This Healthy Southern Sweet Potato Pie is the best homemade soul food recipe. This dish includes a homemade buttery, flaky crust from scratch, topped with creamy filling. This old fashioned dessert is a must for gatherings, Thanksgiving, and other holidays.
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What Makes Sweet Potato Pie Southern
For as long as I can remember this dish has always been “Black folks sweet potato pie recipe.” Every fall season, people debate. Is it pumpkin….is it sweet potato? Which one holds your heart? I will say, growing up we made far more sweet potato pies than pumpkin.
Just like with candied yams and sweet potatoes, this pie is staple dish among Southerners.
What Makes this Recipe Healthy
I lightened up the standard recipe by replacing refined sugar with natural monkfruit that has zero calories and carbs and will not spike blood sugar.
Instead of using a crust made with all-purpose flour, I made homemade crust using almond flour.
You are free to replace butter in this recipe for something like coconut oil if you wish.
What’s the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?
In most grocery stores there is no difference between the two. Most stores often label sweet potatoes as yams.
Yams have more starch and are drier. They have bumpy tough, brown skin. Yams are typically used in Caribbean and West African dishes. You have probably never eaten yams, as they are hard to find in the United States.
Years ago, Southerners (primarily in Louisiana) started to refer to them as yams. And since this is a Southern recipe, you will often hear it called candied yams.
You can read more about The Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes here.
Store-Bought Pie Crust
Using frozen, store-bought crust will save you a lot of time in this recipe. I haven’t seen a gluten-free or low carb crust in stores, so if you go this route, the macros and nutrition in this recipe will vary greatly.
With an 9.5 inch pie plate, 1 frozen crust is usually sufficient. Always grab an extra set in case something goes wrong with one of the crusts, or you need more.
You can also use boxed crusts if you wish.
What Type of Sweetener to Use
You can use regular white sugar if you wish. To lighten up this recipe, I use granular monkfruit sweetener (to substitute white sugar). These sweeteners are natural, zero-calorie, zero-carb, and won’t spike blood sugar.
If you use something like stevia, you can follow the standard method you use for converting refined sugar to stevia. Monkfruit sweetener measures 1:1 like refined sugar.
If you wish to use pure, organic maple syrup, use 3/4 cup.
How to Cook the Sweet Potatoes
This is sometimes a debate on which way is best. Do you boil them or bake (roast) them. You can’t go too wrong with either method. When boiling the sweet potatoes I do find they are sometimes watery. So my favorite way is to roast the sweet potatoes I actually use the air fryer to do this.
To use the air fryer, wash and scrub the sweet potatoes clean. Spritz with a little olive oil and rub it into the entire potato. Air fry for 35-40 minutes on 400 until the sweet potatoes are soft.
To use the oven, bake for 60-70 minutes on 400 degrees until soft.
To boil, place the sweet potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover the sweet potatoes. Bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until they are soft.
Pierce them with a fork to determine if they have softened.
How to Make Almond Flour Crust
To make the crust you will need blanched almond flour, as called “super fine.” This means the skin has been removed from the almonds. Blanched almond flour is typically preferred for its fine, smooth, and fluffy texture.
Blanched almond flour is lighter and is much better for creating pastries. Most people who complain about almond flour use aren’t using blanched, and hence why they do not like it.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to a food processor and then the wet.
- Pulse a few times until incorporated.
How to Make Southern Sweet Potato Pie
- Press the pie crust into the bottom of a 9.5 inch pie plate. Create crust along the edges of the plate.
- Poke holes in the pie crust and bake.
- Add sweet potatoes, eggs, buttermilk, butter, sweetener, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla to a food processor. Pulse a few times to incorporate the ingredients.
- Pour the filling over the pie crust.
How to Tell it’s Done and How Long to Bake
Bake for 35-40 minutes. You will know the pie has finished baking when the edges of the pie filling have set and the middle of the filling still has some wiggle and be jiggly. You won’t want to overbake the pie. Just like you don’t let cookies bake in the oven until they appear fully baked, you follow the same protocol with custard-based pies.
When the pie is removed from the oven it will continue to bake. There is carryover heat. The edges should be set, and that carryover heat will set the middle as it cools. You have to be observant. Test using a toothpick, it has finished baking when it returns clean.
Often when baking, the crust will begin to brown around 25 minutes. To prevent over-browning you can use these pie crust protectors.
How to Prevent the Pie From Falling Apart
The common causes are it’s under-baked or you didn’t allow it enough time to rest and cool. Custard pies can be tough because you don’t want to over-bake it, the texture will be dense, but it you don’t bake it long enough, you won’t be able to slice it properly.
If it’s your first time making a pie for a holiday, you may consider doing a trial run first.
How Long Can it Sit Out?
Pies that contain eggs, milk (including buttermilk, evaporated milk), cream cheese, etc should be refrigerated. These ingredients are high in protein, which means they are more likely to encounter bacteria growth.
Allow the pie to fully cool for 4 hours, then cover and refrigerate.
If you have ever noticed pumpkin pies or sweet potato pies sitting out at grocery stores or other places, it’s because they are made with preservatives.
Can You Make it Ahead?
Sweet potatoes are best when made ahead of time because they take a really long time to cool. For best results, allow the pie to cool overnight before slicing into it. Allow it to cool for a minimum of 4 hours.
When cooking for the holidays, experienced cooks often bake their pies, cakes, and dessert a day or two ahead of time.
You can read more about Mistakes to Avoid When Making Sweet Potato Pie here.
You can freeze the dish for up to 5 months. I like to cut it into slices and place it in sealable bags. When ready to use, thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Then reheat on 350 until warm.
More Dessert Recipes
More Southern Recipes
See a listing of all Southern Soul Food Recipes here.
Healthy Sweet Potato Pie
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a 9.5 inch pie pan with butter.
- Add the almond flour, sweetener, and salt (dry ingredients) to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add the beaten egg and melted butter (wet ingredients) to a separate bowl and stir.
- Add the dry ingredients to a food processor. Next, pour in the wet ingredients. Manually pulse until the mix is incorporated. You can also combine the dry and wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix by hand, but after testing, the best results are using a food processor.
- Press the dough into the greased pie pan. Ensure you press the dough along the edges of the pan to create crust.
- Poke holes in the dough using a fork. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the crust and allow it to cool for 15 minutes, prior to adding the filling.
Sweet Potato Pie Filling
- To cook the sweet potatoes you can use the air fryer, bake or boil them.To air fry: Rub the potatoes in olive oil and air fry on 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes until soft.To bake: Bake the potatoes on a sheet pan for 60-70 minutes on 400.To boil: Add enough cold water to a pot to cover the sweet potatoes. Boil for 40-50 minutes until soft.After the sweet potatoes have cooked, you will have to allow them to cool prior to using them in the filling. You don't want scrambled eggs in your filling.
- Once the sweet potatoes have cooked and cooled, add all of the ingredients for the filling to a food processor or standing mixer. Manually pulse (or mix) a few times until the filling becomes smooth. You can also use a mixer or processor on low, do not over-beat. Over-beating the filling will result in cracks once baked.
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Smooth the filling with a silicone spoon.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges of the pie have set. The middle should still wiggle. See more tips below in the notes section.
- Remove the pie and cool on a counter until the pie has fully cooled, about 4 hours and then refrigerate.
- Pure vanilla extract is used for quality and better taste.
- You can use store bought pie crusts if you wish.
- If using regular, table sugar you can use the same amount noted in this recipe. One way to taste your filling and adjust to taste is to combine the ingredients without the uncooked eggs, taste repeatedly and adjust to suit your needs.
- You are free to replace butter in this recipe for something like coconut oil if you wish.
- You can substitute buttermilk with 3/4 cups of evaporated milk.
- You can make your own buttermilk by combining 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon of lemon.
- The common cause of a pie falling apart are because it’s under-baked or you didn’t allow it enough time to rest and cool. Custard pies can be tough because you don’t want to over-bake it, the texture will be dense, but it you don’t bake it long enough, you won’t be able to slice it properly.