A classic Southern sweet potato pie, done soul food style—entirely from scratch! All the warm spices of the holidays, a fluffy filling, and a buttery crust.
Hey y’all! I’ve been getting a ton of requests for a homemade soul food-style sweet potato pie. You know, the kind with a flaky & buttery crust made completely from scratch? The type of sweet potato pie recipe that reminds you of your grandmother’s?
Well, let me tell you that I have tried many sweet potato recipes in my life, but I do have a favorite pie recipe. Which one is my favorite? I would go with the OG Southern sweet potato pie recipe that I shared back in 2012. A truly Southern sweet potato pie consists of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other simple ingredients. But over the years, I have changed a few ingredients and perfected my soul food sweet potato pie recipe into this updated version.
Sweet potato pie has a history in the deep South, y’all. The origins of sweet potato pie can be traced back to early America.
A soul food sweet potato pie has always been a staple in Black families—served on holidays, special occasions, you name it. Most Southern households have one family member that is the ONLY one allowed to make sweet potato pie for the holidays. For many, the Southern delicacy holds strong memories and family histories. It’s undoubtedly a classic Southern dessert to be treasured and respected. So, in the spirit of our Southern grandmas, let me show and tell you how I make my new-and-improved Southern soul food-style sweet potato pie recipe!
Ingredients You Need for Sweet Potato Pie
Now, everyone is going to have their preferences when it comes to what ingredients to use in sweet potato pie. However, as always, I recommend following this recipe as written for the best results! You can make little changes (we’ll get into that later), but an authentic Southern sweet potato pie must have some staple ingredients. So here’s what you need!
Ingredients for a Homemade Pie Crust
I changed my classic pie shell recipe for my old-fashioned sweet potato pie. This time, it will be more flavorful! I added more sugar and a combination of butter and butter-flavored shortening. I love a nice buttery crust when it comes to my sweet potato pies, so that’s why I use real butter. I also like a nice flaky pie crust, and the combination of shortening and butter always gives me the best results!
To make a buttery, flaky homemade pie crust, you need the following:
- Cold butter and butter-flavored shortening. These two ingredients make the pie crust so perfectly buttery and flaky.
- Cold water. Allow the water to get extra cold with a few ice cubes.
- All-purpose flour, salt, vanilla extract, and white granulated sugar.
Of course, you can use a store-bought pie crust to save time—I have done so a few times over the years! No judgment here, boo boo!
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Pie Filling
Now, onto the star of the show: the sweet potato filling. That trademark sweet potato flavor comes from a glorious mix of warm spices, vanilla, and perfectly cooked sweet potatoes. As I mentioned before, I revised this recipe over the years. I still use many of the same ingredients, but I also use several different ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sweet potatoes: I use yams, which are still technically sweet potatoes in the US. (What’s the difference? I talked a bit about it in my sweet potato muffins post.)
- Evaporated milk: In my old recipe, I used half-and-half, which you can sub in if you don’t have evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk would also work, but it might make it sweeter.
- Vanilla extract: I use bourbon vanilla extract, but regular vanilla is fine as long as y’all aren’t using imitation!! You know Cousin Rosie does NOT allow that in her house!
- Sweet potato pie spices: Arguably, the essential ingredients in a sweet potato pie are the classic spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. You can leave out the ginger if you don’t like it. I’ve seen people use lemon juice for that same acidic kick. I also have a hand-crafted yams spice mix from Rosamae Seasonings that is perfect for sweet potato pie.
- Eggs and sugar: The final ingredients for the pie filling. I use two large eggs (my video tutorial only shows one egg, but I promise it’s two!) and granulated white sugar.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Sweet Potato Pie
What’s the best method for cooking sweet potatoes? Well, Cousins, I have cooked sweet potatoes all different ways for this recipe. Boil, bake, roast—what’s the best? In my original recipe, I boiled whole sweet potatoes. Then I switched to peeled and chopped boiled sweet potatoes because it was much faster. These days, I bake sweet potatoes instead of boiling them—I think the flavor and the texture are much better that way! However, I’ll provide instructions for both methods, and you can do what works for you!
Boiling Sweet Potatoes:
- Wash and peel the skins of the sweet potatoes and chop them up into about 1-inch cubes.
- Put the sweet potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them completely (about 4-6 cups.
- Boil the sweet potatoes until they are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Baking Sweet Potatoes:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork, then place on a baking sheet and cook—with the skin on—until fork-tender. The time really depends on how big they are, but it should take about 35 minutes.
- Scoop out the insides of the sweet potatoes into a large bowl, and allow them to cool completely.
How to Make the Best Soul Food Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
To see exactly how I make my sweet potato pie, watch my YouTube video tutorial. For complete instructions and exact measurements, make sure to read and print out the recipe card below. Here are the steps:
- Make the pie crust. Combine flour, salt, sugar, vanilla, butter, butter-flavored shortening, and ice-cold water in a stand mixer. Mix until well combined into a dough. You’ll want to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to chill in the fridge until you’re ready to roll it out. You could also use a food processor to make the dough.
- Next, cook the sweet potatoes by your preferred method. I allow my sweet potatoes to cool completely before I make the pie filling.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, whip the sweet potatoes until they’re fluffy and creamy—no lumps! You can either use a hand mixer (electric mixer) or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer.
- Next, add the rest of the sweet potato pie filling ingredients—eggs (make sure they’re at room temperature), sugar, spices, vanilla, evaporated milk, and butter (also at room temperature). Mix these ingredients until well combined. You want your pie filling to be almost fluffy—that gives this sweet potato pie its iconic texture.
- Next, roll out the cold pie dough. For best results, you should use a 9-inch pie plate. I do blind-bake my pie crust at 350 degrees for just 10 minutes before adding the filling.
- Finally, add the sweet potato pie filling. Smooth it in that crust, then bake for 45-50 minutes. It will look weird and puffy when it comes out but allow it to cool, and it’ll settle.
That’s it! You’ve got yourself a perfectly done soul food-style sweet potato pie. This is definitely my favorite sweet potato pie recipe. It’s easy and calls for simple ingredients. It makes the perfect holiday or any occasion dessert for your family.
Sweet Potato Pie FAQs: How to Make the Best Sweet Potato Pie
Now, I get that y’all might have questions, so I will provide some answers. If you have any more questions, leave a comment below!
How long should a sweet potato pie sit before slicing?
Let the sweet potato pie cool for at least 30 minutes, up to 2-4 hours, until it’s at room temperature. This will allow the pie filling to set completely, so it’s the perfect fluffy texture.
How do you know when sweet potato pie is done baking?
Your sweet potato pie is done when the center of the pie is just a little bit jiggly, and if you do the knife test, the knife should come out clean.
How do you avoid a stringy sweet potato pie?
Nothing is worse than a stringy texture in your sweet potato pie. To avoid this, make sure the sweet potato pie filling is well mixed, with no large lumps of un-mashed or un-whipped sweet potatoes. All of the ingredients will make your sweet potato pie filling nice and creamy, leaving no stringy texture.
What’s the difference between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie?
Pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie are two holiday table staples, especially in Southern homes. They may appear similar, but there are definitely a few key differences between them. Pumpkin pies call for a few different spices, namely, allspice and clove. Pumpkin pies rely heavily on seasoning since pumpkins are less flavorful, whereas sweet potatoes bring a lot of natural sweetness and flavor to the table. Pumpkin pies are often made with canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree. I always recommend using fresh sweet potatoes for a more authentic flavor.
What other recipes can you make with sweet potatoes?
Oh honey, am I glad you asked! I have a ton of sweet potato recipes. If you want to go the sweet route, try a sweet potato cobbler or a Dutch sweet potato pie. I also have recipes for a marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole and sweet potato fudge. For side dishes, try my honey sweet potato dinner rolls, slow cooker candied yams, or bourbon yams.
Soul Food Sweet Potato Pie Recipe Card + Video Tutorial
Okay, Cousins, y’all are now entrusted with my favorite sweet potato pie recipe—now get in that kitchen and make me proud! Whether you’re making this classic sweet potato pie for a holiday gathering, a family dinner, or as a sweet treat for a special someone, this recipe is sure to please. If you tried it and loved it, let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to tag and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, subscribe to I Heart Recipes on YouTube, and check out all my cookbooks! I just released a brand new cookbook, Super Soul Food with Cousin Rosie, with many recipes you can’t find anywhere else.
Soul Food Sweet Potato Pie
Make the Pie Crust
- Sprinkle in 1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Add in the cold butter, butter flavored shortening, 2 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
- Mix the ingredients until it forms into a dough, then wrap with plastic wrap and store the dough in the refrigerator.
Cook the Sweet Potatoes
- To boil: toss the peeled and chopped sweet potatoes into a medium-sized pot, and pour in about 4-6 cups of water. Place the pot over high heat, and boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender (about 15-20 minutes). Once the potatoes are done, drain the water, and let the potatoes cool completely.
- To bake: Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork, then place on a baking sheet and cook—with the skin on—until fork-tender. The time really depends on how big they are, but it should take about 35 minutes. Scoop out the insides of the sweet potatoes into a large bowl, and allow them to cool completely.
Make the Sweet Potato Pie Filling
- Toss the cool sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl and whisk until the potatoes are nice and creamy.
- Sprinkle in 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1 cup granulated sugar.
- Next, add two medium-sized eggs, 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and 8 tbsp of softened butter.
- Whisk until the mixture is nice creamy and airy.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, flatten it out, then place it into a 9 inch pie pan.
- Bake the pie shell for 7-10 minutes on 325 F.
- Remove the shell from the oven, then turn the heat up to 350 F.
- Start adding the sweet potato pie filling into the pie shell, and smooth it out.
- Bake the pie for 45-50 minutes.
- Let the pie cool until it is room temperature.
- If you are not a fan of ginger, you can leave it out. Or use equal parts lemon juice.
- You can use sweetened condensed milk or half-and-half in place of evaporated milk, but it may change the sweetness and consistency of the pie filling.
- You can use bourbon vanilla extract or plain vanilla extract.
- Light or dark brown sugar can be subbed for white sugar if desired.