If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious side dish for your Thanksgiving table, you’ll love this Candied Yams Recipe that is gluten-free, paleo, and vegan-friendly.

candied yams made paleo and gluten-free for thanksgiving

Difference Between Yams & Sweet Potatoes

First off, let’s get to the question we’re all wondering. What’s the difference between yams and sweet potatoes? They’re both root vegetable tubers, but they are, in fact, different vegetables.

99% of yams labeled as yams in the grocery store are actually just a different variety of sweet potato. A true yam is something you’ve likely never seen before, and are usually only carried at very specialty ethnic markets or abroad. People who have eaten both true yams and sweet potatoes report that sweet potatoes usually taste a lot better.

So, the bottom line is that you can use a sweet potato or a yam that is probably really a sweet potato for this recipe. I used the sweet potatoes labeled as yams, because this variety does tend to be softer and sweeter than the regular sweet potato.

Have I clarified this issue or just made it more confusing?

I’m not sure. 🙂

yams with skin on a white background

Candied Yam Recipe

Candied yams is a traditional autumnal and Thanksgiving side dish, and it’s one of my absolute favorite dishes. Please don’t buy canned candied yams, though. The canned version doesn’t even come close to homemade.

For my version that is paleo-friendly and gluten-free, I used grass-fed ghee for creaminess (vegans can use coconut butter) and coconut sugar for sweetness. I also used a pinch of cinnamon. With only four ingredients, this easy Candied Yam recipe is sheer perfection.

The easiest way to make this recipe is to use a pressure cooker. But, you can also make it in the oven. I’ve included instructions for both versions in the printable recipe below.

Recipe Steps

This is one of the easiest side dishes you’ll ever make. Here’s how!

  1. Peel and slice the yams.
  2. Add the sliced yams to the base of a pressure cooker.
  3. Add water and cook on high for eight minutes.
  4. Drain the water and add ghee, coconut sugar, and cinnamon.
  5. Stir and serve hot.

Here are some pictures of how I made these easy Paleo Candied Yams.

The first step is to wash, peel, and slice your yams.

peeled and sliced yams

After the cooking process, the yams are so soft that they become creamy on their own. Some ghee, coconut sugar, and cinnamon make them taste like real candied yams.

instant pot candied yams

Recipe Options

So, you might be wondering why I don’t call for marshmallows on top of my candied yams? The answer is that I don’t think this recipe needs marshmallows. It’s perfectly sweet with just a little bit of coconut sugar, and the marshmallows make it seem more like a dessert than a healthy side dish. That’s just my personal preference.

I am actually planning on making homemade marshmallows later this week, so stay tuned for that recipe. For now, I decided to top my easy and healthy Candied Yams with a dollop of coconut yogurt.

I also wanted to note that while I used grass-fed ghee for this recipe, you can feel free to use vegan butter or coconut butter if you are allergic to dairy. Most people who have dairy sensitivities don’t react to ghee, but please do what’s best for you.

Items Recommended:

instant pot yams topped with coconut yogurt

Other Easy & Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Have you downloaded my free Holiday Instant Pot e-book yet? Get it HERE when you join my e-mail list.

Don’t miss my other healthy Thanksgiving recipes, all gluten-free and dairy-free:

Here’s the printable recipe:

instant pot yams

Candied Yams Recipe (Gluten-Free & Paleo)

  • Author: Carrie Forrest, MPH in Nutrition
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious side dish for your Thanksgiving table, you’ll love this recipe for Instant Pot Yams. This recipe is gluten-free, paleo, and vegan-friendly.



  • 3 yams
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Coconut yogurt (optional, for topping)


  1. Peel and chop your yams into slices or cubes.
  2. Place the trivet in a 3-quart of 6-quart Instant Pot, along with 1 cup of water.
  3. Transfer the chopped yams into the pot. Lock on the lid and push the button for pressure cook.
  4. Set the time to 8 minutes on high pressure.
  5. Once the cooking time is finished, use the quick-release or natural release.
  6. Carefully remove the lid and add the ghee (or coconut butter), coconut sugar, and ground cinnamon.
  7. Use a spatula to stir together the ingredients. The yams should be very soft.
  8. Serve hot. Refrigerate any leftovers.


  1. Instructions for oven version
  2. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  3. Peel and slice the yams and place in a baking dish.
  4. Melt the ghee and pour over the yams. Sprinkle on the coconut sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the yams are soft.
  6. Serve hot, with a dollop of coconut yogurt on top (optional).
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: oven, instant pot
  • Cuisine: paleo, gluten-free, vegan, healthy

Keywords: instant pot yams, instant pot sweet potatoes, candied yams, yams, thanksgiving yams



If you like this post, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!