Sweet Potato Pie {BEST EVER Old-Fashioned Recipe!}

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by Sil Pancho

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09.28.2021


Don’t let the demure looks or unassuming name of this old-fashioned Sweet Potato Pie fool you. This pie is deeply spiced, spiked with bourbon, silky smooth, and topped off with a homemade marshmallow whipped cream.

Old fashioned sweet potato pie recipe on a plate topped with whipped marshmallow cream

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It might be one of the great losses of our time that pumpkin pie is the one that stole the Thanksgiving spotlight.

While some pumpkin recipes are delicious (like this Pumpkin Pecan Pie), most traditional, back-of-the-can pumpkin pie recipes are rather meh—their spice level is weak, and their texture always seems a little too (what’s the word I want?) damp.

Sweet potato pie, on the other hand, is exquisite.

A slice of sweet potato pie on a plate with whipped cream and toasted coconut shavings

I’m going to go ahead and put this out there: sweet potato pie is declaratively more interesting, delicious, and food-coma worthy than pumpkin pie.

THERE. I said it.

An old-fashioned sweet potato pie tastes like wonderful warm spices, cozy notes of vanilla, and, of course, sweet potatoes. Its texture is firm, yet luscious (and never damp).

To summarize, sweet potato pie is definitively autumn on a plate.

The best old fashioned sweet potato pie recipe in pie dish with whipped topping and coconut flakes

Sweet Potato Pie History

As far back as the 16th century, sweet potatoes were being shipped from South America (where they originated) to Western Europe and Africa. In Europe, sweet potatoes became increasingly popular, and locals created a dish known as “sweet potato tarts.” When colonists came to America, they continued to make this dish.

Over time, the sweet potato tart garnered the most fans in the American South (just like this Buttermilk Pie) because they were easier to grow than pumpkins (pumpkin pie became the preferred pie of the American North).

As stoves became more attainable to households around the nation, and processed ingredients like sugar became more accessible, the idea of making formal desserts (like pie) quickly spread, leading to the sweet potato pie that we know today.

So, while pumpkin pie may be the one that’s often considered traditional for Thanksgiving (or at least it is in my family), my theory that sweet potato pie deserves serious consideration for the T-Day spotlight does have some historical backing.

5 Star Review

“We loved this even more than pumpkin pie! It’s so silky and the spices are perfect! This will be a tradition for us now on.”

— Maggie —

I first baked southern sweet potato pie for a Friendsgiving years ago, when Ben was in law school.

A few of his classmates still bring it up when they see me.

That particular recipe was a spin on one called “grandma’s old-fashioned sweet potato pie”. I originally clipped it from a Mississippi magazine, and I’ve been fine-tuning it ever since.

Today’s version is a combination of that original recipe, one from Joy’s cookbook, and what I’ve garnered from experimentation.

A slice of the BEST old fashioned sweet potato pie served on a plate with a fork and a dollop of cream

Here’s what I love about this sweet potato pie recipe:

  • It ditches canned sweet potato and takes advantage of the natural sweetness and smooth texture of fresh sweet potatoes (like these Sweet Potato Brownies).
  • For greater control over sweetness and sugar content, it calls for evaporated milk rather than sweetened condensed milk.
  • And I finish it with an insanely addictive marshmallow cream topping (that would also be delish on this Pecan Pie Cobbler).

How to Make Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie

I feel people often eat pumpkin pie out of obligation.

Sweet potato pie, on the other hand, is the dessert your friends and family will sneak seconds of and still be talking about long after the holiday season comes to an end.

Dietary Note

I have not tried making this as a vegan sweet potato pie, but you could experiment with swapping pureed sweet potatoes for the pumpkin puree in my Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Old fashioned sweet potato pie without nutmeg served with whipped marshmallow cream

The Ingredients

  • Pie Crust. A buttery, flaky, and perfectly golden pie crust is an essential part of a delicious pie. (This Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust is my go-to recipe.)

TIP!

Do yourself an enormous service: Bake the crust ahead and pop it into your freezer ASAP. Making homemade pie feels like far less trouble when the crust is ready to go. 

  • Sweet Potatoes. Give this pie undeniable autumn flavor right from the start. Their natural sweetness is well suited to desserts, and they make the pie filling rich and velvety.

Ingredient Note

While it is a dessert we’re talking about here, sweet potato pie isn’t unhealthy (as far as pies go). Relative to other recipes, sweet potato pie is among one of the healthiest pie recipes because the sweet potatoes add oodles of fiber, iron, and vitamins (B, C, and D).

  • Spices. This pie is marvelously spiced and anything but bland, but it won’t punch you in the face with too much cinnamon or nutmeg (a good thing). In fact, this sweet potato pie is made without nutmeg entirely! Instead, I used cinnamon, allspice, and ginger— the perfect sweet potato spice trifecta.
  • Evaporated Milk. For an extra creamy texture, this recipe includes evaporated milk.

Ingredient Note

While many sweet potato pie recipes call for condensed milk, the two are not the same. If you turn this into a condensed milk sweet potato pie recipe instead, it will not turn out; condensed milk is much thicker and sweeter. Double-check your can (it will be clearly labeled). 

  • Bourbon. Anytime I have the option to add bourbon to a holiday recipe, I go for it. (These Glazed Sweet Potatoes are proof.) Bourbon’s smooth, buttery flavor is meant to be with sweet potato pie. If you prefer to make your pie without bourbon, simply use extra vanilla extract.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract. For the best ever old-fashioned sweet potato pie, use the real deal—it’s worth it.
Homemade Marshmallow Whipped Cream in a bowl with a spoon

The Best Sweet Potato Pie Topping

Marshmallow Whipped Cream. Since I can’t let well enough alone, I topped the pie with a fluffy cloud of marshmallow whipped cream. It’s creamy, puffy, not-too-sweet, and puts marshmallows where they belong: on dessert.

  • Fans of the marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole: I don’t get the hype but to each their own.
  • Check out my (marshmallow-free) Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole for my take on this classic Thanksgiving recipe. You can top it with marshmallows if you must; just don’t tell me.

Toasted Coconut. Last, since I’m a bit of a texture freak, I couldn’t resist adding a little crunch. Toasted coconut flakes, while optional, put this pie squarely over the top.

The Directions

  1. Line your pie plate with the crust and refrigerate.
Sweet potatoes being chopped with a knife on a cutting board
  1. Cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Simmer until tender.
boiled sweet potatoes in a pot
  1. Measure out two cups of boiled sweet potatoes.
Ingredients for sweet potato pie in a pot
  1. Add the brown sugar, spices, salt, butter, and half of the evaporated milk to the sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes being pureed with an immersion blender
  1. Heat, stir, and puree.
Wet ingredients for sweet potato pie in a glass mixing bowl
  1. Whisk together the remaining filling ingredients, pour over the sweet potato mixture, and stir until smooth.
a unbaked sweet potato pie beside a blue stripe kitchen towel
  1. Transfer the sweet potato pie filling into the prepared crust, then bake until fully set. Remove, let cool completely.

TIP!

How to Know if Sweet Potato Pie is Done

  • When your pie is finished, it should wiggle slightly in the center (a little like Jell-O). If it swooshes or moves like a wave, your pie needs more time.
  • If the crust begins to brown more quickly than you would like, shield it with a pie crust shield, then keep on baking until the pie’s center is set.
  • I find sweet potato pie rarely cracks (unlike pumpkin). And if it does? That’s what the whipped cream is for!
Coconut in a skillet
  1. While the pie cools, toast the coconut.
Whipped cream in a bowl
  1. Make the marshmallow cream topping.
a slice of sweet potato pie on a plate garnished with marshmallow whipped cream and coconut
  1. Slice and serve at room temperature with all the fixin’s. ENJOY!

How to Store and Freeze

  • To Store. Gently cover your pie, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let come to room temperature prior to serving.
  • To Freeze. Tightly wrap your cooked and cooled pie in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and store in a freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag for up to 3 months. Let the pie thaw for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Tip!

While they may not be as pretty as your grandmother’s pie plate, I like to bake pies that I intend to freeze in disposable aluminum pie pans. This leaves your “pretty” pie dish available for other recipes you may need it for (like this Sweet Potato Quiche).

What to Serve with Sweet Potato Pie

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Immersion Blender

With a solid steel blade and variable speed settings for greater control, this immersion blender has been helpful for soups and other fillings in my kitchen.

A slice of sweet potato pie on a white plate

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Sweet Potato Pie be Eaten for Breakfast?

In case you were wondering (I hope that you were): yes, yes this sweet potato pie is fantastic leftover at breakfast…if you have any leftovers!

Can I Roast Instead of Boil the Sweet Potatoes for Sweet Potato Pie?

I have never made this particular recipe with roasted sweet potatoes, so it would be an experiment. However, other readers have reported trying this recipe with an equal amount of roasted sweet potatoes with success.

Can I Make this Sweet Potato Pie with Canned Yams?

Yes. In times of desperation, you can use canned yams for this sweet potato recipe. Note that the flavor and texture will be different (and not nearly as good). Also, canned yams almost always come sweetened, so you may want to adjust the sweetness of the filling to taste by reducing the white and/or brown sugar.

Is Sweet Potato Pie Gluten Free?

While pie crust is not gluten free, the filling for sweet potato pie is gluten free (and so is the marshmallow cream—just be sure to check your labels). To make entirely gluten free, swap with your favorite store-bought gluten free pie crust or homemade recipe.

Why is my Sweet Potato Pie is Too Soft?

A few things can make sweet potato pie runny. Your pie may be simply underbaked. To fix it, pop it back into the oven and bake until the filling is fully set. Another possibility (that’s not so easy to remedy) is that you mismeasured the liquid ingredients or you didn’t fully drain the sweet potatoes after boiling them.

For the Filling:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust Store-bought or your favorite recipe (try my Whole Wheat Pie Crust)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (about 1/2 stick)
  • 1 1/4 cups 2% evaporated milk, divided (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or 2 additional teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes optional, for serving

For the Whipped Marshmallow Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme (also called marshmallow fluff) (about half a 7-ounce jar)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • *To test a sweet potato pie for doneness, lightly wiggle the baking sheet. If the center of the pie has a pronounced, wavy jiggle, it needs additional time in the oven. If the center of the pie has a lighter, more structured jiggle, it’s done. Remove from the oven, place the pie dish on a wire rack, and let cool.
  • **When whipping cream, put your mixing bowl and beaters in your freezer or refrigerator first; the colder they are, the fluffier the cream.
  • TO STORE: Gently cover your pie and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let come to room temperature prior to serving.
  • TO FREEZE: Bake your pie as directed in a disposable aluminum pie pan (leaving your pie dish available for other recipes). Tightly wrap your cooked and cooled pie in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and store in a freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag for up to 3 months. Let the pie thaw for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Serving: 1(of 10) without coconut or whipped toppingCalories: 331kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 6gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 67mgPotassium: 296mgFiber: 3gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 9864IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 1mg

Related Recipes

If you love all-things sweet potato, you’re in the right place. Here are some of my favorite sweet potato recipes:



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