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Diane’s Ginger Sweet Potato Pie Recipe – Celebrating National Cook a Sweet Potato Day

Some people might not know but yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing. The word yam in African dialects was either or a few other terms with a few other meanings. Yams are monocots from the Dioscorea family, often referred to as “Oyame or Yam Yam” in several bantu-based languages. But, sweet potatoes are from the Morning Glory plant family are is far sweeter than yams.

The British took the tradition of making pumpkin pies to West Africa in the 16th century. However, the Africans made the dessert using yams because they didn’t have pumpkins. When the pie making tradition was later brought to America during slavery, the African slaves once again transformed the dessert into something even sweeter using sweet potatoes.

It was during the 18th century that sweet potato pie recipes made their first cookbook appearance. Later in the 19th century, Fannie Famer featured a recipe for glazed sweet potatoes in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Shortly after, inventor George Washington Carver released over 100 uses for the vegetable, including sweet potato pie. Abby Fisher would go on to publish her sweet potato pie recipe in 1881.

During slavery, black people made sweet potato pie for large gatherings and celebrations. As with my family, that tradition continues to this day and sweet potato pie is a staple part of black family meals, what we call “Soul Food.”

National Cook a Sweet Potato Day  is observed annually on February 22nd in the United States!

Why ginger?

I wanted to give my pie a little something extra but not anything that would take it too far from its cultural origins or make it too savory. I’m southern after all, our pies are sweet, not spicy. Ginger is used a lot in foods from various African peoples and it gave the pie just the right about of pizzazz.

9 inches Pie Crust:

First, combine the all-purpose flour and salt. Then gradually blend in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly. Gradually, add in about 3-5 tbsp. of ice water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll out into pie pan and pour in filling when ready.


I baked my sweet potatoes in a round ceramic pan covered in foil. This allowed for them to cook in their own steam without getting overly dry. I had read that boiling them would make them watery and that was not what I wanted.

Once the potatoes were cooled, I blended in ¼ cup of brown sugar and 1/3 cup of Kerrygold Unsalted Butter. I typically bake with Woodstock Organic Brown Sugar instead of white sugar because it seems to give baked goods a better consistency. Plus, the molasses in brown sugar adds more richness to the flavor.

Next, I added in 1/3 cup of Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk and ¼ cup of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Most of the recipes I found called for vanilla extract but quality vanilla is at a premium price right now and I just didn’t want to splurge on that ingredient. I’m very thrifty!

I decided to find a substitute that would give the pie a similar flavor. I chose sweetened condensed milk because it would help give the filling a creamy texture and to me the flavor of condensed milk is similar to that of vanilla ice cream. LOL

I decided to find a substitute that would give the pie a similar flavor. I chose sweetened condensed milk because it would help give the filling a creamy texture and to me the flavor of condensed milk is similar to that of vanilla ice cream. LOL

Lastly, I added 1/2 tbsp. of Terrasoul Superfoods Himalayan Pink Salt, 1/2 tbsp. of Simply Organic Ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp. of Simply Organic Ground Nutmeg, and 3/4 tbsp. of Simply Organic Ground Ginger Root.

With ginger a little goes a long way so I dare not add too much. 3/4 tbsp. of ginger was just enough even though it was 2 pounds of sweet potato. You can leave the ginger out if you want but I think you’d be missing out.

Once you’ve blended your pie to a smooth, creamy texture, you are free to pour it into your pie shell, and all that’s left to do is to bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until set. Test by poking a knife into the center and if it comes out clean you’re good to go. Let the pie sit and cool for about 35-40 minutes before storing it in the refrigerator. 

If you try my recipe, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments below. Likewise if you have one of your own that you’d like to share, feel free to post that too. This is National Cook Sweet Potato Pie Day and it’s time to celebrate this wonderful food that represents so much history, love, and pride for us all.

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