Air Fryer Candied Yams: Easy 20 Minute Side Dish!

It’s funny to me that when I was a kid, my mother made candied yams for Thanksgiving every year and I hated them! Now, as an adult, they’re a favorite, proving how much your tastes can change. I make them my own way now, with this super easy air fryer candied yams recipe!

air fryer candied yams recipe dinners done quick featured image

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This classic southern side dish features cubed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, and some warm spices (like cinnamon). Throw it all together, and then set it and forget it. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

The air fryer is the perfect choice here because it gets you tender yams, caramelized sauce, and it takes way less time compared to the oven. Plus, there’s no constant stirring like the stovetop method, which is always a win in my book!

You can adjust with various types of seasonings to your liking (and sometimes I even add rum for a little twist)! I also love that you can use canned yams, or fresh sweet potatoes, making it easy to adjust for what you have on hand or what your grocery store has available.

holding up a wooden spoonful of air fryer candied yams

Ingredients List

ingredients to make air fryer candied yams
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes or yams (about 2 medium or 4 steamer-sized)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter (salted)

Equipment Note: You’ll need an oven safe dish that fits in your air fryer’s basket or rack for this recipe. Good options include a loaf pan, casserole dish, small cast iron pan, cake pan, or anything similar.

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • You can use fresh sweet potatoes or canned. If you are using canned, I recommend the variety packed in water (not syrup) or it will throw off the sweetness. A 40-ounce can is about right for this
  • All seasonings are adjustable to taste. Cinnamon is the most traditional, but I like the little bit of ginger. Other good options are nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice
  • You can use light brown sugar instead of dark – I just prefer the deeper flavor you get
  • If you want to add rum, use 1-2 Tbsp of dark or spiced rum. Note that not 100% of the alcohol is going to cook off this way, so don’t add it if you have kiddos!

Step By Step Preparation

  1. Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into about ¾” cubes (it doesn’t have to be exact). If using canned, drain the yams and cut them into chunks
peel and cut sweet potatoes into cubes or drain canned yams
  1. Place the potato pieces into a greased casserole dish (or similar) that fits in your air fryer
place sweet potato chunks in greased casserole dish
  1. Sprinkle the cinnamon, ginger, and salt over the potatoes, then spread the sugar on top, and then finish with the butter (I usually cut it into cubes and spread it out evenly)
sprinkle cinnamon, ginger, salt, and sugar on the sweet potatoes and add butter
  1. Place the dish into the air fryer and cook for 15-20 minutes at 360°F, or until the sweet potatoes are soft and pierce easily with a fork (if you are using canned potatoes, reduce the time to 10 minutes to start)
place the filled sweet potato casserole dish in the air fryer basket
  1. Serve warm with your favorite entree!
overhead view of air fryer candied yams on a plate next to the casserole dish

What to Serve With Candied Yams

  • Roasted chicken
  • Pork chops
  • Turkey
  • Glazed ham
  • Salmon
  • Kale salad
  • Green salad
  • Green bean casserole
  • Collard greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Roasted beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Corn casserole
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Dressing or stuffing
  • Dinner rolls
  • Applesauce
  • Cranberry sauce

Whether you’re serving candied yams for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or as part of a regular meal, there are lots of great entrees and sides to serve with them.

Try my air fryer candied yams alongside my Air Fryer Green Bean Casserole, Air Fryer Cornbread Dressing, Air Fryer Beets and Brussels Sprouts, Smoked Turkey Wings in the Air Fryer, Microwave Applesauce, or Air Fryer Ham Steak!

Recipe FAQs

How Long Do I Cook Candied Yams in the Air Fryer?

Cooking times can vary but typically range between 10-20 minutes at 360°F (18s°C). It will vary depending not only on your air fryer, but also the size and shape of your yam pieces, and whether you use fresh or canned.

Just remember to check periodically and adjust based on desired tenderness.

Can I Make Candied Yams in Advance and Reheat Them in the Air Fryer?

Yes, you can prepare candied yams ahead, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, and reheat in the air fryer at a lower temperature to avoid burning the sugar topping.

Usually, 325°F for 3-5 minutes is sufficient for reheating purposes.

What’s the Best Way to Ensure the Yams Are Coated Evenly with the Candied Mixture?

Spread the seasonings, sugar, and butter evenly over the yam pieces. As it cooks, they will naturally be saturated in it.

Be sure to stir just before serving, to ensure that the syrup is evenly distributed.

How Can I Adjust the Sweetness of the Candied Yams?

You can control sweetness by altering the amount of sugar or using alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

Feel free to add more potatoes as well to adjust the overall ratio.

Can I Add Marshmallows to the Candied Yams in the Air Fryer?

Yes, you can add marshmallows in the final 3 minutes of cooking to melt and create a gooey topping if desired.

I recommend large marshmallows or even marshmallow paste to prevent them from blowing around in the air fryer, like the minis tend to do.

What is the Difference Between Candied Yams and Sweet Potatoes?

While the sauce is the same, yams are technically more starchy, less sweet, and drier than a sweet potato.

However, the term is often used interchangeably, and most often, sweet potatoes are used in candied yam recipes.

Why Are My Candied Yams Runny?

Candied yams should be slightly runny, but if yours are extremely runny, it indicates the presence of too much moisture.

Do not cook covered, as that can trap steam. Feel free to cook for a few more minutes to try and evaporate excess liquid, or you can add a cornstarch slurry in a pinch if it’s very bad.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • You can alternatively thin slice your sweet potatoes (about ⅛” thick) and reduce the cooking time to 10-15 minutes. If you have a mandolin slicer, it will make it much easier!
  • I do not preheat my air fryer for this recipe. My candied yams were perfectly soft and cooked after 20 minutes total in a Ninja air fryer. However, your exact time will vary based on the size of your potato pieces, and your specific air fryer
  • Despite the sugar in this recipe, I do not find it to be overly sweet. If you like a really sweet candied yam, consider upping the sugar amount as desired, up to double (but it’s always easier to add than remove)!
closeup view of air fryer candied yams on a plate

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Store leftover candied yams in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
  • To reheat, microwave for 30-60 seconds on high, or place back in an oven-safe dish in the air fryer and heat for 3-5 minutes at 325°F, or until warmed through

More Sweet Potato Recipes to Try

Final Thoughts

These easy air fryer candied yams are such an easy side dish to throw together. They’re perfect for fall, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas!

The sweet sugar, savory butter, and warm cinnamon come together to make the perfect sauce for your roasted potatoes. Plus, the air fryer makes it so simple to get the ideal caramelization level with little fuss.

Depending on how you choose to cut your sweet potatoes or yams (or even use canned), this side needs only 10-20 minutes to cook! Plus, it keeps the oven free for other, larger dishes during the holidays. How convenient is that!

air fryer candied yams recipe dinners done quick featured image

Air Fryer Candied Yams (Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes)

These simple air fryer candied yams have just 6 ingredients and need 20 minutes or less to cook up perfectly. They’re a great side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or anytime!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Servings 4
Calories 247 kcal

Equipment

  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Vegetable knife
  • Casserole dish (or similar dish that fits in your air fryer)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Pound sweet potatoes or yams (about 2 medium or 4 steamer-sized)
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp ginger
  • ½ Tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ¼ Cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter (salted)

Instructions
 

  • Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into about ¾” cubes (it doesn’t have to be exact). If using canned, drain the yams and cut them into chunks
    1 Pound sweet potatoes or yams
  • Place the potato pieces into a greased casserole dish (or similar) that fits in your air fryer
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon, ginger, and salt over the potatoes, then spread the sugar on top, and then finish with the butter (I usually cut it into cubes and spread it out evenly)
    1 Tsp cinnamon, ½ Tsp ginger, ½ Tsp salt, ¼ Cup dark brown sugar, 4 Tbsp butter (salted)
  • Place the dish into the air fryer and cook for 15-20 minutes at 360°F, or until the sweet potatoes are soft and pierce easily with a fork (if you are using canned potatoes, reduce the time to 10 minutes to start)
  • Serve warm with your favorite entree!

Notes

  • You can use fresh sweet potatoes or canned. If you are using canned, I recommend the variety packed in water (not syrup) or it will throw off the sweetness. A 40-ounce can is about right for this
  • All seasonings are adjustable to taste. Cinnamon is the most traditional, but I like the little bit of ginger. Other good options are nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice
  • You can use light brown sugar instead of dark – I just prefer the deeper flavor you get
  • If you want to add rum, use 1-2 Tbsp of dark or spiced rum. Note that not 100% of the alcohol is going to cook off this way, so don’t add it if you have kids!
  • You can alternatively thin slice your sweet potatoes (about ⅛” thick) and reduce the cooking time to 10-15 minutes. If you have a mandolin slicer, it will make it much easier!
  • I do not preheat my air fryer for this recipe. My candied yams were perfectly soft and cooked after 20 minutes total in a Ninja air fryer. However, your exact time will vary based on the size of your potato pieces, and your specific air fryer
  • Despite the sugar in this recipe, I do not find it to be overly sweet. If you like a really sweet candied yam, consider upping the sugar amount as desired, up to double (but it’s always easier to add than remove)!
  • Store leftover candied yams in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
  • To reheat, microwave for 30-60 seconds on high, or place back in an oven-safe dish in the air fryer and heat for 3-5 minutes at 325°F, or until warmed through
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand of ingredients, size of potatoes, any swaps or additions, and actual quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 141gCalories: 247kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 2gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7.3gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 445mgPotassium: 391mgFiber: 3.8gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 3001IUVitamin C: 2.7mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 0.8mg
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Katie Vine