Candied yams have ALWAYS been one of my favorite dishes to enjoy during the holidays. If you’re looking for a good sweet potato recipe, THIS IS IT! Growing up, my dad made them pretty regularly. You could always count on some being made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though I used to watch him make them, I still didn’t know how to make the recipe myself… until now!
See, the thing with my dad’s cooking is that he’s one of those people that don’t believe in recipes. His cooking style is “a little of this, a pinch of that, a smidge of this… BOOM! Done!” How in the world is anyone supposed to recreate that?!
Lucky for you, I don’t cook like my dad (at least not all the time) which is why I’m able to share this delicious recipe for these vegan candied yams that can be made with or without marshmallows! This vegan sweet potato recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Really any holiday for that matter!
How to Make Vegan Candied Yams
Vegan candied yams are super simple to make! To create this vegan sweet potato dish you’ll want to start by first preparing your sweet potatoes. Be sure to start with clean sweet potatoes, even though you’ll be peeling away the outer skin. To clean my produce, I usually wash out my sink with warm soapy water, then fill it up with water plus a bit of apple cider vinegar. I let it sit for at least 20 minutes, then scrub with a vegetable brush.
Once the sweet potatoes are finished soaking, grab your peeler and remove the skin from each of them to reveal the orange flesh. On a cutting board, slice each of the potatoes with a sharp knife, making each piece about 1/4 inch thick. If you make them too thick, they will take forever to cook. If they’re too thin, it could make serving them a little messy.
Take each of your sliced sweet potatoes and transfer them to a 9×13 inch baking pan, arranging them how you’d like. I’ve seen people stack them on top of each other, but I prefer to arrange them slightly on top of each other (similar to an accordion style) so that I can easily check on their progress while they’re cooking.
Making the Vegan Candied Yams Mixture
To prepare the vegan candied yams mixture, you’ll want to start by placing your 8 tablespoons of vegan butter into a small pot to melt over medium heat. Once the vegan butter is melted, proceed by adding in all spices, both sugars and vanilla extract. Continue to stir the ingredients together over medium heat. You can remove it from the eye after about 6-7 minutes.
If you’re interested in making a healthier version of these candied yams or make them low sugar, you could try substituting the organic cane sugar and brown sugar for your favorite sugar substitute (like Stevia, Coconut Sugar…etc.).
Once the mixture is done cooking, pour it evenly over the sweet potatoes in your 9×13 baking dish. If necessary, use a spoon to scoop up any mixture that has fallen to the bottom of the dish to ensure that each of the sliced sweet potatoes have been covered with the mixture.
Next, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and transfer the dish to your preheated oven to bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes have passed, remove the Vegan Candied Yams dish from the oven and baste the sweet potatoes with the candied yam mixture. Cover the dish with foil again and cook for another 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are perfectly tender.
Once the sweet potatoes are done, now is the time to add your vegan marshmallows if you so desire. Arrange them overtop of the sliced sweet potatoes and continue baking for a few minutes without the foil until lightly browned. If by chance you’d like to use the broil setting on your stove to get them to brown a bit faster, do so but be sure to keep an eye on them because they will brown pretty quickly!
What’s the Difference Between a Yam and a Sweet Potato?
Let’s just start by saying that if you’re in the US, sweet potatoes are much easier to find than a real yam. Sweet potatoes typically have a redish brown outer skin color, while yams are brown with pretty tough skin almost resembling tree bark.
Believe it or not, sweet potatoes can come in a variety of different colors that include purple, white and of course the most common, orange. All of which are actually pretty sweet. They are versatile and can be used for a variety of different dishes.
Yams are typically white inside, with a starchy center that’s not very sweet at all. You can sometimes find these at Asian grocery stores or specialty super markets.
So why do we call sweet potatoes yams?
Great question! I wondered the same thing, so I did some research to see if I could make sense of it. It turns out that during slavery, there was a need to differentiate between the soft and firm varieties. Because the enslaved people needed to be able to have separate names for them, they started referring to sweet potatoes as yams because they felt they closely resembled the yams from their native African countries. Soft sweet potatoes were then referred to as yams in order to draw a distinction between their soft varieties.
Where Can I Find Vegan Marshmallows?
If you’re new to the vegan world, you might be thinking “wait, regular marshmallows aren’t vegan?!” Unfortunately most traditional marshmallows contain gelatin, making them non vegan friendly. Lucky for you, vegan marshmallows that don’t contain gelatin are not that hard to find.
I typically purchase my vegan marshmallows from Trader Joe’s. In the summer, they typically carry the large ones (pictured below), while in the winter you can usually find the minis.
If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, it’s all good. Whole Foods and Amazon carry a vegan-friendly brand called Dandies and their marshmallows are vegan as well.
What to Pair with Vegan Candied Yams:
I usually enjoy Vegan Candied Yams as part of a holiday meal or soul food dinner, so I recommend the following dishes to accompany them depending on what you’re in the mood for:
- Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Slow Cooker Collard Greens
- Spicy Chicken Fried Cauliflower
- Southern Black Eyed Peas
- In need of more ideas for your holiday dinner? Check out these Easy Vegan Holiday Dinner recipes!
I know you’ll love these vegan candied yams! They’re the perfect addition to any soul food dinner and your friends and family won’t even be able to tell that they’re vegan (my favorite part)! Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think of it in the comments below!
Tools You Might Need:
Easy Vegan Candied Yams (With or Without Marshmallows)
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Arrange the sliced sweet potatoes in a 9×13 baking dish.
- Place the butter into a small pot, then melt it over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle in the white & brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground clove and vanilla extract.
- Continue to stir the ingredients together over medium heat, allowing them to combine for about 6-7 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Pour the mixture over the sliced sweet potatoes, coating each of them.
- Cover the baking dish with foil, then place in the oven for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven and baste them with the candied mixture, spooning it over the top of the candied yams.
- Place the foil back over the baking dish and put it back in the oven for 30-45 minutes more or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
- Once the sweet potatoes are tender, add vegan marshmallows overtop (if desired) and continue baking until lightly browned.
- Once done, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so. Enjoy!