Give Pumpkin A Run For Its Money with This Sweet Potato Pie

November 12, 2015

We've paired up with McCormick Gourmet to show how a freshly-stocked spice cabinet makes weeknight cooking and holiday meal planning easier (and more flavorful). 

Today: Our resident dessert expert Erin McDowell shows you how to make a sweet potato pie that gives pumpkin some competition. 

We’re done with pumpkin pie. Okay, okay—that’s not completely (or at all) true. We’re just on a pumpkin hiatus. Why, you ask? Meet Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie. Sweet potato pie's been around (and loved) much longer than you or I, and for good reason. We’ll be making Erin's version this Thanksgiving because of the rich buttermilk and combination of warming spices she uses. 

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The filling is wonderful, and a whole bunch of other complimentary adjectives: tangy from the buttermilk, not too sweet, and with a rustic, not-totally-smooth texture. It's a humble pie—a pie that takes its cues from the season but doesn't shout it from the rooftops. (And we appreciate its modesty.)

Video by Kyle Orosz 

We've paired up with McCormick Gourmet to share everyday dishes (and snacks) that will look just as good on your holiday table. See all of their herbs and spices here

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Calissa
  • MarZig
  • Celina CcRider Gonzales
    Celina CcRider Gonzales
  • Meike Dayan Oliver
    Meike Dayan Oliver
  • AntoniaJames
I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.


Calissa November 20, 2015
Sorry, I don't think I was clear in the post. When rinsing, you turn the mixer on high and that rinses off the sweet potatoes and when you pull it out of the water all that is left are the strings. Hope I'm painting a clear picture for you all!
Calissa November 20, 2015
Hi, one key step that I use when making sweet potato pies is getting rid of the natural strings in sweet potatoes. When using the hand mixer, I always mash the potatoes when they're piping hot and you have to get a smaller bowl or cup filled with water to the side. You mix the sweet potatoes for a time then put the hand mixer and "rinse" off the sweet potatoes into the water so it leaves only the strings that are naturally in sweet potatoes. You don't want the strings in your pie, so rinsing washes off the sweet potatoes and you can manually pull off the strings. After rinsing, I mix again to collect more strings, then rinse. I keep this up for a while until no more strings remain in the sweet potatoes. There may be more modern ways of doing this by pulverizing them in a food processor, but when doing this by hand it's key to include that step as no one wants strings in their pie!! Also, you can cook the sweet potatoes either by roasting in the oven or boiling however you do it- i prefer roasting for better flavor. Then when it comes out the oven nice and hot, it helps melt the butter if its not already softened. (FYI, I've won contests as a teenager making sweet potato pies, and yes I am black, so we've made and had sweet potato pie all our lives, at every holiday. lol).
MarZig November 15, 2015
I am gone try this...because my family is suspect in general of sweet potato (I love them baked salt pepper and butter as alternative to baked idaho :), anyway, I am not gonna tell them it is sweet potato (YAM).
Celina C. November 15, 2015
where do I find the recipe
Riddley G. November 20, 2015
Right here! https://food52.com/recipes/38971-buttermilk-sweet-potato-pie
Meike D. November 14, 2015
I've never used buttermilk in my pie but rather heavy cream. My boyfriend loves it. I'm going to try this version and even make my own crust (crossing my fingers) thanks for posting!
AntoniaJames November 14, 2015
I have to chuckle because I didn't realize before seeing this that people made sweet potato pie with anything BUT buttermilk. I learn something new every day . . . . . ;o)
William L. November 13, 2015
Thanks for slightly updating your post. Sweet potato pies (even with buttermilk) have been a staple in Black homes for centuries. It has become interwoven in our culture as a holiday staple, way more than pumpkin pies. Thank you for being receptive and changing your post accordingly.
Riddley G. November 13, 2015
We've updated the post to better acknowledge the history and importance of sweet potato pie—thank you for your comments.
ChefJune November 13, 2015
Where is a "like" button or a little heart we can click? Thanks, Riddley.
Jolly November 13, 2015
Cut the lady some slack, folks.
Riddley G. November 13, 2015
Hi all! Thank you for your comments. The intention of the post was never to claim the pie was new or revolutionary and not integral nor interwoven in the cultural and social histories of southern or black communities. I, too, have made sweet potato pie for years and adore it. The newness of the pie was meant to more so address the addition of buttermilk and the spices. I am sorry to any of those who've taken offense—this was neither my nor the site's intention. Thank you.
Erin J. November 13, 2015
Agreed! Thanks, Riddley! I grew up in the Midwest, and while it wasn't as much of a staple as in the South, I grew up eating this pie and it's been in our Thanksgiving rotation on and off for years! I was excited to share this version, but would also be beyond excited to see other folks share their favorite recipes for this classic! Please post links if you share your own recipes!
Anne November 13, 2015
Why can't we be a little bit more gentle while we're educating people about the origins of a pie recipe? I think you'll find most people are actually interested in learning, and less interested in being scolded.
Sophie November 12, 2015
I just want to thank the folks before me for commenting. When I first read this post, I thought it was a novel thanksgiving pie idea, but now I see that it just comes from a tradition different than mine. Looks delicious, can't wait to try it out myself.
Jolly November 12, 2015
Y'all can't be serious, right? You know black people have been making sweet potato pie since they got off the boat.
@stubbscrew November 12, 2015
This is quite offensive actually. Please educate yourselves on the nuances of white supremacy and your role in re-enforcing it with ignorance like this. Perhaps you could start by watching a Tim Wise video on you tube, while enjoying a piece of this timeless, CLASSIC pie.
ChefJune November 12, 2015
There's nothing new at all about sweet potato pie. It's been a favorite in Black and Southern households for centuries. And, for the record, I posted this recipe https://food52.com/recipes/2089-sweet-potato-pie in December, 2009. It's not a holiday in our house without it.
DanaP November 12, 2015
Y'all know that in most (many?) black communities sweet potato has BEEN the pie of choice? That this is presented as a novel idea here is so very white.