The Spice You Should Avoid When Making Sweet Potato Pie

Potatoes are usually touted as being a versatile type of root vegetable, as they can be mashed, fried, roasted, or baked. But such versatility comes to a screeching halt outside of savory recipes, which is where the potato's vibrant, orange variation, the sweet potato, swoops in to save the day.

Sweet potatoes score high on the versatility scale as well, but reach even further, because they can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. There are sweet potato soufflés, sweet potato fries, sweet potato cheesecakes, and even purple sweet potato tea cakes. But none of these can hold a candle to one of the most beloved holiday desserts of all: the sweet potato pie.

Sweet potato pie not only highlights the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes, but also the warmth of various spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla beans, per Serious Eats. On the other side of the coin lies a type of spice you should steer clear of when making sweet potato pie ... and it's one that is quite popular during the fall season.

Avoid pumpkin spice-ing up your pie

Pumpkin pie spice, the force behind pumpkin-tinged classics like Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte, many iterations of pumpkin beer, and countless seasonal desserts, is a blend of other spices that highlight the warmth and coziness of the fall season. According to Webstaurant Store, typical blends include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground allspice, ground cloves, and, sometimes, cardamom. Though there are no traces of pumpkins here, the spice blend does bring the pumpkin vibe to whatever it touches, like classic pumpkin pie and pumpkin gooey butter cake.

If pumpkin pie spice works so well in pumpkin pie, why can't the same be said for sweet potato pie? The Kitchn explains that it's the presence of allspice and cloves in the pumpkin pie spice blend that creates the problem. These two simply don't pair well with sweet potato pie, which should just rely on cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla for flavor. Instead, it's best to use pumpkin pie spice for sweeter, pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks, and let the sweet potato shine in its eponymous pie.