This sweet potato recipe was passed onto me by my Aunt Barb and she just told me she first remembers eating it at her Aunt’s home for Thanksgiving when she was a little girl. So it’s been in our family for over 40 years. When something has been around for 40 years and people are still making it, you know it’s good! I know this recipe has already become a favorite for a lot of you out there since I first shared it last year, but I decided it needed a little make-over and some new pictures. I altered the recipe a bit based partly on your comments! It was no secret these were very sweet, so I played around with it and found I could cut down the sugar by quite a bit. (From one cup to 6 tablespoons!) I also cut down the butter by a couple of tablespoons in the sweet potatoes and a couple of tablespoons in the topping. So all in all I removed almost 2/3 cup sugar and a half a stick of butter- but it still tastes sweet and rich and perfect. Now you can spend those calories on an extra slice of pie 😉 I also used fresh sweet potatoes after shocking some of you foodies by admitting that my family has been making this with canned ones for years. Honestly folks? there’s not all that much difference in the finished product, so I say go with whatever your little heart desires.

Before we start I also have to add in a note about the infamous yam vs. sweetpotatoconundrum since I know at least one person is bound to ask. The words “yams” and “sweet potatoes” are used pretty much interchangeably in the US, but the truth is that the two things are as closely related as me and the pencil sitting to my side. Chances are most of you have never even eaten a true yam. They’re really only sold in specialty ethnic markets and even then you probably wouldn’t know what to do with it. So when you see “Yam”, it’s probably really a sweet potato. Strangely enough, some sweet potato growers still label their cans “yams” even though they’re actually sweet potatoes. Weird, eh? I heard they are legally required now to put it on the can somewhere but I don’t know if they do. So if you buy canned “Yams” you’re good, because they’re not yams at all. Clear as mud?  Just buy the orange ones 🙂

Fyi, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8×8 pan or pie plate, then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you’re wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.

(If you’re looking for the previous version of this recipe, increase butter in both the topping and the sweet potatoes to 1 stick each and increase sugar in sweet potatoes to 1 C)

Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes
Recipe by Our Best Bites, adapted from Sara’s Family Recipe
*note, this recipe has been edited since its original posting

4 C mashed Sweet potatoes (about 4 med sweet potatoes or  two 29 ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
6 Tbs Sugar
6 Tbs butter (no margarine), softened or melted
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 of a 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 t vanilla

If you’re feeling naughty you can double this part 🙂

1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C sweetened coconut flakes
6 Tbs melted butter

Note: You can make these up to a day or two ahead of time, just keep them well covered in the fridge and don’t put the topping on until just before baking. If using fresh sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick each sweet potato with a fork and place on foil in the oven. Cook for 40-60 minutes or until tender.

Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, slice in half and scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl.

To the mixing bowl add in sugar, butter, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Your butter should be soft enough to blend up easily so nuke it in the microwave before you add it to the bowl if you need to.

You could mash it all up by hand, but an electric mixer works great. I don’t like it completely pureed, so I mix it just until everything is incorporated but there are still some sweet potatoes in larger chunks.

Spread this mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 pan.

For the topping, combine brown sugar and coconut and then pour melted butter over and combine. Mmm…

Take a pinch of the buttery-sugary mixture and put it in your mouth. Chew. Swallow. Then sprinkle the rest evenly over the sweet potatoes in the pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes. It will be more or less depending on the size of dish you use, whether you double the topping, etc. But the top should be nice and browned and bubbly so just keep an eye on it.

The sugar and butter caramelize the coconut to create crunchy, chewy, sweet, thanksgiving-y heaven in a pan:

Did I mention kids will eat this like candy? Probably because it pretty much is candy. But who doesn’t like a side of candy with their turkey??

Make these for your holiday and be the star of the party!

Make these for your holiday and be the star of the party!Got extra sweet potatoes? Try one of the most popular recipes on our site, Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

How about sweetened condensed milk? Use part of a can for this Hot Fudge Sauce, or the equally delicious Ulitmate Hot Chocolate. Got more? Go for Key Lime Tarts or Banana Cream Pie!
Coconut on the brain? Try our Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers , Chewy Cereal Mix, or Frozen Pina Colada Pops!

Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes from Our Best Bites


  1. 1
    Kate says:

    These are sosososososososo good!!! Seriously, everyone here LOVES them and is shocked that a girl not from the South can make the best sweet potatoes they’ve ever had!

    I’ve been cutting the white sugar in the potatoes down to 1/2 c. and it’s still really, really sweet so I’ve been considering cutting it even further. But seriously, my husband HATES sweet potatoes (I know, I know, you’re SHOCKED) and he loves these. So all of you who don’t like them, give these a shot!

  2. 2
    Kate says:

    Oh, I was also going to say that I’m a stickler on only using fresh yams, but I also get that that’s not always realistic… 🙂

  3. 3
    Eric says:

    The topping is amazing…it’s like having dessert before dessert!

  4. 4
    Emily says:

    Oh yeah. . . that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

    I honestly never really loved Thanksgiving until I met this recipe. (thanks Aunt Barb) I dream about these sweet potatoes year round.

    Plus this recipe has made me famous at church parties.

    Oh, and Sara – I love your knowledge of Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes.

  5. 5
    Amber says:

    mmm…. that looks tasty. I’ll do fresh sweet potatoes though, canned makes me squeamish…

  6. 6
    Kate says:

    Okay, one more thing and then I promise I’ll shut up! 🙂 I’ve made these a couple of days ahead of time and stored them in the fridge until we’re ready to cook them–just wait to add the topping until you’re ready to bake them. A super-easy way to cut down on your Thanksgiving stress.

  7. 7
    becca says:

    DOUBLE THE TOPPING!!!! I have been eating these for years and I think it is worth it to include ALL the sugar and twice the topping. It’s Thanksgiving for crying out loud, when else are you going to eat that way?!

  8. 8
    rossandconnierockon! says:

    Oh my gosh . . . this AND rosemary facaccia! I wonder if this would also be amazing as a pie? I am going to try this and maybe give it a try as a pie! Coconut cream sweet potatoes . . .

  9. 9
    Kate says:

    I promise, I’m not being stingy with the sugar here! 🙂 I’m wondering if maybe if fresh sweet potatoes are sweeter than canned sweet potatoes? Because 1/2 c. sugar is *more* than enough with fresh, bordering on too much. Like sweeter, hands-down, than any dessert we have for Thanksgiving.

    But I agree with doubling the topping… 🙂

  10. 10
    Britanie says:

    I always feel sorry for the sweet potatoes at our Thanksgiving dinner because no one ever eats them. I’m tempted to trust you Sara and try these out this year.

  11. 11
    Sara says:

    Britanie- have I ever let you down?? lol. I promise these sweet potatoes will NOT be ignored!

  12. 12
    lesley says:

    There is no way I am not going to try this. Add coconut to anything and I am game! It does seem like a pie recipe to me. Pie for the main course… I’m not going to complain 🙂

  13. 13
    Sara says:

    Oh, and Kate, they certainly aren’t lacking in sweetness, so I’m sure you’re right that they still have plenty if you cut it back! I’ll have to try it sometime, but not on Thanksgiving 🙂 lol.

  14. 14
    Mary Kelly says:

    I started drooling the moment I read this recipe and immediately emailed my mom and asked if I could be in charge of the sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner this year. I can not wait to try them! And I agree with Kate- fresh is better.

  15. 15
    Drew says:

    I signed up for our work thanksgiving potluck a few days ago and planned on making these, now I don’t have to dig up the recipe, thanks Sara. And if anyone is wondering, no -our potluck is not on thanksgiving day, I do work a lot, but my work is not that cruel. For thanksgiving I will actually be in ‘my most favorite city on earth!”. (First person to name the city and best bites reference wins 1,000,000,000 best bites points!!!)

  16. 16
    Country Mom says:

    I just started to blog and I first want to tell ya. I love your blog.
    I seriously will be making this awesome looking dish for Thanksgiving. THanks so much love the pictures it looks so YUMMY 🙂

  17. 17
    Malesa says:

    In my 3 years married, this is going to be the first Thanksgiving dinner that I’m actually going to attempt to make. Thanks for the recipes. I love candy, butter, sugar, butter, sugar, and deliciousness, so I think this recipe is perfect for me.

  18. 18
    Jennifer says:

    I just made these and they’re in the oven right now. My topping didn’t turn out crumbly and I’m wondering why. Any ideas? I probably didn’t measure correctly.

  19. 19
    Nathaly says:

    These are sooooo delicious. Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner loved them. I’ll be making them again this week and hoarding them all to myself. I listened to Kate though, and lessened the amount of sugar. The condensed milk makes it sweet enough that you really don’t need much sugar. I probably did about 1/4 a cup. These will definitely be a new staple at Thanksgiving. Thanks!!

  20. 20
    Bethany says:

    I made these for Christmas Eve dinner at a friends house tonight–they were a huge hit! I actually subbed 1/2 c. coconut milk for the sweetened condensed milk, I only used 1/4 c. brown sugar in the potatoes and 1/2 c. in the topping (full butter though!) It was plenty sweet and everyone gobbled them up. (Except my friend’s kids who wouldn’t try them to find out they were yummy!)

    Thanks for the great recipe. I looked here first because I knew I could get a keeper instead of a flop.

  21. 21
    Sara says:

    Coconut milk- Bethany that is a *great* idea, why didn’t I think of that?! I’m going to have to try that some time, it sounds fabulous!

  22. 22
    Beth says:

    I have made these several times now, including Thanksgiving. Even my sweet potato haters like them. I feed a pretty big group every day…7 to be exact. It is hard to please everyone all at once. These were great. The reason I am adding the post is because like Kate, I like fresh better than canned. I was at the grocery store last week and noticed that OreIda has Steam-n-mash Sweet Potatoes in the freezer section. They make things easy without having to do the canned thing. I paired them with some caramel apple pork chops for dinner. Okay, so maybe it was a little sugar rush for dinner, but it was so yummy.

  23. 23
    betchacanteatjustone says:

    I shouldn't read all of these posts before I eat breakfast! I will be adding this to my thanksgiving menu for sure!

  24. 24
    SUPER MOMMY! says:

    You forgot the chopped pecans/walnuts in the coconut brown sugar candy topping!! Thats the besst part.

    I make these every year (never thought of sw cond milk though)!

  25. 25
    Mary Kelly says:

    I made these last year for Thanksgiving and it was the first dish empty. People were even eating this for dessert after dinner- they are that good. Oh I can hardly wait to make these again…

  26. 26
    TheFitnessFreak says:

    Ooh, la, la! That looks fabulous! I am so making this for the Thanksgiving meal!

  27. 27
    Jenny says:

    I've been making a recipe like this more years, yummy! The only differences are I put the coconut in the sweet potato mixture (not the topping) and add chopped pecans to the topping. I think I will use your suggestion and cut down the sugar. The are super sweet and candy like!

  28. 28
    Kristal says:

    OOOH! These remind me of my momma. It's exaxtly how she makes her's every year! YUMMO!

  29. 29
    Coffee and Vanilla says:

    Very interesting recipe! Would never think of making something sweet from potatoes… inspired 😉


  30. 30
    mindy says:

    I look forward to trying this!!

  31. 31
    Libby says:

    Yummmm! I have a recipe for sweet potato casserole but this one may just blow mine out of the water. I think I'm going to try this 🙂

  32. 32
    Kathy says:

    These look really good! I think that pecans would be fantastic in the topping.

  33. 33
    jack!e says:

    YUM!!! I used this recipe last year on Thanksgiving (I got the recipe from Our Best Bites, of course) and let me just tell you…….it was the BOMB. 😉

  34. 34
    Jana says:

    I am anxious to try these for Thansgiving, since I have loved every other OBB recipe I've tried. I'm wondering though…we have a few people who HATE coconut (crazy!). I was thinking about just using coconut on 1/2, but what could I do on the other side? Is this impossible?

  35. 35
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Jana, I can never understand how people hate coconut! Hmmm…do they like nuts? You could do chopped pecans instead. I personally don't like something quite so crunchy on top of something so super light and soft, but a lot of people make this recipe and add pecans so I know it must taste good!

  36. 36
    Lindzee says:

    These look AMAZING! I always add coconut on my sweet potatoes. I think I will try these for Thanksgiving. Love the blog and love that you live in Boise!

  37. 37
    Amanda says:

    Gee this is a first for me. I've never seen coconut added to a sweet potato casserole. I look forward to trying this recipe out.

  38. 38
    Sam says:

    My mom (also a Barb) has always made these for us. She also sprinkles in some pecans into the topping. These are one of our favorite traditions.

  39. 39
    Sweet Relief says:

    I don't know if you read comments from really old posts but I made this and loved them but I also love the yam and apple casserole my mom used to make with a pinapple glaze.mmmm. I'm wondering if I can combine the best of both worlds and puree green apples n(peeled of course) with my yams and sub some of the butter with pineapple juice (and cornstarch?). Any thoughts on how to make this work. I don't trust my cooking experiments because I don't fully understnad the properties of the ingredients.

  40. 40
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Sweet Relief- Yes we see all the comments, no matter how old they are!

    I make apples and yams too and they're SO yummy. I can see your idea working out here, but you'll just have to experiment. I would give it a shot- the flavors would certainly be yummy together!

  41. 41
    Patti says:

    I just learned all that about sweet potatoes v. yams about a month ago (where was I when you originally posted this?) and find it very interesting. I am calling my sister to tell her that I'm making the sweet potatoes instead of her so that I can use this recipe.

  42. 42
    Stephanie says:

    Sara, did you ever try it with the coconut milk? If so, what did you think? How does it compare to the SCM?

  43. 43
    Lisa says:

    Oh My Goodness, these are amazing! I made these today and everyone loved them! I just love your blog!

  44. 44
    indigobegonias says:

    You must try this with pecans! My kids peeled the sweet potatoes by accident so I ended up cubing and roasting them instead of baking, but this dish turned out amazing! I doubled the topping and added about a cup of pecan halves…added a fun texture to the mix. They ate them at dinner then again for breakfast today.

  45. 45
    D.I.M. Incorporated says:

    I made these for Thanksgiving. They were amazing! Everyone loved them, even my kids and that says a lot!

  46. 46
    Kate says:

    I made these tonight, but I substituted butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and it turned out FANTASTIC!!! Thank you for the recipes and your blog. You ladies inspire me! Love it!

  47. 47
    Linda says:

    We received this recipe today in Carolina Country magazine and made it for dinner tonight. It is now our favorite recipe for sweet potatoes and in my opinion the only way they should be eaten. Delicious! I know I will enjoy this for years to come.

  48. 48
    Tiare says:

    I am in charge of bringing sweet potatoes to Thanksgiving with the in-laws this year. I have never liked sweet potatoes because they make them with…wait…marshmallows and marachino cherries. Sorry, but that’s just too much sweet for me. Hopefully I won’t be shunned from family gatherings for bringing something different. But I’m willing to risk it if it means no more cherries on the sweet potatoes!

    Thanks for a great recipe, I’ll let you know how it goes!

  49. 49
    kellie says:

    I cannot wait to make these this year!

  50. 50
    AlaskaMom says:

    Can someone please tell me if they’ve tried making this without eggs? We have egg allergies in the family. I’m guessing if we tried making this with canned “yams” and no egg, it would require less baking time too…maybe? TIA

  51. 51
    Aimee says:

    This is very similar to my family’s candies sweet potato casserole. We put pecans in the topping, and we cube and boil the potatoes.

  52. 52
    Leisha says:

    Just threw these together to pop in the oven for tomorrow. I can’t wait to try them! I added a pinch of salt and am going to drizzle the other 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk on top! What a complete, beautiful mockery of a vegetable!! 🙂

  53. 53
    Tiare says:

    THANK YOU! That’s what I heard from everyone at Thanksgiving this year for not putting marshmallows and marachino cherries on the sweet potatoes. So I pass that onto you my friend…THANK YOU! You have made my Thanksgiving sweeter…but not marshmallow sweet!

  54. 54
    Aisha says:

    I made these for Thanksgiving, and threw a few marshmallows on top (totally unnecessary, but my kids always look forward to eating marshmallows with their dinner). Ah-mazing. My sister-in-law looked at me and said, “these should be illegal.”

  55. 55
    mickey says:

    Made these for Thanksgiving and they of course were a hit! I added quick oatmeal for an extra crunch – loved them. Posted them on my page with a link back to you of course.

  56. 56
    JR says:

    At the top above the pic of sweet potatoes you have 1 1/2 cups of coconut for the topping. Then below in the printable version of the recipe you have only 1 cup of coconut.

  57. 57
    Amanda says:

    These were a hit at Thanksgiving! Even the brothers-in-laws who “don’t like sweet things” thought these were the best sweet potatoes they ever had! This is a new staple with my family…I bought your cookbook…I am thinking that I need to buy your calender and everything thing else you have in print.
    Thank you for making our Thanksgiving lovely & delish!

  58. 58
    Ashley Cooper says:

    I made these last night, and they were so yummy! I wasn’t sure whether to consider them a vegetable or a dessert. 🙂 I cannot imagine doubling the topping though! I was thinking I would double the sweet potatoes to make it a little less candy-like. 😉

  59. 59
    Megan Parr says:

    I’m adding some marshmallows. I have to have marshmallows on my sweet potatoes! Maybe use the coconut milk then instead of sweetened condensed to lighten up on the sugar in the topping since I’m adding marshmallows?? Or I suppose I could just decrease the amount of sugar I use in the topping, but then do I risk less carmalization? Help!? OH, and mixed nut topping is a must too.

    • 59.1
      sara says:

      I would cook it just as instructed and toss some marshmallows on after it’s all done and brown them under the broiler. It’s gonna be sweeeet though, so be prepared! lol

    • 59.2
      Regina says:

      I put mini marshmallows on mine and broiled it for a min. SO AWESOME! She’s not lying, these are the best sweet potatoes ever! 😉

  60. 60
    Angie says:

    I just got your new cookbook and planned on making this. I have to take a sweet potato dish to Thanksgiving dinner, but to a very large group. Have you ever doubled this recipe in the same dish or would it better to separate it?

    • 60.1
      sara says:

      I’d use a larger pan or separate it. You CAN put it in a single dish, and it would take longer to cook, but the topping to potato recipe is better if you separate it or use a larger pan.

  61. 61
    Jen says:

    I made these last year for a friend’s thanksgiving dinner party and brought a dish to the ward Christmas party, which turned into a request for me to make them for the Relief Society Christmas party. I am already getting requests for this year. These are truly the best!

  62. 62
    Michele N says:

    OMG. I just made these today because I don’t like the marshmallowy sweet potatoes, but these were wonderful. Even my daughter who proclaimed I don’t like sweet potatoes, not even sweet potato fries because they’re too sweet liked these. Hubby thinks they’re more like dessert. I have a 2nd batch in the freezer to top & bake for an event in a couple of weeks, I had boiled up too many sweet potatoes.

  63. 63
    Jennifer says:

    My husband always asks me to make yams/sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. I’ve never found a recipe that was worth making again the next year…until now. Everyone at our Thanksgiving table loved it and I can stop searching for the perfect sweet potato recipe. This is it!

  64. 64
    Leslie says:

    Huge hit–I put some pecans in the topping too. This will be a tradition!

  65. 65
    Bonnie says:

    These were so so good!! I’m holding on to this recipe for sure! I baked the sweet potatoes yesterday, and I’m glad I did because it took twice as long for them to bake! Not sure why…probably because I put them in a foil lines pan…? Anyways, this recipe will definitely visit my Thanksgiving table again!

  66. 66
    Lindsey says:

    Awesome, awesome!! Thanks for sharing!

  67. 67
    Katie says:

    I made these this Thanksgiving for my sister and her family. Her whole family was concerned, because I haven’t tried them before. I wasn’t worried, I’ve never made anything from your site that I didn’t like, so I knew it would be good. The sweet potatoes got rave reviews, and so did the apple streusel bars. Thank you!

  68. 68
    Natalie Gardner says:

    Made this last night – loved it!! super sweet though, I’ll definitely cut back on the sugar next time. If I were to add cranberries to this to break up the sweetness and add some tang would I add whole fresh cranberries or would I have to cook them down in a sauce first?

  69. 69
    Rayann says:

    normally I am not a fan of sweet potatoes but….. these are just about heavenly! i love them and they will now become a Thanksgiving tradition! i would highly recommend!

  70. 70
    teeny says:

    Yum! Making this for Thanksgiving!

  71. 71
    Katie says:

    I don’t buy coconut often but is sweetened coconut flakes what I would normally find in the baking isle of the store? I guess I’ve never notice if the bag says “sweetened” or not. Thanks!!! this sounds so good. I’d like to add pecans to the topping!!!

  72. 72

    I make sweet potatoes like this, but I cut them into chunks, then toss them with the coconuts, nuts, butter. I think I’m going I’m going to try it this way this year and see what the family thinks. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  73. 73
    Amy Huntley says:

    My turkey is brining right now in your amazing recipe!! And I am so making these for tomorrow! Thanks for the tip Kate in the comments about making them ahead of time and then storing in the refrigerator! I am so excited!!! Happy Thanksgiving Ladies! xo

  74. 74
    Jennifer says:

    THESE ARE SO GOOD! I made them for the first time today for Thanksgiving, and everyone loved them, sweet potato haters included! My husband already requested these for Christmas dinner.

  75. 75
    Diane says:

    Oh man. I only made a half recipe, and it was TOTALLY worth opening a whole can of sweetened condensed milk (besides, I’m totally eyeballing that hot fudge. mmm). I was a bit scant with the sugar but made up for it by accidentally adding about a third of the can instead of a quarter – but I still didn’t think the actual sweet potatoes were too sweet. However, with that crispy chewy delicious topping, it really was a treat. Soooooooooo delicious. Thank you for this winner. And next time I’ll probably make it with canned potatoes! (Because there WILL be a next time…)

  76. 76
    Kimberly J says:

    So I decided to give it a go and whip these babies up for Thanksgiving dinner. Why not try a new recipe out on a crowd, right? I mean, go big or go home! So the verdict? They were amazing! I got so many complements and recipe requests. Thank you ladies for posting such tasty yet achievable recipes. You are by far my number one go to for recipes. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  77. 77

    I doubt you will see this to answer my question before tomorrow (yes I am a late planner this year lol) but what would happen if I added green apples to this is small cubes and cubed the sweet potato instead of mashed?? I also thought of pecans…any thoughts?

  78. 78
    Amy says:

    My sister-in-law made a recipe similar to this at Thanksgiving this year, and it was great! I usually don’t care for the candied sweet potatoes, but that coconut in the topping makes all the difference! Also, hers had chopped pecans in the topping as well, which I really liked. I actually had another helping of the sweet potatoes instead of cake for dessert.

  79. 79
    Becky says:

    Can I make these the day ahead and then put in the oven on Thanksgiving?

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