This sweet potato pie has a crunchy texture from toasted pecan halves and is packed with citrus flavor thanks to zest and orange liqueur. It's also bursting with warming holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. You can cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave or roast them in the oven. Opting for store-bought refrigerated pie dough (from a 14- to 16-ounce package) makes this pie a breeze to assemble, but I've also given you a recipe for a great homemade version.
For the flaky pie crust: Add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is combined. (Alternatively, you can use a large bowl and a pastry blender.)
Add the butter and pulse until most of the butter is broken into pea-size pieces, about 15 pulses.
Add 3 tablespoons of the cold water to a small cup. Add the apple cider vinegar. Pour the liquid over the crumbly flour-butter mixture. Pulse until it looks like cottage cheese and there are no large pockets of flour.
Tip the mixture onto your work surface and gather the dough into a disc. Wrap the disc tightly in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
For the sweet potato pie: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until they are browned and fragrant, about 7 minutes.
When ready to use, roll the store-bought refrigerated pie crust or homemade Flaky Pie Crust dough into an 11-inch-wide round on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and lightly press into the pan. Crimp the edge as desired and set aside.
To cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave (the quicker method), prick them with a fork all over. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Flip and microwave for an additional 5 minutes. Check to see if they are ready by piercing the flesh with a fork. If it pierces the easily, they are ready. If it doesn't, continue to microwave in 2-minute intervals until tender. (Take care not to overcook or they will dry out.) Alternatively, the sweet potatoes can be pricked all over with a fork, wrapped in foil and roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F for 60 minutes.
Once the sweet potatoes are tender, carefully cut into quarters so the steam can escape. Once cool, remove the skin and refrigerate until ready to use.
Mash the cooked sweet potatoes and measure 2 packed cups of flesh (reserve any extra sweet potato for another use). Add the mashed sweet potato and melted butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the evaporated milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, orange liqueur, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and orange zest to the food processor. Pulse until combined, about 10 times. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pulse a few more times to incorporate everything.
Stir in the toasted pecan halves with a rubber spatula. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake until puffed in the center, slightly jiggly when shaken and set around the edges, 50 to 55 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack until it firms up and deflates a little. Once room temperature, transfer the pie to the refrigerator to chill and set completely. Store the pie in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.