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Candied Yams or Sweet Potatoes are a staple side dish on many holiday dinner tables. This is a simple base recipe, great for beginners.
Candied yams aren’t actually made with yams, they are made with sweet potatoes. In the United States, the terms “yam” and “sweet potato” are used interchangeably. It is not uncommon for sweet potatoes to be labeled as yams in supermarkets, it is actually quite rare to find real yams in the U.S. Any orange-fleshed varieties like Jewel or Garnet will do for this recipe.
You will need 3 large yams (sweet potatoes) to serve 6 people, this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to serve a bigger crowd. The yams can be partially cooked ahead of time and refrigerated until needed if you wish. Or to save even more time canned yams or sweet potatoes may be used instead.
The sugary simple sauce is what makes these yams candied. Brown sugar, either light or dark will work. Butter, I prefer salted butter. Complete with a dash of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla (homemade vanilla is amazing).
Marshmallows are optional, but if you are serving children it’s almost a must. Large or mini marshmallows will work.
Candied Yams or Sweet Potatoes
- 3 large yams (sweet potatoes), peeled and sliced
- ⅓ cup butter (cut into pieces)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup reserved hot water, that the yams were cooked in
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 15 large marshmallows, or enough to cover the yams (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place the yams in a large saucepan or pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Just until they start to become tender and can be pierced with a fork. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- The yams can be left as slices, cut into bite-sized chunks, or mashed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer just the yams to a 1-1/2 qt. casserole dish or 8x8 inch baking dish.
- Cut the butter into small chunks and scatter over the top of the yams. Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon evenly over the top of the yams.
- In a small bowl add 1/2 cup brown sugar to the reserved warm cooking water. Stir to dissolve and add the vanilla. Pour over the top of the yams.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, twice opening the oven to spoon sauce over the yams.
- Remove from the oven and once again spoon the sauce over the top of the yams. Cover the yams with marshmallows and return to the oven. continue baking until the marshmallows are puffy and browned, about 10 minutes more. Or broil for 1-2 minutes watching closely.
- *For a different flavor replace the water with orange juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, or cider.