Throughout my entire childhood, my family prepared the exact same Thanksgiving feast almost every year. The adults gathered in the kitchen bright and early, and they started pulling out mixing bowls and ingredients while my younger brother and I plopped in front of the TV, alternating between watching the Macy’s parade and running into the kitchen to try to help.
By early afternoon, the nice dishes and silverware sat on our fancy dining room table, and cozy aromas permeated throughout the house. Roasted turkey and mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and Great Grandma’s cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole with green apples and toasted marshmallows, Dad’s homemade whole wheat bread rolls… Plus pumpkin and pecan pies cooling on the counter, everything completely made from scratch.
Although my brother and I started out as picky eaters (I stuck with Dad’s rolls and a big pile of mashed potatoes topped with a generous pat of butter and showering of salt — nothing else!), we eventually grew adventurous enough over the years to try the turkey… Then the sweet potato casserole (its toasted marshmallow topping really helped!)… Then the pies… And finally the green beans and special cranberry sauce.
Since the same recipes appeared on Thanksgiving year after year, I assumed everyone across the country cooked those recipes for their feasts as well. Until…
I joined marching band in high school.
Our last marching band competition fell on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the first official day of our week-long fall break, so the parent chaperones organized a special Thanksgiving-themed dinner for us. As we slowly walked through the buffet line to fill our plates, I spotted many of the same savory foods that appeared on our family’s Thanksgiving table…
Yet when I reached the dessert station, the band moms offered me a choice of pumpkin pie or… apple pie. Not pecan!
Confused, I took a moment to collect my thoughts before mumbling, “Pumpkin, please!” As I headed to find a seat, I curiously asked my friends what pies they are on Thanksgiving, fully expecting them to respond with pumpkin and pecan and nothing else…
But many of them chimed in with other flavors. “Apple! Buttermilk! Chocolate! Coconut cream! Sweet potato!”
Although I had heard of the rest of the flavors, just not for Thanksgiving, the last one made me pause. Sweet potato? I thought to myself. I thought sweet potatoes were just for savory recipes… like our Thanksgiving casseroles!
Apparently I was completely wrong!
To this day, my family still sticks with pumpkin and pecan pies on Thanksgiving… Yet they’re open to other desserts, as long as those sweets are in addition to their favorite pies — not instead of! So I’ve been working on a new dessert recipe for this Thanksgiving, and I’ve finally perfected it…
This Ultimate Healthy Sweet Potato Pie! The filling is deliciously smooth and creamy, perfectly sweet, and bursting with spices and rich sweet potato flavor. Throw in a homemade flaky pie crust and dollops of luxurious whipped cream… And you’ve got the best ever healthy sweet potato pie!
Unlike traditional recipes that call for ample amounts of butter and refined sugar in the sweet potato filling, this recipe contains neither. Each sweet slice is also 127 calories — including that flaky crust!
WHAT IS SWEET POTATO PIE?
What is sweet potato pie, might you ask? If you’re as confused as I was back when I very first heard of it… Don’t worry! It’s not savory, even though I used to consider sweet potatoes a savory side before that particular marching band feast.
Instead, sweet potato pie is really similar to pumpkin pie! It has many of the same spices (so it tastes like pumpkin pie’s cousin!), along with lots of added sweetener, eggs, and milk. Traditional recipes often include melted butter in the filling as well. Then that filling is placed inside of a regular butter- or shortening-laden pie crust to bake!
However… You know me. I love traditional flavors, but I always want to put a healthier spin on those recipes! So…
HOW TO MAKE THE ULTIMATE HEALTHY SWEET POTATO PIE
Let’s go over how to make this ultimate healthy sweet potato pie! I learned a lot about how to make the perfect healthy sweet potato pie during my recipe testing process, so I have lots of nerdy tips and tricks to share with you!
Starting with… The healthy homemade pie crust!
Nerd Alert #1: The Best Flour for Healthy Pie Crusts
Although I grew on all-purpose flour in all of our homemade Thanksgiving pie crusts, I wanted a healthier alternative for this ultimate sweet potato pie! Regular whole wheat flour can sometimes be a bit heavy in pie crusts, so I turned to white whole wheat flour instead.
No, it’s not a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular whole wheat flour! White whole wheat flour is made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat (hence the name!), whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. They both have the same health benefits (like extra fiber and micronutrients!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture.
In other words… That lighter taste and texture is perfect for this flaky pie crust!
Hint: The difference between white whole wheat flour and regular whole wheat flour is similar to the difference between red and green grapes. Same health benefits — just slightly different flavors!
Tip: Whole wheat pastry flour is another fantastic option! It’s also made from white wheat, just like white whole wheat flour. I often interchange the two in my healthy homemade pie crusts!
Nerd Alert #2: Cold Butter
Although one of my grandmas swore that shortening made the best pie crusts, I definitely prefer butter! It has a richer flavor, and it still creates a lovely flaky pie crust.
I always use unsalted butter! Different brands of salted butter add different amounts of salt, which can often lead to slightly different tastes. With unsalted butter, you get the same flavor every time — and you can also control how much salt goes into your pie crust!
It’s incredibly important that your butter is very cold! Freezing isn’t necessary for this pie crust. Just take your butter out of the fridge right before you add it to your mixing bowl. Cold butter creates the best flaky texture!
To incorporate it into the flour, I love using a pastry cutter, like this. It’s so much easier (and faster!) than using two knives or the back of a fork. Keep working the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Nerd Alert #3: Vanilla Extract
Crazy but true… Vanilla extract is a key ingredient in this healthy homemade pie crust! There are two reasons for this. First, the alcohol in the vanilla extract helps prevent the flour’s gluten from forming long strands (which would create a tough texture… but no long strands = lovely flaky texture!). Second, vanilla actually enhances butter’s rich flavor, so it makes this healthy pie crust taste just as buttery and indulgent as traditional pie crusts!
Nerd Alert #4: Chilling the Pie Crust Dough
This is a critical step! Often, the butter starts to warm up just a bit while you mix up the pie crust dough. Popping the dough in the refrigerator re-chills the butter, which creates the best flaky texture. (Remember, if the butter softens or melts ahead of time, you don’t get that flaky texture!)
Before chilling the dough, wrap it in two extra big sheets of plastic wrap. (This is my favorite kind because it clings so much better than other brands!) You want those sheets of plastic wrap to be huge because…
Nerd Alert #5: Rolling Out the Pie Crust
You’ll roll out your healthy homemade pie crust in between the sheets of plastic wrap! I absolutely love this trick and use it for just about every pie crust that I make. You don’t need to flour your surface or rolling pin (hooray for less clean-up!), and it’s so much easier to transfer the pie crust into your pie plate without it ripping. Win-win!
Nerd Alert #6: The Pie Plate
Although you may already know this, it’s something not everybody realizes… Not all pie plates are the same! This recipe (along with my ultimate healthy pumpkin pie recipe and ultimate healthy apple pie recipe) was specifically developed for a traditional 9”-round pie plate. Not a deep dish pie plate!
Many stores only seem to sell deep dish pie plates these days… At least where I live in California! But I was able to find these classic 9”-round pie plates at Walmart and on Amazon.
If you use a deep dish pie plate, it might look like you forgot to make enough filling… Because the filling will only take up around 50-75% of the pie plate. Not the end of the world — it’ll just look a little funny!
I also spritz my pie plate with cooking spray before I transfer the crust inside. This helps prevent the crust from sticking, which makes it a lot easier to slide your slices of pie out of the pie pan and onto people’s plates!
Nerd Alert #7: Sweet Potatoes… Or Yams?
We actually need to go back in time for a minute… I got a little ahead of myself. I was just so excited to share all of my nerdy pie crust tips with you!
While your pie crust chills, you’ll prepare the filling for your ultimate healthy sweet potato pie! Which, of course, begins with sweet potatoes.
Here’s the thing…
Sweet potatoes can actually be white or orange. (My brother was the first person who shared that with me!) Most grocery stores here in California only sell the white variety of sweet potatoes. Although they taste deliciously sweet, they don’t create that iconic bright orange color that we’re used to with sweet potato pie…
But yams do! They also have such a deliciously sweet flavor, just like sweet potatoes do. And since many people seem to confuse the lovely orange yams with sweet potatoes anyway… You can use either! Both sweet potatoes and yams work perfectly in this ultimate healthy sweet potato pie recipe.
Regardless of which vegetable you choose, you’ll need a few cups of their cooked innards. I liberally pierce mine with a fork, pop them in the microwave, and cook them until they’re fork-tender. Then I scrape out their fillings (I skip the skins!), and beat them with an electric mixer until they’re smooth. Easy peasy!
Hint: Make sure they’re fully cooked all the way through! You don’t want any chunks of crunchy sweet potatoes or yams in your pie filling!
Another Hint: Don’t wait too long after cooking your sweet potatoes to beat them with a mixer! If you let them cool down too much, you’ll end up with a sticky, gluey, almost gelatinous mess… That can then “climb” up your beaters like Flubber. (Don’t ask… Just trust me on this! 😉 )
Nerd Alert #8: Spices
Because of how much my family loves this healthy sweet potato casserole… And says it tastes like pumpkin pie… I use the same spices that I do in pumpkin pie! However, I don’t use store-bought pumpkin spice. I make my own!
To do that, I use cinnamon (← that’s my favorite kind!), allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. I don’t recommend skipping any of them! When combined together, they create such a rich and warm flavor, and that really helps bring out the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes (or yams!).
Nerd Alert #9: No Melted Butter or Heavy Cream!
That’s right… Nearly every recipe I saw for sweet potato pie called for melted butter and heavy cream or evaporated milk. In my (slightly biased) opinion? Neither is necessary! The filling of this ultimate healthy sweet potato pie is already smooth and creamy without melted butter or heavy cream, and I almost never keep evaporated milk on hand.
Instead… You’ll use Greek yogurt! Greek yogurt is luxuriously thick and creamy, but it contains far fewer calories than butter or heavy cream. It also gives your ultimate healthy sweet potato pie a protein boost!
Nerd Alert #10: Sweetener
To keep this ultimate healthy sweet potato pie low calorie and refined sugar free, you’ll use two of my favorite ingredients: liquid stevia and confectioners’ style erythritol. Both are plant-based, no-calorie sweeteners that contain nothing refined or artificial (aka they’re clean eating friendly!), and I buy both of them online. Here for the liquid stevia and here for the erythritol.
Here’s why you need both…
While I usually try to stick with just liquid stevia (I know it isn’t fun to track down extra ingredients!), I found that the sweet potatoes prevented it from the stevia tasting quite as sweet as normal… Even when I added more.
But when I added in the erythritol, it gave the filling a huge sweetness boost — exactly what it needed to taste just like the classic, sugar-laden pies!
So I pinky swear promise… It’s definitely worth finding and using both of these sweeteners! (And you’ll use the liquid stevia in all of these recipes of mine and the erythritol in all of these recipes of mine too!)
Nerd Alert #11: Egg Whites
One last thing about the filling! You’ll need 3 large egg whites. The protein in the egg whites helps the filling firm up and set during the baking process and while it cools. This helps the filling maintain its shape when you cut each slice, rather than the sweet potatoes oozing out all over the place!
Nerd Alert #12: Par-Baking the Crust
This is just a fancy way of saying you’ll bake the crust a little bit before adding the filling! It’s also called “blind baking.” With custard-based pies, the filling often sets and finishing baking before the bottom crust can cook all the way through, so par-baking prevents that raw or underdone bottom.
Line your pie crust with parchment paper (crumple it up and smooth it out a few times first so it’ll lay inside nicely!). Because I don’t own fancy pie weights, I pour in uncooked rice, dry beans, or popcorn kernels! They prevent the bottom crust from forming big air bubbles while it bakes.
Then you’ll remove the parchment paper, spread your filling inside, and finish baking your ultimate healthy sweet potato pie!
However… You’re not quite done yet. 😉
Nerd Alert #13: Chilling Your Pie
Once your ultimate healthy sweet potato pie has finished baking and cooled to room temperature, chilling is necessary for the best texture. Yes, it feels like torture. But just like with cheesecake or pumpkin pie, chilling helps the filling firm up and hold its shape when you cut each slice. It also gives the spices a chance to meld and marry, which creates an even better flavor!
But then… Once your ultimate healthy sweet potato pie has chilled… And you’ve mixed up a batch of healthy homemade whipped cream…
All that’s left to do is slice, serve, and enjoy! And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your ultimate healthy sweet potato pie!
The Ultimate Healthy Sweet Potato Pie
FOR THE CRUST
FOR THE FILLING
- 1 ¾ cups (450g) cooked & mashed sweet potato or yams (see Notes!)
- ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 6 tbsp (54g) confectioners’ style erythritol
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup (120mL) nonfat milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ tsp liquid stevia
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature & lightly beaten
- optional: whipped cream, for serving (see Notes!)
- To prepare the crust, whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter (recommended!) or the back of a fork until the mixture resembles crumbs.
- Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of water, and drizzle over the flour mixture. Mix until all of those liquid ingredients have been incorporated. Continue to add water 1 teaspoon at a time and mixing until completely incorporated until the mixture forms a dough. (I only used a total of 1 tablespoon of water.)
- Transfer the dough to the center of a large sheet of plastic wrap, and shape into a 4”-wide circle. Cover the top with another large sheet of plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough chills, prepare the filling. Beat together the sweet potato and Greek yogurt in a large bowl. Sprinkle the erythritol, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt over the mixture. Beat until fully incorporated. Pour in the milk, vanilla extract, and liquid stevia. Beat until fully incorporated. Gradually beat in the egg whites until fully incorporated.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F, and coat a standard 9”-round pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
- Leaving the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap, roll it out into a 11”-wide circle. Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap, and turn it out into the prepared pie plate. Peel off the other layer of plastic wrap. Gently press the dough into the pie plate, and trim the overhang.
- Line the center of the pie with parchment paper (see Notes!), ensure that the parchment paper is fully touching the dough all the way around the steep sides of the pie plate, and pour pie weights (or uncooked rice, dry beans, or popcorn kernels!) into the center. Bake the crust at 375°F for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper and pie weights.
- Spread the filling into the center of the par-baked crust. Bake the pie at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until the center barely jiggles when lightly shaken. Cool completely to room temperature; then chill the pie set for an additional 8 hours before serving.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Pie
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Apple Pie
♡ Healthy Maple Sweet Potato Casserole
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Whole Wheat Bread Rolls
♡ Healthy Cranberry Apple Pie
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Apple Crumble
♡ Healthy Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Baked Spicy Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries
♡ Healthy Chicken & Cranberry Sweet Potato Skins (perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers!)