A Zesty Sweet Potato Cheesecake

A sweet yet surprising dessert from the Garden & Gun Club in Atlanta

For this spin on the traditional holiday dessert, Bailey Tripp, former sous chef at the Garden & Gun Club in Atlanta, drew from a dish on his own family’s Thanksgiving table. “I was thinking of my grandmother’s sweet potato casserole,” he says. “I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet potatoes on their own, but there’s something about them in a casserole or a pie—they just transform.” After tasting a sweet potato cheesecake at a restaurant in New Orleans, Tripp began imagining ways to take it up a notch. “My variation incorporates a lot of citrus zest to give it more of a tangy flavor. I also add some roasted pecans to give each bite a bit of crunch.” The result is a dessert that’s rich, but not overpowering in its sweetness. “Rather than making desserts that are sweet-on-sweet I prefer some complexity in the flavor profile. So that’s why I went for a sour-cream topping.” 

As with baking any cheesecake, patience is key. “One of the biggest things to worry about with a cheesecake is it breaking—the top of it cracking,” he says. “The best way to avoid that is by letting it cool to room temperature completely before removing it from the pan and refrigerating it. An abrupt change in temperature is what causes that cracking.” 


  • Sweet Potato Cheesecake (Yield: 1 cake)

    • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs

    • ¼ cup sugar

    • 5 tbsp. butter, melted

    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

    • 1 ½ cup sugar, divided

    • ½ cup light brown sugar

    • 2 large eggs, beaten

    • 7 ½ oz. can sweetened condensed milk (or a little more than half of a 14 oz. can)

    • 1 ¼ cup pureed sweet potatoes (canned or fresh roasted)

    • 1 tbsp. honey

    • 2 tbsp. cornstarch

    • 1 tsp. cinnamon

    • 1 tsp. nutmeg

    • 2 lemons, zested

    • 2 limes, zested

    • 16 oz. sour cream

    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

    • ½ cup pecan, roughly chopped


  1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until combined. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with pan spray, then line with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form an even layer of crust. Bake crust for 8 minutes, or until fully set.

  2. For the filling: In a stand mixer, use the whip attachment to beat the cream cheese until smooth. If you don’t have a stand mixer, an egg beater will work as well. 

  3. Add 1 cup sugar and the brown sugar and continue whipping until fully incorporated, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, condensed milk, sweet potatoes, honey, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, and lime zest and mix until smooth. 

  4. Spray the sides of the pan and pour the mixture into the crust. Wrap the top of the pie with aluminum foil and bake until the edges are set, 40-50 minutes.

  5. For the topping: While the cheesecake is baking, prepare the sour cream topping. In a medium bowl, mix sour cream, remaining ½ cup sugar, vanilla, and pecans (reserving 2 tbsp. of pecans to use as a garnish) until combined. Spread over the top of the warm cheesecake and garnish with the reserved pecans. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until set. 

  6. Let the cheesecake cool completely, about 2 hours. Remove from the springform pan and refrigerate overnight before serving.