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Candied sweet potatoes with pecans in a white bowl on a white surface.

Candied Sweet Potatoes (old fashioned recipe)

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A classic side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, this sweet potato recipe is simple and easy, with warm spices, brown sugar glaze and crunchy pecans. It's the perfect make-ahead dish that's cooked on the stove top. They're a southern staple for the holidays that also works with yams.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

Units
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into ¾ inch cubes. Set them aside.
  2. Place butter, brown sugar, white sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, salt, and orange juice and cook it over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Incorporate cubes of sweet potatoes and stir to coat. 
  4. Cover with a lid and cover over medium heat for 15 -20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Cooking them with the lid on will create a liquid caramel that coats the potatoes. If you prefer a thicker caramel, you can cook them uncovered for an additional 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.
  5. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, transfer them to a serving dish and serve them warm with chopped pecans (toasted or raw). 
  6. For a thicker syrup, remove the potato pieces with a slotted spoon and let the syrup reduce over medium-low heat to your liking. Serve with the reserved sweet potatoes. 
  7. For optional garnishes, you can sprinkle some fresh rosemary, a pinch of sea salt. 
  8. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for 3-4 days. Reheat before eating. 

Notes

  • How to choose sweet potatoes or yams:
    Skin: should be mostly smooth and free from bruises, blemishes, or spots.
    Firmness: when you gently squeeze them, they should feel firm and not too soft. Avoid any that feel mushy or have soft spots, as these may be overripe or damaged.
    Size and shape: even-sized sweet potatoes are easier to slice or dice evenly. Smaller ones tend to be sweeter and better for candying. 
    No sprouting: check for any sprouts or shoots emerging from the sweet potatoes. These indicate that they are older and may not be as fresh.
  • To make ahead: prepare the dish as instructed, let cool, transfer to a baking dish, cover and refrigerate. When you're ready to serve, warm them in the oven until heated through. Or just let them come to room temperature.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American