Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Sweet potato pie is one of the glories of Southern cooking. The best ones really taste like sweet potato instead of pumpkin, which happens a result of pumpkin pie spice (ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, etc.). A little nutmeg and some brown sugar are really all you need to bring out the best in the spuds. You’ll need:

1 recipe pie crust for a single-crust pie
about 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
2 ounces (1/2 stick) very soft butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Prepare the pie dough according to directions, a day ahead of time if you prefer. Roll and rest the dough according to the directions here.

Next, steam the sweet potato. Fill a saucepan with a steamer insert with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Steam the sweet potato pieces until they’re easily pierced with a fork. Allow them to cool completely.

When you’re ready to make your pie, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-bake your crust like so.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the cooked potatoes in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat them until they’re completely mashed. Remove any strings you see. You’ll need between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of the mashed potato. Beat in the butter and the sugar, then the eggs one at a time, the vanilla, bourbon, salt and spices, and lastly the milk.

When the crust is lightly browned, take it out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the brown sugar on the hot crust and gently pour in the filling. Bake the pie 40-50 minutes and cool it completely on a rack for 2 hours before serving.

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4 Responses to Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

  1. One of the Toms says:

    I do love a good sweet potato pie. In my family, I’m the pie-guy, and I’ve taken quite a few sweet potato pies to the family Thanksgiving feast in the past. I’ve sometimes just passed them off as pumpkin pies, and baked them with the typical pumpkin spice blends. If people don’t know it’s actually sweet potato, they think it’s the best pumpkin pie they’ve ever had.

    I’ve taken to baking hybrid Thanksgiving pies, with a 50/50 sweet potato/pumpkin blend. The sweet potato, in my opinion, improves the texture of the pumpkin custard, and I can still call it pumpkin for the traditionalists among us without feeling like I’m pulling a fast over on friends and family.

    The detail in your recipe that intrigues me, and that I plan to use this year, is the brown sugar layer lining the crust. I usually use a blend of brown and white sugars in the custard for flavor reasons, but it does make for a rather brown pie. I can see how this trick would provide the flavor while retaining the more appealing orange color. Thanks for that.

    • joepastry says:

      Wonderful stuff, Tom. I shall be thinking of you this Thanksgiving. Let me know how it all goes!

      Cheerio,

      - Joe

  2. Jake says:

    Hi Joe,

    I recently came across a recipe that called for boiling the potatoes in water. I’ve previously baked them in the oven first. And now you suggest steaming! I wonder if you could comment on the relative merits of each of these techniques?

    Thanks!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Jake!

      All those methods will work. The reason I like steaming is that you don’t lose any flavor (as you will to some extent with boiling) nor do you create any dry or caramelized bits that won’t easily mash (as can happen with baking). Steaming seems to be about perfect for a home-baked sweet potato pie. It’s not as easy to do on a larger scale, but for one or two pies I think it works great.

      Thanks for an excellent question!

      - Jim

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