Recipes

Sweet Potato (Yam) Apple & Fresh Cranberry Bake with Walnuts

I am so excited to introduce you to our favorite fall and winter holiday dish! We were turned on to this sweet potato, apple, cranberry bake recipe by Aaron’s boss many years ago, and have tweaked and fine-tuned it over time. Now, this dish makes an appearance on our table every Thanksgiving, and again in December around Winter Solstice – or to take along to a Christmas party, where it is always a HUGE hit! 


Follow the easy instructions below to make your own rich, chunky, flavorful sweet potato, apple, and cranberry bake! While this is a naturally semi-sweet dish, it is low in added sugar – making it a wonderful healthy substitution to super-sweet classic candied yams. You know… the ones with marshmallows on top? No offense, but those aren’t our jam. 


Instead, think of this layered yam apple cran bake as where roasted sweet potatoes and apple pie meet in the middle – to create a beautifully balanced sweet and savory dish! The addition of fresh cranberries gives it a beautiful pop of tartness, and the walnuts bring a welcome roasty toasted crunch. We usually serve this as a side dish, alongside the green beans and roasted brussels sprouts. Yet you could also enjoy it as a dessert! I’ll admit, we’ve had this with vanilla ice cream before… and it was far from bad.


All in all, this recipe is simple, beautiful, and delicious. You can’t go wrong!


INGREDIENTS 


The amounts below are to fill an approximately 3-quart or 9×13-inch baking dish, about 1.5 to 2 inches deep. We are using this oval 3.5 quart Le Creuset dish, but have made this in rectangular glass dishes as well!


  • 3 medium-large sweet potatoes, also known as garnet yams (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 to 4 large apples. I highly suggest using a crisp, sweet, semi-tart variety of apple, such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith or Fuji!
  • (2) 12-ounce bags of fresh cranberries – If you can’t find the fresh-fresh cranberries in the produce department, check the freezer aisle for frozen fresh cranberries. They really make the dish. I would not suggest using dried cranberries instead.
  • 1.5 to 2 cups of walnuts, halves and pieces. For those with nut allergies, substitute with pumpkin seeds!
  • 6 tbsp of unsalted butter total – Feel free to replace the butter with your favorite vegan butter alternative, or even coconut oil – though do note that the dish will take on a slightly more coconut-esque flavor
  • 5 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • A pinch of allspice, and nutmeg (less than a ¼ tsp total each)


A white bowl full of fresh red cranberries is the center of the image. Surrounding the bowl is a small ramekin of walnut halves, about five pink lady apples, five sweet potatoes, and a measuring spoon full of salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg each. There are individual cranberries and walnut pieces scattered about amongst the ingredients.



INSTRUCTIONS


Before getting started with the step-by-step, I want to let you in on a couple of important tips:


One – This recipe calls for two layers of the sweet potato, apple, cranberry, walnut and spice combo, and is assembled sort of like a lasagna. So keep that in mind as you go. You’ll use about half of each ingredient item in the list above in the first layer, and then repeated again in the second layer.

Two – While I usually encourage flexibility and creativity in cooking, I do suggest following the recipe closely in regards to how you pack and assemble your layers – and fill the pan with as much sweet potato and apple as possible. Otherwise, the seasonings don’t really match up with the total bulk. 

Three – This sweet potato apple cranberry bake can totally be prepped the day before you want to bake it. We have often assembled the whole shebang, stored it in the fridge overnight, and baked it the following day. Perhaps that is a handy tip for you and will reduce some of the chaos on a busy holiday full of cooking? 


Step 1) Prep Your Produce

Wash the cranberries, and discard (compost) any squishy mushy ones. Also wash your apples, but there is no need to peel them for this recipe! Next, wash and peel the sweet potatoes. 

Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into medallion slices, approximately ¼” thick. Cut the apples into slices of a similar thickness, or just a tad thinner – about ⅛ to ¼” thick.   


A hand is holding a cut and peeled sweet potato medallion. Illustrating that it has been cut into about a 1/4 inch thick piece. Below the pictured medallion lies a baking dish that has a single layer of similarly cut sweet potato medallions lining the bottom of the dish.


Step 2) Assemble the First Layer 

Begin by lightly greasing your baking dish with your choice of either butter, coconut oil, or vegan butter alternative.

Add a single layer of sweet potato medallions to the bottom of the pan, puzzling them together as needed to fill as much empty space as possible. Next, do the same with a layer of apple slices. This should use up about half of your total yam and apple, or just under – since the baking dish gets wider on top and fits slightly more in the second layer. 

Next, add 2 heaping cups of fresh cranberries on top of the sweet potato and apple layer. Move them around to create a fairly even layer, tucking them into the nooks ‘n crannies. Now do the same with ¾ cup of walnuts (we like to use walnut halves and pieces). Obviously, the walnuts are optional and can be omitted for those with nut allergies!


A four way image collage, the first image shows a white ceramic oval baking dish sitting atop a wooden cutting board with the bottom of the dish lined with a layer of sweet potato medallions. The second image shows the same dish with a layer of apple slices placed evenly over the top of the sweet potato medallions. The third image shows fresh cranberries added onto the top of the sweet potato and apple layers and the final image shows the same dish with walnut pieces finally layered on top of the sweet potato, apple, and cranberry.


Step 3) Season the Sweet Potato Apple Cranberry Bake

Now it is time to doll everything up a bit! If you’re using a stick of butter, cut off 3 tablespoons and then divvy it into about 8 to 9 even tabs to spread evenly over the dish. Or, follow a similar process with your butter replacement of choice. 

Next, sprinkle over a few shakes or pinches of salt across the entire surface – about an ⅛ of a teaspoon. Honestly, we don’t typically measure the salt. We simply salt it as we would most meals! Now do the same with a pinch of both allspice and nutmeg, but go slightly lighter than the salt – less than ⅛ a teaspoon each. Finally, evenly sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2.5 tablespoons of light brown sugar over the whole dish. 

Now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 400°F.


A white oval baking dish is shown after one layer each of the sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, walnuts have be sprinkled with salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg while nine tabs of butter are evenly dispersed over the top as well.
A close up image of the yam apple cranberry walnut bake. You can see the surface of the bake has been lightly sprinkled with the seasonings (salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg).


Step 4) Repeat to Create a Second Layer

Wait, can my dish fit an entire second layer of this goodness? Why yes… yes it can.  Add another tightly-packed layer of sweet potato slices, and then press down to squish everything a bit. Then continue on just as you did before with the apples, cranberries, walnuts, butter, and seasonings. If some toppings are threatening to spill over the edge, you did it right! Everything will sink and settle as it bakes.


An image taken at an angle after the dish has been completed with two layers of all of the toppings. The apples, walnuts, and cranberries are towering over the edges of the dish but it will cook down once baked.


Step 5) Bake

Before putting the assembled sweet potato, apple, cranberry bake into the oven, cover the baking dish with foil (or an oven-safe lid, if your dish happens to have one). The trapped steam helps cook and soften everything inside, without it drying out or burning on top.  Bake at 400°F for one hour total – 50 minutes covered, and then uncovered during the last 10 minutes to lightly toast the walnuts. When it is done, the sweet potatoes and apples should be tender to the fork, but not total mush.


The yam apple cranberry walnut bake in white oval baking dish is shown sitting on a washed concrete surface after it has finished baking. The ingredients have cooked down some and there are spots of brown throughout the top from caramelization. The are walnut pieces and cranberries scattered around the dish while half of a ramekin is visible that is full of fresh cranberries.


Step 6) Enjoy!

This sweet potato, apple and cranberry bake is best served warm, but honestly is pretty dang good cold too – like a pie. The good news is that it gets even better with time, and makes for excellent leftovers! Store the leftovers in the refrigerator, and enjoy within one week of baking.


I hope you love this dish as much as we do. See the printable recipe just below. Please let me know by coming back for a review or rating! Feel free to share it with your friends and family too. Here are some of our other favorite fall-inspired and holiday recipes:


The yam apple cranberry walnut bake is shown in its baking dish after it has been baked. A serving is missing out of the dish and is now sitting in a smaller white bowl with two handles. A wooden spoon is resting in the baking dish and there is a light syrupy liquid remaining where the initial serving has been removed. The washed concrete surface underneath is littered with walnut pieces, cranberries, as well as a ramekin full of cranberries.


Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Sweet Potato (Yam) Apple Fresh Cranberry Bake with Walnuts

Say hello to your new favorite holiday season dish! This sweet potato apple and fresh cranberry bake is easy to make, full of nutrients and satisfying flavors, is naturally sweet but low in added sugar, and brings a beautiful pop of color to the table. Think of it as where roasted sweet potatoes and apple pie meet in the middle – to create a wonderfully balanced sweet and savory dish!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Holiday Dish, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: Christmas Recipe, Holiday Recipe, Sweet Potato Apple Cranberry Bake, Sweet Potato Bake, Thanksgiving Recipe, Vegetarian
Servings: 1 9×13″ baking dish

Equipment

  • a 9×13" (1.5 to 2 inch deep) baking dish, approximately 3 quarts

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large sweet potatoes or garnet yams (about 2 pounds)
  • 3-4 medium-large apples – pink lady, fuji, or granny smith recommended
  • 2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries (just over 4 cups total)
  • 1.5-2 cups walnuts, halves and pieces (for those with nut allergies, substitute with pumpkin seeds)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, or butter alternative (vegan butter or coconut oil)
  • 5 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or just under)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg and allspice each

Instructions

  • Wash sweet potatoes, apples and fresh cranberries. Discard and compost any mushy cranberries.
  • Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into medallion slices, approximately ¼” thick. Cut the apples into slices of a similar thickness, or just a tad thinner – about ⅛ to ¼” thick. 
  • Add a single layer of sweet potato medallions to the bottom of your lightly greased baking dish, filling as much empty space between the pieces as possible. Next, do the same with a layer of apple slices.
  • Next, add about 2 heaping cups of fresh cranberries and 3/4 cup walnuts on top of the sweet potato and apple layer – distributed evenly across the top.
  • If you’re using a stick of butter, cut off 3 tablespoons and then divvy it into about 8 to 9 even tabs to spread evenly over the dish. Or, follow a similar process with your butter replacement of choice.
  • Sprinkle over a few shakes or pinches of salt across the entire surface – about an ⅛ of a teaspoon. Now do the same with a pinch of both allspice and nutmeg, but go slightly lighter than the salt – less than ⅛ a teaspoon each. Finally, evenly sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2.5 tablespoons of light brown sugar over the whole dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Repeat the steps above to create another tightly-packed layer of sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, walnuts, butter, and seasonings.
  • Cover the dish with tin foil or an oven-safe lid, and bake at 400F for one hour total (the first 50 minutes covered, and uncovered during the last 10 minutes to lightly toast the walnuts)
  • Enjoy! It is best served warm, but is pretty dang good cold too – like a pie. It gets even better with time, and makes for excellent leftovers! Store the leftovers in the refrigerator, and enjoy within one week of baking.



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13 Comments

  • Gail Fiock

    5 stars
    I made 3 of your recipes for my family. the sw potato, cran cassarole was great.. one did GF/DF. I used orange and purple yams.. forgot to do the br sugar but just melted the butter with that and poured it through.. it worked out fine. Brussle sprout cassarole was also a hit.. 1/2 w parm and 1/2 w DF cheese worked well. Lastly we did some mushroom gravy.. it really thicked up so nicely.. Thanks so much!!

  • Cecile Santini

    5 stars
    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit! Tasted delicious and not too sweet like a lot of sweet potato recipes can be. The best thing is that I was able to assemble it the day before, store in refrigerator, then bake Thanksgiving morning. It was perfect!!

  • Roo

    5 stars
    That was absolutely delicious! And so simple! I think this was my favorite dish this Thanksgiving! Loved the combination of sweet and sour (I used granny Smith apples). Will be making again with the left over cranberry! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  • Kendi

    So pumped to make this for family next week! I always try to introduce them to different veggie recipes and they said this one sounds good to them! (That’s a very big feat!)

  • Alissa

    5 stars
    Did a trial run of this recipe for thanksgiving and my family loved it. Even my picky eaters dove in (okay, they ate all of the cranberries). Looking forward to serving this for the holidays but it’s easy enough to prepare to make it a fall staple at the table. Thanks for posting!

  • Kelli

    Deanna this recipe is so dang delicious! I can’t wait to show up to our family Thanksgiving dinner with
    this beautiful and tasty dish! I have a feeling this will be showing every year from here on out.
    Thanks again for sharing!!

  • Martina Athas

    5 stars
    When I saw this dish posted on IG it looked amazing. I could taste it just looking at it and knew I had to try it. Out I went to purchase fresh cranberries and baked it to go with our Sunday dinner. This dish is scrumptious with a perfect mixture of sweet and tart flavor. My kids loved it and asked me to make it for the holidays. Thank you for sharing Deanna.

    • DeannaCat

      Oh good! I love that you were such an eager beaver to give it a try before the holiday! And even more happy to hear the kiddos approved too! Thanks for the review, and enjoy your holidays with family!

  • Ruthy Shemanski

    5 stars
    I’m just gonna go ahead and give this recipe five stars—it sounds so ridiculously delicious! I have an antique cabbage slicer and plan to use it to slice the sweet potato and apple very thin so the layers meld together even more. I’ll be sure to share the picture on my IG (@howanirisgrows) when I make it. I’ve not been this excited about a dish in a long time. Thanks for sharing, Deanna!

    • DeannaCat

      Sounds great! I would suggest maybe cutting down on the cooking time and check it for doneness around 35-40 mins in… Just so it won’t get too mushy! Though, some people like it more creamy. I personally prefer a little chunk. Have fun and happy baking! Please do report back and let us know how it goes. And thank you for stopping in to say hi!

  • Jessica

    5 stars
    I have made this dish three years running!! It has been a huge hit every single time. My mom actually texted my yesterday asking my to bring it this year, again 🙂 It’s definitely worth the try… Happy Holidays

  • Lillian

    5 stars
    Made this last year for Christmas so I, as the lone veg at the party would have something to eat, and everybody else devoured it! I barely got any! Excited to make it again this year because clearly it’s a fan favorite.

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