This vegan candied yams recipe is perfect for your next festive table! Sweet potatoes and other pantry staples like sugar, vanilla essence, and cinnamon make this dish a breeze to make.

They are soft, tender, sweet, and perfectly spiced due to a buttery mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, maple syrup, and orange zest.

vegan candied yams in a white casserole dish with a blue plaid background

If you’re looking for a truly traditional Thanksgiving side dish, look no further than my recipe for the finest vegan candied yams.

I could literally consume this sauce it is so delicious. Who needs yams when you have sweetened yam SAUCE? Almost kidding.

As the yams bake and cook in the sauce, which is full of warming spices, your house will smell amazing. Additionally, the yams will be caramelized. In other words, the sauce will condense, tighten, and solidify to form a syrupy, candy-like sauce that coats the yams completely.

This dish is sweet, as you might have surmised. Between the naturally sweet yams, sugars, and juice, once everything cooks down, you’re left with a sweet holiday side dish. So, they’re called “candied yams.”

After Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I can genuinely enjoy candied yams as a dessert.

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Why You’ll Love These Vegan Candied Yams

  • Easy and simple: You can just throw all the ingredients for these candied yams into a baking dish and bake them until the sugars caramelize.
  • Can be prepped ahead: The yams can be prepared in advance by slicing them and storing them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. This will allow you to save time on the big day.
  • Amazingly delicious: The baked yams will be the main attraction at the dinner table.

Ingredients for Vegan Candied Yams

This casserole with candied sweet potatoes only needs a few simple ingredients and a few pantry staples. In total, you only need 9 ingredients (plus salt)!

baked candied yams in a casserole dish with ingredients needed for recipe
  • Sweet potatoes: These potatoes are my favorite to use. They are super rich in color and have a naturally sweet taste more so than regular sweet potatoes.
  • Non-dairy butter: Of course, yams wouldn’t be yams without butter! You add this at the end once your potatoes have finished cooking.
  • Organic brown sugar or coconut sugar: A sweetener that’s easy to incorporate into your diet! I prefer organic brown sugar to granulated sugar since it is all-natural, and tastes great.
  • Ginger: Aids digestion.
  • Orange zest: A little fresh-grated orange zest goes a long way in terms of flavor. The same amount of lemon zest can be used instead.
  • Maple syrup: I absolutely love maple syrup’s sweet, caramel-like, warm flavor.
  • Vanilla: For the best taste, I choose natural flavors over artificial vanilla paste or extract.
  • Cinnamon: This ingredient gives it more taste.
  • Nutmeg: A pinch of nutmeg will also be delicious!
  • Salt: A pinch of salt will help to balance the flavors.

How To Make Vegan Candied Yams

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into slices about 1/4 inch rounds. Arrange the slices into a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter, sugar, ginger, and orange zest, and stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Pour syrup over sweet potatoes evenly, cover with parchment paper, then foil paper and bake for 45 minutes, basting with the syrup at least once. Remove foil, baste with syrup, and allow to bake for 20 minutes uncovered.

Expert Tips

  • I highly recommend that you double the sauce because it is so delicious!
  • Please don’t be concerned if the syrup appears dark; this is normal.
  • Since I’ve discovered that adding water makes a nice, rich syrup without depending on a lot of extra butter or sugar, my recipe uses a lot less sugar and butter than most recipes.
  • To ensure that each sweet potato is equally “candied,” make sure to baste them thoroughly during the cooking process.
  • To ensure that the potato slices cook equally, try to cut them into even slices.
  • Utilize an unrefined sweetener with a low GI, such as stevia, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or agave nectar.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Dried fruit: Add raisins or dried cranberries to the candied yams before putting them in the oven.
  • Cardamom: A very small amount for flavor.
  • Pecans: You can either use them as a topping for the candied sweet potatoes or add chopped pecans (or walnuts) midway through baking.
  • Sweet potatoes should be baked (or steamed) until tender before being mashed with the ingredients for the sweet sauce to create a more conventional vegan sweet potato casserole. (and a little dairy-free milk if needed). After that, sprinkle marshmallows on top and roast for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Crumble topping: use a pecan crumble topping.
baked candied yams on white plate in the foreground with the rest in a blue casserole dish

Is A Yam And A Sweet Potato The Same Thing?

They’re not, actually. What the Caribbean call yam is entirely different from what Americans call it. In the United States, a yam is merely a type of sweet potato.

When they tried to differentiate between different sweet potatoes using the African term “Nyami,” which means “yam,” the actual confusion occurred more on the American side than anywhere else.

In the Caribbean and Africa, yam isn’t even close to being synonymous with sweet potato. The definition of a sweet potato is self-explanatory.

However, the term “yam” refers to a starch-rich tuber root vegetable with thick bark eaten in bothareas.

Storage Recommendations


Let the candied baked yams cool, then put the extras in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for 4-5 days.


Let it cool and then keep it for up to 3 months in an airtight freezer-safe receptacle. Before warming, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.


You can reheat the leftovers in the oven at 350°F (175°C) or in the microwave (1-2 minutes, depending on the amount of the portion and microwave power).

closeup of baked yams

How To Serve Vegan Candied Yams

Even though these candied yams are extremely sugary, I serve them as a side dish rather than as a dessert. Sometimes a combination of savory and sweet is exactly what our palate requires!

This dish tastes the finest when served immediately. This recipe makes six decent-sized servings of a side dish. If you want to put it on a holiday table or buffet, make sure you do it right before the meal so that it is still warm.

Recipe FAQs

Are yams and sweet potatoes the same thing?

No. In the Caribbean and Africa, yams are an entirely different root vegetable. In America, however, we use the term synonymously with sweet potato.

Can you make candied yams with another type of sweet potato?

Yes, you can use any kind of sweet potato in this dish.

Can you make baked candied yams in advance?

Yes, you are welcome to get the yams ready the day before, whether that means peeling them or making the whole batch. Keep the casserole in your refrigerator at all times until you’re ready to bake it.

Can you freeze candied yams?

Yes, but it’s much better if they’re eaten on the same day. They can be frozen after being placed in a zip-top container that is freezer-safe. After that, just defrost them and reheat them on the stovetop or in the oven. It’s possible that you’ll have to replenish them with a little water and sugar.

Why are my candied yams watery?

Unless you increase the fluid or double the sauce, this shouldn’t happen. But if the sauce looks too watery halfway through baking, add a mixture of 1 tbsp. of cornstarch and 1 tbsp. of water and mix it well into the dish.

Is it better to bake or boil yams?

Boiling sweet potatoes retains more beta-carotene and improves the nutrient’s absorbability in comparison to roasting or frying. By limiting the cooking time, like boiling for 20 minutes in a pan with a tight-fitting lid, up to 92 percent of the nutrients can be preserved.

More Delicious Vegan, Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

I hope you enjoy these Vegan Candied Yams and I’m sure you will if you have a sweet tooth like me! Like my aunt always said, you only get to eat these once a year, so eat largely, and don’t be shy with the sugar and butter!

If you like and enjoy this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know your feedback.

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(Per portion)
  • Energy: 237 kcal / 991 kJ
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Carbs: 466 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 1 h 5 min
  • Ready in: 1 h 20 min
  • For: 6 people



  1. Preheat oven 375 F. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into slices about 1/4 inch rounds. Arrange the slices into a lightly greased 9x13 casserole dish.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter, sugar, ginger, and orange zest, stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Pour syrup over sweet potatoes evenly, cover with parchment paper, then foil paper and bake for 45 minutes, basting with the syrup at least once. Remove foil, baste with syrup and allow to bake for 20 minutes uncovered.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.