Southern Candied Yams (New & Improved) | No Added Sugar or Oil

Happy Healthy Holidays! Candied Yams are an all-time delicacy during the holiday season for us southern folks! These here Candied Yams are the new and improved version from the traditional addition of brown and white sugar and butter. Check out how I make these Southern Candied Yam a guilt-free indulgence for the holiday season! Who said traditional southern dishes can’t be made healthy? Well, they can!

I don’t think it’s technically correct to call these yams because they are actually orange sweet potatoes. However, we southern folks call them yams. Being technical doesn’t change the fact that this southern delicacy is amazingly delicious.

Orange Sweet Potatoes (Yams) are very healthy food and are naturally sweet without the need to add any sugar. However, Candied Yams are traditionally made with loads of white and brown sugar and lots of butter. Neither of which are health-promoting ingredients, thus making the dish very unhealthy. Well, these days I am about only adding health-promoting ingredients to my food! So let’s redeem the Candied Yams!

Jump to Recipe

Let’s omit all of the bad ingredients and add in all goodness. We are simply going to omit the butter because the yams are soft and creamy naturally. The white and brown sugar will be omitted and we will use nature’s candy a.k.a. fruit and nothing but fruit instead!

Simple, Whole, and Natural Ingredients

Believe it or not, we will use pears and date syrup as the added sugar for the candied yams! In my humble opinion, the Date Lady Syrup is the best date syrup on the market and trumps the taste of brown sugar by far! So I would highly recommend that you get this brand in particular. is an affiliate with Amazon. If you choose to purchase a product through any of these affiliate links, at no cost to you, our site earns a commission from the sale. Thank you for supporting our website and our passion for spreading the good news of how tasty Whole Plant-Based Food really is!

New and Improved Southern Candied Yams

The secret to making Candied Yams is to cook them at a lower temp for a longer period of time so that the caramelization of the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes, the pears, and the dates can take full effect. So definitely don’t rush this dish or you will be disappointed.

I can remember when I was a kid, I looked forward to having Candied Yams for the holidays. Before I created this recipe, I had not had Candied Yams in years. When I created this recipe a week or so ago, my kids had never had Candied Yams before. Once they tasted them, they are now requesting them for our Thanksgiving feast! Another southern family tradition can continue on, just new and improved!

Go ahead and make these yams for your family. I guarantee they will be a hit and become a family tradition during the holiday season! Have a Happy Healthy Holiday season!

Southern Candied Yams (New & Improved) | No added Sugar or Butter

These Southern Candied Yams are the new and improved version of the traditional recipe
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


  • Blender
  • saucepan
  • casserole dish (9×9 or 9×11)
  • Butcher Knife
  • Peeler
  • Aluminum Foil


  • 3 lbs Orange Sweet Potatoes (about 2 ½lbs once peeled and cut)
  • 1 cup Water
  • (1) 15 oz. can Pears (in juice and no added sugar)
  • 1-2 large Navel Orange (1/2 cup juice and zest of 1 orange)
  • ½ Lemon (1 Tbsp Juice and zest of ½ of lemon)
  • ¼ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ¼ tsp Vanilla Bean Powder (or 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • tsp Cloves
  • ½ cup Date Lady Syrup
  • 1 cup Pecans, chopped (omit if prefer nut-free)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Date Lady Syrup (used to glaze the pecans)


  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Wash and peel the Sweet Potatoes (yams). Cut into about 1/2 inch pieces. Place the slices into an ungreased casserole dish (9×9). Add 1 cup of water and cover with aluminum foil. Place the covered casserole dish into the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are baking, zest the orange. Then juice the orange to yield 1/2 cup of juice. Zest the half of lemon. Then juice the lemon to yield 1 Tbsp. Set aside.
  • Pour all of the contents from the can of pears into a blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the blended pears into a saucepan. Add the orange juice and lemon juice to the saucepan. Add all of the spices to the saucepan. Give a quick stir thru. Bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes on high heat until the liquid reduce to half. (NOTE: if using extract do not add to saucepan until after boil time)
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the Date Syrup, lemon, and orange zest to the saucepan. Stir until well combined (Note if using extract, add at this point).
  • After the sweet potatoes have baked for 45 minutes, remove them from the stove and add the syrup mixture. Pour evenly over all of the sweet potatoes. Place the potatoes back into the oven, uncovered. Bake for an additional 35 minutes.
  • Place the chopped pecans in a bowl. Pour 2-3 Tbsp of date syrup over pecans. Stir until all of the pecans are covered. After 35 minutes of bake time, remove the yams from the oven. Gently rotate the yams. Evenly spread the glazed pecans atop the yams. Place them back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Remove the yams from the oven. Allow them to cool for at least 15-20 minutes. The syrup will thicken the longer the yams sit. Serve and Enjoy!


Keyword candied yams, holiday recipe, southern cuisine
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Margaret says:

    I was going to make a vegan sweet potato casserole until I heard your announcement of your candied yams recipe on Chef AJ. I changed my mind on the sweet potato casserole when I heard about your yams recipe, and have been anxiously awaiting it. This recipe is definitely on my Thanksgiving menu along with your collard greens recipe. Thank you so much. Now if only I could find a WFPB cornbread dressing recipe. My menu would be complete.

    1. Faith Scott says:

      Hello Margaret! Thanks for joining us on Chef AJ’s show. Super excited to hear that you will be preparing the Yams and the Collard Greens for Thanksgiving. I do have an amazing cornbread dressing but unfortunately, I will not be able to post it before Thanksgiving. Check out “Vegan Southern Style Cornbread Dressing”. It’s pretty good and was the first vegan dressing I made when we first went plant-based. I will definitely try to have my cornbread dressing recipe out before Christmas. Thank you for your kind support we truly appreciate you! Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

  2. Leslie Shaw says:

    HI Faith,
    This looks so good! I am writing down the ingredients and will try to make it for Thanksgiving on Thursday.
    I am looking at ways to get everything cooked on time (I might be cooking the yams in a toaster oven!). Have you ever tried to make it, or part of it, ahead of time?
    Thanks for sharing the recipe, I can’t wait to try it.

    Kind regards and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Faith Scott says:

      Hello Leslie! Thank you for the kind compliment. Sure you could bake the yams in advance the day prior and just rewarm in the microwave the next day. Or you could bake the yams with 1 cup of water for 45 minutes the day prior. Then the next day prepare your syrup mixture and glazed pecans and follow the remaining steps. This process may take a little longer to do because your pre-baked yams will be cold from the fridge and would need additional time to warm up thoroughly then caramelize. Hope this helps your planning! Hope you and your family enjoy the yams as much as we do. Happy Healthy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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