Appalachia Appalachian Food

Old Fashioned Sliced Yam Pie

Old fashioned sliced yam pie

I had a few leftover sweet potatoes from the sweet potato souffle I made for Thanksgiving at Grannys. So I went looking for a new sweet potato recipe.

I found Old Fashioned Sliced Yam Pie in Mountain Cooking by John Parris.

I don’t hear many folks use the word yam in my neck of the woods. When I hear yam I think of the super sweet super orange sweet potatoes my elementary lunchroom used to serve. This page will tell you the difference in sweet potatoes and yams.

Old timey sweet potato pie


Old Fashioned Sliced Yam Pie

  • pastry for a double crust pie
  • sweet potatoes- 2 or 3 if they are small; 1 if they are really on the large size
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • white or brown sugar
  • butter-cubes
  • cinnamon-optional

Sweet potato pie


As you can see from the first photo-Parris didn’t give exact measurements for some of the ingredients, but the recipe is so easy you don’t really need them.

Gently fit one pie crust into a pie pan.

Peel and slice sweet potatoes very thin. I used a mandolin, but I’m sure a really sharp knife would work just as well.

Old recipe for sweet potato pie from appalachia


Fill pie pastry with layers of sweet potato.

Sprinkle each layer with your choice of white or brown sugar, a few cubes of butter, and if you like a dash of cinnamon.

Yam pie


Once the pie shell is filled, salt lightly; drizzle vanilla, and add a few more cubes of butter.

Cover with top pie crust making sure to cut a few gashes in the crust to allow for steam to escape while the pie is cooking.

Bake in a 350 oven for about an hour or until crust is brown and sweet potatoes are tender-you can gently stick a sharp knife into the pie to check the tenderness of the sweet potatoes.

Some how I didn’t manage to photograph the finished recipe. The pie was very good it wasn’t overly sweet and I think it could be served as either a dessert or a side dish.

Ever had sweet potato or yam pie?



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  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    April 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Mama used to make a Sliced Sweet Potato Pie but she boiled and peeled the potatoes first. Then she did the same as this recipe except at the end she poured can milk over it before the top crust went on. Once it was done there was a warm sweet cinnamon milk in the mixture you dipped up with it. So good. I later learned it was called a Sonker.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Sam-LOL now that would be a neat! A mandolin you could play or cut with : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    B.-no I didn’t use foil-and the crust did ok : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Have had sweet potato pie often; we usually have it instead of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Yum!!!
    Haven’t had “sliced” sweet potato pie, but it looks yummy too.
    Reminds me slightly of a casserole I saw someone on tv making (I think it was Lidia); in a casserole dish, she did a layer of sweet potatoes dotted with butter, salt and pepper, then topped with a layer of white potatoes dotted with butter, salt and pepper, and repeated the alternate layers until a casserole dish was filled off, then she poured hot cream or milk into it, topped with Parmesan cheese and baked it. Sounded good.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 12, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    and Jim…I’m with you on that one. I don’t think I ever heard any of our NC relatives refer to sweet potatoes as yams…
    I have heard some deep south relatives refer to sweet potatoes as yams….but…
    They must’ve read it off the large Bruce’s Yam’s can! Which right under the word says “sweet potatoes in syrup”. A lot of processors I note say Yams and then go on to say sweet potatoes..
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Oh yes. We have always preferred sweet potato pie to pumpkin. Never tried it with slices. We use puree.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I never saw Sweet Potato Pie with
    a top crust. Looks good to me,
    cause the more bread—the better.
    My oldest daughter left me some
    sweet potatoes and I’ve been nuking
    ’em and putting butter only on them. They’re so orange-looking and

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    January 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I have not been a fan of “sweet tators” since I had one in my lunch poke every day in the early grades, but the recipe sounds good.
    I have a couple of questions. One of my great grandmothers was a Parris, and there were about four Parris girls and a brother who married Ensley brothers and sisters. I’m wondering if there is a connection.
    You mention slicing the tators with a mandolin. Are you talking about a musical instrument?

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 11:45 am

    We love sweet potato pie! Will definitely try this recpe out, thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    January 12, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I don’t normally make sweet potato pies — I prefer pumpkin. My sister used to make “candy roaster” pie. Do you have a recipe for that?
    The very best potato salad I ever had was a mystery to me until I figured out why it was so good. The restaurant added a little sweet potato to the mix! I think they actually added a little mashed sweet potato into the mayonnaise and very small pieces of sweet potato into the salad.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Yes, many years ago I had an aunt with the flair for baking just about anything. I really was never sure of the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. I think I will reserve this page for future reference. I like simple and this is a simple recipe.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 12, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Tipper–I am a great admirer of the writings of John Parris, but from time to time I think he runs off the track a bit. I have never, ever heard mountain folk refer to sweet potatoes as yams, and as you point out, there is a difference. I’d be interested in learning if other readers born and bred in the high country have a different experience.
    As for “Mountain Cooking,” it is interesting in a lot of ways, and I say that as someone who has been involved in the production of a bunch of cookbooks. As you discovered, the instructions could often be more detailed, and there are times in recipes when a lack of precision can be a real problem. However, in his defense, most old-time mountain cooks worked by feel and long experience–a touch of this, a pinch of that–rather than precision.
    Interestingly, booksellers who are specialists in Appalachian literature tell me that “Mountain Cooking” is, by a considerable measure, the rarest of the Parris books.
    Don’t get me wrong in thinking I’m not a fan of John. Quite the contrary, and one of the high points of my early writing career was when he quoted something I had written in one of his “Roaming the Mountains” columns. But I have to acknowledge that Parris, like most really fine storytellers, appreciated the value of gilding the lily from time to time.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    January 12, 2015 at 9:05 am

    my grandmother made a delicious sweet potato cobbler. To me, sweet potatoes have always been dessert whether they were baked, in a casserole or a pie!!!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 12, 2015 at 8:15 am

    We made two types of sweet potato pie in Choestoe where I grew up. One was “like pumpkin” pie, using cooked sweet potatoes. The other was a sweet potato cobbler, using thinly-sliced sweet potatoes (as you would for a peach cobbler, an apple cobbler, or a berry cobbler.) This kind with us didn’t have a bottom crust, but did have “dumplings” in the “juice” or water/butter mixture that covered the potatoes.
    Either was good–but I really liked the sweet potato cobbler!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 12, 2015 at 8:09 am

    The only sweet potato pie I’ve made is like a pumpkin pie. I’ve never seen or eaten one with the double crust. It looks and sounds wonderful. Making it I might throw in a hand full of raisins just for fun.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 12, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Soooo, according to the potato website link…this is not really an Old Fashioned Yam is an Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie!
    I learned something today for sure!
    I didn’t know Yams were poison until cooked, and no I do not think I have ever, ever eaten a yam that is according to the website.
    I have eaten sweet potato’s all my life. White, dark yeller, light orange, dark orange…no purple! I don’t like those skinny long white root looking ones that some say are so good for you…yuk! Just too hard to prepare and I really think when I see them that it must have just been a bad crop not a “long white yam” as labeled in the market!LOL
    I would probably slice my taters, mix in the brown sugar, vanilla, a bit of salt and cinnamon, melt the butter and stir all together, then heap them in the pie crust, with the top laid over them like a blanket. To heck with, slicing, dotting, etc. etc…LOL Don’t it all go in the same place anyhow?
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I guess you would prepare the pie that way if you didn’t want to overfill the pie crust!
    Did you have to put foil on the crust to keep it from overbrowning?…I know it takes sweet potatoes a long time to soften and cook…depends on the variety of sweet potato not necessarily how thin they are sliced…Of course that is my experience with them, maybe not necessarily the norm!

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    January 12, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Tipper: Don’t reckon I ever had sweet tatter pie except at homecomings and dinner on the ground at church. Those
    wonderful ladies sure knew how to make em. I may be inspired to try yours – even without a picture. I am sure it was near perfect.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 6:45 am

    Alica-My crusts don’t look that nice either-I used a store bought one for this recipe : ) Thank you for the comment!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 6:12 am

    My grandmother made two completely different sweet potato pies. One had the appearance and texture of pumpkin pie; I find that type in restaurants today. The other was the “sliced sweet potato” type that you described in your post. I don’t think that I have ever seen that pie anywhere other than my grandmother’s house (in the piedmont region of NC), and she’s been gone for almost 30 years.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 6:01 am

    I’ve never had one…but I love sweet potato casserole and candied sweet potatoes, so why not? I wonder if my kids would eat it? 🙂 Look at your beautiful crust…you must have had lots of practice. Mine don’t look so happy!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 5:40 am

    I will mark this post for future reference – looks delicious, Tipper!
    Someday I will have a mandolin – I slice a LOT of vegetables – but til that happy day (or lucky thriftshopping day, more like) I slice veggies in half the long way so they’ll sit flat on my cutting board, then slice into skinny pieces. This special kitchen tip is probably old news to everyone else, but I’m embarrassed to say, took me years to figure out!

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