This is the BEST sweet potato pie recipe! I’ve shared over 250 recipes across my food blog, five cookbooks, and two seasoning guides, including the first and original “Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie,” my adapted family recipe that went viral in 2021!
Mmm mmm! A Black folks’ sweet potato pie tastes like warm family memories, good times, and a legacy of the best holiday traditions handed down from one African American generation to another.
Whether it’s the scent of cinnamon-sugar that sings sweet notes of “Home” like Stephanie Mills or Diana Ross in The Wiz. Or how the deliciousness of sweet potato pie and its flaky pie crust reminds you of special occasions or childhood good times gone by. Either way – grab a slice before it’s all gone!
This old-fashioned Black folks’ classic Southern dessert may be single-handedly responsible for generations of nostalgic memories – especially in the Black community. Enjoying this sweet potato pie recipe for Thanksgiving, Christmas holiday dinners, and New Year’s.
What is Black folks’ sweet potato pie?
A Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe is a delightful Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert packed with flavorful seasonings and spices in the tradition of Black Americans’ soul food cooking.
Still, some people who never had a soul food sweet potato pie may ask,
“What makes a Black folks’ sweet potato pie?“
Every Southern sweet potato pie is not a Black folks’ sweet potato pie. Unless made with a flawless blend of soul food sweet and savory spices and fresh sweet potatoes! Because Black folks are known for their unique sweet potato pie recipe. Creamy and decadent comfort food at its finest!
Why is sweet potato pie a Black thing?
Sweet potato pie has a rich history. It was made by Black folks back in Africa when they used the native-grown vegetable, yams. It’s a legacy of the best holiday season traditions handed down from generation to generation as part of sweet potato pie Black history.
What is the favorite pie of Black people?
African Americans in the United States today have continued the tradition of sweet potato pie on the holiday dinner table. So yes, sweet potato pie is a Black thing. However, with my list of straightforward, simple ingredients, it’s easy enough for anyone to make and everyone to love!
Sweet potato pies are often said to be an elevated, more soulful version of pumpkin pie because of the flavor combinations like cinnamon, brown sugar, sweet vanilla, cloves, and nutmeg. I explain more in my post about why Black people eat sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin pie.
- Instant Pot electric pressure cooker – to cook and soften the sweet potatoes
- Electric mixer or Instant Ace Plus blender – to mix and smooth the sweet potato pie filling
- 9-inch deep-dish pie plate – for a full-bodied depth pie filling
Shop my kitchenware HERE!
First things: For the best results, knowing what mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie is integral to the legacy of this classic Southern pies dish.
But no worries – Keep reading because I’ve gotchu with my complete list of ingredients and best-way instructions, including step-by-step guided pictures for making the best Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe!
Black folks sweet potato pie recipe ingredients
Black folks’ sweet potato pie and its ingredients originated from the adaptive culinary skills of enslaved Africans using new-world crops.
The dessert holds a special place in Black communities, signifying heritage, family, and historical pride. An essential addition to holiday menus, sweet potato pie exemplifies the heartwarming embrace of soul food at gatherings.
The spices are what makes this Black folks’ sweet potato pie a favorite pie recipe. There are many other great recipes for pies out there, but Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe stands out from the rest!
What spices belong in a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?
*See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients with measurements.
- Sweet potatoes – Use Jewel (best for baking) or Beauregard sweet potatoes (slightly sweeter) to make a naturally sweet pie filling with a smooth, silky texture. Learn more about what type of sweet potatoes are best for sweet potato pie HERE.
- Evaporated milk – Evaporated milk adds a velvety smoothness to the pie. (Or make this recipe with a condensed milk substitute HERE!)
- Light brown sugar – Adds a touch of sweetness with caramel-like flavor.
- Eggs – The binding agent that ensures the pie filling holds its shape.
- Butter – Adds a rich flavor that complements the natural sweet potatoes.
- Vanilla extract – For a warm and comforting balance in the flavor profile.
- Ginger – Adds a hint of spiciness and a subtle warm kick.
- Nutmeg – Adds a warm, nutty, and earthy balance to the pie’s sweetness.
- Cinnamon – Adds a comforting warmth and heat with earthy flavor.
- Clove – Contributes to the pie’s overall soulful spiciness.
- Salt – A necessary contrast to balance the sweet spice profiles.
- Pie crust – Elevates this dish from a sweet potato soufflé to a sweet potato pie with a simple, delicious, flaky, buttery crust encasing.
- Learn more about sweet potato pie spices HERE.
Are there any acceptable ingredients substitutes in a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?
You can use the following swaps for this soul food baked sweet potato pie recipe:
- Can you use Garnet sweet potatoes for sweet potato pie? Yes, Garnets have a juicy orange flesh perfect for mashing or baking. Although, Jewels and Beauregards are best for baking, sweeter, and therefore preferred.
- Can you use canned sweet potatoes? Nothing beats fresh potatoes for this incredible Black folks’ homemade sweet potato pie recipe, but you could use canned sweet potato.
- Can you use sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk in pie? Yes, you can use sweetened condensed milk as a substitute for evaporated milk in sweet potato pie. Here’s my sweet potato pie recipe with condensed milk. While I’ve found evaporated milk to be the smoothest and the perfect flavor additive for this Southern dessert recipe, sweetened condensed milk can substitute. Likewise, heavy cream.
- Would regular milk work as a substitute for the evaporated milk? Because regular milk contains significantly more water, it’s not a recommended substitute in sweet potato pie.
- Can you use granulated sugar? For this delicious sweet potato pie recipe, light brown sugar or dark brown sugar is best. But granulated sugar can also work in a pinch.
- If you do not prepare the pie crust from scratch, can you use a frozen pie crust? Yes, you can absolutely use a frozen pie crust, pie shell, or store-bought pie dough. Even a frozen pie crust already nestled in an aluminum foil pan. Thaw, add your filling, and bake the pie on the oven rack or a baking sheet.
How do you make a Black folks’ Southern sweet potato pie?
This pie is traditionally made with softened or mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, butter, and the best harmonious blend of vanilla, cinnamon, and other sweet potato pie spices.
Do you preheat (blind bake) the pie crust? No need to pre-bake, which could cause your pie crust edges to overcook or burn later when the pie is filled.
*See the recipe card below for a detailed list of instructions with step-by-step guided pictures.
- Grease the pie pan so the pie crust does not get stuck on the pie pan while baking.
- Pressure cook or roast the sweet potatoes. (Pressure cooking in an Instant Pot is the fastest and recommended way to peel the sweet potatoes easily.)
- Drain the cooked sweet potatoes into a colander.
- Peel the sweet potatoes once they have cooled to the touch.
- Gather the potato flesh and discard the skin.
- Mix the potato flesh, spices, and ingredients at high speed using an electric mixer or blender to make the pie filling.
- Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust.
- Bake the pie.
- Let the pie cool for 2-4 hours before garnishing or slicing.
- Serve warm and enjoy! (Sweet potato pie is best served at room temperature or re-warmed.)
- Does this recipe make two pies or one? Depending on how deep of a dish your pie pan is, you’ll probably have leftover sweet potato mix to make mini sweet potato pies.
- Use any leftover pie dough for the easiest Southern dessert ever – flaky homemade pie crust cookies!
Watch the video to see how to make sweet potato pie step-by-step with key moments.
What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes for sweet potato pie?
And how do you prepare the sweet potatoes to be mashed?
The easiest method is to use an Instant Pot pressure cooker to soften and peel the sweet potatoes quickly and almost effortlessly to prepare them for mashing. You won’t even need a potato masher!
Should you roast or boil sweet potatoes for pie?
Roasting or pressure cooking the sweet potatoes is recommended over boiling or steaming.
Learn more about the best way to cook sweet potatoes for sweet potato pie in my post HERE.
Do you eat sweet potato pie hot or cold?
Sweet potato pie is best served warm or at room temperature. Most pies are left unrefrigerated while family and friends feast on the dessert. Then, it’s chilled in the fridge to store the leftovers and warmed up before serving again.
What do you serve with Black folks sweet potato pie?
If you’re looking for classic soul food recipes like sweet potato casserole and other authentic Southern soul food recipes to serve with your sweet potato pie, look no further than these delicious ideas in my post HERE about what to serve with sweet potato pie.
Black folks sweet potato pie recipe FAQs & success tips
How do you get the strings out of sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes stored at the wrong temperature can become stringy when cooked. But, no worries, a blender, hand-held mixer, or stand electric mixer will round up and collect the strings with the mixers or blade or dissolve the strings. Read more about how to get strings out of sweet potatoes in my guide HERE.
Why is your sweet potato pie runny?
If your sweet potato pie turns out runny after baking – don’t fret! Instead, put it back in the oven for five-minute intervals until the filling is puffed and firm in the center.
How can you thicken your sweet potato pie filling?
While many recipes call for adding flour for thickening, you don’t want to do this for a soul food sweet potato pie filling. It could compromise the unique Southern soul food flavors.
To avoid needing to thicken the pie filling, before cooking, make sure your sweet potato mixture has some texture and is not just a thin, runny purée.
How do you know when the filling is cooked?
The pie is done is when you can see the center of the pie filling puffing in the oven and its firm and not runny or jiggly.
How do you keep your pie crust edges from burning?
To alleviate concerns of your pie crust edges burning, use a pie crust shield.
How do you cut sweet potato pie?
It’s best to let the pie cool and set for a few hours to a whole day. Otherwise, the slices will fall apart like feta cheese! But if you can’t wait the entire day, wait at least four hours before cutting it into pieces.
Pro tips for slicing sweet potato pie
- Be sure your knife is clean and sharp.
- A perfect uniform slice will be in your hands if you refrigerate your sweet pie before cutting.
- Wipe the knife after each slice and cut cleanly through to the bottom of your pie.
How to store and reheat sweet potato pie
Do you refrigerate Black folks’ sweet potato pie? Yes. After all, this recipe calls for eggs.
How long will sweet potato pie last in the refrigerator? The baked and cooled pie can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Can you reheat sweet potato pie? Yes, this sweet potato pie recipe can be quickly rewarmed in the oven. Or by the slice in the microwave.
Can you freeze a sweet potato pie? You can absolutely freeze whole sweet potato pies or leftover pie for up to three months. First, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and then foil, sealed tight in an airtight container.
Can you make this pie ahead? Yes, and if you’re making a Thanksgiving sweet potato pie or a Christmas sweet potato pie, it’s a good idea to make your sweet potato pie masterpiece ahead of time. (Assuming, of course, that you have the refrigerator space!)
What does Patti LaBelle put in her sweet potato pie?
Asked another way, “What is Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie recipe?” Miss Patti uses the traditional sweet potato pie main ingredients: nutmeg, cinnamon, and white sugar in her delicious pies.
Although her pies will satisfy your taste buds and sweet tooth, the ingredients don’t include my sweet potato pie’s soulful secret ingredients: brown sugar, ginger, clove, and vanilla!
Black folks sweet potato pie recipes
Which one is your favorite?
Which delicious pie? Purple Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe, Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe with condensed milk, Southern sweet potato pie with cream cheese, or Grandma’s sweet potato pie recipe.
Why is it called a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?
Also, check out my About page, which tells my story as a Black food blogger, sharing my family’s ancestral recipes and a legacy of Black people’s recipes.
What do you think about this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?
This is the best sweet potato pie recipe with the best flavor! No corn syrup or making brown butter. The ingredients are simple, but the taste is unique.
Have you had it?
Would you make it?
Comment below and lemme know.
If you like this recipe, then you’ll love these best Thanksgiving dessert recipes!
What are people saying about The Soul Food Pot Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?
- Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
- electric mixer
- 1 ½ pound sweet potatoes washed, scrubbed, and unpeeled (equals about 3 cups when mashed)
- 12 oz evaporated milk 1 can
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons butter unsalted butter, melted (or vegan butter)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Grease a 9-inch pie pan and set it aside.
- See my recipe HERE for homemade almond flour pie crust, or you can use a store-bought pie crust, dough, or pie shell that may or may not come with its own pie pan.
- Pro tip: Use an Instant Pot pressure cooker to soften and peel the sweet potatoes quickly and almost effortlessly!
- Open the Instant Pot lid and fill the stainless-steel inner pot with water to the ½ mark.
- Add the scrubbed sweet potatoes to the pot of water.
- Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 12 minutes to loosen the potato skin.
- When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 12 minutes.
- To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
- Pour the water and sweet potatoes into a colander in the sink to drain the hot water from the potatoes.
- Once the sweet potatoes are cool to the touch, peel and discard the skin.
- Gather 3 cups of sweet potato flesh.
- Add the sweet potato flesh, evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt to a large bowl to use an electric mixer (hand mixer or stand). Or use the Instant Ace blender.
- Mix or pulse until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie crust.
- Bake the sweet potato pie at 350 degrees F: in a conventional oven for 28-30 minutes, in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven for 24-26 minutes, or until the pie is puffed and firm in the center. (Remember that cooking appliance times and oven temperatures will vary.)
- Allow the sweet potato pie to cool for at least 2-4 hours before garnishing or slicing.
- Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
- Serve this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe warm and enjoy!