Sweet Potato Pie is a delicious Thanksgiving pie favorite!
Sweet potato pie is an open faced pie baked in a traditional crust. The filling usually consists of mashed sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, sugar, spices and eggs.
Originating in the southern part of the United States in the early colonial days, sweet potato pie is often served during the holiday season- most notably Thanksiving and Christmas. Interestingly enough, this pie was most likely developed by African- American slaves- using their knowledge of the African yam. It first appeared in 18th century cookbooks as a savory dish (hence the use of potato). With the addition of sugar and spices, it eventually evolved into a dessert staple for southerners.
Let’s talk about the crust:
Crust can be a tricky thing for a lot of bakers. I’ve always had challenges with it! This crust recipe is so very simple. Follow the directions to a “T,” and you shouldn’t have any trouble with it either. It’s a simple mix of flour, salt, cold butter and ice water. The key to making good crust is to not overwork the dough. And make sure it’s chilled well (about an hour) before rolling. I roll a circle that is 2-inches larger than my pie pan (so for the 9-inch pie pan in this recipe, I roll an 11-inch circle). Then you simply tuck the excess underneath and pinch the edges.
It’s best to chill the crust while you prepare the filling. And you can absolutely substitute a store-bought pie crust, if you’d like. This crust does not have to be pre-baked. You’ll be adding the filling directly into the crust as you see it here.
How to make Sweet Potato Pie:
Make the crust per instructions described above. You’ll be using cooked sweet potatoes for this pie. Make sure you buy the red skinned sweet potatoes that have orange flesh inside. Sometimes they’re labeled as “yams” at the markets. You’ll peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks. Then you’ll boil them until they are tender; drain and mash them with a fork or potato masher. If you’d like to use canned sweet potatoes for this, that’s okay… but don’t use sweetened sweet potatoes. It’ll be better with freshly made sweet potatoes, but I understand if things are too hectic to do that.
The mashed sweet potatoes are combined with butter, sugar, eggs and canned evaporated milk (don’t use regular milk!) Orange zest, vanilla, spices and salt are added in as well to give this pie its great flavor!
Recommended baking supplies for this pie:
Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.
I know that pie baking can be frustrating if you don’t have the right equipment. Here are a few things I had on hand for this pie that made things much easier.
- Pie Crust Rolling Mat: I recently bought this large silicone pastry mat for holiday baking. It’s the biggest one I’ve ever had, and I’m loving it. It’s large enough to contain the flour for rolling without making a huge mess on your countertop too. And I love the measurements that are included on the mat.
- Rolling Pin: This might seem like an unusual choice, but I really enjoy using this wooden rolling pin without handles for rolling pie dough and cookie dough. I love the way it feels in my hands, and it doesn’t seem to have problems with sticking. Also, for pie crust it’s great because after you roll the pie dough, you can easily roll it back onto the wooden pin to transfer to the pie plate. Other traditional rolling pins are sometimes too big for doing that well.
- The Potato Peeler: The Y-shaped peeler has always been my favorite. For me, it’s easier to use than a traditional peeler.
- The Potato Masher: I used to have a plastic potato masher, but I have this stainless steel one now and it seems to do the trick with getting potatoes mashed well without clumping.
- The Pie Plate: You can use any 9-inch pie plate for this recipe. The blue speckled one that is pictured is one that I just purchased this week, so it was my first time using it with this recipe. I like it! It’s an enamelware pie plate with blue and white splatter. They sell a few other “splatter” colors too. The sweet potato pie baked up very nicely in this pie plate, clean slices came out easily, and it was a breeze to clean too.
I must say, I’m pretty proud of this one. I’ve never been the best pie baker (my pies are always good, but they’re not always pretty). However, I found this crust recipe so easy to work with (no shrinkage!) And the sweet potato filling baked so nicely in it too. The flavor in this sweet potato pie is delicious with just the right blend of fall spices, plus the added bonus of a little orange zest too. I know that some people bake sweet potato pie in place of pumpkin at Thanksgiving, and I think that’s a mighty good idea.
Note: this recipe came from a Taste of Home Fall Baking booklet. I adapted it a bit to create a different blend of spices– and I added in orange zest, since it’s a great pairing with spiced sweet potatoes.
This pie is delicious served on it’s own. It’s also good topped with a little bit of sweetened whipped cream.
This is the first of many pies I’ll be testing between now and Thanksgiving Day. And I’m off to a good start! I’m committed to baking as many varieties as possible to elevate myself into somewhat of an experienced pie baker. I can do this, and I hope you’ll be following along to see what I’ll be baking!
Here are a few more holiday pie recipes you might like to try:
- Paper Bag Pear Pie
- Pecan Pie
- Classic Double Crust Apple Pie
- Shoefly Pie
- No Bake Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
- Double Decker Pumpkin Caramel Pie
- Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie
- Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Toffee Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
- 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
SWEET POTATO PIE FILLING:
- 2 medium (1 1/2 pounds) red skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
PREPARE THE CRUST:
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the cold butter pieces until crumbly. Gradually add 3 to 5 tablespoons of ICE water (start with 3 and add more, as needed)- tossing with a fork until the dough holds together when pressed. Don't add too much water. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (or more, if needed).
- Roll out the pie crust dough onto a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch circle. Gently move the rolled pie dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim and pinch the edges decoratively. Refrigerate the pie crust while you make the filling.
PREPARE THE FILLING:
- Place the sweet potatoes in a medium pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cook, uncovered, until tender- 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash until very smooth. Cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs. Add the evaporated milk, TWO CUPS of the sweet potatoes and all of the remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into the chilled pie shell.
BAKE THE PIE:
- Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake 35 to 40 minutes longer- until it is no longer jiggly in the middle and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- This pie is delicious to serve on its own. It can also be served with lightly sweetened whipped cream.