Is Sweet Potato Pie A Black Thing?

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Soul food recipes traditionally combine African American foods derived from Black enslaved people’s take on American and British cuisine. 

Combined with the essence of West African color, warmth, flavors, and traditions. Sweet potato pie is one of these classic soul food recipes – causing many people to ask, “Is sweet potato pie a Black thing?”

Is Sweet Potato Pie A Black Thing?

So is sweet potato pie a Black thing?

Food is an important part of Black culture. As a Black person, I’ve always had sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. And often on New Year’s.

That’s because sweet potato pie was made by Black folks back in Africa when they used the native-grown vegetable, yams It’s a legacy of the best holiday traditions handed down from generation to generation as part of sweet potato pie Black history.

Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

African-Americans today have continued the tradition of sweet potato pie with celebratory gatherings and holiday dinners

So yes, sweet potato pie is a very Black people recipe thing – easy enough for anyone to make, and everyone to love!

What foods did enslaved Africans bring to America?

When West Africans were forced into slavery, their White captors also took from Africa what’s known today as some of America’s favorite foods.

Soul food dinner idea favorites from okra, peppers, watermelonblack-eyed peas, and yams.

What do Africans call sweet potatoes?

Yams are a vegetable similar to sweet potatoes but come from the motherland in Africa. 

We get the word ‘yam’ because Africans call yams’ nyami.’

 

What spices belong in a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?

Why are they called candied yams?

Although the vegetable used in most candied yams recipes in the US is often a sweet potato, African Americans still call this dish candied yams. 

Netflix’s soul food docu-series High on The Hog illustrates how enslaved Africans recognized sweet potatoes in the Southern US as similar to West African yams.

Are candied yams a Black thing?

Yams are a vegetable similar to sweet potatoes but come from the motherland in Africa.

 Africans were used to cooking with yams. So when they were brought to the American South as enslaved persons, the next best thing available was a sweet potato, which they also called yams.

True to Black folks’ nature, they took something from nothing and elevated yams to the soul food delicacy so many people love and crave today. Black folks Southern candied yams, and of course, Black folks’ sweet potato pie!

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

One of the most significant differences between sweet potatoes and yams is in their appearance. Yams are typically larger, while sweet potatoes come in smaller sizes.

Another difference? 

Sweet potato roots are tapered at one end, whereas yam roots are more circular. Furthermore, yams are starchier and tougher than sweet potatoes.

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 folks’ soul food cooking

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 blend of vanilla, cinnamon, and other sweet spices. 

Suggested kitchen equipment

Shop my kitchenware HERE!

Ingredients for Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe

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.

  • Sweet potatoes – A naturally sweet pie filling with a smooth, creamy texture.
  • 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 earthly 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.
How do you make a Black folks’ Southern sweet potato pie?

Instructions for Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe

  1. Grease a 9-inch pie pan and set it aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Pro tip: Use an Instant Pot pressure cooker to soften and peel the sweet potatoes quickly and almost effortlessly! 
  4. Open the Instant Pot lid and fill the stainless-steel inner pot with water to the ½ mark.
  5. Add the scrubbed sweet potatoes to the pot of water.
  6. 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.
  7. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 12 minutes.
  8. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  9. Pour the water and sweet potatoes into a colander in the sink to drain the hot water from the potatoes.
  10. Once the sweet potatoes are cool to the touch, peel and discard the skin.
  11. Gather 3 cups of sweet potato flesh.
  12. 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.
  13. Pulse or mix until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
  14. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie crust.
  15. 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.)
  16. Allow the sweet potato pie to cool for at least 2-4 hours before garnishing or slicing.
  17. Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top. 
  18. Serve this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe warm and enjoy!

Try this pie a different way: Black folks’ purple sweet potato pie recipe

Black Folks Purple Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
Black Folks Purple Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
New twist on an old classic: Introducing Black folks purple sweet potato pie recipe!
Same but new – incredible soul food flavors with a regal purple hue!
Check out this recipe!

Pro tips: 

What do you serve with Black folks sweet potato pie?

What do you serve with Black folks sweet potato pie?

A Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe is often served with a traditional soul food menu, likely to include:

Southern fried chicken or a Black folks Southern turkey recipesoul food collard greensBlack folks cornbread dressing, and soul food black-eyed peas.

Washed down with a glass of holiday eggnog or everyday Southern sweet tea!

How do you cut sweet potato pie?

Is sweet potato pie a Black thing? FAQs

What spices belong in a Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?

Here are three spices that belong in a delicious soul food sweet potato pie. 

  • Ground cinnamon is a versatile spice for savory and sweet dishes for an extra burst of flavor while adding more color. 

 Cinnamon is an excellent addition to everything from an apple pie, pumpkin bread, and even sweet potato pies! Cinnamon helps brighten up even the darkest desserts because it adds lightness to them while giving off its unique taste.

  • Ground nutmeg is often found in pumpkin pies, but it goes exceptionally well with sweet potato pie. This spice gives the dish a wonderful flavor and provides some warmth to your palate. 

 Think about how good your grandmother’s Thanksgiving meal tastes every year! Ground nutmeg has that same type of taste without being overwhelming or spicy at all. You need this for sure if you are planning on making this Thanksgiving specialty!

  • Ground cloves are that secret ingredient that gives your finished sweet potato recipes a beautiful aroma, a spicy kick, and the perfect sweetness without going overboard with sugar. 

 Ground cloves have an aromatic sweet aroma and taste. You’ll love how much more flavorful your ciderstoddiesbrines, and sweet treats become once cloves are added!

When combined, these spices create an excellent balance. Cloves should definitely be included in any soul food Thanksgiving menu or Christmas dinner.

What makes Black folks’ sweet potato pie a favorite pie recipe?

The spices. It’s gotta be the spices!

Sweet potato pie is also easy to make ahead. Easy to serve. It has simple pantry ingredients that yield a sweet and mildly spicy flavor. 

There are many other great recipes for pies out there, but Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe stands out from the rest!

If making 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, do you just double the recipe or leave the same?

This recipe calls for 1 ½ pounds of sweet potatoes. 

Two pounds will leave you extra filling for perhaps another pie!

Use the dynamic recipe card below to adjust the ingredient amounts for updated proportions.

How do you prepare the sweet potatoes to be mashed?

How do you prepare the sweet potatoes to be mashed?

Can you boil the sweet potatoes for sweet potato pie?

Yes, but 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. 

If you do not prepare the pie crust from scratch, can you use a frozen one?

Yes, you can absolutely use a frozen pie crust or store-bought pie dough.

How do you keep pie crust from getting soggy on the bottom?

Make sure your sweet potato pie filling is not runny. It should have some texture instead of being thin and watery like a purée.

If you do not prepare the pie crust from scratch, can you use a frozen one?

How long do you cook the sweet potatoes in the oven before making the pie filling?

Bake the sweet potatoes for about 45 minutes at e400 degrees F.

Or, for quicker cooking, use the Instant Pot.

What is the best type of crust for a sweet potato pie?

You can use your favorite crust.! Almond flour, graham cracker crust, pie dough, etc.

How do you keep your pie crust edges from burning?

Unlike some pie recipes, there is no need to pre-heat your empty pie crust for this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe. Doing this can cause your pie crust edges to burn.

How do you know when the filling of the pie is cooked?

How do you know when sweet potato pie is done baking?

A good indicator of when this pie recipe is done is when you can see the center of the pie filling puffing in the oven. 

Also, the center of a sweet potato pie should be firm and not runny or jiggly when you remove the pie from the oven.

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?

Asked another way, how do you stiffen a sweet potato pie?

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, make sure your sweet potato mixture still has some texture and it’s not just a thin, runny purée.

How long should a sweet potato pie sit before slicing?

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 up to a whole day. 

But if you can’t wait the entire day, wait at least four hours before slicing it.

How long should a sweet potato pie sit before slicing?

How do you cut sweet potato pie?

Pro tips:

  • This process can be even simpler if you run your sharp knife on a chilled sweet potato pie. 
  • A perfect uniform slice will be in your hands if you refrigerate your sweet pie before cutting it. 
  • Be sure the knife is clean and sharp before cutting. 
  • Wipe it off with a damp cloth after each slice and cut cleanly through the bottom of your pie.

Do you refrigerate Black folks’ sweet potato pie?

Yes. After all, this recipe calls for eggs.

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 with an airtight container.

What’s the difference between pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie?

What makes sweet potato pie different from a pumpkin pie?

It may seem like sweet potato pie is just a fancier, more flavorful version of pumpkin pie (and it is). Still, there are some significant differences between the two. 

Pumpkin pies are traditionally made with sugar, spices, and eggs. Sweet potato pies have been elevated with soulful flavor combinations like cinnamon-sugar and sweet vanilla, cloves, and nutmeg. Mixed beautifully with softened sweet potatoes or yams.

Most pumpkin pies tend to be bland, dense, and creamier. Even with the addition of pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin pie is no comparison. 

In contrast, sweet potato pie has more texture, and the filling is airier and fluffier.

What’s the difference between pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie?

Which is better, pumpkin or sweet potato pie?

If you ask Black folks, there is no debating which one is better. The answer is always sweet potato pie – as long as it’s made the Black folks’ soul food way!

You can learn more in my post about why Black people eat sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin pie.

Can you make this pie ahead?

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.)

Just remember: wrap tightly and keep in the fridge – after all, this recipe calls for eggs.

Does this recipe offer two pies or one with the ingredients mentioned?

Depending on how deep of a dish your pie pan is, you’ll probably have leftover sweet potato mix to make another. 

You could also make mini-Black folks sweet potato pies with any leftover pie filling.

How many eggs are needed?

2 large eggs will be enough if you’re following this recipe.

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:

While I’ve found evaporated milk to be the smoothest and the perfect flavor additive for this recipe, sweetened condensed milk can substitute, as I use in my sweet potato pie with condensed milk recipe. Likewise, you could use heavy cream.  

Also, for this pie recipe, light brown sugar or dark brown sugar is best. But granulated sugar can also work in a pinch.

Can you use canned sweet potatoes? Nothing beats fresh potatoes for this incredible Black folks' sweet potato pie recipe.

Can you use canned sweet potatoes?

Nothing beats fresh sweet potatoes for this incredible Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe, but you could use canned sweet potato.

What other recipes can you make with sweet potatoes?

Check out these best Southern sweet potato recipes HERE, from soups to candied yams and pies!

What is Black folks’ sweet potato pie?

What do you think about this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe?

The ingredients are simple for this sweet potato comfort pie, but the flavor is unique! 

Is sweet potato pie a Black American thing?

Indeed it is!

Easy enough for anyone to make and everyone to love!

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

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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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Is Sweet Potato Pie A Black Thing? - Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie

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