Black Folks Soul Food Candied Yams On The Stove

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Turn up your next holiday gathering by bringing Black folks Southern decadent candied yams to the table! 

Sometimes less is more when it comes to comfort foods like these sweet treats. So whether you’re hosting this year’s soul food Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or it’s a potluck at the office, Southern candied yams never disappoint when they’re made the soul food way.

Black Folks Southern Candied Yams

What are soul food candied yams?

Although more sweet than savory, candied yams are a side dish often topped with marshmallows after cooking in a buttery mix of seasonings and spices, elevating this soul food dish to divine perfection!

Candied yams became soul food when enslaved African Americans began calling the softer-than-yam sweet potatoes in the American South “yams” because they resembled the motherland African vegetable they knew and were used to cooking with. This is how candied yams became a Black thing and why many African Americans today still call soft, cooked sweet potatoes “yams.”

🎙 Listen to The Soul Food Pod episode: Black Folks Southern Candied Yams


The most common ingredients for soul food candied yams are sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Miniature marshmallows are a soul food recipe recommended but optional topping. *See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients with measurements.

What Ingredients Do You Need For Southern Candied Yams?
  • Sweet potatoes – Use Jewel, Beauregard, or Garnet sweet potatoes for smooth candied yams with a silky texture.
  • Unsalted butter (or vegan butter) – Adds a rich flavor that complements the natural sweet potatoes.
  • Brown sugar – Adds sweetness with caramel-like flavor.
  • Granulated sugar – For variation in sweetness to create the perfect candied syrup.
  • Ground cinnamon – Adds a comforting warmth and heat with an earthy flavor. 
  • Nutmeg – Adds a warm, nutty, and earthy balance to the dish’s sweetness. 
  • Maple syrup – Necessary to create the candied sweet syrupy flavor and smooth, silky texture.
  • Ground ginger (or minced) – Adds a hint of spiciness and a subtle warm kick.
  • Ground cloves – Contribute to the syrup’s overall soulful spiciness.
  • Vanilla extract – Creates a warm and comforting balance in the flavor profile.
  • Miniature marshmallows (optional topping) – Add a soft, sticky texture on top with a lightly sweet taste and texture variation.
Black Folks Candied Yams Recipe
Should you buy sweet potatoes or yams?

Should you use sweet potatoes or yams?

I’ll use the terms sweet potatoes and yams interchangeably for this recipe. However, sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing in texture or taste and should not be swapped one for another. 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.

How Do You Make Black Folks Candied Yams?

How to make soul food candied yams on the stovetop

All you need is one pot and some patience! Use the above list of sweet and soulful ingredients, and let the yams simmer until just right – tender, sweet, and citrusy with a buttery caramel toffee flavor—yum! *See the recipe card below for detailed instructions with guided pictures.

  1. Wash the sweet potatoes. 
  2. Peel and then cut the sweet potatoes into thick round wedges.
  3. Soak in a bowl of cool water (6 quarts) to prevent browning.
  4. Melt the butter in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave.
  5. Add the seasonings and sugar to the melted butter.
  6. Stir to mix the ingredients to make the syrup glaze.
  7. Drain the sweet potato rounds and add them to a large pot on the stove.
  8. Pour the syrup glaze over the sweet potatoes.
  9. Cook over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
  10. Optionally, add miniature marshmallows over the top of the dish when finished.
Can you add marshmallows when baking Southern candied yams?

Need a different method?

How Do You Make Black Folks Southern Candied Yams

Toppings for stovetop candied yams

Toppings for candied yams can vary from the classic soul food Black folks way to more Southern versions. For example, African Americans mostly add miniature marshmallows.

  • Miniature marshmallows – The traditional soul food way for topping a candied yams recipe.
  • Raisins – While candied yams do not need texture variations beyond silky, syrupy, and smooth, this is a non-African American, possibly Southern variation for topping candied yams.
  • Walnuts or pecans – Another Southern variation for topping yams with an earthy taste and bite.
  • Pecan praline – A gourmet-style, fancy addition for topping a Southern candied yams recipe.
Instant Pot Candied Yams

How to avoid runny candied yams

Make sure you haven’t added too much liquid to the candied syrupy mixture, causing it to become runny. A few tablespoons of cornstarch could resolve this and thicken it up if you’ve oversaturated the dish.

Make ahead tips

Yes, with some planning. To prevent browning, the best way is to peel and cut the sweet potatoes and refrigerate them in an air-tight container soaked in water. Then, prepare the cinnamon sugar syrup and refrigerate it in a separate container. 

Preferably within 48 hours, when you’re ready to make this soul food candied yams recipe, drain the sweet potatoes and combine the ingredients.

What is the history of Southern candied yams?

Can you freeze candied yams?

You can keep leftovers of this sweet potato recipe in its syrupy sauce in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to freeze, make sure the yams have cooled down before placing them into a freezer-safe bag or air-tight container for up to 90 days.

When ready to eat, thaw by placing the frozen yams in a pot on the stovetop over low heat until they are warm throughout.

Are candied yams a Black thing?

What to serve with soul food candied yams?

You can’t have candied yams without the perfect accompanying side dish! Black folks will serve Southern candied yams with a whole soul food Thanksgiving menu of delicious entrées and soul food side dishes.

From smoked turkey legsSouthern turkey recipeoxtail, or Black folks pineapple glazed ham

For soul food holidays, it’d be sacrilegious to serve Black folks Southern candied yams without soul food collard greens. (Uh-uh. Don’t do dat!)

Are candied yams and candied sweet potatoes the same thing?

Did you enjoy this soul food candied yams recipe on the stovetop?

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!
Check out this recipe!
Black Folks Southern Candied Yams

Stovetop Candied Yams Soul Food Recipe

Candied yams are an old-fashioned Southern African-American recipe. A sweet potato soul food side dish cooked to perfection in a cinnamon-brown sugar glaze.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Marshmallows melting: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Servings: 8
Calories: 321kcal


  • Large pot with a lid
  • KitchenAid classic Y-peeler


  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes 3 -3 ½ pounds
  • 6 cups water for soaking the potatoes once cut
  • ½ cup butter unsalted butter, or vegan butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar granulated
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon ground
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger ground or minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves ground
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups marshmallows *Optional – miniature marshmallows for topping


  • Wash the sweet potatoes.
  • Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into thick round wedges (about ½ an inch thick).
    Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into thick round wedges.
  • Then, set them aside to soak in a bowl of cool water (6 quarts) to prevent browning while preparing the candied yams syrup.
  • Melt the butter in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave.
  • Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, ginger, ground clove, and vanilla extract to the melted butter.
    Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, ginger, ground clove, and vanilla extract to the melted butter.
  • Mix the ingredients well to create the syrup glaze for the candied yams.
    Mix the ingredients well to create the syrup glaze for the candied yams.
  • Next, Drain the sweet potato rounds in a colander.
  • Add the sweet potato rounds to a large pot on the stove.
    Add ½ a cup of water and the sweet potato rounds to the stainless-steel inner pot.
  • Pour the syrup glaze over the sweet potatoes and stir to coat the potato rounds.
    Pour the syrup glaze over the sweet potatoes.
  • Over medium-hight heat on the stovetop, allow the candied yams glaze to come to a boil.
  • Then, cover the pot with the lid and cook for 50 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender but not falling apart.
  • Remove the lid, and stir the candied yams to ensure each sweet potato round is covered in syrup.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium heat and allow the yams to cook uncovered for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • When the cooking time is finished, turn off the stove and remove the pot of cooked candied yams. Optionally, sprinkle miniature marshmallows over the top of the dish.
    Open the Instant Pot lid and sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the cooked, candied yams.
  • Once the marshmallows are melted, transfer your Southern soul food candied yams recipe to a serving dish, then serve and enjoy!



Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 134mg | Potassium: 630mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 24158IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
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Black Folks Southern Candied Yams Recipe
4.91 from 64 votes (34 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    My second favorite holiday side dish

  2. Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    Can’t wait for the holidays to try this yummy recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    This will definitely be on our table for the holidays!!!

  4. Elizabeth Wedding says:

    5 stars
    This is a great blog to belong to. The recipes are easy to use and food comes out delicious without fail everytime!

  5. 5 stars
    I had three recipes, picked out to do a test run on my immediate family, before Thanksgiving. I started with this recipe as number one. I didn’t even test out the other recipes. There was no need. THIS IS THE ONE!!!! This will be forever my go to recipe for candied yams.

  6. Mary Book says:

    5 stars
    I don’t have an Insta Pot. I never saw the oven temp or bake time for this recipe. Can you please post

  7. Lewis Palmer Jr says:

    5 stars
    I made some for Thanksgiving um um GOOD 👍

  8. 5 stars
    I made this and even the ones who claim to dislike sweet potato gobbled it up! My grandmother had tears in her eyes telling me they tasted just like the way her mother (my great gran) used to make them. The only thing I did different was add a shot of bourbon. This is going in the recipe book.

  9. What happened to a recipe using the oven The ingredients look great, but not everyone owns an “insty pot” where’s the oven recipes?