These sweet brown sugar glazed Candied Yams are a holiday side dish staple. They're tender and sweet with a caramelized coating that makes them the perfect accompaniment for roasted turkey or ham.
Easy Candied Yams Recipe
Often in the South when you're served yams they're actually not yams at all but sweet potatoes, as demonstrated in this Candied Yams recipe. While yams and sweet potatoes aren't the same thing, sweet potatoes are readily available year-round while yams tend to be a bit harder to come by. Canned yams you may see at any grocery store are also typically made using sweet potatoes. My home state of North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the US and that's what I use in this recipe.
What's the Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet Potatoes and yams are root vegetables or tubers. While they have similarities and applications for cooking, there are some stark differences. Yams can come with various colored flesh such as white, purple and a light yellowish-orange and even pink, depending on the variety. There are hundreds of varieties of yams and they're typically imported to the US and hard to find. Yams are more starchy and dry, not as sweet as sweet potatoes which tend to be more orange hued in general but do come in other colors. Sweet potatoes typically have a thinner skin that can range from orange to brown, red, purple, or beige. Because it's thinner, the sweet potato skin is also easier to peel. There is a lesser known variety called Japanese sweet potatoes, which have a deep purple skin and once roasted, the flesh has a yellowish tint. A yam typically grows much larger, has a more neutral starchy flavor, is cylindrical in shape and has a rough brown exterior often compared to tree bark. It's extremely thick and you'll need to peel it with a knife as a vegetable peeler likely won't get the job done. Both yams and sweet potatoes can be made boiled, mashed, roasted or fried and vary in nutrient values. You can read more about the differences here on NC Sweet Potatoes.
How to Make the Best Candied Yams Recipe
- Ingredients you'll need to make homemade Candied Yams: 3 pounds sweet potatoes, orange juice concentrate (or ½ cup orange juice), salted butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice or cloves, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, vanilla extract or one vanilla bean.
- Kitchen gadgets you'll need: A deep 12 inch skillet or 6 quart Dutch oven with a lid, measuring cups and spoons, a sharp knife and cutting board, vegetable peeler and a large spoon for stirring and basting the yams with the sauce.
- I choose to slice the sweet potatoes in this recipe into "coins". However, you can cut them into cubes or into chunks. When changing the shape, it may also change how long they cook depending on the size. Adapt the cooking time as needed.
- Orange juice concentrate lends a more intense citrus flavor to the yams. You can use ½ cup orange juice to replace the water and orange juice concentrate, if desired.
- How do you make Candied Yams on the stovetop? First, in a large skillet or Dutch oven melt together the butter and orange juice concentrate with dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, allspice, nutmeg and ginger. Cook on medium heat just until the sugar has dissolved. Add vanilla extract and sliced sweet potatoes and stir to coat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes or until fork tender, gently stirring. Uncover and cook another 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce and caramelize. Let stand for 5 minutes off the heat uncovered then serve.
- How do you make Candied Yams in the oven? Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Follow the recipe making the sauce on the stovetop in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Arrange the sliced sweet potatoes in the buttered dish and pour the sauce on top. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and gently stir. Continue to bake uncovered for another 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally cooking until the sauce has thickened and the sweet potatoes are fork tender and have caramelized. Let stand for 5-10 minutes on the counter then serve drizzled with sauce.
- You can make these Candied Yams up to 2 days in advance and store chilled in the refrigerator. Gently reheat in a 350°F oven covered with foil until heated through or on the stovetop over medium heat.
More Southern Style Side Dish Recipes to Make
More holiday side dish recipes you may also like to try:
- Southern Cornbread Dressing is a must on our Thanksgiving table.
- My Creamed Peas Recipe will have the kiddos eating their vegetables and loving it.
- Slow Cooker Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole will free up oven space on busy cooking days.
- This Green Bean Casserole recipe features a homemade sauce and bacon.
- Easy Broccoli Casserole is cheesy and delicious.
- Cajun Collard Greens with Bacon are a staple.
- Double Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese will have them running to the table.
- Easy No Knead Yeast Rolls are fuss free.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- 3 lb sweet potatoes peeled and cut into ⅓-1/2 inch rounds
- ½ cup salted butter
- ⅓ cup water or apple juice
- ⅓ cup orange juice concentrate
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon allspice (or ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a 12 inch oven safe skillet melt together butter, water, orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, allspice, nutmeg and ginger. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until sugar has completely melted and the mixture has reduced slightly.
- Add vanilla extract and sweet potatoes to the skillet, turning to coat on all sides with the mixture.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, gently stirring occasionally to baste sweet potatoes with sauce.
- Uncover, increase heat to medium and allow to cook an additional 15 minutes until the sauce reduces and caramelizes.
- Let stand 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving dish and serve.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
- Follow the recipe making the sauce on the stovetop in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Simmer over medium low for 5-7 minutes.
- Arrange the sliced sweet potatoes in the buttered dish and pour the sauce on top. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Uncover and gently stir. Continue to bake uncovered for another 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and the sweet potatoes are fork tender and caramelized.
- Let stand for 5-10 minutes on the counter then serve drizzled with sauce.