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Buttery with a sweet brown sugar glaze, these candied yams are a classic southern sweet potato side dish that are baked until caramelized. It’s the perfect easy side to accompany any holiday meal!

Candied yams in baking dish.
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Easy Candied Yams

These candied yams are a classic dish around the holidays. They’re a great Thanksgiving side dish to add to your Thanksgiving menu and you can bet they make an appearance at Christmas dinner too!

The brown sugar caramelizes the sweet potatoes and adds such an amazing depth of flavor and soft texture. This recipe is less work and calories than our traditional sweet potato casserole because there is no pre-baking or mashing of the potatoes first.

It’s a simple candied yams recipe that comes together in under 1 hour which makes it an effortless side dish that never disappoints! Add in traditional favorite like green bean casserole, crockpot stuffing, and cranberry sauce for a classic Thanksgiving!

Recipe Ingredients

These ingredients are so easy to make, you can make these in under an hour! Cutting yams will be the hardest part. Create a syrup that is thick and sweet to drizzle. You will love the flavor combination of the sweet and savory side dish. These candied yams are always a favorite holiday dish!

Candied yams in white dish.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Sweet potatoes: These take the most time to peel and cut but they are worth every bite! I sliced my sweet potatoes in 1/4 inch slices.
  • Butter: Melt your salted or unsalted butter in the microwave. This will bind all the ingredients together.
  • Brown sugar: Sweeten up even more with this light brown sugar. Always a delicious way to add on top of candied yams.
  • Cinnamon: Adds a hint of spice but also blends very well with brown sugar and nutmeg.
  • Nutmeg: Ground nutmeg is slightly sweet, nutty, and has a woodsy flavoring.

Yams vs Sweet Potatoes

Making delicious candied yams from scratch means you need to go out and get yourself some…sweet potatoes?

That’s right, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same things despite their names being used interchangeably. You want to make sure to pick up sweet potatoes. Yams which are much more fibrous, starchy, and lighter in color. They wouldn’t work for this recipe!

To confuse you even more…some grocery stores will still label sweet potatoes as yams.

How to Make Candied Yams

These candied yams are soul food! So good and gives you so much comfort at the dinner table. Their sweet flavor adds the perfect combination to the savory sides. Take this root vegetable to the next level and create the best candied yams!

  • Preheat oven. Prepare a square baking pan with non-stick spray. Wash, peel, and cut the sweet potatoes. Lay the sweet potatoes evenly in the baking pan.
  • Stir together. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and seasonings in a separate bowl. Stir together until well combined.
  • Combine. Pour the mixture over top the sweet potatoes. Evenly distribute the best you can.
  • Bake. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Toss half way through and make sure the sauce is evenly distributed.

Tips & Variations for the Best Candied Yams

Enhance your candied yams with these extra tips and variations! These are simple ideas that will take your yams to the next level. Enjoy extra sweetness or a more savory seasoning with your side dish.

  • To make your candied yams with marshmallows, add miniature marshmallows on top. You could even add nuts, too, like I do in this sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans.
  • Cut the sweet potatoes into uniform sizes for even baking.
  • For a fluffier, mashed version you can boil them on the stove-top, cut sweet potato for a bit before placing them in the baking dish.
  • For an additional layer of flavor, think about adding in vanilla extract or even some orange zest.
  • Swap the sweet marshmallows for an herb finish. Top with a pinch of salt or your favorite dried herb like rosemary or sage.
  • Best served warm.
Candied yams in sauce.

Recipe FAQs

Are candied yams really sweet potatoes?

Yes! Most people think that long, red skinned, sweet potatoes are yams but there are several different types of yams at the grocery store.

How do you make candied yams with canned yams?

Unfortunately, these candied yams are not good substituted for canned yams. This recipe calls for fresh yams. When using canned yams, they will be mushy and not set up when baked.

Why are my candied yams hard?

If you store yams in the refrigerator, the yams will become hard in the center and even harder to cut.

Are candied yams served hot?

Yes, this will taste the best! The yams will melt and bake the sweet syrup mixture on top and create almost a dessert like side dish. It is amazingly delicious!

Making Candied Yams in Advance

Baked candied yams are a great side dish to make in advance. Less work on the day of just makes life easier!

Bake the entire dish without the marshmallows and allow it to cool completely. Cover and store in the fridge overnight. Add the optional marshmallows if you’d like and bake for 10-15 to warm through just before serving.

Storing & Reheating

  • To store: Keep covered and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat: Pop the candied yams in the oven to warm through, if heating a large amount. Otherwise use the microwave. You can also transfer them to the slow cooker to warm up and serve straight from there.

5 star review

“Such a perfect dish for my Thanksgiving table. Looks delicious! I’m saving your recipe right now.”

Candied yams in white baking dish.

Are you in the mood for more sweet potato recipes!? These savory scalloped sweet potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and sweet potato casserole are always a hit too!

More Holiday Side Dishes

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close up of candied yams in pan

Candied Yams

5 from 5 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Baked candied yams coated in a sweet syrupy sauce is an easy side dish that brings a beautiful balance to all of the savory side dishes included in your holiday menu!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes , peeled, halved and cut into 1/4" slices
  • ¼ cup salted butter , melted
  • cup light brown sugar , packed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon , more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt , more to taste
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg

Optional: 1-2 cups mini marshmallows


    • Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 6×9" or 8×8" pan with non-stick spray. Wash, peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/4" slices.
    • Place the cut sweet potatoes in an even layer into the pan. In a separate bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Stir and then even pour over the sweet potatoes.
    • Bake for 45 minutes (or until fork tender and they've started to caramelize). Toss half way through and make sure the sauce is evenly distributed. Add more seasonings to taste.
    • If desired sprinkle marshmallows on top and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until golden. Serve while warm.


    Storing: Store leftover in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
    Make ahead:
    These candied yams can be made the day before (just leave off the marshmallows if adding). Bake for about 40 minutes and then let pan cool on stove. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate once cooled. Then bake in the oven 10-15 minutes the next day before serving. You could also transfer to a slow cooker and reheat on the warm setting. 


    Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 394mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 16265IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: American

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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