Aunt Violet’s Sweet Potatoes


This is the only way my family will let me make sweet potatoes. Everything else pales in comparison, so I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a recipe handed down from my Aunt Violet, who never cooked anything that wasn’t the best thing you’ve ever eaten.

Pick out the long, thinner sweet potatoes that have a purple skin, dark orange flesh, and are about 2″ in diameter. You can use bigger potatoes, but they don’t cook as well or as uniformly, or look as pretty in the pan.

These are best if made at least a day or two ahead of your big dinner. You can also make them a month ahead and freeze them. Just wrap your baking dish tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap it in foil. Let thaw for a couple days in the fridge. And don’t forget to set them out for a couple of hours before putting them in the oven, to let them come up to room temperature. I stuck a ice cold baking dish in a hot oven once. Just once. Boom! Sucks to be young and stupid. You sure don’t want this sweet potato goo all over your oven, I promise you.


6 pounds sweet potatoes (little more than you’ll need in case some don’t quite measure up after boiling)

1 pound brown sugar

1 cube butter

1 small bag mini-marshallows (10.5 oz)

1/3 cup pineapple juice

Pineapple chunks optional

Scrub your potatoes and stick them in a pot full of water. (Or multiple pots, depending on how much you’re making.) Boil them until they’re just fork tender, not really soft. Usually some of the skins are starting to split open about this time. You don’t want to overcook them because you’re going to be baking them.

While they’re boiling, I scrub the sink so it’s nice and clean (for a change). When done, I use a pair of tongs to gently hold the sweet potato, and slide a spatula underneath, to transfer them to the sink to cool.

When they’re cool enough to handle, peel them and slice into chunks about 1-1/2 inches high. Place in the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish, packed tightly together. Now we make the sauce…

Cut a cube of butter up in chunks and throw in a large saucepan along with the brown sugar, pineapple juice, and marshmallows. (I usually reserve a large handful of the mini-marshmallows for hot chocolate. I mean, how often am I going to have mini-marshmallows in the house?) Maybe that’s the secret of my success with this recipe. Hmmm…..

Heat and stir over medium heat just until the marshmallows are melted and you have a nice, thick sauce. DON’T cook it a second longer! If you let it boil, your sauce will turn into candy.

Pour the sauce over your sweet potatoes so they’re swimming in all that yummy goodness. When it’s time to cook them, bake at 375 degrees for about an hour, until the sauce is thick and bubbly.

I serve them in the baking pan with a slotted spoon, so people can fish them out of the sauce and control how much goo they want. You could use a spatula to transfer them to something more presentable if you want, with just a little sauce spooned over the top. Obviously there’s way more goo than anyone wants to eat. Although, it’s there if they want it. If transferring two pans full into a large roaster to hold for a family dinner, I pour the sauce from just one pan over the top.

Thanks Aunt Violet!