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Candied Yams with Pecans and Marshmallows

A wonderful side dish to add to your holiday meal that can be partially prepared ahead of time.

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

So what’s in a name anyway?

When deciding on a name for this recipe I went with what I’ve called it for years and what my grandmother called it…”Candied Yams“.

But technically, the “yams” in this recipe are really sweet potatoes.

Somewhere down the line sweet potatoes were called yams and the name stuck.

But in my mind, I’ve kept it simple…yams had the purple-ish reddish skin, and sweet potatoes had the lighter tan colored skin.  So simple but definitely not technically correct.

I’ve always used the sweet potatoes with the purple skin for my holiday recipes because the inside of the potato has such a beautiful and vibrant orange color to it.

I must have been lucky when picking the potatoes with the purple skin and orange flesh inside because there are varieties of purple skinned sweet potatoes that are white inside.

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

And sometimes sweet potatoes with the light tan colored skin are actually white inside too.  I learned this the hard way when cutting into a sweet potato expecting to see a bright orange color for my candied yam recipe.

Thank goodness I had time to go back to the grocery store to buy the orange fleshed sweet potato, or the “yam” as I call them.

For more details about yams vs. sweet potatoes, here’s a great short video from the Food Network with Alton Brown about the Difference Between a Sweet Potato and a Yam.

In this recipe I refer to yams and sweet potatoes interchangeably.

So let’s talk about this simple and delicious recipe for candied yams.

I’ve been making it for years and it’s always a hit as a side dish with my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

It tastes like comfort food and is a wonderful complement with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce and even ambrosia salad.

It’s made in a 8 x 8 inch square glass baking dish and there are two layers of cooked (boiled) cut sweet potatoes and scrumptious toppings.

The toppings in each layer include butter, brown sugar, real maple syrup and coarsely chopped pecans.

And what I really love about this dish (besides everything) is that it can be partially prepared ahead of time.

Candied yams in cellophane

If preparing this dish ahead of time, after the layers of yams and toppings are added to the baking dish, it’s wrapped in cellophane and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking and serving.

If preparing this dish ahead of time, it needs to be removed from the refrigerator and set on the kitchen counter for about 45 minutes before serving.  The first 10 minutes are to bring the dish and ingredients to room temperature.   Then the cellophane is removed and the ingredients are stirred.

Next, the process is the same if preparing this dish ahead of time or making it before serving.

Starting at about 35 minutes before serving, the baking dish is covered in foil and warmed in the oven for 15 minutes, then removed from the oven so that the marshmallows can be added on top of the yams.

Then back into the oven it goes for about 20 minutes to further warm the potatoes and toast the marshmallows.  See below for more details and step-by-step instructions and pictures.

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

These yams can either be served right from the baking dish (with a warning to guests that the dish is hot of course)…

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

…or transferred to a serving bowl.

These candied yams taste best when served as soon as soon as possible so that the marshmallows are still crispy.  So good.

Here are more holiday recipes you may like “No-Bake Cherry Cheese Pie with Helpful Tips“, “Limeade Cranberry and Blackberry Compote” and “Thanksgiving Turkey Chocolate Cupcakes“.

Let’s check out the ingredients.

Candied Yams Ingredients

Yams (orange-fleshed sweet potatoes), butter, real maple syrup, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, salt, coarsely chopped pecans and miniature marshmallows

printable recipe with the measurements and instructions is located at the bottom of this post.

Here’s how to make it.

Peel skin off of yam

Peeling and Cutting the Yams – Cut off a small piece from each end, and peel the yams.

Peeled yam cut in half

Cut each yam in half widthwise.

Peeled yam cut in quarters

With the flat sides down, cut each half yam in half from top-to-bottom.

TIP – When cutting the yams, set them on the cutting board with the flat, cut-side facing down so that the yam doesn’t roll when cutting it.

Cut yam in chunks

With the flat sides down, cut the yams into about 2-inch chunks that are as equal in size as possible.

TIP – Don’t cut the pieces too small or they may turn into mush when cooked.

Cut yam in chunks

TIP – Cut the yams into pieces that are all about the same size so that they cook evenly.

Cut yams in baking dish

Testing the Quantity of Cut Yams – Do a quick “quantity” test to see if more cut yams can fit in the baking dish or if there are too many…

Cut yams in baking dish

…In the baking dish (ungreased), add the cut pieces of yams.

Fill the baking dish with cut pieces of yams so that they are evenly spread across the dish and reach about 1/2 inch below the top of the dish.

The 1/2 inch space should be enough for the layer of marshmallows that’s added towards the end.

Adding yams in pan

Boiling the Yams – Fill a large pot about 2/3’s full with cold water and add the cut yams.

TIP – If the water level in the pot is close to the top, remove some of the water so it doesn’t boil over.

TIP – The potatoes should cook more evenly when added to cold water.  If added to boiling water, the outside of the potato cooks faster than the inside.

Cut yams in boiling water

Heat the pan on medium heat and bring the water to a boil.

Let the potatoes cook until a cooking fork or paring knife can easily pierce the potato (about 8 to 9 minutes once the water starts to boil).

Be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they’ll be mushy and fall apart.

Grease dish with butter

Preparing the Baking Dish – While the yams are boiling, generously grease the inside (bottom and sides) of the baking dish (8×8 inch square baking dish).

Set the dish aside.

Cut yams in colander

Preparation of Ingredients – Once the yams are fork tender, strain them in a colander.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

If making the yams ahead of time, no need to preheat the oven at this point.

Cubes of butter on plate

Cut the butter into small cubes.  Set aside.

Candied yams ingredients

Layering the Yams and ToppingsLayer #1:  to the greased baking dish, add an even layer of half the quantity of the cooked yams.

Add salt to cut yams

Lightly sprinkle half the quantity of salt on the yams.

Add maple syrup on yams

Evenly drizzle half the quantity of the maple syrup on the yams.

Add cinnamon on yams

Evenly sprinkle half the quantity of the ground cinnamon on the yams.

Add butter on yams

Top the yams with half the quantity of the cubes of butter (add the butter evenly around the yams so it’s not all in one area).

Add brown sugar on yams

Evenly add half the quantity of the brown sugar on top of the yams.

Candied yam ingredients

Next, for the last topping on Layer #1…

Add pecans on yams

…on top of the yams…

Pecans on cut yams

…evenly add half the quantity of the coarsely chopped pecans.

Layer of cut yams in dish

Next, for Layer #2 – add an even layer of the remaining yams…

Add salt on cut yams

…lightly sprinkle the remaining salt on the yams…

Add syrup on cut yams

…evenly drizzle the remaining maple syrup on the yams…

Add cinnamon on cut yams

…evenly sprinkle the remaining ground cinnamon on the yams…

Add butter on cut yams

…top the yams with the remaining cubes of butter…

Add brown sugar on yams

…evenly sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on the yams…

Add pecans on cut yams

…and last but not least…top the yams with the remaining coarsely chopped pecans.

Candied yams ingredients

If Making This Before Serving:

Skip the step of wrapping the yams in cellophane (discussed below); and

Skip the step of storing the yams in the refrigerator (discussed below).

Next, go to the step of wrapping the dish in foil and starting the baking process (discussed below).

If Partially Preparing This Ahead of Time:

No more prep is needed for now except for…

Candied yams in cellophane

…wrapping the baking dish with the prepared yams in cellophane, and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before the baking process and serving.

Candied yams in baking dish

Here’s a picture of how the layered ingredients look after being in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Stir candied yams in dish

The only thing different that needs to be done if partially preparing these yams ahead of time and storing them in the refrigerator is to stir the ingredients together before the baking process.

If prepared ahead of time, about 45 minutes before serving, remove the yams from the refrigerator, set the dish on the counter for about 10 minutes to bring it and the ingredients to room temperature, remove and discard the cellophane, and stir the ingredients together.

If the yams are made before serving, no need to stir the ingredients before the baking process.

Wrap candied yams in foil

For the Baking Process – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

ABOUT 35 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING – cover the yams in foil and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Candied yams wrapped in foil

Remove the yams from the oven and set the baking dish onto a cookie sheet (for use when baking the yams again topped with marshmallows).

Add marshmallows on yams

Remove and discard the foil.

Top the yams with marshmallows.

Marshmallows on yams

Spread the marshmallows evenly over the yams.

Baked yams with marshmallows

Bake uncovered in a preheated oven until the yams are heated through and the marshmallows start to turn a light golden color (about 20 minutes).

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

Serve as soon as possible while the marshmallows are still crispy.

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

Serve right out of the baking dish…

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

…(with a warning to guests that the dish is hot of course).

Candied Yams with Pecans

Or, transfer the yams to a serving dish or bowl.

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

Then,

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

…time to dig in…

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

…and…

Candied Yams with Marshmallows

…enjoy each and every bite.

Thank you so much for stopping by CCC!

More Side Dishes You May Like:

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Sage and Ham

How to Make Homestyle Elbow Macaroni Salad

Easy Potato Salad with Egg

Blackberry and Lemon Mason Jar Lid Pies

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Candied Yams with Marshmallows

Candied Yams with Pecans and Marshmallows

A wonderful side dish to add to your holiday meal that can be partially prepared ahead of time.
Print Pin
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 54 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 14 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Candied Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Thanksgiving, Holiday, Christmas
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • 8 x 8 inch square glass baking dish
  • Foil

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds yams (orange-fleshed sweet potatoes) peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon butter, softened (for greasing the baking dish)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes (for the candied yams)
  • 1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (more or less to cover the yams)

Instructions

Test the Quantity of Cut Yams:

  • After peeling and cutting the yams into 2-inch chunks, do a quick "quantity" test to see if more cut yams can fit properly in the dish (or if there are too many).
  • In the baking dish (ungreased), add the cut pieces of yams. Fill the baking dish with cut pieces of yams so that they're evenly spread across the dish and reach about 1/2 inch below the top of the dish.

Boiling the Yams:

  • Fill a large pot about 2/3's full with cold water and add the cut yams.
  • Heat the pan on medium heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • Let the potatoes cook until a cooking fork or paring knife can easily pierce the potato (about 8 to 9 minutes once the water starts to boil). Be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they’ll be mushy and fall apart.

Preparing the Baking Dish:

  • While the yams are boiling, generously grease the inside (bottom and sides) of the baking dish (8x8 inch square baking dish). Set the dish aside.

Layering the Yams and Toppings:

  • Once the yams are fork tender, strain them in a colander.  Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If making the yams ahead of time, no need to preheat the oven at this point.
  • For Layer #1:  to the greased baking dish, add an even layer of half the quantity of the cooked yams. Lightly sprinkle half the quantity of salt on the yams. Evenly drizzle half the quantity of the maple syrup on the yams.
  • Evenly sprinkle half the quantity of the ground cinnamon on the yams. Top the yams with half the quantity of the small cubes of butter (add the butter evenly around the yams so it's not all in one area).
  • Evenly add half the quantity of the brown sugar and half the amount of chopped pecans on top of the yams.
  • For Layer #2 - add an even layer of the remaining yams, salt, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, small cubes of butter, brown sugar and pecans.

IF MAKING THE CANDIED YAMS BEFORE SERVING:

  • Skip the step of wrapping the yams in cellophane (discussed below); and
    Skip the step of storing the yams in the refrigerator (discussed below).
    Next, go to the step of wrapping the dish in foil and starting the baking process (discussed below).

IF PARTIALLY PREPARING THIS AHEAD OF TIME:

  • No more prep is needed for now except for wrapping the baking dish with the prepared yams in cellophane, and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before the baking process and serving.
  • The only thing different that needs to be done if partially preparing these yams ahead of time and storing them in the refrigerator is to stir the ingredients together before the baking process.
    If prepared ahead of time, about 45 minutes before serving, remove the yams from the refrigerator, set the dish on the counter for about 10 minutes to bring it and the ingredients to room temperature, remove and discard the cellophane, and stir the ingredients together.
    If the yams are made before serving, no need to stir the ingredients before the baking process.

For the Baking Process:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    ABOUT 35 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING - cover the yams in foil and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the yams from the oven and set the baking dish onto a cookie sheet (for use when baking the yams again topped with marshmallows).
  • Remove and discard the foil. Top the yams with marshmallows. Spread the marshmallows evenly over the yams.
  • Bake uncovered in a preheated oven until the yams are heated through and the marshmallows start to turn a light golden color (about 20 minutes).
  • Serve as soon as possible while the marshmallows are still crispy. Serve right out of the baking dish (with a warning to guests that the dish is hot of course). Or, transfer the yams to a serving dish or bowl.

Notes

TIPS

Cutting the Yams:
1. When cutting the yams (orange flesh sweet potatoes), set them on the cutting board with the flat, cut-side facing down so that the yam doesn't roll when cutting it.
2. Don't cut the yam pieces too small or they may turn into mush when cooked.
3. Cut the yams into pieces that are all about the same size so that they cook evenly.
Boiling the Yams:
4. If the water level in the pot is close to the top, remove some of the water so it doesn't boil over.
5. The potatoes should cook more evenly when added to cold water.  If added to boiling water, the outside of the potato cooks faster than the inside.
 
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