Sweet Potato Sonker Recipe | #SpringSweetsWeek

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Welcome to my third and final recipe for this year’s #springsweetsweek, my friends. Today, I’m sharing how to make a sweet potato sonker recipe.

That’s right, I’m making dessert out of vegetables featuring sugar from sponsor Dixie Crystals. I love sonker, a dessert native to Surrey County, NC which is more or less synonymous with cobbler, but I’ve not made a sweet potato one yet.

This version is probably the most specialized sonker recipe. While you’ll see peach cobblers, strawberry cobblers, and blackberry cobblers outside of Surry County, NC, you most likely will only find a cobbler made of sweet potatoes in Surry County.

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #SpringSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to help in the creation of the #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

You may also want to check out my blackberry cherry sonker, lazy peach sonker, and strawberry peach sonker. And if you’d like to see my other Spring Sweets Week recipes, here are the peanut butter sweet rolls and the butterscotch sheet cake.

overhead shot of sweet potato sonker in a casserole dish along with 2 bowls of sonker and milk dip in a pitcher

What Does Sonker Taste Like?

I wanted to get this out of the way right at the beginning. This sweet potato guy really tastes like pure, unadulterated sweet potato pudding in a brown sugar crust.

The flavor is very simple and straightforward. Very approachable and comforting. And the texture is soft and yielding. It’s really very good.

You can up the flavor factor a bit if you want by adding some ground spices or even some minced crystallized ginger to the filling.

But what I like about it so much is that the flavor is just not-too-sweet comfort. I think you will really enjoy it!

The Crust

Generally speaking, the trickiest part of making a sonker is making the crust. Many folks are intimidated by making pie dough, so I thought I’d make a quick sweet biscuit dough and then roll it out almost as thin as pie crust.

It worked out really well, and the brown sugar from Dixie Crystals I used added a lovely caramel flavor to the biscuit.

I even made a video so you could see the process of making the dough. Pie crust is made the same way, but the proportions are usually a bit different, with more fat and a bit less liquid.

Making the Filling

The filling is really easy to make, the ingredients are few, and the steps are simple. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Peel sweet potatoes
  2. Put in well salted water and boil until tender, about 30 minutes
  3. Let them cool a bit and then slice them thinly (or cut them up or mash them. Whatever is easiest for you)
  4. Whisk together some of the potato cooking water with some flour, brown sugar and a maybe pinch of salt (you can add some cinnamon here if you want)
  5. Layer the sweet potatoes in your dough-lined baking dish
  6. Pour the mixture over all until almost full.
  7. Put on top crust and bake at 375F for about an hour, stopping about 40 minutes into the baking to pour on some milk dip

To recap, the filling ingredients are nothing more than cooked sweet potatoes, some of the salted cooking water, brown sugar, flour, and maybe some salt and cinnamon.

Short ingredient list. Pure comforting flavor.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I got the broad strokes of this recipe from a recipe by Ronni Lundy from her excellent James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes.

Her recipe calls for sorghum syrup and extra butter, but I streamlined the ingredient list a bit to feature the brown sugar as well as keep it on the less-rich side.

Milk Dip? What?

blue bowl of sweet potatoes, sweet biscuit dough and milk dip on an orange napkin

It sounds a little weird, but think of it sort of like melted Philadelphia-style ice cream. Philadelphia-style means it doesn’t contain eggs.

It’s a simple mixture of milk, flour or cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt that you bring to a boil so it thickens. Then add some vanilla.

Folks in Surry County serve milk dip particularly with sweet potato sonker, but I like it so much, I make it for pretty much all sonker flavors.

Storing Instructions

Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days or so. Reheat individual portions at 350F until as warm as you’d like it, probably about 10 minutes or so.

Freezing Instructions

If you want to freeze it, your best bet is to freeze it unbaked. You can bake it from frozen if you have a pan that won’t break when you do that.

If you know you’re going to freeze it, consider making it in a cake pan or in a recyclable aluminum pan.

Make the whole sonker, and freeze it overnight. Then wrap it well in plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 375 until done–make sure the juices are bubbling all over. If the crust seems like it’s browning too much before the juices bubble, cover the top loosely with foil and keep baking.

You can also bake your sonker, let it cool, portion out into individual bowls, and freeze those. Let each portion thaw in the fridge overnight and then bake at 350F until hot.

If you don’t mind that it won’t be crisp, you can also reheat in the microwave.

Thanks to Dixie Crystals

bag of Dixie Crystals sugar, a bowl of sonker, and an orange napkin.

I use Dixie Crystals white sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar.

I will admit I will sometimes buy other brands, but I am always impressed with the quality of their products.

I also really appreciate how generous they are with blogging events. Thanks, Dixie Crystals friends for the sugar.

Please take care, my friends. Enjoy the sonker–it’s good, body and soul–and please don’t forget to keep scrolling for the other recipes for Saturday and for the giveaway!

I really hope you love the sweet potato “cobbler” you guys!

If you make it, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Sonker Recipe

Sweet Potato Sonker Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Sweet Potato Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

A very easy, comforting and delicious dessert, this is a traditional sonker from Surry County, NC. Served with "milk dip" baked on top and on the side, it's a warming and homey treat you can make with just a few pantry and fridge staples.


For the Sweet Biscuit Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for flouring your work surface (measured by spoon and sweep method)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed (I used Dixie Crystals)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) cold half and half (sub whole milk if you don't have half and half)

For the Filling

  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds, peeled
  • 1 cup reserved sweet potato cooking water
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used Dixie Crystals)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional)

For the Milk Dip

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • heavy pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


For the Sweet Biscuit Dough

  1. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until the flour is coarse like cornmeal and you still have a few larger pieces of butter in the bowl.
  4. Pour in the milk and stir together with a knife until you have a shaggy dough.
  5. Liberally dust your work surface with more flour, and turn the dough out.
  6. Add a bit more flour on top and knead/press together 3-4 times.
  7. Quickly roll the dough out to about 1/4" thickness.
  8. Cut strips of dough to fit up the sides of a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, leaving the bottom empty.
  9. Refrigerate the lined pan for about an hour. Wrap the remaining dough in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until assembly.

For the Sweet Potato Filling

  1. Put the water into a pan just large enough to hold your peeled sweet potatoes.
  2. Add the salt and stir well.
  3. Place the potatoes in the pan. It's okay if the water doesn't completely cover them. You can just turn them frequently. That's what I did.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil and keep at a low boil until you can insert a fork pretty easily down into the center of the potatoes, about 30-35 minutes.
  5. Remove from the water with tongs and let cool to just warm, about 30 minutes or so.
  6. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and let cool.
  7. Slice the sweet potatoes into thin rounds. You can also cut them into small chunks or even mash them. Whatever is easiest for you.
  8. Layer the potatoes into your prepared pan. Your pan will be pretty full of sweet potatoes!
  9. Whisk the flour together with a bit of the cooking water and whisk until you have a paste. Keep whisking and slowly add the rest of the liquid.
  10. Whisk in the optional cinnamon if you'd like.
  11. Whisk in the sugar and an additional pinch of salt if you think it needs it.
  12. Carefully pour the sugar/water/flour mixture over the sweet potatoes.
  13. Cut out the remaining dough to fit over the top of the sonker and cut some vent holes to let steam escape.
  14. Bake at 375F on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet (for easier clean-up) for about 40 minutes.
  15. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the milk dip (procedure below) over the top of the sonker and let it soak down into the vent holes.
  16. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes until the juices are bubbling all over. If the crust browns too quickly, tent it loosely with foil.
  17. Serve warm with additional milk dip passed at the table.

For the Milk Dip

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, flour, and salt to a boil, whisking frequently.
  2. Allow the sauce to boil for 15 seconds or so.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Cool and chill. You can serve the sauce at room temperature, chilled or even warm. Your call.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 487Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 39mgSodium 1829mgCarbohydrates 84gFiber 3gSugar 45gProtein 7g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
© Jenni Field
Cuisine: American / Category: Cobblers, Crisps and More


Welcome to #SpringSweetsWeek 2020 hosted by Heather from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks!  What better way to celebrate the warmer weather and flowers blooming than with food and a fun giveaway? 27 bloggers from around the country have come together to share over 100 sweet recipes perfect for spring!  So stop thinking about cold and snow and get ready to enjoy the best spring sweets like cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pies, and even beverages! Our #SpringSweetsWeek sponsors are helping us give away some great prizes. Thank you so much to Dixie Crystals, Millican Pecan, Door County Coffee, Anolon, Deiss Cookware, Adams Extract, and Fresh April Sprinkles for your generosity. We have an incredible giveaway below and would love if you would take a moment to read about it and the prizes you can win!

#SpringSweetsWeek Recipes

Sponsors and Giveaway Prizes

Check out the amazing prizes you can win in our #SpringSweetsWeek Giveaway!

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Thank you #SpringSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Millican Pecan, Door County Coffee & Tea Co., Anolon, Fresh April Sprinkles, Deiss Kitchenware, and Adams Extracts for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway is open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older.   All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #SpringSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #SpringSweetsWeek posts or entry.

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