Make your own Patti LaBelle-style sweet potato pie

Susan Selasky
Detroit Free Press

At a Walmart, I spotted boxes of Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pies. Two years ago, the pies, sold exclusively at Walmart, were scarce.

The scarcity was caused by a video by James Wright of California, who made a hilarious YouTube video of his review of what he refers to as “Patti’s Pie.” Since then, the video has been viewed more than 5.5 million times.

Because the pies were hard to find, we made a version of Patti LaBelle’s pie from a recipe we found at So if you’re in need of a sweet potato pie for a holiday gathering, try this version. When I made it, our staffers loved it. And it’s, well, easy as pie.

Patti Labelle’s Sweet Potato Pie

Makes: One 9-inch pie

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Total time: 2 hours 40 minutes (not all active time)

Note: You can make the crust up to 2 days in advance.


11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening, chilled

1/3 cup ice water


3 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 21/2 pounds), scrubbed

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, divided

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

1/4 cup half-and-half

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon ground

Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

For the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt a few times. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized bits. (Or mix in a bowl using a fork or pastry blender). Gradually add enough of the ice water until the mixture clumps together (you may need more or less water). Gather up the dough and press into a thick disk. If desired, wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. Fold the dough in half. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, and gently unfold the dough to fit into the pan. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the edge. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.

For the filling: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a medium bowl.

Mash with an electric mixer on medium speed until very smooth. Measure 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, keeping any extra for another use, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Uncover the pie shell and brush the interior with about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pie shell. Bake until the pie dough is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it. Remove pie shell from oven and cool while you finish making the filling.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, the remaining melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread into the partially baked pie shell, smoothing the top.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 11/2 hours. Cool completely on a wire cake rack. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with whipped cream.

Adapted from Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.