Make Ahead Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes

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When it comes to Southern comfort food, few dishes evoke the same level of warmth and satisfaction as candied sweet potatoes.

These tender, caramelized slices of sweet potatoes, coated in a rich buttery glaze, are a true Southern classic side dish that’s perfect for special occasions or holiday gatherings.

What makes this recipe even more appealing is the option to prepare it a day ahead, ensuring a stress-free and delicious addition to your upcoming feast.

Here I’ll walk you through each step of creating Make-Ahead Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes, allowing you to savor the flavors of the South without the last-minute rush.

A single serving of candied sweet potatoes on a blue plate, capturing their golden-brown color and glossy texture, ready to be enjoyed.

Make-Ahead Candied Sweet Potatoes

What sets this dish apart is its “make ahead” aspect, allowing you to prepare it in advance and save time on the day you plan to serve it.

This is particularly helpful during busy times when you want to enjoy a homemade, comforting dish without the last-minute rush.

Once prepared, the dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days, giving you the convenience of having a delectable side dish ready to go whenever you need it.

When it’s time to serve, simply reheat the sweet potatoes in the oven, allowing the flavors to meld and the glaze to regain its luscious consistency.

Whether enjoyed as part of a festive meal or as a comforting addition to any dinner spread, these candied sweet potatoes bring a touch of Southern charm and a burst of flavor to your table.

A close-up shot of the candied sweet potatoes, revealing the delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors in every slice.

Ingredients you’ll need

(See the recipe card below for full ingredient list with quantities & instructions)

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Water
  • Optional: pecans or walnuts
Candied sweet potatoes served in a blue plate, glistening with a caramelized sugar glaze and lightly seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg.

How to assemble this make-ahead candied sweet potatoes

Step 1: Preparing the Sweet Potatoes

Start by peeling the sweet potatoes and slicing them into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Set them aside while you prepare the glaze.

Step 2: Creating the Glaze

In a large skillet, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat.

Add the packed light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and salt to the melted butter. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and the spices are well combined.

Allow the mixture to simmer gently for a few minutes, letting the flavors meld together into a fragrant, rich glaze.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, infusing the glaze with a delightful hint of sweetness.

Step 3: Coating the Sweet Potatoes

Gently add the sliced sweet potatoes to the skillet with the prepared glaze. Carefully toss the sweet potato rounds to ensure they are evenly coated with the flavorful mixture.

Allow the sweet potatoes to cook in the glaze for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help the sweet potatoes absorb the delicious flavors of the glaze.

Step 4: Assembling for Baking

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

Transfer the sweet potato and glaze mixture to a baking dish, arranging the slices in an even layer.

If you’re opting for the extra crunch and flavor of nuts, sprinkle the chopped pecans or walnuts over the sweet potatoes.

Step 5: Adding Moisture

Carefully pour the 1/2 cup of water into the baking dish around the sweet potatoes. This will help create a steamy environment, ensuring the sweet potatoes remain moist and tender.

Step 6: Preparing for the Day Ahead

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. This will seal in the flavors and prevent moisture loss during refrigeration.

Step 7: Refrigeration

Place the covered baking dish with the sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. Allow the dish to chill and marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight. This extended time will allow the flavors to intensify and meld together.

Step 8: Reheating and Serving

When you’re ready to serve your Make-Ahead Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.

Place the covered baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are heated through and tender.

Carefully remove the aluminum foil, allowing the aroma of the sweet potatoes to fill the air.

Step 9: Garnish and Enjoy

Once heated, remove the baking dish from the oven. Give the sweet potatoes a gentle stir to ensure the glaze is evenly distributed.

Serve the Make-Ahead Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes warm, spooning the syrupy glaze over the top to enhance their flavor.

The dish pairs beautifully with a variety of main courses and complements the richness of

A single serving of candied sweet potatoes on a blue plate, capturing their golden-brown color and glossy texture, ready to be enjoyed.

Tips and Variations:

  1. Make It Your Own: While this recipe provides a classic version of candied sweet potatoes, feel free to get creative. You can experiment with different spices such as ginger or cloves, or even add a splash of citrus zest for a unique twist.
  2. Nuts and Seeds: In addition to pecans or walnuts, try using other nuts like almonds or pistachios. You can also include seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds for an added crunch.
  3. Nut-Free Option: If you have nut allergies or prefer a nut-free version, simply omit the nuts from the recipe. The sweet potatoes will still be deliciously flavorful.
  4. Maple Syrup Infusion: For an alternative to the brown sugar glaze, consider using pure maple syrup to create a distinct, natural sweetness.
  5. Make It Spicy: If you enjoy a hint of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the glaze for a sweet and spicy flavor profile.
A close-up shot of the candied sweet potatoes, revealing the delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors in every slice.

Serving and Pairing:

  1. Holiday Feasting: Make-Ahead Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes are a fantastic addition to your holiday menu. Serve them alongside roast turkey, ham, or any festive main dish.
  2. Family Gatherings: This sweet potato side dish are perfect for family gatherings, potlucks, and Sunday suppers. Their comforting flavors will have everyone asking for seconds.
  3. Balance Your Plate: While these candied sweet potatoes are undeniably delicious, they are also rich and sweet. Balance your meal by pairing them with fresh, crisp salads or steamed vegetables.
Overhead shot of the candied sweet potatoes, perfect for a holiday feast or a cozy weeknight dinner.

Storing Leftovers:

  1. Refrigeration: If you have leftovers after serving, store the cooled sweet potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be enjoyed as a sweet side dish or even added to breakfast bowls.

Other Side Dishes to Try!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

A comforting bowl of creamy mashed sweet potatoes garnished with fresh chives, representing a perfect side dish full of texture and color.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Sausage and Sweet Potato Stuffing

Sausage and Sweet Potato Stuffing in a white baking dish.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Layered Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes in a baking dish in a white countertop.
A close-up shot of the candied sweet potatoes, revealing the delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors in every slice.
Yield: 8-12 servings

Make Ahead Candied Sweet Potatoes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Make-Ahead Candied Sweet Potatoes! Perfect for busy days or special occasions, this easy recipe lets you savor Southern comfort without the last-minute hustle.

Just whip up a batch, chill overnight, then pop in the oven for a mouthwatering side that'll make you the hero of the kitchen!

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions

Prepare Sweet Potatoes:

Peel and slice sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds. Set aside.

Create Glaze:

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and add vanilla.

Coat Sweet Potatoes:

Add sweet potato slices to skillet and toss to coat in the glaze.

Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to infuse flavors.

Assemble for Baking:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Transfer sweet potatoes to a baking dish, arranging in a single layer.

Sprinkle optional nuts over the top.

Add Moisture:

Pour water around sweet potatoes in the baking dish.

Prepare for the Day Ahead:

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Refrigeration:

Refrigerate the covered dish for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Reheating and Serving:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Let the dish sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Bake covered for 20-25 minutes, until heated through.

Remove aluminum foil.

Garnish and Enjoy:

Stir sweet potatoes gently to coat in the glaze.

Serve warm, spooning syrupy glaze over the top.

A single serving of candied sweet potatoes on a blue plate, capturing their golden-brown color and glossy texture, ready to be enjoyed.

Notes

Tips for make-ahead candied sweet potatoes:

  • Customize the recipe with your favorite nuts, spices, or sweeteners.
  • Serve as a side dish with holiday meals or family gatherings.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information

Yield

10

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 270Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 24mgSodium 76mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 3gSugar 21gProtein 2g

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