Holiday Side: Candied Sweet Potatoes a la Emeril


Joke: What’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? About ten cents a pound.

Let’s Get Something Straight

     First of all, it’s time to get something cleared up. Contrary to what many people think, a sweet potato and a yam are not the same. It’s true, they are both root vegetables but they belong to different plant families: the sweet potato belongs to the morning glory family and the yam the lily family. In a nutshell yams are sweeter, are larger, but they don’t supply as much nutrition.


                                                     A True Sweet Potato

      For more on this difference click on Peggy Trowbridge Filippone’s site to read about “How to Tell These Two Tubers Apart.” It gets to the root of the problem (pun intended) and explains this in more detail. There. That’s that.

A Special Spot In My Heart And On My Plate


     At our family Thanksgiving table I’m expected to bring two sides with one of them being the sweet potatoes. I volunteer to do this every year because I basically don’t want anyone else screwing it up. I use Emeril’s recipe which has scraped vanilla bean and some Bourbon for a New Orleans touch. There have also been times when I’ve split the recipe in half to satisfy the ones who like marshmallows toasted on the top.

     Candied sweet potatoes have a special spot on my holiday plate. They can leave out most any of the traditional sides, but not this. I have to have my annual fix, and I sit at the table with excited anticipation waiting for the dish to arrive.

And Emeril Puts The “Sweet” In Sweet Potato

     As in every Emeril recipe, each has tons of flavor, and this is no exception. And leave it to Emeril to put the “sweet”  in sweet potatoes. Everyone always raves about my contribution, and I hope my family feels that this is in good hands. I think I am like Emeril in that I wouldn’t want anyone to think I would ever bring a common potato dish, which reminds me of a joke:

Joke: Why didn’t the mother sweet potato want her daughter to marry the famous newscaster? Because he was a commentator.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

yields: 8 Servings prep time: 25 Minutes cook time: 45 Minutes
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4 1 1/2 Cups 1/2 Cups 1/2 Cups 1 bean or 1 tsp 1 tsp 1 tsp 1/2 tsp 1/4 Cup 1/2 Stick
Sweet potatoes large peeled and sliced Sugar light brown Water Orange juice Vanilla (scraped bean) or extract Orange zest Cinnamon Salt Bourbon Butter
  • 4
    Sweet potatoes large peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 Cups
    Sugar light brown
  • 1/2 Cups
  • 1/2 Cups
    Orange juice
  • 1 bean or 1 tsp
    Vanilla (scraped bean) or extract
  • 1 tsp
    Orange zest
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/4 Cup
  • 1/2 Stick


Peel potatoes and slice into bite size pieces.

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.

Time: 75 Minutes

  1. In a 3-qt saucepan combine everything but bourbon and butter.

  2. Bring to boil over high heat, then lower heat to medium and cover. Stir occasionally and carefully until potatoes are tender (about 20-30 minutes).

  3. Strain the sauce out of the potatoes, and transfer potatoes to a 1 1/2 qt casserole. Put the sauce back into the saucepan.

  4. Add bourbon and butter to the sauce and cook until it thickens (around 20 minutes). Note: Be sure it is syrupy and not too thin.

  5. Sprinkle pecan pieces sparingly o top (optional)

    Pour the syrup over the potatoes and place in oven. Bake until browned (about 10-15 minutes).

  6. Remove from heat, stir gently, and sere immediately.

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