This sweet potato pie recipe takes simple tubers and turns them into a smooth and luscious filling bursting with brown sugar and bold spices. The flavorful mixture bakes in a buttery homemade pie crust. It’s a tasty dessert for any occasion!
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Sweet potatoes are unique root vegetables that you can use in sweet and savory dishes. This recipe is similar to making a pumpkin pie, but the main ingredient is more readily available throughout the year. When cooked, the flesh becomes creamy and loaded with caramel notes. It makes for an ideal base filling.
To enhance the tuber’s natural sweetness, I start them in a cold oven and bake them until fork-tender. The combination of sugars, orange juice, and warm spices in the custard-like filling turns each slice into an irresistible dessert. You’ll be happy to know that you can prepare some components ahead of time to make assembly easier.
Making a sturdy pie crust
I use a combination of flour, salt, butter, and water, a traditional Pâte Brisée pie crust. It makes a sturdy structure to hold the wet filling but is still tender. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch pieces, then incorporate it into the flour using an electric mixer until coarse with pea-sized bits of fat.
Chill and rest the dough in plastic wrap for at least 4 hours, or I prefer overnight. This duration gives the gluten time to relax, so the texture doesn’t taste tough.
Preparing the potatoes
I find that baked sweet potatoes yield the most flavorful filling. The Garnet variety has a bright orange flesh that’s moist with a honey-like flavor. I start with the spuds wrapped in aluminum foil and then place them on a baking sheet in a cold oven. This cooking method allows the maltose (a disaccharide found in starches) to break down and convert to sweeter-tasting glucose (a simple sugar).
This conversion stops at 170ºF (77ºC), so not preheating the oven first is beneficial for the spuds. It takes about 75 to 90 minutes to tenderize. You’ll start to smell caramel aromas from the oven to tell it’s ready. If you like, you can bake and remove the flesh, then chill for up to 2 days before using it.
Shaping the dough
Roll out the dough slightly less than 1/4-inch thick. This size will ensure a robust shell but is easy enough to cut through. I use a 9-inch pie plate to shape the crust. A glass pie pan makes it easy to monitor the color change. Freezing the shell for 20 minutes firms up the butter so it doesn’t shrink too much during baking.
To make the pie smooth in texture
I puree the sweet potatoes in a food processor. Cool it down over an ice bath before combining it with the egg custard base. If you add it to the eggs when hot, it will curdle and cook them, giving them a graining texture.
Blind bake the crust
The sweet potato filling is naturally high in moisture, so to prevent the bottom of the crust from becoming soggy, it needs to be blind-baked at 375ºF (191ºC). This technique involves partially baking with pie weights to set the shape and then removing them to cook further.
Making the pie filling
In a stand mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato puree with granulated and brown sugar, eggs, heavy cream, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Together, the added sweeteners and acidic juice enhance the earthy flavor of the potato. To add baked notes, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, add a punch of spices.
Bake the pie
The pie shell does not need to be cooled down. Just spread the filling evenly inside. Only add in enough before it hits the edges. You may have leftovers, especially if the crust shrank during blind baking. The moderate oven temperature at 350ºF (177ºC) allows the custard to be gently set without overcooking the crust.
The moisture that evaporates from the filling creates a steamy environment in the oven. Because of this, the shell doesn’t brown as quickly. If needed, you can fold some foil over the edges to slow down the cooking process.
How long to bake sweet potato pie?
It takes about 50 to 60 minutes of baking time. To tell when the filling has been set, it should be firm when touched and hold its shape. Also, if the tip of a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it’s ready.
Cool before serving
Allow the pie to cool down before serving, about 3 hours at room temperature. If you’re not eating right away, you should refrigerate the pie. It contains eggs, dairy, and fresh sweet potatoes, so it should be chilled to prevent spoilage.
Baking with pie weights
This recipe for sweet potato pie is unique in that you almost wholly bake the pie crust. The wet potato filling can cause it to become raw in taste if not properly prebaked. The weights are only left in about half the time. That’s because to achieve a flaky bottom crust; the dough needs to be exposed to heat, which allows the steam to escape and dry out. If the weights are left in, they trap the moisture, creating an undercooked pastry.
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Sweet Potato Pie
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼" cubes, chilled
- ½ ice-cold water, chilled
Sweet Potato Filling
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, Garnet variety
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Prepare the Ingredients – Add ice cubes and water to a measuring cup. Cut the butter into 1/4" cubes. Place both items in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Break Down the Butter – In a stand mixer bowl, add the flour and salt. Combine using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed (Stir) for about 10-seconds. Add chilled diced butter to the bowl. On the lowest speed, turn the mixer on and off quickly for a few seconds to coat the butter with the flour to prevent the flour from spilling.Continue to mix at low speed until the flour and butter resemble wet sand with coarse crumbles and pea-sized pieces remaining, about 60 to 70-seconds. Use your fingers to break up any large pieces. Do not over-mix. The dough should not bind together before adding the water.
- Hydrate the Dough – Gradually add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water to the bowl. After each addition, turn the mixer on for 2 to 3-seconds. Add enough water until the dough looks lumpy and hydrated but not wet or sticky. It should just begin to clump together with small crumbles on the bottom of the bowl.All of the water may not be needed, about 5 to 7 tablespoons is typical. When the dough is pinched together, it should compress and hold, not be dry or crumbly. Do not over-mix. The dough will be pressed together before resting.
- Rest the Dough – Press the dough into a 1” thick round disc and wrap it in plastic, then place it in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
- Bake the Potatoes – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with foil. Clean and dry the potatoes, then individually wrap them in foil. Place on a sheet pan, then heat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC). Bake until tender, about 75 to 90 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Roll the Dough – Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit longer until more pliable.Dust the counter and dough with flour. Rotate and dust with flour underneath and on the top to prevent sticking and make it easier to transfer. Roll into a 14-inch circle, slightly less than 1/4" thick.
- Form the Crust – Place the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess leaving a 1/2" overhang. Tuck the excess underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the pointer and thumb fingers. Place the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position. Preheat to 375°F (190°C). Place the pie dish on a sheet pan.
- Puree the Potatoes – When cool enough to handle, peel and scoop out the hot flesh and transfer to a food processor. Puree on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and place it in an ice-water bath, the water should come halfway up the bowl. Stir occasionally until cool, about 10 minutes.
- Bake the Crust – Place a piece of parchment paper inside the pie dish and add the pie weights to cover just the bottom and sides, do not overfill. Bake for 15 minutes.Remove from the oven, and allow the weights to sit in the crust for a few minutes to press down any puffed areas. Carefully remove the parchment paper with weights from the pie dish and set it aside. It will not be used again.Continue to bake again for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven. Use a spoon to gently press the base down and sides up, don’t force it too much. Finish baking until golden brown and dry, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Make the Filling – Measure out 2 cups of sweet potato puree and transfer to a bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on the lowest setting (stir) for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.Add the brown and granulated sugar, and mix on low speed for 10 seconds. Increase the speed to 2, and mix until combined, 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add the lightly beaten eggs, heavy cream, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Quickly pulse the mixer on and off a few times. Increase the speed to 2, and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides.Add the melted butter, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Mix on speed 2 until combined, about 20 seconds. Give the filing a final mix with a spatula. Refrigerate if not used right away.
- Bake the Pie – Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (176ºC). Add the filling to the bottom of the fluted shell. Smooth the surface with a spatula. There may be extra filling left over. Bake until the center is firm when touched, about 50 to 60 minutes.Cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature, at least 3 hours before serving. If not serving right away, refrigerate the pie. Slice and serve with whipped cream or desired toppings.
- Storing: A whole pie can be completely cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Let the pie come to room temperature for the best crust texture after chilling.
- Make the Potatoes Ahead: The pureed potatoes can be used the same day or stored for up to 2 days in an airtight container.
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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