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Sweet Potato Pudding

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

Pumpkin Pie has been an American favorite for generations and this recipe could be its twin. The Southern Sweet Potato Pie took its cue from this earlier version of the classic 18th-century pudding and is still loved by many.

18th Century

Boil one pound of sweet potatos very tender, rub them while hot through a colander; add six eggs well beaten, three quarters of a pound of powdered sugar, three quarters of butter, and some grated nutmeg and lemon peel, with a glass of brandy; put a paste in the dish, and when the pudding is done, sprinkle the top with sugar, and cover it with bits of citron. Irish potato pudding is made in the same manner, but is not so good.

— Randolph, Mary, “The Virginia Housewife,” 1827.

21st Century


  • 1 sweet potato weighing slightly more than a pound
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ pound of sugar + 2 tsps. for the top
  • ¾ pound (or slightly less) butter
  • 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated lemon peel
  • 2 to 4 oz. (according to your taste) French Brandy
  • ¼ to 1/2 cup of candied citron bits
  • 1 sheet puff pastry or regular pie crust (store bought or home made)


  1. Peel and boil sweet potato until soft. Drain it and let it cool slightly.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the sweet potato with your hand so that there are little or no lumps.
  3. In a small bowl, melt the butter or make sure it is extremely soft.
  4. In another medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly.
  5. Add the sugar, butter, nutmeg, lemon peel, and brandy to the eggs, mixing very well.
  6. Blend this into the mashed sweet potato thoroughly.
  7. Line your pie plate with the puff paste edging it with the design you like.
  8. Fill the pie to within a half inch of the top edge of the puff paste.
  9. Bake in a 375° oven for a half hour to forty minutes. DO NOT let the top get dark brown but make sure your puff paste is baked enough.
  10. Strew the 2 Tbsp. sugar over the top after it comes from the oven and garnish the edge with the citron. Let it cool before you cut and eat it.

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