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Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole is a classic Thanksgiving side dish. With warm spices, creamy sweet potatoes and a crunchy brown sugar pecan topping, this easy casserole recipe is a holiday favorite!

sweet potato casserole in a white baking dish with a serving spoon

Every year one of my contributions to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner is the sweet potato casserole. I love that I get the job of making the sweet potatoes for our holiday meal. Yes, sweet potato casserole is one of my favorite parts of the meal. But the real reason that it’s my favorite dish to prep is that it’s so easy!

Over the years, I’ve changed my recipe little by little to make it the very best sweet potato casserole that I’m sharing with you today. My sweet potato casserole recipe is just a bit lighter than the classic southern version, but it’s every bit as delicious.

Instead of a marshmallow topping I’ve opted for a pecan topping made with cinnamon and brown sugar. The crunchy pecans are the perfect complement to the creamy sweet potatoes. If marshmallows are a must for you, I’ve included tips about how to modify this recipe below, including a streusel topping option.

spoonful of sweet potato casserole held over baking dish

Alongside stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce and Pumpkin Pie, this sweet potato casserole is a staple on our Thanksgiving table. Once you try it, you might find yourself making it all season long instead of saving it for the holidays.

Sweet Potato Casserole Ingredients

ingredients for sweet potato casserole recipe

  • Sweet Potatoes: You will need 2.5 pounds of sweet potatoes, which is about 4 medium sweet potatoes, for this casserole.
  • Butter: Butter makes the casserole rich and flavorful.
  • Honey: Honey adds sweetness. Feel free to substitute an equal amount of brown sugar or pure maple syrup.
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Salt: Ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg bring warm spice flavors. Salt enhances all of the flavors in the casserole. 
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla adds a touch of warm sweetness.
  • Milk: To make the mashed sweet potatoes creamy. I recommend using whole milk for a richer flavor.
  • Egg: An egg adds richness and helps to lighten the texture of this sweet potato casserole, making the casserole fluffy, not dense.
  • Pecan Topping: A simple topping made with pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon adds crunch and a touch of sweetness to the casserole. If you prefer a streusel topping or you like your sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, see my recipe tips below.

Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

  1. Bake the sweet potatoes. four baked sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  2. Scoop out the cooked sweet potato flesh into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add butter to the sweet potatoes and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. mashed sweet potatoes in mixing bowl with cubes of butter
  4. Add the honey, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and vanilla. Use a hand mixer or a spoon to mix until very well combined. mashed sweet potatoes in mixing bowl with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  5. Mix in warm milk and an egg until just combined. egg and milk added to bowl of mashed sweet potatoes
  6. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes mixture into an 8×8-inch baking dish. spreading sweet potato mixture into square white baking dish
  7. Make the topping by stirring together the chopped pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon in small white bowl
  8. Bake the casserole as directed in the recipe card below, first covered with foil and then uncovered, until the topping is golden brown and the casserole is heated through. casserole with pecan topping in baking dish before baking

sweet potato casserole with pecan topping in square baking dish

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Casserole

I prefer to bake the sweet potatoes for this casserole. Baking sweet potatoes in the oven brings out their natural sweetness and gives them a rich, oven-roasted caramelized flavor. It also helps to prevent a runny sweet potato casserole, as long as you bake the potatoes until they are very tender. Undercooked potatoes can cause your casserole to be watery, as can boiling the potatoes.

While baked sweet potatoes are best, if you prefer, you can cook the sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot or steam them. To steam the sweet potatoes, first peel them and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Then place in a steamer basket set over a pot of boiling water and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until they are very tender.

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe Tips

  • Bake the sweet potatoes until they are very tender. This way, they will mash up easily and smoothly.
  • To feed a crowd, you can double this recipe and bake it in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • To maximize oven space, my family bakes this sweet potato casserole (and our other side dishes) after the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving. The turkey rests for 30-45 minutes while the side dishes bake. It works perfectly!
  • For a slow cooker version of this recipe, try my Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole.
  • To make a streusel topping instead of the pecan topping, stir together 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Then stir in 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir in the 3/4 cup of chopped pecans (or omit them if you prefer) and scatter the topping over the casserole.
  • To make sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, scatter mini marshmallows over the top of the casserole when you remove the foil and then continue baking for 20-25 more minutes. You can add mini marshmallows on top of the pecan topping or omit the pecan topping and use marshmallows instead.

serving of sweet potato casserole on a white plate with casserole dish in background

Make Ahead Instructions

Some readers have wondered if they can make this sweet potato casserole ahead of time. I usually make this the day before Thanksgiving, so the answer is yes. Here’s how to make sweet potato casserole ahead:

  1. Prepare the casserole, keeping the topping in a separate airtight container. Refrigerate the casserole for up to one day.
  2. When you are ready to bake the casserole, sprinkle on the topping. I recommend letting the casserole sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before baking to take the chill off. You may need to add 15-20 minutes to the covered bake time if baking a chilled casserole.

sweet potato casserole with pecan topping in white baking dish

More Favorite Side Dishes:

Or, try one of these Thanksgiving side dishes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole recipe, sweet potato recipes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Servings 8 servings
Calories 291kcal
Sweet Potato Casserole is a favorite side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas or even Sunday dinner. With warm spices, creamy sweet potatoes and a crunchy brown sugar pecan topping, this is the best easy sweet potato casserole recipe.

Ingredients

For the sweet potatoes:

  • 2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • ¼ cup honey (or pure maple syrup or brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup milk (warmed, whole milk is best)
  • 1 large egg

For the topping:

  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions 

  • Cook the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 425° F.* Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrub sweet potatoes and pat them dry. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the top of each sweet potato.
  • Bake sweet potatoes in the preheated oven until very soft when pierced with a fork: 50-65 minutes for medium sweet potatoes, 40-50 minutes for small sweet potatoes, or 65+ minutes for large sweet potatoes. Allow potatoes to cool slightly, until cool enough to handle.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.
  • Slice potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Discard the skins.
  • Add the cubes of butter to the bowl. Use a fork or potato masher to mash the sweet potatoes.
  • Add the honey, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and vanilla. Use a hand mixer or spoon to mix until very well combined.
  • Mix in the warmed milk and egg until just combined.
  • Transfer the sweet potato mixture to an 8x8-inch baking dish.
  • To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 20-25 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and casserole is at least 160° F in the center. Let sweet potato casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • This casserole is best made with baked sweet potatoes because baking the sweet potatoes brings out their natural sweetness and gives them a rich, caramelized flavor. If you prefer, you can steam the sweet potatoes. Peel and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Place in a steamer basket over a pot of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Let the potatoes steam for 15-20 minutes, until they are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  • To Make Ahead: Prepare the casserole, keeping the topping in a separate airtight container. Refrigerate casserole for up to one day. When you are ready to bake the casserole, sprinkle on the topping. I recommend letting the casserole sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before baking to take the chill off. You may need to add 15-20 minutes to the covered bake time if baking a chilled casserole.
  • Recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  • To make a streusel topping instead of the pecan topping, stir together 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Then stir in 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir in the 3/4 cup of chopped pecans (or omit them if you prefer) and scatter the topping over the casserole.
  • To make sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, scatter mini marshmallows over the top of the casserole when you remove the foil and then continue baking for 20-25 more minutes. You can add mini marshmallows on top of the pecan topping or omit the pecan topping and use marshmallows instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 237mg | Potassium: 554mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 20294IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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