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How do you make Patti Labelle sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are a delicious, nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many ways. Patti Labelle’s sweet potato recipe has become a beloved Thanksgiving classic thanks to its sweet and spicy flavors. This guide will walk you through how to make Patti Labelle’s famous sweet potatoes step-by-step.

What ingredients do you need for Patti Labelle sweet potatoes?

Patti Labelle’s sweet potato recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes – Use 4-5 medium sweet potatoes.
  • Butter – You’ll need 1/2 cup of butter.
  • Sugar – The recipe calls for 1 cup of light or dark brown sugar.
  • Spices – You’ll need 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.
  • Vanilla extract – Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

That’s it! Just those basic ingredients are all you need to make this popular sweet potato dish. The butter, sugar and spices are what give these sweet potatoes their signature crunchy, sweet topping.

What equipment is required to make Patti Labelle sweet potatoes?

You don’t need any fancy kitchen tools to make these sweet potatoes. Here is the basic equipment you’ll need:

  • Baking dish – Use a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon for mixing
  • Oven

A simple baking dish, some basic kitchen tools and an oven are all you’ll need! This is an easy recipe to make even for beginner cooks.

What are the steps to make Patti Labelle’s sweet potatoes?

Here is a step-by-step overview of how to make delicious sweet potatoes just like Patti Labelle:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Add the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to your greased baking dish. Spread them out evenly.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.
  5. Pour the butter-sugar mixture over the sweet potatoes. Make sure all the potatoes are evenly coated.
  6. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake for 1 hour until potatoes are fork tender.
  8. Remove foil and continue baking for 30 more minutes to let the sugars caramelize.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy!

Step-by-step instructions

Here are more in-depth instructions for each step:

Prep the sweet potatoes

Start by washing 4-5 medium sized sweet potatoes thoroughly under running water. Pat them dry with some paper towels. Use a knife to peel off the skins. Then cut the peeled sweet potatoes into 1-inch sized cubes. Add the cubed sweet potatoes to your greased 9×13 inch glass baking dish. Spread them out evenly in the dish.

Make the sugar-spice mixture

In a small bowl, combine the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Use a wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients together thoroughly until combined. You want to form a smooth, thick sauce.

Pour mixture over potatoes

Slowly pour the butter-sugar mixture over the cubed sweet potatoes in the baking dish. Use your spoon to coat each potato cube evenly with the sauce. Make sure all the potatoes are well coated.

Cover and bake

Seal the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Avoid any openings so that the sweet potatoes can steam while baking. Put the baking dish in the preheated 350°F oven. Bake for 1 hour covered.

Uncover and finish baking

After 1 hour, take the baking dish out of the oven. Remove the foil cover. Put the sweet potatoes back in the oven uncovered. Turn up the heat slightly to 375°F. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. This helps the sauce mixture caramelize and get crispy.

Remove from oven and serve

Once the full baking time is up, take the sweet potatoes out of the oven. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. The potatoes will continue to firm up as they cool slightly. Serve the sweet potatoes warm. They are delicious on their own, but you can also serve them alongside dishes like roasted turkey or ham.

Tips for the best sweet potatoes

Here are some helpful tips for making the tastiest Patti Labelle sweet potatoes:

  • Choose fresh sweet potatoes without any bruises or soft spots.
  • Cut the sweet potato cubes slightly smaller if you prefer softer potatoes.
  • Use room temperature butter for easier mixing.
  • Flavor the sugar mixture with extra spices like ginger or allspice if desired.
  • Add a splash of orange juice or rum to the sauce mixture for more flavor.
  • Make sure to seal the foil tightly so potatoes steam while baking.
  • If the sugar sauce isn’t browning enough, broil on high for a few minutes.

How long does this recipe take?

Here is an overview of the time required for each step in this recipe, along with total time:

Step Time Required
Prep potatoes 10-15 minutes
Make sugar-spice mixture 5 minutes
Pour mixture over potatoes 5 minutes
Bake covered 1 hour
Bake uncovered 30 minutes
Cool before serving 10 minutes
Total Time About 2 hours

So in total, from start to finish, it will take around 2 hours to make Patti Labelle’s sweet potatoes. The active cooking time is only about 30-40 minutes. The remaining time is inactive baking and cooling time that requires no work.

Can you make ahead and reheat?

Yes, these sweet potatoes can absolutely be made 1-2 days in advance. Then you can simply reheat them on Thanksgiving day before serving. Here are some tips for making ahead and reheating:

  • Prepare the entire recipe as directed, but let the potatoes cool completely after baking.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • To reheat – place the sweet potatoes in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until warmed through.
  • Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave until hot.

Making the sweet potatoes ahead takes out some of the work on Thanksgiving day. Just be sure to store them in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to reheat and serve.

Can you freeze this recipe?

You can absolutely freeze baked sweet potatoes for longer term storage. Here is how:

  1. Make the sweet potatoes according to the recipe.
  2. Let the baked potatoes cool completely, then transfer them to freezer bags or airtight containers.
  3. Remove as much air from the containers as possible before sealing.
  4. Label bags with contents and date.
  5. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  6. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then reheat in the oven at 350°F until warmed through.

Freezing is a great way to enjoy sweet potato casserole again later in the holiday season without having to bake it all again. The potatoes may soften a bit after freezing, but will still be delicious.

Ingredient substitutes

Want to make adaptations to this recipe? Here are some easy ingredient swaps:

  • Sweet potatoes – substitute yams or butternut squash if needed.
  • Butter – you can use coconut oil or olive oil instead.
  • Sugar – try coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey for different flavor.
  • Spices – switch up the spice blend with pumpkin pie spice, allspice, ginger etc.
  • Nuts – add chopped pecans or walnuts into the topping for crunch.

Feel free to experiment with different ingredient variations. Just maintain the basic method of tossing cubes of cooked veggies with a sweet spice butter sauce and baking until tender and caramelized.

Serving suggestions

Patti Labelle’s sweet potatoes are delicious on their own, but here are some serving ideas:

  • Serve as a Thanksgiving side dish alongside turkey, ham or salmon.
  • Spoon over biscuits for a sweet savory breakfast.
  • Top with melted marshmallows if desired.
  • Swirl into oatmeal or yogurt for added nutrition and flavor.
  • Pair with roasted Brussels sprouts or green beans.
  • Top with crunchy pecans or pepitas before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro.

However you choose to serve them, these sweet potatoes make a perfect addition to any fall or holiday meal. Their addictive sweet cinnamon flavor pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use white potatoes instead?

Sweet potatoes have a distinct sweet, moist flavor and texture. White potatoes don’t work as well as a substitute in this recipe. You could try russet potatoes, but they will turn out much drier and not have the sweet flavor.

What if my sweet potatoes aren’t soft after 1 hour of baking?

Oven temperatures can vary. If after 1 hour of baking your potatoes are still crunchy or hard, cover them again with foil and continue baking for 15-20 minutes until fork tender. The extra time softens them up.

Can I skip peeling the potatoes?

Peeling is optional, but recommended for best results. Unpeeled skins can sometimes give a bitter flavor. Peeling helps the potatoes bake up creamy and sweet.

Can I reduce the sugar?

The full 1 cup of brown sugar is needed to give this dish its signature sweet flavor and crusty topping. If you want less sugar, try using 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup instead.

How do I get the topping crunchier?

If your topping isn’t getting crunchy enough, try sprinkling the potatoes with 1/4 cup oats along with the sauce before baking. The oats will toast up and add crunch.

Nutrition Information

Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 1 cup serving of Patti Labelle’s sweet potato recipe:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 220
Fat 8g
Carbs 40g
Protein 2g
Fiber 4g
Sugar 24g

As you can see, these sweet potatoes are high in natural sugars thanks to the sweet potato and added brown sugar. They make a tasty indulgence for Thanksgiving but should be enjoyed in moderation.


Patti Labelle’s sweet potato recipe is the perfect sweet and spicy side dish for your Thanksgiving meal. With just a few simple ingredients and easy instructions, anyone can make these delicious cinnamon-spiced sweet potatoes. Bake them up a day or two ahead, then reheat just before serving. Let the sweet aroma lure your guests into the kitchen while you enjoy time with family. We hope this guide helps you easily whip up this favorite holiday side. Give these famous sweet potatoes a try this Thanksgiving!