How To Make The Best Sweet Potato Pie Ever

Incorporate these tips in your baking and take your favorite sweet potato pie recipe from good to great.

50 Best Thanksgiving Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie
Photo: Hector Sanchez

The cooler days of autumn tend to usher in all things pumpkin, and why not? Varieties such as Jack O'Lantern, Cinderella, Sugar, and Amish Pie pumpkins not only add interest to our fall décor but enhance our fall menus with warm, spice-filled pumpkin breads and pumpkin cheesecakes. When it comes to pie, however, the pumpkin takes a back seat to the South's favorite tuber, the sweet potato. The classic sweet potato pie is a must-have on holiday sideboards throughout the South.

Let's walk through the steps of one of our most popular recipes for classic, Southern sweet potato pie that's silky with a deep, nutty flavor.

Why We Picked This Recipe

There are several reasons this top-rated recipe for Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie became a reader favorite. One reason is that the recipe makes two pies (one for dinner and one for the freezer) and uses refrigerated store-bought pie crust. Southern bakers love to make everything from scratch, but time constraints and our own abilities (I just can't seem to master the art of homemade pie crust!) will often lead us to choose a trusted convenience product.

Prepare the Crusts

One package of store-bought pie crusts makes two pies. To avoid the crust from puffing up, line the pie with parchment paper and add either dried beans or pie weights, and bake for 15 minutes. Pre-baking also creates a flakier crust and prevents sogginess. Cool completely.

Roast the Potatoes for Deeper Flavor

Sweet potatoes are full of natural sugars. This recipe uses roasted, instead of boiled sweet potatoes. The sugars caramelize during the roasting process, lending a deeper flavor to your pie. To roast them, prick a few holes in your potatoes and bake them in a 425-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. After roasting, let the potatoes cool a bit so you can easily handle and skin them; a warm potato is easier to skin than a cold one. The skins should come right off.

Mash the Sweet Potatoes

Mash the pulp (you may use a food processor or hand-held mixer) until it is smooth and lump-free. If your sweet potatoes are at all stringy—which can happen sometimes, especially with larger sweet potatoes—you will need to pass them through a food mill or sieve.

Brown the Butter to Add Nutty Flavor

Browning the butter (cooking unsalted butter long enough to turn the milk solids brown while cooking out any water in the butter) with spices is another special step that made this recipe so popular, as browning butter lends a deep, nutty flavor to this Southern classic dessert. The butter is infused with whole cloves and a cinnamon stick that gets removed once the butter has darkened and smells fragrant.

Blend the Ingredients

After browning, blend the butter with the mashed potatoes, condensed milk, and remaining ingredients, and pour the mixture into your cooled, prepared pie crusts.

Bake the Pies Until Set

Bake until the filling is slightly puffy and set, normally about 45 minutes (remember ovens vary, so your pie may not take as long, or may need more time). If the crust gets too dark before the pie is done, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.

Resist Temptation and Let the Pies Cool

It will be difficult but try to wait an hour before slicing into the pie. You want the filling to be firm in order to cut clean slices. Top with whipped cream, ice cream, crumbled gingersnaps, sprinkled cinnamon sugar, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

How to Store Sweet Potato Pie

This Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie recipe makes two pies that should be either refrigerated or frozen depending on when they will be eaten.

If you plan on eating the pie sooner than later, it should be refrigerated because it contains milk and eggs, which is prone to bacteria growth if not stored properly. Before the pie goes into the refrigerator, it must be completely cool, which may take two to three hours. There should be no hint of warmth at the bottom of the pan—a cool pie prevents soggy crust and heating up your refrigerator. Use a pie rack for even cooling. When it is cool, loosely cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to three days.

How to Freeze Sweet Potato Pie

To freeze your sweet potato pie, follow the same steps for pre-refrigeration by cooling the pie completely. Wrap your cooled pie in several layers of plastic wrap, then to prevent freezer burn, take one of these additional steps: wrap with a layer of aluminum foil; wrap with newspaper taped around the edges; or place in an airtight container. Note: Freezing the pie will change the texture slightly, and sweet potato pie can be frozen for up to a month.

When you're ready to use your frozen pie there are a few ways to prepare it for serving. Thaw the pie in the refrigerator overnight (or for 10-12 hours), this prevents a soggy crust. Then let it sit on the counter to reach room temperature, or reheat it in the oven at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, and cover the crust loosely with foil to prevent burning.

More Sweet Potato Pie Recipes

If you're looking for a twist on sweet potato pie, there are several recipes with a totally different take on this classic dessert:

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