Sweet potato casserole is one of the most favorite holiday side dish. This classic dish is made with soft mashed sweet potato filling and pecan crumble topping. I also include directions on how to make it with a marshmallow topping.
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My husband always says that my sweet potato casserole rivals my sweet potato pie. I would have to agree with him because it’s not just the similar flavors of both dishes that we love, it’s also the fact that we can eat this sweet treat with the main meal.
Sweet potato casserole adds a delicious touch of sweetness to the holiday plate. You get a little turkey, some stuffing, mashed potatoes, some green bean casserole, and some sweet potatoes on your plate. The combination of sweet and savory flavors is quite satisfying and bring nothing but comfort and joy.
But don’t just think that you have to wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas to have some. Since sweet potatoes are available year-round, this side dish will compliment any family dinner, any time of the year.
Sweet potatoes – make sure to pick good quality, fresh sweet potatoes without any soft spots or dark spots. Size of the sweet potatoes is not as important since you will be cutting them into cubes.
Brown sugar – you can use either light or dark brown sugar, the difference is the amount of molasses added.
Whole milk – you can use half and half if you want the dish to be a little creamier.
Butter – always use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of sodium in your dish.
Flour – use all purpose flour to make the crumble topping. If you need to make the dish gluten free, use gluten free all purpose flour.
Pecans – make sure to use pecans without any coating! You can get pecan halves and chop them yourself since halves are often cheaper.
See the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and instructions.
How To Make Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Crumble Topping
For sweet potato casserole, it’s best to boil sweet potatoes rather than baking it. When sweet potatoes are baked, they retain and even release more of the natural sweetness. If you add sugar to baked sweet potatoes, it would just be too sweet. (If you do happen to bake them, or have some leftover, use much less sugar in a casserole or omit it.)
Peel sweet potatoes and chop them into 4-6 cubes. Place sweet potato chunks into a pot and fill it with cold water (1), just enough to cover the potatoes. Bring water to boil and cook potatoes until fork-tender.
Strain all the water out of the pot and let potatoes cool for a few minutes. (If you add egg to hot potatoes, you will end up with partially scrambled eggs.)
Add butter, eggs, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla extract (2) and mash it all together using a potato masher. I do not like using a mixer because it whips the potatoes and leaves it with a completely different texture. That’s why I recommend to mash sweet potatoes by hand, and get a little workout in a process.
Grease a 9×9 casserole pan with some butter all over the bottom and up the sides. Spread potato mixture evenly in the pan (3).
For Pecan Topping:
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans in a mixing bowl and mix until all evenly incorporated. Pour in melted butter while stirring and cutting with a fork. Continue to cut and stir with a fork until coarse crumbs form. The topping should look like crumbs, not paste.
Spread the pecan topping over sweet potatoes evenly (4) and bake the casserole for 40-45 minutes (5).
How to Make It With A Marshmallow Topping
Marshmallows make a beautiful presentation and a tasty, creamy addition to the casserole. You can choose to add marshmallows on top of the crunchy pecan topping or just stick to pecan and marshmallows.
PRO TIP: Either way, make sure to wait to add the marshmallows until the last 10 or so minutes of baking.
If you try to add marshmallows before starting to bake, they will get over-done within 15 minutes or so and the casserole needs it’s time to completely cook through because of the raw eggs. So it’s important to wait to add the marshmallows.
Follow the same instructions to make the sweet potato filling mixture as above through the step of spreading the mixture in the greased casserole pan.
After you spread the filling in a greased baking dish, simply spread 1.5 cups of chopped pecans over the sweet potato filling (6) and bake it for about 30 minutes (7). Take the casserole out and spread mini marshmallows over the top (8). If you want to get super creative, sprinkle a little bit of coarse salt on top and a few more pecans as well. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden brown (9).
Make Ahead Suggestions
Absolutely! It’s very easy to make the casserole ahead of time either part of the way of completely.
Option 1: Prepare sweet potato filling and spread it in the casserole dish. Cover the dish air-tight with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready, prepare the topping, spread it over the sweet potatoes and bake at 350° for about 45 minutes.
Option 2: Casserole can also be completely baked and stored in the refrigerator. Bake the casserole as directed in the recipe and let it cool to room temperature. As soon as it’s cooled, cover it air-tight and store in the refrigerator.
Reheating Sweet Potato Casserole
When ready to reheat the casserole, preheat the oven to 325° and take off all plastic wrap. Cover with aluminum foil and reheat for about 20 minutes. Take off the foil and finish reheating for another 10 minutes.
You’ve added too much liquid. Make sure to strain off all the cooking liquid after cooking sweet potatoes. After you let the sweet potatoes cool down a bit, see if more liquid needs to be strained off.
Remember, it’s easier to add more liquids and it’s impossible to take any out after mixing. So you can mix everything but the whole milk and gradually add whole milk at the end. That way you can judge if your sweet potato filling is getting too wet.
No, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. Yams have tough, dark brown skin and the flesh is more dry and starchy like a regular potato. They have a more neutral flavor and not much sweetness. Sweet potatoes have smooth reddish/orange skin and much softer flesh when cooked. The flesh is also orange/pink hue in color and has a sweet flavor.
Technically, yes, you can use canned sweet potatoes. Make sure to drain them well and you should gently rinse them with cold water.
Definitely don’t add milk until you’ve mashed and mixed all other ingredients together. Add milk a little bit at a time so your filling is not too watery.
Also, watch the sugar, canned sweet potatoes are packaged in syrup! Taste the sweet potato after rinsing and if it’s very sweet, don’t add sugar to the filling!
(Note that “canned yams” are usually sweet potatoes.)
More Must-Have Thanksgiving Dishes
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Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
Sweet Potato Filling:
- 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter chopped into pieces
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt more or less to taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Pecan Crunch Topping:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour*
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
Marshmallow Topping Option:
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (or chopped) (or pecan topping from above)
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
Sweet Potato Filling:
- Peel sweet potatoes and chop them into 4 pieces. Place sweet potato chunks into a pot and fill it with water, just enough to cover the potatoes.
- Bring water to boil and cook potatoes until fork-tender. Strain all the water out of the pot and let potatoes cool for a few minutes.
- Add butter, eggs, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and mash it all together using a potato masher.
- Grease a 9×9 casserole pan with some butter all over the bottom and up the sides. Spread potato mixture evenly in the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
Pecan Crumble Topping:
- Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans in a mixing bowl and mix until all evenly incorporated.
- Pour in melted butter while stirring with a fork. Continue to cut and stir with a fork until coarse crumbs form. The topping should look like crumbs, not paste.
- Spread the pecan topping over sweet potatoes evenly and bake the casserole for 40-45 minutes.
Marshmallow Topping Option:
- For the marshmallow topping, you can choose to add marshmallows on top of the crunchy pecan topping or just stick to simple pecan and marshmallows.
- Spread pecans (or pecan crunch topping) over the sweet potato filling and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Take the casserole out and spread marshmallows over the top. (If you want to get super creative, sprinkle a little bit of coarse salt on top as well.)
- Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden brown.
Originally published Will Cook For Smiles in October 2019.