Black Folks Southern Candied Yams

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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 Black folks’ Southern 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 that elevate this soul food dish to divine perfection!

How Do You Make Black Folks Southern Candied 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.’

 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.

What do Southerners call sweet potatoes?

Folks in the Southern US also refer to this classic sweet potato dish as yams.

Are candied yams a Black thing?

What is the history of Southern candied yams?

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!

How Do You Make Black Folks Candied Yams?

What ingredients do you need for baked candied yams?

The most common ingredients include sweet potatoes (or fresh yams), granulated sugar, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 

Toppings for Black folks Southern candied yams include marshmallows, raisins, roasted pecans, or a pecan praline if you choose.

How do you make Black folks candied yams?

I love to make this classic Black folks recipe with a contemporary twist in my Instant Pot! 

You use the same soul food ingredients, and then Instant Pot pressure cooks the yams just right. So tender, sweet, and citrusy with buttery caramel toffee flavor – yum!

Instant Pot cooks Southern yams in a fraction of the time (only 5 minutes!), so you can get back to al ll those other side dishes to pair with your Thanksgiving yams or Christmas menu

What is the history of Southern candied yams?

Kitchen equipment for Black folks Southen candied yams

Shop my kitchenware HERE!

What Ingredients Do You Need For Southern Candied Yams?

Ingredients for Southern candied yams

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

Instructions for Southern candied yams

  1. Wash the sweet potatoes. (I like to use this vegetable scrubber HERE.)
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into thick round wedges.
  3. Then set them aside to soak in a bowl of cool water to prevent browning while you’re preparing the candied yams syrup.
  4. Melt the butter in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave.
  5. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, ginger, ground clove, and vanilla extract to the melted butter. 
  6. Mix the ingredients well to create the syrup glaze for the candied yams.
  7. Next, Drain the sweet potato rounds in a colander.
  8. Open the Instant Pot lid and add ½ a cup of water and the sweet potato rounds to the stainless-steel inner pot.
  9. Pour the syrup glaze over the sweet potatoes.
  10. Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
  11. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 5 minutes.
  12. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  13. Optional – Open the Instant Pot lid and sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the cooked, candied yams. 
  14. With the lid placed not entirely on the Instant Pot (in a resting position, so it doesn’t lock back into position on the pot) continue with the setting on ‘keep warm.’
  15. After about 5 minutes, check to see if the marshmallows have melted. 
  16. Once the marshmallows are melted, turn off the Instant Pot and transfer your Black folks’ Southern candied yams recipe to a serving dish.
  17. Serve Southern candied yams right away and enjoy!

🍠 The recipe for Southern baked candied yams is HERE.

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

Black Folks Candied Yams Recipe

What goes well with 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.

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!)

What meat goes with candied yams?

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

Instant Pot Candied Yams

Southern candied yams FAQs

From what are candied yams made?

Candied yams are made from the darling of the South root vegetable sweet potatoes.

Can you make candied yams from canned yams?

Theoretically, it is possible to make candied yams from canned yams. 

However, you should expect different results than Southern baked candied yams made from fresh sweet potatoes. 

A canned yam can also make for a runny result because they do not require the same baking time and should not be pressure-cooked like fresh ones.

How long do Black folks Southern candied yams take to bake?

Candied yams take a least 15 minutes to bake in the oven.

Pro tip: Use the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker to quickly and easily make Southern candied sweet potatoes in only 5 minutes!

Are candied yams and candied sweet potatoes the same thing?

When using an Instant Pot, do you put water in the pot?

Yes, this recipe calls for ½ a cup of water to add to the stainless steel inner pot before pressure cooking Southern candied yams.

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

Asked another way, “What is the difference between a sweet potato and a Southern yam?” Or, “Are candied yams and candied sweet potatoes the same thing?”

Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same.

Sweet potatoes are Southern vegetables that grow in the ground and are smaller than yams. They’re closely related to the potato but have a smooth reddish-orange skin, softer flesh when cooked, and a much sweeter flavor than yams.

On the other hand, yams are starchy vegetables with a more rigid texture, often compared to tree bark, and their flesh is drier and more starchy than sweet potatoes.

Should you buy sweet potatoes or yams?

Should you buy sweet potatoes or yams?

Sweet potatoes are more versatile than yams because they can be used in both savory dishes and desserts. For this reason, many people are using them when making candied yams.

Sweet potatoes contain more natural sugar. Therefore, they offer a sweeter flavor than yams.

Do you boil your yams before baking?

Boiling sweet potatoes or yams first is a way to decrease the baking time.

However, if you’re using an Instant Pot and pressure cooking, you can eliminate this step.

How do you store the candied yams?

Using an air-tight container, you can keep leftovers of this sweet potato recipe and its syrupy sauce in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Can you freeze candied yams?

Yes, you can freeze these yummy delights for your subsequent cravings! Make sure the yams have cooled down before placing them into a freezer-safe bag or air-tight container.

Can you add marshmallows when baking Southern candied yams?

Can you add marshmallows when baking Southern candied yams?

Mini marshmallows are the most common topping for this soul food candied yam dish. You can add the marshmallows during the last few minutes of baking. Or if using an Instant Pot, add them right after the natural pressure release.

Why are your candied yams runny?

If your candied yams are too runny, make sure you haven’t overcooked the baked candied sweet potatoes or yams because they will be mushy or runny. 

A canned yam can also make for a runny result because they do not require the same baking time and should not be pressure-cooked like fresh ones.

Also, make sure you haven’t added too much liquid to the sugar mixture, causing it to become runny. A few tablespoons of cornstarch could resolve this and thicken it up.

Can candied yams be made ahead of time?

Yes, with some planning.

  1. To prevent browning, the best way is to peel and cut the sweet potatoes and refrigerate them in an air-tight container with water. 
  2. Then prepare the cinnamon-sugar syrup, and refrigerate it in a separate container. 
  3. When you’re ready to pressure cook or bake, drain the sweet potatoes, and combine the ingredients.
Are candied yams a Black thing?

What do you think about this recipe for Black folks’ Southern candied yams?

Did you enjoy this Black folks’ Southern candied yams recipe?

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

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Black Folks Southern Candied Yams Recipe
Black Folks Southern Candied Yams

Southern Candied Yams The Soul Food Way

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
Pressure Release Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Servings: 8
Calories: 321kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • 9×13 baking dish (if not using an Instant Pot)
  • KitchenAid classic Y-peeler

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes 3 -3 ½ pounds
  • 6 cups water cool water
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup butter unsalted butter, or vegan butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar granulated
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon of 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

Instructions

  • Wash the sweet potatoes. (I like to use this vegetable scrubber HERE.)
  • Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into thick round wedges.
    Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into thick round wedges.
  • Then set them aside to soak in a bowl of cool water to prevent browning while you’re 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.
  • Open the Instant Pot lid and add ½ a cup of water and the sweet potato rounds to the stainless-steel inner pot.
    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.
    Pour the syrup glaze over the sweet potatoes.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 5 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Optional – Open the Instant Pot lid and sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the cooked, candied yams.
    Open the Instant Pot lid and sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the cooked, candied yams.
  • With the lid placed not entirely on the Instant Pot (in a resting position, so it doesn’t lock back into position on the pot) continue with the setting on ‘keep warm.’
  • After about 5 minutes, check to see if the marshmallows have melted.
    After about 5 minutes, check to see if the marshmallows have melted.
  • Once the marshmallows are melted, turn off the Instant Pot and transfer your Black folks’ Southern candied yams recipe to a serving dish.
  • Serve Southern candied yams right away and enjoy!
    Serve Southern candied yams right away and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 630mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 24158IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
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35 Comments

  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?