If you love candied yams, then you’ve got to try this easy version. Instant Pot Candied Yams has classic flavors, but gets made in the pressure cooker. This healthy holiday recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian.

A white serving bowl with candied yams topped with marshmallows.

Candied yams are a classic Thanksgiving side dish, but they are often served out of a can and made with tons of sugar.

I’ve decided to make a healthier option using a combination of orange juice and maple syrup for sweetness, plus the option of adding some mini marshmallows if you want to make it look and taste even more like the “real thing.”

I think you’ll agree that this is a fantastic side dish that you can make for your holiday table. Best of all, you can use the Instant Pot to save room in your regular oven or stovetop.

Why You Need This Recipe

  • Candied yams is a traditional recipe for autumn and Thanksgiving, and it’s one of my absolute favorite dishes. This recipe is really easy to make, too! 
  • With only a few simple ingredients, this easy Candied Yam recipe is sheer perfection. You can make it in the pressure cooker for the ultimate in easy recipes, or you can cook it on the stovetop. Either way, you are in for a real treat with this recipe. 
  • It’s sweetened with orange juice and maple syrup, with the option to add marshmallows on top.

Key Ingredients

Ingredients to make Instant Pot candied yams in small bowls on a white surface.

You can actually use sweet potatoes or fresh yams in this recipe. It is unlikely that you will fine actual true yams at the store. Most of what are labeled as yams are actually sweet potatoes. So, in a sense, this recipe is actually for Instant Pot Candied Sweet Potatoes.

Maple syrup and orange juice offer sweetness paired with acidity to “candy” the yams or potatoes without being overwhelmingly sweet.

Ginger and cinnamon offer warm feelings of the season.

Mini marshmallows add another touch of whimsy and tradition. They are optional but definitely make for a fun side dish!

Recipe Steps

This is one of the easiest side dishes you’ll ever make. Let me show you how.

Step One

Peel and slice the yams or sweet potatoes. You can either slice them or cut them into chunks. You’ll also need to juice several oranges to get about one cup of freshly-squeezed orange juice.

As always, please do see the recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredients and measurements.

Diced yams in the insert of an Instant Pot.

Step Two

Combine the chopped yams or sweet potatoes, orange juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a 6-quart Instant Pot.

Stir gently to combine.

Step Three

Lock on the lid and set the time to 6 minutes at high pressure. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure come down naturally for about 5 minutes.

Diced yams in the insert of an Instant Pot.

Step Four

Use the quick release and carefully remove the lid. Add the butter and stir gently to combine. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked yams to a serving dish like a casserole dish.

You can serve this recipe directly out of the pot, or you can let it cook for 10-15 minutes and serve it warm. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe as part of your holiday meal this year.

A white bowl with spoon filled with Instant Pot candied yams.

Recipe Tips & Substitutions

  • The nutritional information for this recipe does not include any marshmallows.
  • The total cooking time includes approximately 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure. The total time also includes 5 minutes of natural pressure release.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.
  • If you want your yams to be chunkier, you can reduce the cook time to 3 minutes with a 5-minute natural release.
A white serving bowl with candied yams topped with marshmallows.

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?


While yams and sweet potatoes are both root vegetable tubers, 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.

Can I use brown sugar in this recipe?

Yes, but you’ll need to increase the orange juice to 1 1/4 cups to help bring up the liquid content and make sure the pot can come to pressure. The same goes if you want to use white sugar, coconut sugar, or any other dry (as opposed to liquid) sweetener.

Do I need to add a cup of water to the Instant Pot?

Not for this recipe because the orange juice and maple syrup add enough liquid to bring the pot to pressure.

Can I make this yams recipe in the slow cooker?

Yes, but using the Instant Pot means it will be done in a fraction of the time.

More Easy & Healthy Instant Pot Side Dishes

Or, check out my round-up of the best Instant Pot Side Dishes.

I hope you make this recipe! If you do, please leave a comment and a starred review below.

And, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!

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A white serving bowl with candied yams topped with marshmallows.

Instant Pot Candied Yams

If you love candied yams, then you’ve got to try this easy version. Instant Pot Candied Yams has classic flavors, but gets made in the pressure cooker. This healthy holiday recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian.

  • Total Time: 38 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 5 medium-sized yams or sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and chopped into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee (you can use vegan butter or coconut oil for a dairy-free option)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows (optional, for topping)

Instructions

  1. In the base of a 6-quart Instant Pot pressure cooker, combine the chopped yams or sweet potatoes, orange juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Stir gently to combine.
  2. Lock on the lid and set the time to 6 minutes at high pressure.
  3. When the cook time is complete, let the pressure come down naturally for 5 minutes. Then, use the quick release to get rid of any remaining pressure.
  4. Carefully remove the lid. Add the butter and stir gently to combine. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked yams to a serving dish.
  5. Top the yams with the mini marshmallows (if using), and serve hot.

Notes

  1. The nutritional information for this recipe does not include any marshmallows.
  2. The total cooking time includes approximately 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure. The total time also includes 5 minutes of natural pressure release.
  3. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving.
  4. If you want your yams to be chunkier, you can reduce the cook time to 3 minutes with a 5-minute natural release.

Keywords: instant pot yams, candied yams, thanksgiving yams

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