Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like My Mama

Sweet potato pie. Original illustration: Kirk Anderson

Every holiday, every barbecue, every church social, and Lord knows for every somebody or another’s funeral, the unspoken expectation has always been that my mama makes the sweet potato pies. Calling her pies delicious is an understatement—they are heavenly.

Today, close to a hundred people are packed practically elbow to elbow in Mama’s little five-room, tin-roof house in Jackson, Tennessee. None of her pies are being served because not a single one of us ever thought to keep a batch tucked away in the freezer. Instead, as is customary, everyone is waiting with a Southern style of patience for some of the church ladies to usher themselves into Mama’s cozy little yellow-and-white gingham-accented kitchen, hauling in their own sweet potato pies. Each woman believes hers is the best and warrants first-to-be-served for today’s special repast—Mama’s funeral.

Peeking out the window and much to my surprise, I see seven distinguished elderly women, each wearing a white hat, a white dress, white shoes, and white gloves ceremoniously lined up on Mama’s front porch, about to make some type of grand entrance. Looking closer, I realize these are Mama’s cooking rivals and closest friends! A further cue of “All rise” becomes an unspoken command. Everyone stands to attention in stone military silence as the packed Red Sea living room begins parting, making way for the ladies’ entrance. Each is carrying a colorful woven basket containing sweet potato pies.

Within minutes, sweet potato pie is being served. Definitely not hungry, but graciously, I nibble from a slice brought in to me by Mama’s favorite niece, who now resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota. As Cousin Mary Louise continues serving slices of pie in a Northern sort of way, I am desperately wishing this whole funeral ordeal will hurry and come to closure. I’m given another slice of pie. I nibble a bit more. Not a bad flavor, but slightly too much nutmeg for my taste. Nothing like Mama’s. Doesn’t even come close. I only want Mama’s pie. I only want Mama back.

Nobody could or ever will be able to make a sweet potato pie like my Mama.

Traditional Sweet Potato Pie

Rose McGee, Owner of Deep Roots Gourmet Desserts

Ingredients (makes two 9” pies):
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 medium to large sweet potatoes, cooked
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk (whole, evaporated, or condensed)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 unbaked pie shells
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Use a hand or stand mixer.
In a large mixing bowl, blend cooked sweet potatoes with sugar. Blend in eggs.
2. Now blend in soft butter.
3. Add next 5 ingredients; mix well.
4. Pour into pie shells.
5. Reduce heat to 350° F and bake 60 minutes or until well set.
6. Remove from oven. Allow to cool and firm up before eating.

Comment List

  • Tab 24 / 11 / 2017 Reply

    I tried the recipe and it was absolutely amazing!!!! It was very flavorful and the texture was superb. Thanks a million for sharing!

  • Nik 27 / 12 / 2016 Reply

    Do you use light or dark brown sugar for this recipe

  • Joy Blackwell-White 24 / 11 / 2016 Reply

    can recipe be used with fresh lemon and ginger juice?

  • Ida 23 / 11 / 2016 Reply

    This is an awesome sweet potato pie recipe, will be using this from now on. Thanks.

  • lissa 19 / 11 / 2016 Reply

    I would like to know your mothers name.
    First name is fine- I just want to be able to name the pie properly- something this wonderful should carry the lady’s name!
    It has been said that to teach is to be immortal.
    Thanks for for passing along your mothers great taste. I will always be thinking of ya’ll every time I make this pie.

  • Ida 15 / 11 / 2016 Reply

    What was the pie crust size, was it the deep dish pie crust or regular pie crust.

  • Treniece 29 / 11 / 2015 Reply

    I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was a major hit. My granny even mentioned it taste better than her homemade pie. That’s saying alot! LOL!

  • Twanda 21 / 11 / 2015 Reply

    Which milk is best for this recipe?

    • Nessa 29 / 11 / 2015 Reply

      I used sweetened condensed milk and it came out sooooo good!!! I also added a bit of Jack Daniels whisky. Everyone loved it!

    • Treniece 29 / 11 / 2015 Reply

      I used lactose free milk and it came out delicious.

  • Yoyo 21 / 11 / 2015 Reply

    Tried this recipe and I absolutely loved it. Taste just like my mothers pie…my mother passed away last year and I never got her recipe either, but when I tried ur mom’s recipe ….it came out just like my momma’s pie. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

  • Mrs.K 19 / 11 / 2015 Reply

    Best recipe ever!

    • Nessa 29 / 11 / 2015 Reply

      I agree! This was my first time making a sweet potato and it was a hit!

  • Tatiana 20 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    I made them, awesome and the whole family loved them. Only thing, im not a fan of the taste of nutmeg lol and it just so happened that i didnt have any so i left it out. and they still came out delightful.. Thanks for sharing

  • Bonita 22 / 12 / 2013 Reply

    Wow….I tried your mother’s recipe and got emotional when I started to eat it. I began to think about my own mother’s pie and how it taste just like hers. This is soooooo good. Thank you…I will use this from now on!

    • Rose McGee 06 / 02 / 2015 Reply

      I am a bit late viewing your comments and am absolutely flattered that you tried the pie and it has now become a part of your tradition. Thank you. Rose McGee, Author of “Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like My Mama.”

    • Rose McGee 06 / 02 / 2015 Reply

      Thank you Bonita for sharing. I’m just seeing this blog. So sorry for the very late response. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Continue to enjoy. Rose McGee, Author, Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like My Mama.”

      • Patricia Badger 05 / 04 / 2015 Reply

        I love this recipe thanks Mrs. Rose for sharing your wonderful tradition i will always use no other recipe but this one thanks once again

  • Mr. & Mrs. Hunt 30 / 11 / 2013 Reply

    Absolutely great! My husband made 3 of your mom’s pies and the whole family loved them. It was his first time making a pie. The recipe is very easy to follow.

  • Net 16 / 11 / 2013 Reply

    I’m going to try your mamma’s pie because I wasn’t smart enough to get my mamma’s recipe before she passed away. I thought that she made the best and to this day I wont eat nobody’s but my own( my own version) so now I’m trying your mamma’s recipe wish me luck!

    • Rose McGee 06 / 02 / 2015 Reply

      I hope you tried the pie and liked it. So sorry, just seeing your comments. Let me know how you liked it. Rose McGee, Author, Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like My Mama.”

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