Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

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Want to make Thanksgiving dinner as good as Grandma’s?

But do you have questions about Grandma’s sweet potato pie recipe?

What is a grandma old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe?

Grandma’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie is a legacy soul food recipe honoring traditions of West African influences in sweet potato pie passed down from one African-American generation to another. So, you are right to have questions about making this iconic dish!

Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

But no worries, I gotchu – with my family’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe, just like grandma’s because it’s her recipe! Check out the step-by-step instructions and easy recipe guide below.

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.

Favorite Grandma's old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe

For me, my grandma’s and my mom’s sweet potato pies are dessert family favorites that introduced warm spicy notes of cinnamon and clove as part of its signature soul food spices, along with silky evaporated milk in the recipe. This dessert is like an evergreen holiday. A big warm hug!

First thing: Knowing what mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie is integral to the legacy of this classic Southern dish. But, with today’s modern cooking appliances, you may be surprised that old-fashioned sweet potato pie is a very easy-to-make best soul food Southern dessert.

Kitchen equipment

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet potato pie?

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet potato pie?

*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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and flaky pie crust encasing. 
Instructions for a grandma old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe

Are there any acceptable ingredients substitutes?

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.
Ingredients for a grandma old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe

How do you make Grandma old-fashioned 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.

  1. Grease the pie pan so the pie crust does not get stuck on the pie pan while baking.
  2. 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.)
  3. Drain the cooked sweet potatoes into a colander.
  4. Peel the sweet potatoes once they have cooled to the touch.
  5. Gather the potato flesh and discard the skin.
  6. Mix the potato flesh, spices, and ingredients at high speed using an electric mixer or blender to make the pie filling.
  7. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust.
  8. Bake the pie.
  9. Let the pie cool for 2-4 hours for ease in slicing.
  10. Serve warm and enjoy! (Sweet potato pie is best served at room temperature or re-warmed.)

Pro tips: 

  • 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.

How long should a sweet potato pie sit before slicing?

What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes for sweet potato pie?

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?

What do you serve with a grandma old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe?

If you’re looking for classic soul food recipes to serve with your sweet potato pie for your Thanksgiving menu or Christmas dinner, look no further than these delicious ideas in my post HERE about what to serve with sweet potato pie.

Grandma old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe FAQs

How do you keep a sweet potato pie from getting stringy?

A blender, hand-held mixer, or electric stand mixer will automatically collect the strings on its blade for easy removal or, better yet, dissolve them. Read more about how to get strings out of sweet potatoes in my guide HERE.

Why didn’t your sweet potato pie set?

Underbaking the pie or forgetting to add eggs can cause the pie to not properly set.

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 long should a sweet potato pie sit before slicing?

How do you cut sweet potato pie?

One primary consideration when cutting your sweet potato pie is to let it set before cutting. Otherwise, the slice will fall apart like feta cheese! 

It’s best to let the pie cool and set for a few hours to a whole day. 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 the 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.
Are there any acceptable ingredients substitutes in a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?

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?

Miss Patti’s sweet potato pies include traditional sweet potato pie ingredients: nutmeg, cinnamon, and white sugar. Although her pies will satisfy, the ingredients don’t include this sweet potato pie’s soulful secret ingredients: brown sugar, clove, and vanilla!  

Black Folks Southern Sweet Potato Pie Recipes - Which one is your favorite?

Which one is your favorite?

Grandma’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie, Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe, purple sweet potato pie, Southern sweet potato pie with cream cheese, or sweet potato pie with condensed milk.

My favorite is my classic Black folks’ sweet potato pie, my families recipe adapted from my grandma. 

Understandably, your favorite is likely your grandma’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe, too. Why do you suppose that is?

What other recipes can you make with sweet potatoes?

Check out my best Southern soul food sweet potato recipes HERE!

How did your pie turn out? 

How did your pie turn out? 

Is it as good as grandma’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe?

Comment below and lemme know. 

Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
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Grandma's Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Want to make Thanksgiving dinner as good as Grandma's? But you have questions about Grandma's sweet potato pie recipe? No worries – I've gotchu with my old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe as good as Grandma's!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 42 minutes
Pressure Release Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 59 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Servings: 8
Calories: 268kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • Instant Pot Omni Plus oven (optional)
  • Instant Pot Ace Plus blender or an electric mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pound sweet potatoes washed and scrubbed (equals about 3 cups when softened and peeled)
  • 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 ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • 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.
    Add the 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.
    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.
    Once the sweet potatoes are cool to the touch, peel and discard the skin.
  • Gather 3 cups of sweet potato flesh.
    Gather 3 cups of sweet potato flesh.
  • Add to either the Instant Pot Ace blender or an electric mixer the sweet potato flesh, evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt.
    Add to either the Instant Pot Ace blender or an electric mixer the sweet potato flesh, evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt.
  • Pulse or mix until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
    Mix until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
  • Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie crust.
    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.)
    Bake the sweet potato pie at 350 degrees F.
  • Allow the sweet potato pie to cool for at least 2-4 hours before garnishing or slicing.
    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.
    Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
  • Serve grandma's old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe warm and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe Card
 

Nutrition

Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.004g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 487mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 12243IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 1mg
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