Chef John's Candied Yams


This is my recipe for candied yams. Sure, everyone knows orange-fleshed sweet potatoes aren't really yams, but it makes for a shorter name. I'm not a huge sweet side dish person, but I make an exception for this recipe that uses lemon instead of orange juice as a sweetener.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
30 mins



  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 quarts cold water

  • 3 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces


  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • Salt to taste

  • Chopped pistachios, pecans, or walnuts for garnish


  1. Stir salt into 2 quarts of cold water in a large pot. Transfer sweet potato pieces to the pot and place over high heat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are not quite tender but still cooked, 5 to 7 minutes. Use the tip of a knife to test for doneness. Drain.

  2. Place brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and pinch of salt in a skillet. Place over medium-high heat, stirring until glaze ingredients melt and start bubbling. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, 4 to 6 minutes.

  3. Transfer drained sweet potatoes to a skillet. Increase heat to high; cook and stir until potatoes are coated with glaze and very tender, and glaze has thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to serving dish; garnish with chopped nuts.

Chef's Note:

If you're using fine salt instead of kosher salt, use about 5 teaspoons fine salt instead of 3 tablespoons kosher salt.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

338 Calories
6g Fat
70g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 338
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 2294mg 100%
Total Carbohydrate 70g 25%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 40g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 11mg 56%
Calcium 92mg 7%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 666mg 14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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