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Candied Sweet Potatoes

I know I may be venturing into sensitive territory here, but I can’t seem to find a consensus on what to call this dish.  Candied Yams or Candied Sweet Potatoes?  While I know that yams and sweet potatoes are technically very different foods, it seems that Mother Nature has decided to make them so similar as to be indistinguishable to the average palette.  I know my Dad would disagree with that sentiment (mom is a Southerner and dad is a Yankee through and through, so you can imagine how interesting our Thanksgiving fare must have been!), but regardless of what your grocery store calls them (yams or sweet potatoes), this dish works either way.

My late grandma always made candied yams for the holidays (using sweet potatoes) and they were a huge hit with us grandkids.  It’s no wonder, they’re loaded with sugar and toasted marshmallows!  I thought I would share this recipe for no other reason than to demonstrate how easy it is to convert favorite family recipes to be allergen friendly.

The following recipe is naturally gluten-free, which I believe is the best way to go for mixed family gatherings: it’s safer, it’s easier and no one has to feel left out.  Besides, who doesn’t enjoy being able to nibble off of someone else’s plate every once in awhile?  I never realized just how much I enjoy doing that until I couldn’t do it anymore (as evidenced by how I kept sneaking bites of Shirley’s (of Gluten Free Easily) pumpkin chocolate chip cookie at The Flying Apron back in 2010…and I had JUST met her for the first time, LOL!).

Candied Sweet Potatoes

printable recipe

4 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ thick circles

2/3 cup Brown Sugar  **For Cane Sugar-Free: use an equal amount of coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey or agave nectar

1/2 cup Orange Juice, preferably fresh squeezed

1 – 2 Oranges, sliced into rings

1/4 cup Water

1/4 cup Butter  **For Casein/Dairy-Free: use your favorite vegan alternative, ghee, coconut oil or you can even make some homemade dairy/corn/soy-free butter

Miniature Marshmallows **For Corn-Free: make your own corn-free, egg-free marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350° F.

1). Boil sweet potato slices just until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

2). In a small bowl, combine brown sugar (or alternative), water and orange juice, mix well to make an orange-flavored syrup, set aside.

3). Squeeze some of the juice from the orange slices onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, reserve the slices.

4). Layer the sweet potato and orange slices in the baking dish.  Top with orange syrup, dot with butter and cover baking dish with aluminum foil.

5). Bake for 50 minutes then remove foil and top sweet potatoes with miniature marshmallows.  Return to oven, uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until marshmallows are toasty brown.

More Allergy-Friendly Sweet Potato Recipes

Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole from Cooking Light (egg-free)

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Cream from The Daily Dietribe

Sweet Potato Casserole from Celiac Family (dairy-free)

Sweet Potato Casserole from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Allergy-Friendly Sweet Potato Pie from Cybele Pascal


  1. Can't wait to try some of these recipes! Just diagnosed with CD and trying to find great Thanksgiving recipes. These look great 🙂

  2. Okay this is quick, simple and looks YUM. I love candy and I love sweet potato more. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will have to give this one a go sometime.

  3. As a girl growing up in the midwest with a farmer dad and a New England-transplant mom, my food labeling experience was similar. Nobody on my dad's side had ever cooked squash, but it was a staple for my mom (as it now is in my own home).

    And I'd say "candied yams" sounds most familiar, though we undoubtedly only have sweet potatoes here in central Nebraska. ???

    This recipe will go in the "keep" file. My kids would give me "ten thousand thumbs up" for this one – that's the standard rating unit of good food in the house. 🙂

  4. My daughter is dairy, gluten, corn, egg free (to name a few) and so am I. I am new to this and she has been for a year. I was wondering if you have experienced any side effects from using Ghee – I have been afraid to try it with her and I am not been off dairy for over 90 days yet so I cant tell myself.

    Anyway – i am planning on making this this thanksgiving and was wondering if I should do Ghee and also if you have every tried used Spectrum Butter Vegetable Shortening instead? or Spectrum Plain Vegetable Shortening instead of butter. Thanks so much! – Kiwe

    • Hi Kiwe,

      I've not had any reactions to using ghee, but I don't use it often since I really don't care for it. I've not tried the butter flavored shortening from Spectrum in this type of dish, but I think it's a good idea! You could also use grapeseed, olive or coconut oil (look for a refined coconut oil if you don't want the coconut flavor).

      Please let me know if you make these with your own substitutions and how they turned out for you.

      Happy Thanksgiving!
      Heidi 😀

      • Thanks Heidi – I think the hardest thing for us is that I hate "testing" foods on my daughter because if she reacts its 4-5 days in pain and that just doesnt seem fair to her. So it is nice to hear from others. She seems to be fine with Earth Balance in small doses but I am still worried that they do use a corn derived ingredient in it. Has anyone else reacted to Earth Balance? For the past year I have been using coconut oil (I have never used Grapeseed – is that a 1 to 1 replacement for butter?) but just found out that I am allergic to coconut which is why I didnt want to use that. I am feel a bit lost without being able to use coconut and banana – two common foods I use to substitute dairy and eggs in baking.

        I just made 2 batches of dough and filling for my Apple Crostata (Im doing this before the yams) and so far the one with the Spectrum Butter Shortening has reacted the most like butter in the recipe. The Ghee was WAY too creamy and I had to put in extra GF flour…..jury is still out on how it all tastes!

        Thanks so much – Love you Blog and it is SOOO fabulous to find someone else who needs to be corn-free!

        – Kiwe