Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes; not a yam

I’ve never been a big marshmallow fan. I don’t even like them in hot chocolate and I have never had a s’more, although if the chocolate was dark enough it might offset the marshmallow.

For me they are just too sweet with no hint of any other flavors.

When I was asked to bring ‘yams’ (see below) to the family Thanksgiving a few decades ago I couldn’t bring myself to make the overly sweet concoction of sweet potatoes, orange juice and marshmallows that so many in the U.S. seem to love.

This maple syrup glazed version is still sweet, but not overly so, and one can actually taste the sweet potato.

The family was happy with these.

(The year before I had been entrusted with the Green Bean Casserole. According to the critics, I had totally messed it up by putting fresh herbs in it. The horrors!!!!)

You can make these for 2 or 10 (this recipe serves 4) – great for this holiday season.

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Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

These are an easy addition to your holiday table. They can be made ahead and baked at the last minute. The recipe can be cut in half or doubled or tripled as needed.

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Potatoes


  • 24oz (1 1/2 lb, 750gr) sweet potatoes, 2 large
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs butter
  • pinch of nutmeg


  • Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 3/4 inch (2cm) rounds (the short way). 
  • Cook in boiling, salted water until just tender. 
  • Remove and drain.
  • While potatoes cook heat the syrup, butter and brown sugar to boiling in a small saucepan. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  • To assemble: Lay the potatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold them all easily. 
  • Don’t fuss with the layers but do spoon a bit of syrup over each potato slice. 
  • Pour the rest of the syrup over the top and bake, uncovered, 350F (175F) for 30 minutes. 
  • Baste once after 15 minutes with the syrup from the bottom of the baking dish. 


Be careful not to boil them too long or they will fall apart. They will finish cooking in the oven.

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes

I posted this a few years ago, but in case you missed it and are curious:

What is the difference between potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams?

All three are consumed by humans and other animals; all three have significant health benefits (even when doused in butter and marshmallow cream); all three have a vague resemblance to each other.

Vague resemblance – that’s it.

Potatoes are related to tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos.

Sweet potatoes are related to Morning Glories (the flower).

Yams are related to… yams.

All three are gnarly, root-tuber looking vegetables, but a yam is a tuber, a sweet potato is a storage root and a potato is a stem tuber…. and all three from different botanical families.

The confusion of the ‘sweet potato’ and ‘potato’ names we can put squarely on the shoulders of old Chris Columbus and other early explorers who forgot their Berlitz Travel Dictionaries and confused the early translations.  Earliest reference to the sweet potato is in the 1775 version of the Oxford English dictionary.

The confusion of the ‘sweet potato’ and ‘yam’ names we can put squarely on the shoulders of the production / marketing types in the middle of the 1900’s.  Up until then sweet potatoes had been of the dry, light-fleshed variety.  When the moist, orange-fleshed variety was introduced, some bright spark decided the American consumer wasn’t capable of grasping that a vegetable could come in two colors and decided to label the orange one ‘yam’.

My grandmother successfully navigated a garden filled with green and yellow string beans, red and white radishes, purple and green cabbages…. But she couldn’t be trusted to handle both white and orange sweet potatoes.

Yams are a staple in Latin America, Asia and Africa.  They are difficult to peel, can get very large, and must be cooked before eating or even peeling.

Sweet potatoes most often are the size of a large potato.

I’ve never tasted a yam.

The US Department of Agriculture now requires that all sweet potatoes that are labeled ‘Yams’ must also contain a label identifying them as ‘Sweet Potatoes’.

To summarize:

If it resembles a potato, is about the size of a large potato and you got it in North America or Europe, chances are it’s a sweet potato.

If it weighs 15 pounds, you can’t peel it without cooking first and you bought it in Asia, Africa or South America, chance are it’s a yam.

2 thoughts on “Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes; not a yam”

  1. I’ve never had a yam either. I don’t like sweet potatoes. Just don’t like the taste and my sister in law brings them every Thanksgiving, doused in butter and brown sugar until the sugar crisps up and it’s just a mess. To me, they’re inedible. I’ve only had them one way, one time and that was when a friend of mine from down south made an honest to gosh sweet potato pie. It was delicious. It was also dessert which is where sweet stuff belongs.

    • I love sweet potatoes – and this dish is as sweet as I want. It was a compromise with the family, The hubs, on the other hand, loves the marshmallow covered one. Not a chance! I like them sliced and roasted. When I was a kid they were always a treat with the ham for Easter. Once a year!

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