10 Mistakes To Avoid When Making Sweet Potato Pie

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Sweet potato pie is an iconic African-American soul food dessert and a staple of Southern cuisine cherished during holidays and family gatherings.

This dessert represents more than just food. It embodies tradition, evokes nostalgia, and may be single-handedly responsible for generations of warm memories, especially in the Black community.

Mistakes To Avoid When Making Sweet Potato Pie
Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie Ingredients

What are mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie?

For at least 40 years, I’ve watched my grandma and mom make sweet potato pies for family gatherings and holidays. From them, I learned why each ingredient is essential, such as using evaporated milk for a smooth pie filling, and which spices create the best soulful flavor!

Knowing the mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie is crucial to preserving the legacy of this classic Southern dish. For instance, using fresh, high-quality sweet potatoes is essential for flavor and texture. 

But no worries—I’ve got you covered! The above tip is the first of several I’ve learned from over 20 years of experience, which I’ll share to help you avoid mistakes when making sweet potato pie.

1. Boiling or steaming the sweet potatoes

Roasting (baking at a temperature of at least 400 degrees F) or pressure cooking sweet potatoes is recommended over boiling or steaming, as the intense heat breaks down the starches into sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more flavorful pie filling. 

2. Using pumpkin pie spices

Selecting the right combination of spices enhances the pie without dominating the sweet potato flavor. For a Black folks’ sweet potato pie, never pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon and nutmeg are non-negotiable.

3. Measuring by eye

Use measuring spoons for accuracy to avoid mistakes, rather than estimating by eye.

4. Thickening with flour

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! Instead, ensure your sweet potato mixture is smooth and free of lumps. A velvety filling that has some texture and is not just a thin, runny purée.

5. Using stringy sweet potatoes

A blender, hand-held mixer, or electric stand mixer will take care of string sweet potatoes by rounding up and collecting the strings from the potatoes on its mixer or blade. Read more about how to get strings out of sweet potatoes in my guide HERE.

6. Making grainy sweet potato pie

For the smoothest sweet potato pie filling, it’s best to use evaporated milk when possible. This lighter and airier dairy option helps to avoid a grainy or lumpy texture that can occur when using heavier milk with unevenly blended sweet potatoes.

7. Pre-baking or blind baking

Unlike some pie recipes, there is no need to blind bake or preheat your empty pie crust for this recipe. Doing this can cause your pie crust edges to burn. Instead, use a pie crust shield.

8. Underbaking and overbaking

Oven temperature is a pillar of pie baking, which, if underestimated, may lead to a pie that’s either too soft or frustratingly hard. Precise temperature ensures the filling sets beautifully, and the crust achieves that irresistible, golden-brown hue.

Underbaking – 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. Removing a sweet potato pie too soon will result in a runny pie. If this happens, put it back in the oven for 5-minute intervals until the filling is firm in the center and puffy.

Overbaking, conversely threatens the pie with a tough crust and dry, crumbly filling, stripping away the creaminess that characterizes a well-made sweet potato pie. 

How long should a sweet potato pie sit before serving? 

9. Serving too soon

It’s best to let the sweet potato pie cool and set it for at least 4 hours up to a whole day, making it easy to slice.

10. Slicing warm pie

Slicing sweet potato pie becomes simpler with a chilled pie. Refrigerating the pie for an hour before slicing ensures uniform slices.

The foundation of any stellar sweet potato pie starts with selecting fresh, high-quality sweet potatoes, plus the right combination of spices to enhance the pie without dominating the sweet, soulful flavor. Then, proper baking. Knowing what mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie is integral to the legacy of this classic Southern soul food dessert.

Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie Recipe™
A Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe is a delightful Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert packed with flavorful seasonings and spices in the tradition of Black folks’ soul food cooking. 
Check out this recipe!

Like this post? Pin the below picture to your “Soul Food Recipes” Pinterest Board!

Mistakes To Avoid When Making Sweet Potato Pies
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!
Check out this recipe!

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Would appreciate temp and time suggestions if cooking in an air fryer please. Also time and temp for the mini sweet potato pies using the left over filling. Delicious