How To Make Grandmama’s Sweet Potato Pie or ummm…Casserole?


Down south we do love our sweet potatoes. Most restaurants (if they know whats good for them!) serve some form of sweet potatoes as a side dish. Steak houses offer them in place of a baked potato and bring them wrapped in foil, cracked open with steam rising out and a large pat of butter already melting into a generous spooning of brown sugar and cinnamon.

No, its not a dessert, its a side dish. Sure they usually have a nice brown sugar coating and yes they may taste like a dessert, but sweet potatoes are a side dish. They are, after all, a vegetable, are they not?
See how smart we are in the south?
We call it a side dish and then still get to eat dessert at the end!

I have several very well loved sweet potato recipes, so you haven’t seen the last of orange food on this site! Growing up, my mother made us sweet potato pie covered in toasted marshmallows. I still love that. I’ve also added my own recipes for sweet potato cake with a thick coconut frosting and one of my dazzler recipes, Sweet Potato Creme Brulee. Still, to be completely honest, NOTHING tastes as good as THIS sweet potato recipe!

Today I’m going to show you how to make my grandmother’s recipe for Sweet Potato Pie, often referred to as Sweet Potato Casserole. I think folks are confused as to whether it is a pie or a casserole since it doesn’t have a crust. However, I’ve lived here for thirty some odd years and I have never once seen a sweet potato pie which actually had a crust. I have to admit though, I don’t know what the heck to call this. Technically, it is made in a pie plate so I am going with pie on this one. I’ve even heard Grandmama go back and forth. The name is gonna be your call entirely then. Sweet potato pie, sweet potato casserole, this dish by any other name would taste as sweet!

Two things I ask of you.
1. Please don’t call it a yam. I promise you, its not a yam. Its a sweet potato. The sweet potato is very distantly related to the yam, but it is most certainly not a yam. Why do folks call it a yam? Do they think it sounds better or something? Y-A-M. Nope, I think it sounds weird. Yam is a strange word anyway. Sweet Potato. Now, doesn’t that sound ….well, sweet? Sweet Potato. Always makes me think of Toy Story 2 when Mister Potato Head was being affectionate with Mrs. Potato Head and he said “You’re my little sweet potato!”
Another interesting point is that those sweet potatoes you buy were most likely grown right here in the US. North Carolina provided more than 38% of the United States sweet potatoes in 2007, California 23%, Louisiana 15.9%, and Mississippi 19%!
The Yam grows in tropical climates, primarily South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and can reach as long as seven feet. As much fun as I’d have cooking with a seven foot long sweet potato, it would never happen, because that would be a yam.


UPDATE 2011- Call it a yam if ya want. I have no idea why I felt this was important in 2008. That was back when I still had time for opinions on silly things like whether or not sweet potatoes were called by their rightful names :) 

2. Please, unless you really really have to, don’t use that canned mess. Alright, I’d break my own rule here if time were an issue. Well, maybe not. I’ve never used canned sweet potatoes. I hope I never do and the main reason is if you used canned sweet potatoes, you can’t have the fun of eating a slice raw while you cook them! YUMM! Keep in mind that the person who is telling you not to used canned sweet potatoes is the same person who runs through margarine and cake mixes like they were air. So if you want to use canned, if that will crank your tractor and get you to make this recipe, by all means do. Just don’t go bragging about it, we can pretend you used fresh and you can have a slice of raw sweet potato some other time…….~sigh~…but you’re really missing out. ~sniff~ ~sniff~.

UPDATE 2011 – I baked something with canned sweet potatoes last week. It was very different from using fresh but in the interest of full disclosure I just want you to know that I have completely gotten over myself here :) ~rolls eyes at her 2008 self~ 

Now on to our recipe!!!

For the main pie you will need: Sweet potatoes, Sugar, Vanilla, Coconut, Eggs, and Margarine.
I also used a tsp of cinnamon, because I LOVE cinnamon in my sweet potatoes!

Peel your sweet potatoes. These suckers are pretty tough, I’m warning you. Not nearly as soft as a regular potato but they really make the effort worthwhile so I don’t begrudge them hanging onto their skin a little tighter.

Slice them and place them in a pot. Mama used to always give us slices of them raw as bribery to get us to get out of the kitchen and leave her alone so she could finish supper.
I can here her now, “Here, now get on out of here so I can finish!”
If you kept pestering her though, she’d give you another slice :).
Cover them with water and bring to a boil.
Cook them until they fall apart when pierced with a fork.

Drain potatoes well and place in mixing bowl.

Add a stick of butter and mix well

Add eggs, one at a time, WHILE your mixer is going.
It is important to mix while you add the eggs or else the hot sweet potatoes might cook them up and you’d have little bits of cooked egg in your pie and thats …ewww.

Add sugar

And cinnamon (if you want to add cinnamon, this is optional)
Add vanilla… Mix well.

Scrape down sides, add coconut, and mix again.

until it looks like this.

Pour into pie plate. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.
While that is baking, prepare your topping.

For the topping, you will need: Brown sugar, pecans, all purpose flour, and more margarine.

In a medium mixing bowl, place brown sugar and flour.

Stir to combine and break up any lumps with a fork (or pick one or two out to eat!).

Cut entire stick of margarine in with a fork…
Like this.

It will look like this.

Chop up your pecans and add them.
I was feeling lazy so I just broke them up with my fingers as I added them.

Stir well.

Once 20 min has passed, remove sweet potatoes from oven and liberally cover with topping.
Grandmama did us right here, she gave us PLENTY of topping!!

Once all of the topping is over the potatoes, return to oven and continue baking at 350 until it is golden brown. This will be about thirty to forty minutes.


DIVE IN!!! Oh lord, this is so good. I wish I could give you a bite right now!


Grandmama’s Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie
  • Sweet Potatoes:
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Stick Margarine
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 3.5 oz sweetened flaked coconut
  • Topping:
  • 1 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 Stick Margarine
  • 1 C Flour
  • 1 C Pecans
  1. Peel and slice sweet potatoes. Place in pot and cover with water until fork tender. Drain well and place in mixing bowl. Add margarine and beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, while the mixer is going. Add vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon, mix well. Toss in Coconut and blend. Place in pie plate and bake at 350 for twenty minutes.
  2. For topping, Stir together flour and brown sugar, breaking up any lumps. Cut in margine. Stir in pecans. Spoon or sprinkle on top of sweet potato pie. Return to oven and continue baking at 350 until golden, about thirty to forty minutes.

Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Christy's email list and receive all her new posts directly in your inbox


  1. says

    Let me add my thanks for all the fun all year. I also wanted to add a tip I learned this year about sweet potatos. I, too, make sweet potato casserole every year. This year, though, I baked my sweet potatos on a baking sheet in a 375 degree oven. I had 6 large potatos, so I baked them (with convection) for 50 minutes until they were soft. Then I took them out of the oven and cooled them on a rack. The skins slipped right off! I also found that they retained much more of their flavor and probably more vitamins cooking them this way. They still mashed up just great!

      • SweetCarol says

        Thanks. I came down here to find out if someone else asked that question or gave a suggestion after making it. Sounds great.

        I had a recipe once for Sugar Pie and it was mixed right in the crust of the pie. I remember pouring sugar in the crust and then I know it had vanilla and some kind of milk. It was really sweet but tasted good. Might be sort of like buttermilk pie. Have any recipes similar to that?

  2. Freda says

    I have made this for years! (And I call it casserole). I don’t use coconut (cause I hate it) and I double the topping (cause that’s my husband’s favorite part)! Can’t wait to have this next week! I love Thanksgiving!!!

  3. Gigi Griffin says

    If you will bake your sweet potatoes instead of boiling it cuts prep work down. My mom has been making this for Thanksgiving since the mid 1970’s. It became an instant success & family tradition immediately. As a young mom I got lazy one year & used canned sweet potatoes but it wasn’t good. Yes baking takes an hour but believe me it’s worth it. Baking the potatoes gives them a richer taste somehow. Thanksgiving can be a 3 ring circus at my house. Seemingly endless food prep, kids running wild & company underfoot takes it’s toll. You may even bake them & refrigerate inside their jackets to peel next day & save burning your fingertips. Love your blog! Step by step photos are very helpful!

  4. Stacey Kirby says

    Hey Christy,

    I actually had a few minutes to browse one of my favorite websites (your blog!) I was looking at your sweet potato pie…ummm casserole recipe to see if it was much like my favorite food in the whole world, which is the sweet potato souffle recipe my mom and I have been cooking for years, and I happened to fix tonight in preparation for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Your recipe is very similar, but we don’t put cinnamon or coconut in ours. Interesting. I love both cinnamon and coconut, but ours is so yummy, I hesitate to change it at all. I was going to tell you that we cook our sweet potatoes differently too. It usually takes three decent sized potatoes. We take a knife and score them. I usually scrub the potatoes, then cut the skin lengthwise four times around the potato and tonight I cut a few scores across each of those, as well. Then, I wrap the potatoes in cellophane and stick them end to end on a plate and nuke them in the microwave for 6 min, then flip and 6 min more, and usually, one more flip and another six minutes. The potatoes are soft to the touch and very hot. I use a pair of toaster tongs to peel the skins off and the potatoes are just perfect to cream with all the other yummy ingredients. I thought I would suggest it. I imagine it is much easier than peeling them before boiling them. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I am just praise Jesus for being so good to me again this year. Our God is so great!

    • Taterbug says

      Ooh, that is the best tip about microwaving the sweet potatoes! I tried your method last night instead of peeling and boiling, and it worked just perfectly. I’ll have to get some metal tongs for next time, though – I tried the fork-and-fingers method of peeling them, which got a little toasty! :)

  5. Carolyn Brown says

    Christy, I discovered a couple of years ago that I could bake sweet potatoes in my slow cooker. All I do is wash the potatoes in their skin, set up 5 potatoes vertically..they hold each other up when in place, then put the lid on and “bake” them for about 5 hours on low. I do not add any liquid, they form their own liquid during the cooking time. They are wonderful to eat with butter mixed with a little cinnamon right out of the slow cooker. Slit the skin and open one up and add some cinnamon butter! YUM! Try it! You’ll like them that way!! Carolyn

  6. Whitney B says

    I just found this on your site. This is the closest recipe I’ve found to my granny’s sweet potato casserole. Hers also has a drained can of crushed pineapple in it. She just turned 92 and still makes two huge pans of it for our family at Thanksgiving. No small feat since we now number upwards of 40 souls.

  7. Patsy Ramsey says

    I would like to thank you for all the laughs and sometimes tears that you have gave me this last year-I am so grateful that I ran across your web site.You are amazing and I just plain out love you!I wish only the very best for you and your family this Christmas and may God Bless us each and every one!Merry Christmas


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *