Baked Candied Yams

4.88 from 16 votes
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Candied yams are a must-have side dish for your Thanksgiving dinner that satisfies sweet and savory cravings. This recipe uses an easy two-step baking method that ensures fork-tender slices, while a combination of maple syrup, brown sugar, and warm spices creates a flavorful glaze.

If you’re a fan of yams, you might want to try my recipes for mashed sweet potatoes and baked sweet potatoes.

Baked candied yams in a baking dish after coming out of the oven.

This candied yams recipe (also called candied sweet potatoes) allows the beloved bright orange root vegetable to shine. This version is a lighter alternative to those sugar-heavy recipes out there.

To save you stove space, active cooking time, and clean up, I use a simple two-step baking method to cook the sweet potatoes. For this technique, you only touch the potatoes once. A final brushing of spiced syrup adds just the right amount of glaze for an absolutely delicious side dish to steal the attention at your holiday meal.

Thick slices of sweet potato in a large mixing bowl.
Step 1. Prepare the yams

Sweet potato selection

Grab the darker reddish-brown skinned potatoes (the Jewel or Beauregard variety) with bright orange flesh. They’re usually sweeter and moister. The deep orange color is due to the abundance of beta-carotene in the flesh, bumping up the nutrient levels!

Sweet potatoes or Ipomoea batatas are part of the Convolvulaceae family. They come in different varieties and flesh colors like orange, purple, yellow, and white. Any type can be used, but the texture and sweetness amounts will vary. For example, white-fleshed sweet potatoes tend to be more mealy and less sweet.

Slices of sweet potatoes cooking in a foil covered baking dish.
Step 2. Bake the yams until fork-tender.

Bake the yams

After tossing the peeled and sliced yams or sweet potatoes with oil and salt, place the slices in a greased baking dish. Cover with foil; this will trap the moisture released from the vegetable and steam it. Bake at 425ºF (218ºC), and cook the yams until fork tender.

Make a sweetened syrup glaze

A sugary syrup is concentrated on the stovetop to make these potatoes candied. A combination of pure maple syrup, water, dark brown sugar, and salt is boiled until the solids are reduced.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract add a hint of spiced aroma to the sugar mixture. Boiling off some moisture makes the syrup slightly thickened so it can better cling to the surface of the potatoes.

If you like southern candied yams, you can add some orange juice to the syrup to add a citrusy flavor. Use about ½ cup, and reduce the syrup to 1 cup.

Whisking a syrup glaze in saucepan on the stovetop.
Step 3. Make the syrup glaze

Where are the yams?

True yams have a gray to brown thick barky skin and off-white flesh. They are drier, less sweet, and starchy in taste. They have origins in Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America and are primarily found in international markets. You can use them in this recipe if you can find them.

Typically when you pick up a yam at the grocery store in the United States, it’s really a sweet potato. The confusion is that the USDA requires any labeling of yams to include the term sweet potato.

A one-pan baking method

To soften the tough sweet potato rounds, they first cook covered with foil in a hot 425-degree oven. This creates a steamy environment that cooks the flesh in about 30 minutes.

The potatoes are then coated with the sweet spiced syrup and baked once more, uncovered, to reduce the glaze further. The sweet potatoes get one final brush with the syrup right before serving.

Pouring glaze over slices of sweet potatoes in a baking dish.
Step 4. Glaze the yams and bake

Extra toppings

If you can’t resist miniature marshmallows, you can add them on top to make the recipe more like a sweet potato casserole. Evenly cover the cooked potatoes with marshmallows after the baking step with the syrup.

Bake at 425ºF (218ºC) until the topping is melted and lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on it! I also like to chop some pecans and sprinkle them on top for extra crunch, with or without the marshmallows.

Making this dish ahead of time

  • The potatoes can be cooked and then refrigerated for up to 2 days. When ready to use, add the syrup on top and bake at 425ºF (218ºC) until the potatoes are warm and the sauce is bubbly for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • The entire recipe can also be made up to 2 days in advance and then rewarmed in the oven at 350ºF (177ºC) for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Reheat leftovers or small batches in the microwave on high power for 60 to 90 seconds.

What to serve with candied sweet potatoes

Frequently asked questions

How do you thicken candied yams?

Reduce the sugar cinnamon syrup on the stovetop to 1 cup before adding it to the yams. Once the potatoes are cooked and tender, add the glaze on top, and cook uncovered in a 425ºF (218ºC) oven. This reduces the syrup’s liquids and thickens the sauce’s consistency on the candied yams.

Do you put eggs in candied yams?

No, candied yams are cooked in spiced sugar syrup until meltingly tender. Some sweet potato casserole recipes use mashed or pureed spuds and add egg to lighten the texture.

Can I peel yams the night before?

Yes, yams and sweet potatoes can be peeled up to 3 days before cooking. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or foil to prevent them from drying. It can also be sliced or diced, and stored in an air-tight container, or submerged in water and covered in the refrigerator.

Serving candied yams with a large spoon.

Enhance the sweetness with heat

Even before the syrup is added, you can naturally enhance the sweetness of the potatoes by starting the cooking process in a cold oven. When making my roasted sweet potato recipe, I learned that gradually increasing the oven temp converts more of the starches into simple sugar maltose. The longer the potatoes stay between 135 to 175ºF (57 to 79ºC), the better.

Candied Yams

Candied yams are a must-have holiday side dish that satisfies both sweet and savory cravings. This recipe uses an easy two-step baking method.
4.88 from 16 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Total Time1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Prepare Yams – Wash and peel sweet potatoes or yams then cut them into ½-inch thick slices. Place in a large bowl and combine them with olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Bake Yams – Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish (or a 2-quart dish) with olive oil. Overlap the slices so they fit layered in the baking dish. Tightly cover the dish with foil. Set the oven rack to the center position.
    Place the potatoes inside and heat to 425ºF (218ºC). Bake until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze.
  • Make Glaze – In a small saucepan, heat the butter, maple syrup, water, brown sugar, and ⅛ teaspoon salt over medium-high heat. Frequently whisk until it has reduced and slightly thickened to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. The mixture should be bubbling as it reduces.
    Turn off the heat and whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Reserve ¼ cup (60ml) of the syrup, it will thicken as it cools.
  • Glaze Yams – Remove the foil from the potatoes and evenly pour ¾ cup (180ml) of the glaze over the potatoes.
    Bake the potatoes uncovered until the syrup bubbles along the edges and slightly reduces, about 10 to 15 minutes. Slightly tilt the pan to check the thickness.
  • To Serve – Brush with the remaining syrup glaze right before serving.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave on high power in 30-second increments until hot. A full tray can be covered with foil and rewarmed in the oven at 350ºF (177ºC) for about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Make in Advance: The potatoes and syrup can be cooked and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Add the syrup on top and bake at 425ºF (218ºC) until the potatoes are hot and the sauce is bubbly about 10 to 15 minutes. The entire recipe can also be made up to 2 days in advance and reheated in the oven.
  • Make it Paleo: Substitute the brown sugar for maple syrup. Omit the vanilla extract.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 98kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 10g (3%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Cholesterol 8mg (3%)Sodium 185mg (8%)Potassium 23mg (1%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 9g (10%)Vitamin A 87IU (2%)Calcium 14mg (1%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Christa Nelson says

    These sweet potatoes were delicious. I thought I would miss the marshmallows, but I didn’t. They had just the right amount of sweetness. I think I’m going to eat some leftovers right now!! Thank you Jessica!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay! Thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the yams. I made them for thanksgiving too! And you’re right, you don’t need the marshmallows.