This Sweet Potato Pie has a crisp vanilla cookie–almond crust and a rich filling made with fresh sweet potatoes and sour cream. A perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving or holiday dessert.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This sweet potato pie hits all the right notes: the filling is rich and sweet, the crust is crispy and no-bake, and you can make it the day ahead of time for those planning a Thanksgiving feast!
We’ve been making no-bake desserts in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker like this pie for years. We had to make one for the holiday season, we decided to try something new with this sweet potato pie. It’s more lightly spiced than a traditional pumpkin, but they’re definitely close cousins.
What you’ll need to make Homemade Sweet Potato Pie
Here’s what you need to make the crust and filling of homemade sweet potato pie in an Instant Pot:
For the Crust
- Nilla Wafers. You’ll need about 26 crackers for this pie.
- Almonds. Choose raw, unsalted almonds for the crust to add extra crunch and a tasty nutty flavor.
- Butter. We use unsalted butter.
For the Pie Filling
- Sweet potato purée. You can make this with fresh or frozen sweet potatoes.
- Vanilla. Look for a high-quality vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract.
- Brown sugar. This recipe uses dark brown sugar, not light, for a more molasses-y flavor.
- Spices. The sweet potato pie gets its signature flavor from cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. We preferred ours lightly spice.
- Egg. This is how you achieve the custardy texture.
- Evaporated milk. This comes in a can and adds body and sweetness to the pie. (Don’t substitute sweetened condensed milk!)
- Sour cream. For best results, use regular (not light) sour cream and let it come to room temperature.
What’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
It’s easy to think that yams and sweet potatoes are the same product, but they’re actually quite different. Traditional “yams” grow in hot, tropical climates, not in North America. They also have skin that’s thinner, brown, and more flaky. Sweet potatoes are also, well, sweeter than yams.
(Some of the confusion appears to date back to when orange sweet potatoes were introduced to North America and they needed a way to differentiate the firmer white-fleshed variety from the softer orange sweet potatoes.)
For this recipe, avoid the white-fleshed sweet potatoes and pick the most orange potatoes you can find (these are likely to be called garnet or jewel yams at the grocery store).
How to Make Sweet Potato Pie in an Instant Pot
Before you start making the filling or crust for your Instant Pot sweet potato pie, you’ll need to make sweet potato puree. To do so, cut 1 pound of sweet potatoes into quarters the long way, then cut the quarters into ½-inch pieces.
Cook them in a steamer basket on high pressure with 1 cup of water in the pressure cooking pot for 10 minutes. Release the pressure with a quick pressure release, then remove the sweet potatoes and let them drain over the sink. When most of the liquid has drained out, puree the sweet potatoes with an immersion blender or mini food processor until they’re smooth.
Now you’re ready to move on to making your pie crust. Start by greasing a 7-inch springform pan on the bottom and sides with cooking spray.
Then combine the crushed Nilla wafers, almonds, and melted butter for your crust. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and an inch up the sides of the prepared pan and freeze for 10 minutes.
For the filling, combine the puree, vanilla, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Then in a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the evaporated milk and sour cream. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and whisk just until everything is uniform.
After 10 minutes, take your crust out of the freezer and pour the filling on top. Cover the top of the springform pan with a paper towel (don’t let the towel touch the custard), then tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Add a cup of water to the pressure cooking pot, along with a trivet. Use a sling to carefully lower the filled pan onto the trivet. Cook the pie on high pressure for 40 minutes.
When the cooking time ends, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid and peel back the aluminum foil on the pie pan.
To check that your sweet potato pie is cooked, gently shake the pan. It should jiggle slightly in the very center. You can also test with a thermometer, which will register 165°F when the pie is done. If it still needs more time, cook on high pressure for five more minutes.
When the pie is cooked, remove the pan from the pressure cooking pot using the sling. Let the pie cool on a wire rack until it begins to pull away from the edges of the pan. Then run an offset spatula around the rim of the interior of the pan and remove the springform ring. Continue to let the pie cool to room temperature, then cover it with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least four hours and up to overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, slice your pie up and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!
Important Tips for Making Instant Pot Sweet Potato Pie
- Be sure to let the crust freeze for at least 10 minutes before you add the filling on top. Otherwise, the melted butter may leak out during cooking.
- Avoid overmixing the filling. We recommend using just a hand whisk, not an electric mixer, to avoid adding too much air to the custard. This can cause cracks and air bubbles on the surface of your pie.
- You can substitute Nilla wafers with Golden Oreos or another vanilla flavored cookie.
- Adding a piece of paper towel under the tin foil covering helps absorb excess liquid during cooking. This keeps the top of your pie nice and dry.
- Adding sour cream to the pie filling is a trick we picked up from America’s Test Kitchen. It creates a super creamy pie with a touch of tangy flavor.
- It’s important not to overbake your sweet potato pie, which can cause cracks on the surface. At our altitude, it was not quite done at 35 minutes; however, if you’re cooking at sea level it might be. Only add more time if it’s very soft in the center. The pie is done when it measures 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- We tested this recipe at our elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level. If you’re at 6,000 feet or more, you may need to add a few more minutes to the cooking time.
- Pick the brightest orange sweet potatoes you can find for the sweetest-tasting pie.
These are our favorite items to use when making pies, cheesecakes, and other desserts in an Instant Pot:
- You’ll need a trivet to hold the pie above the water in the pot. Your Instant Pot may have come with a trivet. If not, we like this one.
- You’ll use a sling to lower the pie onto the trivet and remove it after cooking. You can also make your own with aluminum foil.
- This pie is made in a 7-inch springform pan, which is the right size to fit into a 6-quart Instant Pot.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sweet Potato Pie
We like to top slices of pie with fluffy whipped cream. Vanilla ice cream would also be delicious!
Yes, this is one of the best holiday dessert recipes for planning ahead. In fact, you’ll need to chill the pie for at least four hours (and overnight is best) before you slice it. Just be sure to keep the pie in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Both pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie are custard pies. However, pumpkin pie is generally more heavily spiced with pumpkin pie spice (which contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and all spice).
Sweet potato pie, in contrast, generally takes a lighter hand with the spices to allow the fresh sweet potato flavor to come through. Vanilla is also a more prominent flavor in this pie, so make sure to use a good quality vanilla.
Yes, you can follow this recipe as written to make a sweet potato pie in a larger Instant Pot. We haven’t tested it, but it would follow many of the same principles in our How to Make an 8-inch Cheesecake post.
MORE Instant Pot Dessert Recipes
Try these other sweet treats made in a pressure cooker:
- Delicious Instant Pot Key Lime Pie has a fluffy filling made with plenty of fresh lime juice and a sweet graham cracker crust.
- Chocolate Cake for Two is a perfectly-portioned dense and rich chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for Valentine’s Day or any occasion.
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- 1 to 3 orange/red sweet potatoes (often sold as “yams” at the grocery store).
- 2/3 cup crushed Nilla Wafers, about 26 wafers (of the regular size of Nilla Wafers box)
- 1/4 cup unsalted diced almonds, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree*
- 2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 large egg, room temperature and beaten
- 1/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
- Whipped cream, optional, for serving
Sweet Potato Puree
- Peel the sweet potatoes. Slice in half longways, then slice each half longways again so each sweet potato is in four long strips. Then cut each strip into half-inch slices.
- Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pressure cooking pot. Place the sliced sweet potatoes into a steamer basket, and carefully lower the basket into the cooking pot. Be sure the handles of the steamer do not interfere with the lid closing.
- Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 10 minutes cook time. When the cook time ends, use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid and remove the cooked sweet potatoes from the cooking pot. Allow the potatoes to drain completely.
- Use a blender, immersion blender, or small food processor to puree the cooked sweet potatoes until smooth.
Sweet Potato Pie
- Spray a 7-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, diced almonds, and butter until well combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and about an inch up the side of the prepared pan. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato puree, vanilla, dark brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. (I like to combine the dark brown sugar and all the dry spices in a bowl to break up any lumps in the brown sugar and to ensure the spices are evenly distributed.) In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, evaporated milk, and sour cream. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until mixed. (Don’t over mix; I just use a hand whisk for all of this.)
- Remove the crust from the freezer. Pour the custard into the prepared crust. Cover the pan with a thin paper towel and cover with aluminum foil crimped tightly around the edges. (Take care to make sure the towel doesn’t sag down into the pot, and place the shiny side up and away from the contents of the pot.)
- Pour 1 cup of water into the pressure cooking pot, and place a tall trivet in the bottom. Carefully center the filled pan on a sling and lower it onto the trivet. Fold the sling down so that it doesn't interfere with closing the lid.
- Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 40 minutes cook time.
- When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops carefully remove the lid. Remove the aluminum foil and check the pie for doneness (the center should jiggle slightly and about 165F). If not, return the foil and the lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the springform pan to a wire rack to cool. When the pie begins to pull away from the edges of the springform pan, carefully run a thin offset spatula around the rim of the sweet potato pie and loosen the springform (doing this before completely cool will help prevent the pie from cracking; you don’t have to remove it). Once cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
- Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 4gSugar: 26gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.
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