Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Last Updated on September 11, 2021 by Chenée Lewis

This brown butter sweet potato pie recipe is the very first recipe I posted on Chenée Today! It’s an old fashioned sweet potato pie recipe with the added richness of brown butter, along with the “black-bottom” technique of Patti LaBelle’s famous pie. The only soul food Thanksgiving pie you need! If you like this browned butter sweet potato pie, you should try some of my other brown butter goodies like my Pineapple Bars with Cheesecake Filling and Brown Butter Coconut Icing, my Butter Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, or my Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter and Sea Salt!

Overhead shot of brown butter sweet potato pie with a slice cut out and whipped cream on the side
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

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Southern Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Anyone who has had my baking will tell you I LOVE to bake with brown butter. In fact I almost called this the Brown Butter Blog, and my plan was to make it all brown butter, all the time! I eventually realized that there is, in fact, more to life than brown butter, but like… is there? It makes everything better in a deliciously subtle way. And my favorite thing about it is how it can take a dish from delicious to unbelievable. Case in point: brown butter sweet potato pie. This is one of the recipes where brown butter truly shines. It makes SUCH a difference in the flavor.

Sweet potato pie is the only dessert I HAVE to have at Thanksgiving. My Grandma made the best sweet potato pie, and nothing will come close, but this is my attempt. This recipe is inspired by the famous Patti Labelle sweet potato pie recipe. I love the “black-bottom” technique that makes Patti Pies” so famous, and when you combine that with brown butter you get the best sweet potato pie recipe ever!

Close up of a slice of brown butter sweet potato pie
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients

  • pie crusts – you can use either a store-bought crust or homemade. I use a double batch of my easy all-butter pie crust recipe!
  • cubed salted butter – for the brown butter that we’ll add into our filling!
  • melted salted butter – for the black-bottom crust!
  • sweet potatoes – very important! I use 3 pounds of sweet potatoes for this two-pie recipe, which ends up being about 3 large sweet potatoes.
  • dark brown sugar – for the filling AND for the brown sugar black-bottom crust!
  • granulated sugar – adds sweetness to the filling.
  • evaporated milk – gives the pies that custardy texture.
  • pure vanilla extract – very necessary for the flavor of these pies! Be sure to use the good stuff. I like this one.
  • cinnamon and nutmeg – these spices give the pie it’s classic autumn flavors and complement the brown butter and vanilla flavors so well. Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking,
  • lemon juice – adds enough tartness to cut the sweetness and perk up the flavor of this pie.
  • all-purpose flour – just enough to help bring the filling together.
  • room temperature eggs – helps with the richness and the structure of our pies.

Equipment

This brown butter sweet potato pie is easiest when you have the right tools! To start with, you definitely will need pie pans, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, and mixing bowls. You’ll also need a hand blender, hand mixer, or food processor to purée your sweet potatoes so that they’re nice and smooth, a baking sheet to bake your sweet potatoes — here’s the one I use, and a light-colored sauté pan to brown your butter.

How to Make Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie, Step by Step

This sweet potato pie recipe has a a few important steps– nothing too intense, but it’s important to not skip any. I would recommend gathering your ingredients a few days in advance, and taking your time with each step. Steps 1-3 can be done a day or two ahead of time, so you won’t be stuck doing everything on the same day! Ok, here are the steps to make the best brown butter sweet potato pie!

Step 1: Get your pie crusts ready

The key to the black-bottom technique is to blind bake the pie crust with butter and brown sugar. Blind baking is a technique of pre-baking a pie crust to ensure a fully cooked crust, and in this case it also gives us a nice brown sugar layer on the bottom of our pies! The best way to ensure that the crust doesn’t shrink during blind baking is to chill the crust in the pan for at least an hour before your blind bake. I like to put mine in the freezer to be extra safe.

If you’re using a store-bought pie crust that comes in its own pan, you’re one step ahead. Just keep them in the fridge until you’re ready for the blind bake!

For this technique, we’ll just brush the chilled pie crust with butter and sprinkle it with brown sugar. Then pop it in the oven for 15 minutes!

When you remove the pie from the oven, it may have shrunk a bit, but it should still have kept its shape. If necessary, carefully press the pie back into place with a spoon.

Closeup of brown butter sweet potato pie
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Step 2: Brown your butter

This is a step that is a bit daunting at first, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll feel like you have a baking superpower! It’s definitely a cheat code to make baked goods (and savory dishes) absolutely amazing!

I have a full post on how to brown butter where I go into detail and share images of the process — if you’re new to browning butter, I’d recommend checking it out before you make this brown butter sweet potato pie!

To brown the butter, we’ll just place the cubed butter in a light-colored saucepan and cook it on medium heat until it’s bubbly and the milk solids are starting to separate. That means it’s almost ready. Once the butter smells nutty and fragrant (you’ll be able to tell, trust me — it smells amazing) and it’s starting to look golden brown, scrape it into a heat-safe container to cool.

Step 3: Bake your sweet potatoes

This is one of my favorite variations for sweet potato pie! I’ve had a lot of great pies made with boiled sweet potatoes, but baking them brings out the natural sweetness so much! It’s a game changer.

To do this, you’ll just prick them with a fork and bake them on a foil-lined pan until they’re nice and soft.

Step 4: Prepare your filling, and bake!

I love it when a plan comes together! This is the moment when the prep work pays off. You’ll first want to scoop out the flesh of your cooled potatoes, and purée them — I like to use a hand blender. Then you’ll mix in the cooled brown butter and the rest of your filling ingredients.

Finally you’ll pour it all into your pie pans, and bake! When pouring into your pie pans, make sure not to overfill. You might have some sweet potato pie filling left over, especially if you use a standard size pie pan or if your pie crust shrunk during blind baking, so just discard it or make it into little mini pies. But don’t overfill because your pie will rise a bit during baking and you don’t want it to overflow!

Tips and F.A.Q. for this browned butter sweet potato pie

Keep in mind: This recipe makes TWO pies!

Be sure to prepare two pie crusts, or just halve the recipe to make less filling for one pie.

How long will a sweet potato pie last in the refrigerator?

Your browned butter sweet potato pie will last for about 4 days, well-wrapped, in the fridge. If you freeze it, it’ll stay fresh for about a month.

How do I keep my pie crust edges from burning?

Use a pie shield if necessary: If your pie crust edges start to brown too quickly in the oven, top them with a pie crust shield. I like this type of shield, because the silicone is easy to work with and the size is adjustable! If you don’t have a pie crust shield, you can use strips of aluminum foil.

Why is my sweet potato pie runny?

You may have added a bit too much liquid in the mixing stage — I would suggest adding an extra tablespoon of flour to help it solidify a bit more. If it’s runny after baking, your pie may need a bit longer in the oven to set.

Overhead shot of brown butter sweet potato pie with a slice cut out and whipped cream on the side
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

How do I keep my pie crust from shrinking?

As you’ll see in the recipe card below, we’re not using pie weights to blind bake the pie crust. So there’s a risk of shrinking, which but I’ve made this pie so many times that you can benefit from all my mistakes! Here are a few dos and don’ts for this black-bottom technique! If it still shrinks a bit, it’s not a big deal, but hopefully these tips will help minimize shrinking!

  • Don’t use a glass pie pan. Normally I love glass because it cooks evenly and you can literally see that your pie crust is baked through, but in this case, glass is too slippery and makes your dough more likely to shrink down during the blind bake. I recommend a standard metal pan that’s 9 in. x 1½ in. (not deep dish). I haven’t tried this sweet potato pie recipe with a ceramic pan, but I don’t think it would be safe to transfer a ceramic pie pan from the freezer to the preheated oven (see the chilling step below), but if you have used ceramic for this recipe let us know in the comments below!
  • Don’t stretch your pie dough to fit the pan. Stretching the dough while you place it in the pan will cause it to stretch back once it’s in the oven blind-baking. So if you’re using a homemade crust, be sure to roll the crust dough out to a full 13-inch circle so that you won’t need to stretch it while placing it in the pan.
  • Do chill your pie crusts: Whether you use homemade pie dough or store-bought roll-up crusts, you’ll need to chill the crusts for at least an hour after it’s been pressed into the pan. I just put mine in the freezer during this time to be sure. This is an important step to keep the pie crust from shrinking while you’re baking the brown sugar layer into the crust. If by chance your crust still shrinks, when it first comes out of the oven it’s still pliable enough to smush it back up the sides of the pie pan with the back of a spoon — it’s a little wonky, but I’ve had to do that in a pinch.

Make ahead: Sweet potato pie definitely does not need to be served warm or anything, so feel free to complete this brown butter sweet potato pie a day or two in advance, according to your schedule. It also freezes very well! I always make holiday pies several days, if not weeks in advance and then freeze them, and they turn out great! Just wrap them very well with plastic wrap and foil to freeze. Then, a day or two before you plan to serve it, allow the pie to thaw in the refrigerator, still wrapped. To serve them, let them sit on the counter and then come to room temperature, still wrapped.

How do I know when my sweet potato pie is done?

When the edges of your pie is set, but it still jiggles a bit in the center, then it’s done! You should take it out while it’s still a bit jiggly so that the center sets with a perfect custardy texture and doesn’t crack.

More Delicious Holiday Recipes

Overhead shot of brown butter sweet potato pie with a slice cut out and whipped cream on the side

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

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A southern brown butter sweet potato pie recipe with the richness of brown butter, brown sugar, and evaporated milk, along with the "black-bottom" technique of Patti LaBelle's famous pie. This browned butter sweet potato pie is the only soul food Thanksgiving pie you need!
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine :American, Soul Food
Servings: 16 slices
Calories: 374kcal
Recipe Source: Chenée Lewis

Ingredients

Black Bottom Crusts

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Filling

Instructions

Prepare Pie Crusts

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • If using a homemade or roll-up pie crust, roll pie crust into pan and crimp sides, and let chill in fridge or freezer at least 1 hour (this is important — see note**)
    2 pie crusts
  • Brush 2 tbsp melted butter in each pie crust. Sprinkle ¼ cup of dark brown sugar into each crust and bake for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
    4 tbsp salted butter, ⅔ cup dark brown sugar

Prepare Sweet Potatoes

  • Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
  • Pierce sweet potatoes repeatedly with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake sweet potatoes for 60-70 minutes, or until very tender. Let cool to room temperature.
    3 lbs sweet potatoes

Prepare Brown Butter

  • Add the cubed butter to a light-colored sauté pan over medium heat. Heat, whisking constantly.
    1¼ cup salted butter
  • Remove from heat once it starts to smell nutty and turn golden brown.
  • Pour your browned butter into a heatproof container, scraping the pan to get all the brown bits, and set aside to cool.

Prepare Filling

  • Decrease oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Scoop the flesh of your cooled sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl and puree until smooth using your preferred mixing tool (see note*)
  • Mix in the cooled brown butter, followed by the brown sugar, white sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, juice, and flour until well combined.
    1 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup evaporated milk, 4 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1½ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, 3 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Taste the mixture to ensure that the flavors are to your preference, and then whisk in your eggs until smooth.
    3 large eggs
  • Pour filling evenly into your prepared pie crusts and smooth out the tops. Don’t overfill — pies will rise a bit in the oven!
  • Bake on middle rack in preheated oven for about an hour, or until center of pies jiggle only slightly. Begin checking after 50 minutes.
  • Remove pies from oven and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

Notes

*Hand blender: I recommend using a hand blender like this one to purée your sweet potatoes.  It makes it so easy, and eliminates the need for adding any water or milk to get it creamy and smooth. Otherwise I’d opt for a hand mixer like this one. I haven’t tried this recipe using a potato masher or stand mixer, but let me know in the comments if you have success with either of those! 
**A note on pie crusts: I grew up eating sweet potato pies with store-bought crusts and I love them just as much! I usually use a double batch of my Easy All-Butter Pie Crust for this recipe, but store-bought crusts can be a great option, especially to save time!
Whether you use a homemade crust or a store-bought roll-up crust, you’ll need to chill the crust for at least an hour after it’s been pressed into the pan. This is an important step to keep the pie crust from shrinking while you’re baking the brown sugar layer into the crust. If by chance your crust still shrinks, when it first comes out of the oven it may still be pliable enough to smush it back up the sides of the pie pan with the back of a spoon — it’s a little wonky, but I’ve had to do that in a pinch.
Type of pie pan: I prefer to use a regular size (9 in x 1.5 in; not deep dish) metal pan  for this recipe.  Using a metal pan minimizes shrinking and eliminates any risk from moving the pie directly from the freezer to the hot oven.  I’ve tried this recipe with a glass pan, and although I didn’t have an issue with the change in temperature from the freezer to the hot oven, the crust did shrink more during the blind bake. I haven’t tried it with a ceramic pie pan, so I can’t say for sure, but I would worry about the safety of an extreme temperature change.
***Adding eggs: It’s a good idea to wait to add in your eggs until you’ve added all your other filling ingredients, and tasted the filling to make sure that it has the flavor you want.  That way if you need more of something you can add it before the eggs.
Make ahead/freezing: These pies freeze very well!  Once they’re fully cooled, just wrap them well in plastic wrap, and then in foil to freeze. Pies can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature or in refrigerator, keeping pies wrapped until thawed.
Browning Butter: For more details and images on the process of browning butter, check out my How to Brown Butter post.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1 piece | Calories: 374 kcal | Carbohydrates: 69 g | Protein: 4 g | Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Cholesterol: 12 mg | Sodium: 134 mg | Potassium: 142 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 36 g | Calcium: 69 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Tags: black folks sweet potato pie recipe, brown butter, brown butter sweet potato pie, brown sugar sweet potato pie, grandma old fashioned sweet potato pie, old fashioned southern sweet potato pie, old fashioned sweet potato pie, pie, pie sweet potato, recipe for southern sweet potato pie, soul food sweet potato pie recipe, southern style sweet potato pie, southern sweet potato pie, southern sweet potato pie recipes, sweet potato pie, sweet potato pie recipe, sweet potato pie recipe soul food, sweet potato pie recipe southern, sweet potato pie southern
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18 thoughts on “Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie”

  • 5 stars
    So, this year, someone suggested I try Patti‘s sweet potato pie recipe. I found myself on Thanksgiving Day (ever prepared in advance) scrambling to find “THE” recipe, only to realize there were 50 different iterations. For some reason, I stumbled on this website, drawn to your technique and modifications, and also thrilled to see there was a link to a pie crust recipe as well, and decided to use this one. I am so glad I did. First of all, in my hurry, I did not read carefully that this makes two pies. I guess I can see it being really popular at large thanksgivings, but would really have preferred recipe recipe for one pie. Anyway, I plowed ahead. I also had only roasted about 3 1/2 pounds of potatoes, so I eyeball adjusted some of the ingredients downward slightly to accommodate for my slight shortfall in the sweet potatoes. Nevertheless, I have 3/4 of a pie filling sitting in my fridge still. That’s because I also didn’t read the pie crust, didn’t have enough time to chill the dough, and ended up with some serious shrinkage so I couldn’t put half the filling into what remained. I carried on, however, thinking all along that it was going to be a disaster. And yet, it was literally the most amazing pie I’ve ever had. I’m normally a pumpkin pie fan, but hubby won’t touch it, hence why I tried sweet potato this year. It was super creamy using only a handheld mixer, sweet, but not overly so, and so rich and delicious. The crust ended up with a delightful crispiness that I attribute to the brown sugar topping, as I’ve never tasted something like that before (it could also be it was messed up beyond recognition because of my ineptitude and shortcuts—it wasn’t much to look at, but tasted super delicious). Before I added the raw eggs, my five-year-old was eating the filling with a spoon. My eight-year-old asked to have this for breakfast today, and I thought, “Why not? It’s technically a vegetable!“ I can’t wait to tinker with the pie dough again and use up the rest of the filling I have in the fridge. I am seriously so excited that fate brought me to your website, and I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

    One thing I wanted to point out is that the instructions for this recipe referred to adding cloves. There are no cloves listed in the ingredients list, and so I did not include any in my pie. I know the flavor can be overwhelming, and I was afraid of messing it up by putting in too much. Just pointing this out in case you want to adjust the recipe or the instructipms, but also to say the pie was absolutely amazing even without!

    • Thank you so much! I’m honored that my pie made it to your Thanksgiving table, and I truly appreciate the feedback! I think you’re right about a one-pie recipe being more preferable, so I plan to adjust the post to work for just one pie (and thanks for the heads up about the cloves! I’ll fix that too). Thanks again and I’m so glad you and your kiddos loved it!

  • 5 stars
    This will be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. I always adore sweet potato pie, and I bet the addition of brown butter will be super delicious.

  • This looks and sounds completely amazing! I’ve only had one Sweet Potato Pie in my life, and that is the kind you get at the grocery store around Thanksgiving. I have a feeling that this would put that one to shame. I’ll definitely have to make your Brown Butter version of Sweet Potato Pie. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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