Mother-In-Law Candied Yams have been passed down in our family for three generations. They are the yummiest way to mix dinner with dessert!
Mother-in-law Candied Yams are a holiday tradition in my home. This recipe came from, you guessed it, my mother-in-law, who got it from her mother-in-law. These super simple, three-ingredient candied yams are always a hit. They are the perfect holiday side dish or even go great on the side of a delicious oven fried chicken recipe.
MOTHER-IN-LAW CANDIED YAMS
Like this recipe? Pin it to your SIDE DISH pinboard!
Follow Real Housemoms on Pinterest
When my husband and I first started dating we spent Easter over at his mom’s house. I personally never cared for candied yams, but he insisted that I tried his mom’s recipe. From that day forward, I was a fan. Little did I know that I would be serving that same candied yam recipe all these years later to our own family.
MOTHER-IN-LAW CANDIED YAM INGREDIENTS
Baked candied yams are a favorite side dish of mine for two reasons. First, they are decadent, buttery, and delicious. Second, they are so easy to make! Literally, three ingredients are all it takes to create this favorite dish.
- 3 large Yams or Sweet Potatoes
- 1 cup Butter
- 2 cups Brown Sugar (firmly packed)
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES?
Yams and sweet potatoes are completely different- but you might be surprised which one you are actually buying! Though often their names are used interchangeably, when it comes to shopping and cooking you should know that the “yams” you are preparing are most likely sweet potatoes!
Yams tend to be dryer and more starchy than a typical sweet potato, with a tough brown skin resembling tree bark. They are also not orange inside. Sweet potatoes are what we often find in the grocery store. Sweet potatoes have a thinner, more reddish skin and that vibrant orange color we come to expect when we cut them.
WHAT ARE CANDIED YAMS?
Southern candied yams are simply boiled sweet potatoes baked in a brown sugar and butter glaze. This sugary syrup candies in the oven, enhancing the sweetness of the potato and delivering the most decadent and delicious side dish. They are the perfect sweet bite to complete any holiday meal.
HOW TO MAKE CANDIED YAMS?
- First, prep the sweet potatoes by scrubbing the skin clean and cutting them into 2 inch thick slices. No need to peel them!
- Place the sliced sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Then place the pot over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Allow the pot to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender when you stick them with a fork.
- Next, drain the sweet potatoes and allow them to cool to the touch.
- Once they are cool enough to hand, remove the skin. The skin should peel off easily by hand without the use of tools.
- In a 13 by 9 baking dish, place the cooked sweet potato slices in an even layer.
- Next, melt the cup of butter in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, stir in the 2 cups of brown sugar until it is well combined.
- Allow the sugar glaze to boil for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it does not burn.
- Last, pour the sugar over the top of the yams and place them uncovered in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The homemade candied yams will be slightly bubbling around the edges when they are finished.
These easy candied yams can even be made the day before and warmed up in the oven before being served.
- Once the cooked sweet potatoes are glazed, cover the pan in foil and allow the candied yams to cool before placing them in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to serve them, simply remove them from the fridge, uncover them, and place them in the oven for 30 minutes at 35o degrees F.
ARE CANDIED YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES THE SAME?
The yam versus sweet potato question is complicated and simple at the same time. Yes, yams exist and are different than sweet potatoes. However, all the “yams” you have ever eaten were probably sweet potatoes.
Really though, what’s in a name? Homemade candied yams are guaranteed to be delicious no matter what you call them! If you fall in love with this candied yam recipe then you will also love this mini sweet potato casserole recipe!
TRY THESE OTHER HOLIDAY SIDE DISH RECIPES
- Green Beans with Honey Pecan Butter and Cranberries
- Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
- Easy Balsamic Glazed Carrots
- Mamaw’s Rolls
- Syrian Rice
- More SIDE DISH recipes…
TOOLS USED TO MAKE THIS MOTHER-IN-LAW CANDIED YAMS RECIPE
Large Pot: This pot is a kitchen essential! I use it for everything from boiling potatoes to making large batches of homemade soup!
Baking Dish: This baking dish is a must-have for any home cook. I love that it comes with a lid for storing leftovers or taking your dishes on the go.
Medium Saucepan: I have had this saucepan forever and it is still as good as it was the day I bought it!
*This post originally posted on 11/06/2014.
- 3 large yams
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups brown sugar firmly packed
- Scrub the yams clean and cut into 2-inch thick slices. Do NOT peel the yams!
- Place yams in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Allow yams to simmer until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Carefully drain the water and allow the yams to cool to the touch.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and remove the peels from the yams.
- Place yams into a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish in an even layer. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat
- Stir in the brown sugar until combined. Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Pour the brown sugar mixture over top of the yams.
- If making ahead of time: cover the baking dish with foil and allow to cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. Uncover yams before baking.
- Place the baking dish in the oven for 30 minutes or until the yams are warmed through and the sauce is slightly bubbling around the edges
- Remove from oven. Be careful when serving and the sauce is VERY hot!
When I make these we dice green apple walnuts and brown sugar and layer w yams w butter and marshmallows on
This is similar to what I make but I leave potatoes just in half or quarters. The syrup similar also. Got mine from my mother. It is delicious. Almost like dessert.
Kelly M says
My grandma made these my whole life but I never tried them until I was an adult. Now they’re a staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, I boil them whole then slice and peel. I also put them in a non stick deep skillet, one sliced, and place butter in pieces all over and sprinkle a lot of unmeasured brown sugar. I put the lid on and cook on cook for 30 minutes. So very good!! No need for a bunch more ingredients or spices!
Aubrey Cota says
Thank you, Kelly!
Carri Benson says
I learned this from my mom but we bake them whole in the oven at 400* . Let cool , peel , cut into chunks and finish like your recipe. Yum!
Robyn Halverson says
Easier yet….choose similar sized yams and boil them whole and skin-on. Peel and cut when cooled a bit.
I followed directions and boiled butter and brown sugar for five minutes. After pouring on the yams and allowing to cool it is hard like brittle. What did I do wrong?
Aubrey Cota says
Could be over boiled or boiled at too high of a heat, the latter is more likely the culprit. Sounds like you are making these ahead of time, when you place them into the oven to reheat it should hopefully loosen up again.
My mom always made candied sweet potatoes for the holidays and was loved by a lot of family members. My brother and I have continued this tradition. We always use sweet potatoes instead of yams. Yes, there is a difference! Yams are orange in color & sweet potatoes are a lite yellowish color. We’ve tried using yams but no. Also, you don’t have to make the sauce in a saucepan, just place thin slices of real butter around on the top of the cut up cooked potatoes & sprinkle with brown sugar & bake.
Aubrey Cota says
Thank you, Debbie.
I usually mix sweet potatoes and yams because I can never remember which I should use. Great idea to sprinkle on top. I also liked someone else’s idea to use a cast iron skillet.
Actually sweet potatoes are orange in color and yams are a lighter color. Most ppl are actually eating sweet potatoes when they say candies yams.
patricia cole says
I too boiled the sugar and butter for less than 5 minutes and it turned hard like I wouod use for caramel popocorn. How can this happen? Is it the pan I used?
Aubrey Cota says
Could be too high of heat used, next time stick more to the medium heat instead of medium high and see how that helps.
I made this recipe for the family and nit was delicious. Thanks for the share
Aubrey Cota says
Happy that it worked out!
Is there a reason that you don’t peel the potatoes before boiling them?
Aubrey Cota says
Just considered an added step, when they are finished boiling the skins tend to just fall off. If you don’t like the skins you can just discard them at that time. Mostly preference!
That’s what I was thinking.
I️ tried this and while cooking the syrup I️ noticed I️ had a can of canned milk ready for the mashed potatoes. Added 1/3 cup to syrup and boiled for 3 minutes. Tasted it and it was creamy and smooth. It had the taste of Carmel. Poured over yams baked for 30 minutes. Family raved over the flavor.
Tried this and the “sauce” basically turned into caramel….and I didn’t even boil it the full 5 minutes.
Is the “candy” supposed to solidify completely whenever cool? I made these today to serve at thanksgiving tomorrow, and as soon as the candied part cooled, it became very crunchy and solid. Hope I did it right, and it’ll melt back down to normal tomorrow in the oven ???
I just made these according to your instructions and the caramel sauce was chunky. Is that right, or did I cook it too long/not long enough? Very tasty, but the sugary bits were a bit off-putting.
With advice from my mother-in-law (!), I cooked them in the oven at 450 for an extra 10 minutes and the sugar finally dissolved and the yams were even tastier!
This is how my Mom always made her sweete, and so do I. Nothing better!
Amanda Nichole says
I made this variation with carrots for dinner last night. They were scrumptious with garlic & herb roasted chicken and potatoes. Yams will have to be on the Thanksgiving menu….seeing how the holidays are right around the corner… ackk!
Oh! & I found ya via Pinterest. 😉
Thank you so much for this recipe! I can’t wait to try it.
BTW: DId you know that in England, your name is a boy’s name?
It’s both here but in the last 15 years there have been more girls named Aubrey. I was actually named after my grandmother’s uncle! Well, that and a Bread song from the late 70’s. 🙂
SHARRON Henry says
Your recipe is totally like the one I’ve been making for the last 40 years. Except that I add a little bit of cream towards the end, and I cook them in a cast iron skillet on the stove. Really, really sinful!!!!
That sounds amazing!!!!
Deb Fox says
As I am sitting in my 87 degree living room two days after Hurricane Irma, without electricity, I’m trying to be creative with our Hurricane rations. Looking in my pantry I found a can of yams. My problem is most recipes with yams call for baking in oven. Not an option right now. What can I cook on my gas grill or Coleman stove that doesn’t require a half hour cooking time or more (can’t waste precious propane you know.)? My cast iron skillet is the answer! Thanks for sharing your comments! My husband will be pleasantly surprised with dinner tonight?
I cannot tell you how excited I am to find this recipe! This looks very similar to the candied yams I grew up eating at Thanksgiving that my mom made–which I absolutely adored. My mom couldn’t tell me how to make it and no longer had the recipe (she has dementia). I love the fact the yams are in chunks–not whipped. Thanks for the memories, this recipe is going in my perm file and I’m making them this week!!!
Patricia this story just made my month!!! I’m so glad you found the recipe and I hope that it lived up to expectations but I know nothing is ever as good as mom’s! 🙂