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Spicy Maple Sweet Potatoes With Cinnamon Pepitas (aka The Ultimate Thanksgiving Side)

November 23, 2022
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Spicy Sweet Potatoes
Image by Tara Teaspoon / Delicious Gatherings

These spiced, glazed sweet potatoes are perfect for a fall gathering or Thanksgiving dinner and can be prepped ahead of time and reheated.

For this stovetop side dish, any type of sweet potato or yam will work, as would butternut or Hubbard squash. I added some spice and heat to the maple butter to bring in a bit of sophistication. Then I skipped toasty marshmallows as the sweet-potato topping and added crunchy, candied pepitas instead. If you don't have pepitas, you can sub another nut to the spicy, candied topping. This side dish is glorious!

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Spicy Maple Sweet Potatoes With Cinnamon Pepitas

Serves 6 to 8



  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

Sweet potatoes:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2½ pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • ¼ cup finely diced shallot or red onion
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. For pepitas: Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan or skillet, combine maple syrup, cinnamon, and cayenne over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and add pepitas. Boil, stirring constantly until maple syrup is almost gone and mixture is thick and getting darker in color, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and pour glazed pepitas on prepared baking sheet. Working quickly, spread the seeds out in a single layer using a spatula or forks. Let cool completely, then break or chop into small clusters.
  4. For sweet potatoes: Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  5. In a large nonstick skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, shallot, and salt, and stir to coat with oil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook sweet potatoes, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add broth and cover skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and let sweet potatoes cook until tender but not falling apart, 12 to 14 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and add spices and maple syrup. Gently stir to allow syrup to bubble and glaze potatoes for 1 minute. Add butter and stir to coat. Remove from heat.
  8. Serve sweet potatoes while they are still warm, topped with candied pepitas.

Tara's tip:

To prep ahead, make the pepitas and keep in an airtight container. Peel, cut, and cook the sweet potatoes through Step 6. Cool and store cooked potatoes in the fridge for up to 2 days. When ready to serve, heat potatoes in a covered nonstick skillet until warmed through, then continue with Step 7.

Excerpted from Delicious Gatherings: Recipes To Celebrate Together (September 6, 2022) by Tara Teaspoon with permission from the publisher.

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Tara Bench
Tara Bench
Food Stylist & Blogger

Tara Bench, AKA Tara Teaspoon, has spent more than twenty years in the food publishing industry creating recipes and articles, and food styling for various magazines, books, television, and advertising. Her first cookbook was Live Life Deliciously and her latest book, Delicious Gatherings, was published in fall 2022.

Most recently she has been the food and entertaining director of Ladies’ Home Journal magazine. Prior to working at the Journal, Tara was a food editor at Martha Stewart Living, Kids, and Weddings magazines. She has appeared on the Martha Stewart television show, The Today Show, and on The Food Network as a show judge and contestant.