This is the best sweet potato pie I have ever put in my mouth, in large part because of its unusual flavor.Traditionally, sweet potato pie is flavored with the same spices as its cousin, pumpkin pie—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and allspice. The surprise in this version is that it eschews the heavy, heady flavor of the “fall spices” for a light, lemony taste that brings to mind warm spring or summer days.

Aunt Ruth was married to one of my grandfather’s brothers, and was one of the best cooks I ever knew. Since she wasn’t able to have children, I realized that this wonderful pie was in danger of passing into history; I got the recipe from her the year before she died.

Aunt Ruth was tickled to death when the newspaper in her small town ran this recipe with a column I wrote about pies; she would be amazed to know that since I put it on my Web site in 1999, the recipe has been downloaded morethan a quarter of a million times and has been made by people from Canada to Australia to the Sultinate of Bruni, making this pie literally world famous.
For a more traditional sweet potato pie, eliminate the lemon extract and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of ginger, allspice and nutmeg.

  • 2 or 3 large sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 (14 ounce) can evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 pie crusts

In a 6-quart Dutch oven, bring 3 quarts water to a rolling boil.

Peel sweet potatoes, then cut into small pieces. Place potatoes into boiling water; return to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a potato masher or electric hand mixer, cream butter into sweet potatoes. Add eggs and milk. Combine sugar with cornstarch; add to potato mixture along with vanilla and lemon flavoring.

Pour into pie shells. Bake until center is set and top is golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Yield: 2 deep dish pies

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7 Comments so far »

  1. Erica Rollins said

    September 26 2008 @ 7:43 am

    I have used this recipe for about 2 years now. I have never been much of a cook, so a couple of years ago when I decided to make a sweet potatoe pie for thanksgiving I got strange looks from my sister and mother. Boy was I surprised by all the wonderful compliments, they were floored by the taste not mention shocked that I really made it myself.Well from that year on I am known as the sweet potatoe pie maker and I love it. This really is the best pie I have ever eaten.

  2. Jackie said

    November 21 2008 @ 12:59 pm

    Can I add the allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg along with the original recipe. I had a soulfood cookbook and I loaned it out and never got it back. I remember lemon being in my pie and I also remember cinnamon & nutmeg… but I am not 100% sure. So back to my question: Can I add the 3 spices listed above along with the lemon, or will that make it taste funny? Thanks

  3. Chef Rick said

    November 21 2008 @ 1:37 pm

    Adding cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg to the lemon would probably taste strange, I believe.

  4. bruce sumner said

    December 24 2008 @ 8:57 am

    Well, Chef Rick used “probably” in his un-informed opinion of the use of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg in your sweet potato pie and he is mistaken. Obviously he hasnt tried it because it is absolutely wonderful. It simply adds a “kick” of tasty spice that makes this recipe a keeper.

  5. Jackie said

    December 26 2008 @ 2:25 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I got it a little late but that is ok, if I would have gotten it sooner I would not have added the cinnamon and nutmeg to it. I did not add the allspice though. But it taste wonderful with the cinnamon and Nutmeg. 1/4 tsp of each.

  6. Patricia Kramer said

    November 26 2011 @ 10:38 am

    I tried Aunt Ruth’s recipe years ago and was delighted to have tasted the seriously BEST SWEET POTATO PIE IN THE WORLD!!!
    Thanks Rick for posting it here. I have been cooking it many times over the years. My family fights over it and prefers it to pumpkin. I have had many people ask me to make them a pie for their holiday spreads. Anything I have cooked following your recipes have ALWAYS turned out awesome.
    Great work Rick and many thanks!

    God Bless you and yours!

  7. toomanygrandkids said

    June 3 2014 @ 8:08 am

    Sounds like a delish pie. But I always thought that sweet potatoes were boiled whole and with the skin on.

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