November 14, 2017 Arley Arrington

Spiced Sweet Potato Pie

H A P P Y  (almost) T H A N K S G I V I N G ! ! !

I know we are all deeply submerged in the throws of chunky sweaters, cuuuuute boots, and pumpkin ERRYTHANG. But I would like to take a brief pause to call our attention to another wonderful, under-appreciated fruit of fall: the sweet potato. Most specifically, when it is used in pie. Maybe you are already a member of team sweet potato pie (welcome, friend, glad to have you). Or you have arrived here thinking ‘wait, what? this sounds weird. can we stick to pumpkin? pumpkin is normal. pumpkin is expected. PSLs rule my world. just give me pumpkin pie.’ But let me give you one reason to venture to the good side: black people eat sweet potato pie. And you know that our food is factually the best food. I’m not 100% sure on why, though I do think it has something to do with the resourcefulness, resilience, and rebounding joy we’ve had to keep up in the face of setback after setback in our history with this nation. But either way, our food is dope, and everybody knows it. So trust that this soul food staple will only enhance your thanksgiving spread this year.

spiced sweet potato pie 2
To write this recipe, I drew a lot of inspiration from Joy the Baker’s Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie, which is a really tasty, custardy, crowd-pleasing pie. But it dawned on me how good sweet potatoes are when cooked with Indian spices usually found in chai or garam masala. So tha’s what I added here! It’s not your standard sweet potato pie (don’t get me wrong, standard sweet potato pie is a really, really good thing). But the crowds I fed it to (my small handful of friends, I’m not that popular) were all well pleased by it. Plus, to my great delight, it passed the black test. Official reviews ranged from “OMG” to “It tastes like fall is dancing in my mouth.” Safe to say, this pie’s a winner. Like all good things, it has a little kick and a little sweet to it. Enjoy!



1 prepared pie crust

2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 lb)

12 oz can evaporated milk

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 TB vanilla extract

1 1/2 t cinnamon

1 1/2 t ginger

1/2 t coriander

1/2 t nutmeg

3/4 t pepper

3/4 t cloves

1 tsp cardamom



  1. Preheat your oven to 375°. Roll out your pie crust, shape it in your pie pan, and pop it in the freezer.*
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1″ to 2″ chunks. Place in a large pot of water, and bring to boil, cooking until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork (15-ish minutes).
  3. In the meantime, whisk the eggs with about a quarter of the brown sugar, and about a quarter of the evaporated milk in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain completely and place back in the pot, along with the remaining brown sugar and milk, vanilla, and all spices. Let simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the mixture is super fragrant. Remove from heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the sweet potato mixture.
  5. Slowly add a little bit of sweet potato puree to your egg mixture, constantly whisking everything together. (This is called tempering your eggs, where you gradually warm the eggs so they don’t cook like scrambled eggs in your finished custard.) Add enough puree to make the eggs pretty warm (it usually takes 1/3 to a 1/2 of the hot mixture).
  6. At this point, I like to give the whole mixture one more go with the immersion blender, so I can make sure it is all really smooth before pouring it into my chilled pie crust.
  7. Bake on a baking sheet at 375° for 30 minutes, then rotate the pie, reduce the oven temperature to 325° for 15 minutes, then check for doneness every 5 minutes. The pie is done when you tap the baking sheet, and it only has a slight wiggle in the very center, but is set every where else. Allow the pie to cool and finish setting before slicing and serving. It will keep in the fridge, wrapped, for a few days.


* Some pie crust tips: I love King Arthur Flour’s classic pie crust recipe, which uses a combination of shortening and butter. I find it really easy to work with for making braids and other intricate lattice patterns. Make the crust using your fingers to work in the shortening, and then the butter, so you can really control how much you break the butter down (which is important for a perfect, flaky crust). I usually roll out my crust, assemble and attach my braided edge, and then freeze it for at least half an hour before pouring the prepared filling in to bake it. This helps the crust keep its shape while baking.

PS If you’d like to read my more articulate feelings on why I <3 making sweet potato pie, check out my post on the Brookville Restaurant blog from a few years ago!

PPS This piece by Rembert Browne on Bon Appetit about Black Thanksgiving made me laugh and happy sigh the whole way through. 

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