Recipe of the Week: Jim’s Mom’s Southern Candied Yams

Photo Credit: Randolph Graham

When Robin and I were quite young, we were adopted into a large Greek family. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with them for over 30 years. One of the members of the family was a country boy from Georgia, Jim White, who made wonderful candied yams as his contribution to their Christmas dinners.

I asked Jim where he got the inspiration for his yam dish. He said, “My mom used to make them. After she passed away, I’ve made these each Christmas in her memory. I hope you enjoy them.” I asked Jim what the secret was to his mom’s recipe. He replied, “A generous amount of southern-distilled bourbon.”

Jim passed away before I could get his recipe. But with a little effort (and a generous amount of bourbon), I re-created Jim’s mom’s wonderful dish. I’ve made my version of his recipe for our Christmas dinners ever since. My hope is that you will enjoy them as much as we do.


3 medium garnet yams

8 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground clove

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup cane sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 ounces bourbon (I like Lazy Guy Side Track Bourbon)

¼ cup walnuts (chopped)



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Peel and cut yams into ¼-inch slices. Parboil in a large saucepan over high heat for 5 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water (to stop the cooking process). Set aside.

Place the butter into a medium sauce pan and melt over medium heat. Add pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and sugars. Remove from heat and mix thoroughly.

Overlap half of the yam slices in baking dish. Evenly sprinkle half the walnuts on top. Pour half of the butter mixture on top of this layer. Overlap the balance of the yams on top that. Pour in the balance of the butter mixture and spread it evenly over the top. Pour all of the bourbon over the top of this and sprinkle with the balance of the walnuts.

Cover the bake dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the yams from the oven and remove foil. Put yams back in oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Chef Randy has been a vegetarian for over 40 years and eats local and organic grain, fresh fruit, and vegetables as much as possible. He is known locally as the “Healthy Chef.” His column, Chef Randy, is syndicated in California newspapers. See his website at for more recipes.

Visit his author’s page on Amazon for culinary inspiration!  



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