This Candied Sweet Potato recipe was an annual tradition in my home growing up. My mother insisted on making these every year, and they still remind me of her and my childhood holiday memories every time I make them. I remember her making her famous Candied Sweet Potatoes each Thanksgiving while my uncle Bob and uncle Richard fussed around her in the kitchen. She loved to entertain but was never stressed or rushed because she was so organized, and her food was consistently amazing. That feeling and watching her in her element in the kitchen was something that left a lasting impression on me, and was always something that I loved connecting with myself.

Where did the candied sweet potato recipe come from anyways? Let’s start with the history of using sweet potatoes in America.

The history of candied sweet potatoes goes back much farther than my own family tradition! The sweet potato’s popularity in the United States started in the South, when African slaves begun using them like they would an African yam. The first “candy sweet potato” recipe appeared much later in 1896,  in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook.


Ok, so where did putting marshmallows on sweet potatoes come from exactly?

The addition of marshmallows (depending on which side you take on the matter) did not enter the equation until several decades later when the processing and manufacturing of marshmallows became more popular in the 1920s. A Great Depression era cookbook called Vital Vegetables was the first to feature the recipe for candy sweet potatoes in 1929, during a time-period when vegetables were an affordable and practical ingredient. And ever since, we have seen the candied sweet potato grace tables across the country year after year–most commonly around the holidays!

What do you serve with candied sweet potatoes?

Not only are these Candied Sweet Potatoes nostalgic, they are really amazing as a side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. They pair wonderfully with my simple Honey Mustard Glazed Ham recipe or my Herb Roasted Turkey recipe. This sweet potato recipe is so versatile, it even makes for delicious leftovers. (In fact, I think they may even be better the next day!) I like to spice up my mom’s original recipe by adding some mini marshmallows and chopped pecans or my friend Terri Milligan’s Homemade Marshmallows. I like to think mom would approve!

Looking for a show-stopping side dish that the whole family will love? This deliciously sweet and tasty recipe is a wonderful comfort food at any point throughout the winter. The orange zest, juice, maple syrup, and spices really heighten the flavor of the sweet potatoes, and makes this dish an excellent accompaniment to a wide range of proteins and entrées.
Sweet Potatoes, Thanksgiving, Sides
Candied Sweet Potato Recipe with Marshmallows and Pecans

Candied Sweet Potato Recipe with Marshmallows and Pecans

Prep time: 25 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 25 M
Candied Sweet Potatoes are a holiday classic- one that brings to mind memories of my own mother in the kitchen on Thanksgiving! This recipe’s flavors of orange zest, maple syrup, and aromatic spices bring out the rich flavor of the sweet potatoes. It’s a dish that pairs wonderfully with a holiday ham or turkey.


  • 5 to 6 medium sweet potatoes (approximately 4 pounds)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Mary’s Cognac Barrel-Aged Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows, optional
  • ½ cup unsalted chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by lightly coating it with nonstick cooking spray. Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut them into ½-inch round slices. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl and toss with the salt and white pepper.
  2. Zest the orange and set the zest aside. Juice the orange and reserve 2 tablespoons of juice. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the reserved orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Without adjusting the heat, bring the mixture to a low boil. Boil for 2 minutes without stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and reserved orange zest.
  3. Evenly distribute the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Pour the orange maple sauce evenly over the potatoes. Bake everything for 20 minutes, then gently stir the potatoes.
  4. Carefully cover the potatoes with aluminum foil and bake them for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the foil and stir the potatoes again, replacing the foil when you’re done stirring.
  5. Bake for another 20 minutes, for a total baking time of one hour. If you’re using marshmallows and pecans, distribute them evenly over the sweet potatoes at the end, and flash bake under the broiler, just to lightly brown the marshmallows. Place the finished dish on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
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February 26, 2021 — Mary DiSomma