking. 

I make them all of the time all year long. They go great with fried pork chops, chicken, and fish.

Tips for Making the Best Classic Holiday Side Dish

  • Perfect Holiday Side Dish: A perfect holiday side dish my family enjoys and expects to see on the table every year.
  • Even Slicing: Try to make the slices as uniform as possible. This ensures even cooking. Cut your slices as uniformly as possible; this will allow all potatoes to cook at the same rate. If the sweet potatoes are large, cut each potato into quarters and slice. This makes it a lot easier to handle and slice.
  • Preheat the Oven: Moving from the stovetop to the oven will not stop the cooking process. Once you transfer the potatoes to the oven, do not stir again.
  • Stir Gently: While the potatoes are cooking on the stovetop, stir every 5 minutes to ensure the potatoes are evenly coated with the sauce. Stir gently.
  • Keep An Eye Open: Most of the liquid will cook out, so keep an eye on your potatoes during the last few minutes of the cooking time.
  • Cool: Allow the potatoes to cool slightly before serving. This allows the sauce to thicken a little bit.

Like Sweet Potatoes? Be sure to add my Sweet Potato Casserole to your holiday table this year.

Variations for this Candied Sweet Potatoes Recipe

​Pecans: Sprinkle a few pecans over the top of the sweet potatoes before baking in the oven.

Seasonings: Add warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie for a warmer flavor.

Marshmallows: Add a layer of mini marshmallows to the top of the cooked sweet potatoes and place them back into the oven until they have melted.

Storage Tips For Leftover Candied Sweet Potatoes

Bring potatoes to room temperature, then store all leftovers in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days and are fantastic reheated to eat again. The best way to reheat these potatoes is in the oven, microwave, or stovetop. Refrigerate for 3-5 days.
To Reheat: Add some potatoes to a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a few seconds. They warm really fast, so be careful.

Be sure to check out my No-Bake Pumpkin Pie for a delicious holiday dessert.

More Sweet Potato Recipes

Be sure to try my Southern Sweet Potato Pie. Add this to your dessert menu and get rave reviews.

For an old fashioned sweet potatoes casserole, check out my Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Pecan Topping.

Recipe FAQs

No. They are different vegetables with different flavors and textures.

Yes. This recipe could also work as a dessert. The sweet potatoes are coated with a sugar and butter sauce and then baked until soft. Add a little vanilla ice cream to the bowl and top with extra sweet juices from the pan.

Sausage Cranberry Stuffing is great as a side dish for the holidays.

Other Southern Side Dishes I Should Try:

23 Southern Side Dishes for Thanksgiving or Christmas
Green Bean Casserole
Chicken and Dressing
Sweet Potato Casserole
Pineapple Casserole

Southern Style Collard Greens

Be sure to check out my Southern Desserts for more delicious sweets.

Cooked candied sweet potatoes.

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes

Gina Abernathy
Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes are a delicious holiday side dish. They are covered in a mixture of butter, sugar, syrup, and vanilla, then caramelized in the oven.
5 from 35 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern
Servings 6 servings


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes about 2 large or 4 medium
  • 1 stick butter (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup Dark Karo Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • First, start by peeling and slicing your potatoes – fry style.
  • Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet on low heat. Add water, sugars, syrup, and vanilla. Heat and stir until all is melted.
  • Add potatoes and toss well until coated. Bring to simmer and cook for 20 minutes on the stovetop. Gently stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure the potatoes are evenly coated and not sticking.
  • After 20 minutes, carefully move the skillet to a 350-degree oven and bake for 40-45 minutes without stirring.
  • Allow potatoes to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the sauce to set on the potatoes.
Keyword Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes


  1. 5 stars
    I just tried this simple candied yams recipe last Sunday. It’s so much better than canned yams. I can’t wait to enjoy again on Thanksgiving.

  2. 5 stars
    I often make candied carrots using similar ingredients over the festive periods, but this will be a perfect twist for us! Love the idea of sweet and buttery sweet potatoes! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I have never tried sweet, sweet potatoes – I have always had them savoury. But this was amazing. Such great flavour.

  4. 5 stars
    Wow these look wonderful! So sweet and beautiful, love a good holiday side dish. Can’t wait to make these !

  5. 5 stars
    This is the first time ever I loved a sweet potatoes recipe! So glad I gave it a chance, becasue I usually dislike it, thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    These are outstanding. Had these at a restaurant once and was hoping to find a recipe to recreate them. This is it! That candied coating really make it.

  7. 5 stars
    First time trying sweetener sweet potatoes and I am a absolutely obsessed! I made these with vegan butter instead of dairy butter, but it worked out just as great. 10/10 recommend

  8. 5 stars
    We love sweet potatoes in my house, so I was glad to find this easy recipe to try. There is nothing better than a southern recipe and the potatoes came out perfect with the right amount of sweetness.

  9. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It’s my absolute favorite way to make sweet potatoes. Definitely making again for Thanksgiving!

  10. 5 stars
    These candied sweet potatoes are magnificent! I’ll have to make a double batch for my family. They are going to love these.

  11. 5 stars
    Candied sweet potatoes are always a fixture on our Thanksgiving table, and I’m so glad I found this recipe to try this year!

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