Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie

The “Godmother of Soul” shares her mother’s special recipe for a Southern-style (by way of Philadelphia) holiday treat the whole family will love.

Posted in , Oct 14, 2021

Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie; photo by Amy Roth

Favorite recipes that are passed on from generation to generation are to be treasured, indeed, so we're pleased that Grammy winner Patti LaBelle agreed to share this holiday dessert with our readers.


Pie Dough
1 ½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ c. chilled butter-flavored vegetable shortening
½ c. ice water, as needed
2 ½ lbs. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 5 medium, scrubbed
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 c. granulated sugar
½ c. evaporated milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
Whipped Cream
1 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Add the shortening. Using a pastry blender or two knives (drawing them apart in a crisscross pattern), cut shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-size bits.

2. Stirring with a fork, gradually add enough water for the mixture to clump together (you may not need all of the water). When you press the dough together, it should be moist and malleable, without cracking, so add a bit more water if need be. Gather up the dough and press it into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough is easiest to roll out if it is chilled but not hard. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. If the dough is chilled until it is very firm, let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften slightly before rolling it out.)

3. Unwrap the dough, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim excess dough to make a 1/2-inch overhang around the edge of the pan. Fold the dough over so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the edge of the dough. Pierce the bottom of the dough about a dozen times with a fork. Freeze dough for 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°. Line the inside of the pie crust with aluminum foil. Fill the foil with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

5. Bake until the exposed dough looks set and is beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil with the weights. Continue baking the pie crust until it looks dry on the bottom, about 10 minutes more. (If the pie crust puffs, pierce the crust with a fork.) Transfer to a wire cake rack.Makes 1 9-inch pie crust.

6. Meanwhile, make the filling. Pierce each sweet potato a few times with the tines of a fork. Place them, in a spoke pattern, on the turntable of a microwave oven. Cook on high (100%), turning over the sweet potatoes after 4 minutes, until they are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

7. If necessary, return the oven temperature to 375°. Using a kitchen towel to protect your hands, split each sweet potato, and use a spoon to scrape the flesh into a medium bowl. Mash the sweet potatoes; you should have about 2 cups. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat in the melted butter. Add the sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt, and beat on low speed just until the sugar is dissolved. Spread the fi lling evenly in the pie shell. Place the pie on a baking sheet.

8. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Continue baking until the filling is set and does not jiggle when the pie is gently shaken, about 30 minutes more. Transfer the pie to the wire rack, and let cool completely. (The pie can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.)

9. Whip the cream: Freeze a medium bowl until it is chilled, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Whip with an electric mixer on high speed until the cream forms soft peaks. (The cream can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. If it separates, whisk until thickened.) Serve each slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 630; Fat: 37g; Cholesterol: 115mg; Sodium: 340mg; Total Carbohydrates: 68g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugars: 28g; Protein: 9g.

Read Patti’s inspiring story from Joys of Christmas 2021!

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