Sam Davis’s Sweet Potato Pie

This easy dessert from the Garden & Gun Club is a merging of traditions

Photo: Courtesy of the Garden & Gun Club

You might think the most important ingredient in sweet potato pie is, well, sweet potatoes. But in Sam Davis’s interpretation of the Thanksgiving staple, the root vegetable is technically a substitution. “My family always ate navy bean pie growing up,” says the executive chef of the Garden & Gun Club at the Battery Atlanta. “My sweet potato pie is the exact same recipe my mom and grandma make for navy bean pie but with the beans swapped for sweet potatoes.” 

The tradition of navy bean pie got its start in the 1930s, when the Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad espoused a healthy diet free of starch and pork. Trading out ingredients like sweet potatoes for beans became popular, and that’s how the dish arrived in Davis’s family. At the Garden & Gun Club, Davis reinstates sweet potatoes as the dessert’s headliner and doesn’t skimp on flavor: There’s dark brown sugar for a molasses essence, cinnamon and nutmeg for seasonal appeal, and coconut milk for a tropical touch. Because this family-favorite recipe originated in a home kitchen, it’s a perfect candidate to borrow for your own holiday spread.



    • 1 9-inch pie (store-bought)

    • 1 lb. sweet potato

    • ½ cup unsalted butter

    • ½ cup coconut milk

    • 2 eggs

    • 1 cup dark brown sugar

    • ¼ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened or semi-sweet

    • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract

    • ½ tsp. nutmeg

    • ½ tsp. cinnamon

    • ¼ tsp. ground ginger

    • ¼ tsp. ground allspice


  1. Parbake the pie crust by following the package directions. 

  2. Preheat oven to 375˚F.


  3. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake the sweet potatoes at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until soft. (A fork should go smoothly through them when done.) Allow to cool. Peel. Discard skin. Place sweet potatoes in a food processor or mixer and add butter, coconut milk, and eggs. Blend until incorporated. Then add remaining ingredients and blend until incorporated.

  4. Pour sweet potato mixture into pie crust mold. Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester or fork comes out dry, not wet. 

  5. Let cool. Cut and serve.