Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

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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. 

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.

Grandma Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
Favorite Grandma's old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe

Making sweet potato pie Grandma’s way

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.

The difference between this classic soul food sweet potato pie recipe and my adapted family recipe, Black Folks sweet potato pie, is that Grandma’s recipe does not include the modern twist of ginger. 

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet potato pie?


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 soul food Southern dessert.

*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

Ingredients substitutes

You can use the following swaps for this soul food baked sweet potato pie recipe:

  • Different types of sweet potatoes: Jewel and Beauregard sweet potatoes are preferred because they are sweeter and the best for baking. Still, Garnet sweet potatoes have juicy orange flesh, perfect for mashing and baking. 
  • Canned sweet potatoes: Fresh potatoes are always best when making a homemade sweet potato pie. However, you could use canned sweet potatoes.
  • Sweetened condensed milk: While I’ve found evaporated milk to be the smoothest and perfect flavor additive for sweet potato pie, sweetened condensed milk can substitute. Here’s my sweet potato pie recipe with condensed milk
  • Regular milk: Because regular milk contains significantly more water, it’s not a recommended substitute in sweet potato pie.
  • Granulated sugar: Dark brown sugar will work, but light brown sugar is best. You can also use granulated sugar in a pinch.
  • Frozen pie crust: Of course! You can use a frozen pie crust, pie shell, or store-bought pie dough. You can even use a frozen pie crust already in an aluminum foil pan. Thaw it, add your filling, and then bake.
Ingredients for a grandma old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe

How to 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.

*See the recipe card below for a detailed list of instructions with guided pictures.

  1. Grease the pie pan so the pie crust does not get stuck on the pie pan while baking.
  2. Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes once they have cooled to the touch.
  4. Gather the potato flesh and discard the skin.
  5. Mix the potato flesh, spices, and ingredients at high speed using an electric mixer to make the pie filling.
  6. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust.
  7. Bake the pie.
  8. Let the pie cool for 4 hours for ease in slicing.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy! 

Pro tips: 

  • 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.
  • 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?

The quickest 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! But for this recipe, we’re using the oven to roast our sweet potatoes, just like Grandma did! 

Roasting the sweet potatoes in the oven is recommended over boiling or steaming because the intense oven heat breaks down the potato starches into sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more flavorful pie filling.
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 to serve with an old-fashioned sweet potato pie

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.

Some Southern soul food favorites to serve with sweet potato pie include soul food collard greens, Southern black-eyed peas, and cornbread dressing.

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.

How to know when the filling is cooked

The pie is done when you can see the center of the pie filling puffing in the oven, and it’s firm and not runny or jiggly. Underbaking the pie can cause the pie to not properly set, so be sure your pie is done, before removing it from the oven. 

How long should a sweet potato pie sit before slicing?

How to 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 or refrigerate, before cutting it into pieces. Be sure to wipe the knife after each slice and cut cleanly through to the bottom of your pie, for perfect slices! 

Are there any acceptable ingredients substitutes in a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?

Storing and reheating sweet potato pie

Sweet potato pie must be refrigerated for storage and will last for up to 5 days in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve it again warm a slice up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds or reheat your entire pie in the oven on warm for about 30 minutes.

Can you freeze a sweet potato pie? You can absolutely freeze whole sweet potato pies or leftover pies for up to three months. First, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil, then seal tight in an airtight container.

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 family recipe adapted from my grandma. Understandably, your favorite is likely your grandma’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe, too!

How did your pie turn out? 

What other recipes can you make with sweet potatoes?

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

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: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Roasting the potatoes: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Servings: 8
Calories: 268kcal



  • 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


  • Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes and set them aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • See my recipe 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. Grease the pie pan, place the uncooked pie crust in it, and set it aside.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and roast the sweet potatoes on it for 40 minutes or until tender. 
  • Remove the cooked potatoes from the oven, and once they're 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 the sweet potato flesh, evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt to a large bowl.
    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.
  • Mix with a hand-held or stand electric mixer 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 for 30 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 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. Then, serve grandma's old-fashioned sweet potato pie recipe warm and enjoy!
    Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top.





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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Grandma's Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
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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