4.80 from 10 votes

Sweet Potato Casserole

This indulgent sweet potato casserole is topped with the most delicious pecan topping and is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table!

Sweet potato casserole in a white casserole pan.

Sweet potato casserole is a classic side dish that brings warmth, comfort, and a touch of nostalgia to any meal. Often enjoyed during holiday gatherings, this versatile side dish can easily become a family favorite all year round. Rich in flavor and filled with nutrients, sweet potatoes are the star of this casserole, making it a delightful addition to your dinner table.

Dessert or casserole? It depends on who you ask! This sweet potato casserole reminds me of a cross between a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie. Even people who hate sweet potatoes will enjoy this easy recipe. I couldn’t stop thinking about the leftovers in my fridge and had to help myself to an extra serving.

The filling is creamy and sweet, and the topping adds flavor and crunch. I know you’ll want to make it repeatedly once you try it.

Preparing a sweet potato casserole is simple, with most recipes requiring only a few steps. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your kitchen fills with the tempting aroma of this delicious dish. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, sweet potato casserole is sure to become a beloved and easy-to-make recipe in your home.

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Why You’ll Love This Easy Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

  • Taste: This classic recipe is a delightful combination of sweet and savory flavors. With its tender sweet potatoes, creamy filling, and crunchy pecan streusel topping, your taste buds will be delighted!
  • Versatility: Sweet potato casserole can be customized to suit your preferences or dietary needs. You can easily modify the recipe using vegetarian marshmallows or skip the crunchy topping and opt for a sweet marshmallow topping.
  • Ease of preparation: You don’t need to be a seasoned chef to prepare a delicious sweet potato casserole. It’s made with simple ingredients. Simply boil your sweet potatoes until tender, mash them with your choice of seasonings, and top with your preferred topping before baking. It’s that easy!
  • Perfect for any occasion: Sweet potato casserole is a crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for various occasions. Whether serving it as a side dish during Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner or simply enjoying it as a comforting meal on a chilly day, this versatile casserole will always be a hit.


For the filling

  • Sweet potatoes – I chose to use fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned for this recipe. You’ll want to bake or boil them to mash them easily!
  • Brown sugar – Is it just me, or is brown sugar the best? It adds some sweetness to the filling and provides so much flavor!
  • Milk – Milk helps make the sweet potato mash extra creamy.
  • Eggs – Eggs help hold the filling together.
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla extract provides just a hint of vanilla flavor.
  • Unsalted butter – Just a little butter makes the filling extra rich.
  • Shredded sweetened coconut – Shredded coconut provides a fun texture!

For the pecan topping

  • All-purpose flour – Flour is the base of this pecan streusel topping.
  • Brown sugar – More brown sugar sweetens up the topping.
  • Unsalted butter – Butter is another essential ingredient for forming the streusel.
  • Pecans – Chopped pecans are the perfect finish for this casserole!
Ingredients to make sweet potato casserole.

How to Make the Best Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

  • Step One: Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Step Two: In a large mixing bowl, stir your soft sweet potatoes, brown sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, butter, coconut, and salt. Spread the sweet potato filling evenly in a 9×13 inch baking pan.
Steps to make sweet potato casserole.
  • Step Three: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, butter, and pecans until a crumbly consistency. The quickest way to do this is just to use your hands! Spread evenly over the sweet potato mixture.
Steps to make sweet potato casserole.
  • Step Four: Bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot.
Steps to make sweet potato casserole.

Equipment Needed

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    What to Serve with Sweet Potato Casserole

    Sweet potato casserole is a fantastic side dish that’s both delicious and comforting. If you’re planning a meal around this dish, plenty of options pair well with sweet potatoes. Here are some suggestions for what to serve as a main dish or complementary sides.

    For main dishes, consider serving:

    • Roasted or grilled meats, like chicken, turkey, or pork. It’s a classic Thanksgiving side dish!
    • Hearty salads with protein, such as quinoa or kale salad.
    • Seafood options, like salmon or shrimp.

    If you’d like to add more side dishes to complement your sweet potato casserole, consider the following:

    • Green beans, either simply steamed or a green bean casserole.
    • A vibrant and fresh salad with a variety of vegetables.
    • A medley of roasted vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, or asparagus,

    Check out my favorite Thanksgiving recipes:

    Sweet potato casserole on a serving spoon.

    Variations and Substitutions

    • Crunchy toppings: Instead of the traditional pecan crumble, you can use walnuts, almonds, or even granola for a slightly different flavor and texture. Consider trying a maple-walnut topping to give your casserole a unique twist!
    • Sweetness level: Customize the sweetness level of your casserole according to your taste. Alternatively, add more brown sugar or maple syrup for an indulgent treat. You could use white sugar instead of brown sugar if you prefer.
    • Dairy-free options: If you want a dairy-free variation, substitute the butter with a plant-based alternative, like coconut oil, olive oil, or vegan butter. You can also use almond or coconut milk to replace regular milk.
    • Egg alternatives: Need to make your casserole egg-free? No problem! Replace the eggs with a mixture of ground flaxseed and water, applesauce, or a store-bought egg replacement product.
    • Creative additions: Feel free to get creative and add different ingredients to your sweet potato casserole. For example, mix some pumpkin puree for a delightful autumnal twist, or add dried cranberries or orange zest for a fruity flavor. Add extra warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or allspice.

    Other Ways to Make

    Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

    Don’t worry, dear plant-based friends; you can enjoy a fantastic sweet potato casserole without sacrificing your dietary preferences! Substitute the traditional milk with almond or soy milk, and replace butter with your favorite vegan alternative. In place of eggs, consider using a flax egg, and for the topping, try pecans or a vegan marshmallow option. Your vegan sweet potato casserole will be as delicious and comforting as the classic one.

    Savory Sweet Potato Casserole

    If you’re looking for a less sweet version of the traditional casserole, try out a savory sweet potato casserole. Add herbs like thyme and rosemary, garlic, and caramelized onions for a depth of flavor. A touch of grated Parmesan cheese in the mixture will bring a nice savory taste. This delicious twist will be a great addition to your festive spread.

    Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole

    The popular marshmallow sweet potato casserole is reminiscent of childhood comfort food. Begin with the same ingredients as the basic sweet potato casserole, but top it off with a generous amount of fluffy marshmallows. The marshmallows will melt and create a gooey, sweet crust when baked. It’s a delightful combination of flavors and textures that will leave you craving more. 

    Sweet potato casserole with a piece removed.

    How to Store

    Refrigerate your sweet potato casserole if you consume it within a few days. To do this, simply cover your casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. Make sure to place it where it won’t be crushed or disturbed by other items in the fridge. Reheating your casserole can be done by preheating your oven to 350°F and baking it for 20-25 minutes or until heated.

    Can I Freeze?

    Yes, you can freeze your sweet potato casserole! If you want to make a large batch in advance or have leftovers after a festive dinner, freezing is a great option for preserving the taste and texture. Follow simple guidelines to ensure your casserole stays delicious even after freezing.

    First, prepare your sweet potato casserole as you usually would. Once you’ve assembled the dish, consider whether to freeze it before or after baking. Freezing before baking can allow you to preserve the taste and texture of the casserole.

    Let it cool to room temperature to freeze your casserole if you’ve already baked it. In both cases, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or store it in an airtight container. This step is crucial for preventing freezer burn and ensuring your casserole stays fresh and flavorful.

    Sweet potato casseroles can be safely kept in the freezer for up to three months. However, consume your frozen casserole within two months for the best results.

    When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen sweet potato casserole, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Once it’s thawed, reheat it in the oven until heated and the topping, such as marshmallows, is golden and crispy.

    Can I Make Ahead?

    Yes, you can make sweet potato casserole up to 3 days ahead! Preparing this dish in advance can help you save time and reduce stress during the busy holiday season. 

    To make a sweet potato casserole, follow the recipe as usual, but stop before the final baking step. Once the casserole is assembled, cover it tightly with foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake the dish, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before placing it in the oven.

    Leftover Ideas

    • Turn it into breakfast: If you have some remaining sweet potato casserole, why not start your day with something delicious? You can make sweet potato waffles by adding milk, eggs, butter, and baking powder to your leftover casserole. Cook the mixture on a hot waffle iron, and you’ll have a tasty breakfast.
    • Create a unique dessert: If you’re craving something sweet, consider turning your leftover sweet potatoes into a delectable dessert. You can make sweet potato ice cream by combining cooked sweet potatoes, baking spices, and classic ice cream ingredients in an ice cream maker. The result is a delicious fall treat that everybody will love.
    • Sweet potato pound cake: Another delicious option is to bake a sweet potato pound cake using your leftover sweet potatoes. Simply blend the sweet potatoes with flour, sugar, butter, and other cake ingredients, then bake according to your preferred cake recipe. The outcome will be a moist and flavorful pound cake perfect for sharing.
    A piece of sweet potato casserole on a plate.

    Recipe Tips and Tricks

    • Mashing the potatoes: Use a hand mixer on low speed for a smoother texture for about 45 seconds. Use a potato masher or a fork if you prefer a chunkier texture.
    • Toasting the pecans: Enhance the flavor of the pecans by toasting them for a few minutes in the oven before adding them to your recipe.
    • Using yams: Although sweet potatoes are traditionally used, yams can be a delicious alternative to this casserole.
    • Prepare the sweet potatoes ahead of time: Reduce your workload on the day by baking the sweet potatoes a day before; this will save you time and ensure they are ready when needed.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid

    • Overworking the mash is a prevalent issue in many sweet potato casseroles. It’s important not to create a silky smooth mash, which can result in an unsatisfactory texture after baking. Instead, aim for a coarse mash to give the casserole its character and body.
    • Undercooking sweet potatoes can also lead to a disappointing casserole. There’s nothing worse than biting into a hard, crunchy sweet potato instead of enjoying a tender and moist one. Since each sweet potato varies in size and thickness, checking if they’re fully cooked before incorporating them into your dish is crucial.
    • It’s not uncommon for the top of the casserole to burn before the entire dish is fully heated or cooked through. To avoid this issue, monitor your dish closely and adjust the cooking time or temperature.

    How to Cook Sweet Potatoes

    Sweet potatoes are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be prepared in various ways. 


    Baking sweet potatoes can enhance their natural sweetness and is a simple method. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Start by gently scrubbing the sweet potatoes to remove dirt, then make a few small punctures to release steam. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes or until they are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork.


    Boiling is another easy method for cooking sweet potatoes, saving you some time. First, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into evenly-sized cubes. Place the cubes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the sweet potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are fork-tender. Drain the water and let the sweet potatoes cool down on a cutting board.

    What is the Best Way to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Sweet Potato Casserole?

    It is recommended to use boiled sweet potatoes for a sweet potato casserole. Boiling them allows for a smoother and creamier texture, which works great as a base for the casserole. Additionally, boiling sweet potatoes is usually quicker than baking them, helping you save time while preparing your dish. 

    History and Background

    Sweet potato casserole has a rich and interesting history in the United States. You might be surprised to learn that the first recorded recipe for sweet potato casserole dates back to 1877. It gained popularity in the early 1900s and has become a Thanksgiving staple.

    Sweet potato recipes in the United States can be traced back to 1796 when Amelia Simmons published American Cookery. Then, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, American cookbooks boomed, providing an environment for sweet potato casserole to flourish.

    A particular version of sweet potato casserole – with pecans – originated in the South. Southern Sweet Potato Casserole has evolved, with early versions often including ingredients like cream or milk. Today, you can find popular variations like the one served at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which showcases the modern recipe we’ve come to know and love.

    Another interesting fact about sweet potato casserole is its association with marshmallows. The first recipe for mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows dates to 1917. It was developed by the Rueckheim brothers’ marshmallow company when marshmallows were becoming quite trendy.

    Whether topped with pecans, marshmallows, or both, sweet potato casserole has undoubtedly earned its place in our hearts and on our tables.

    A piece of sweet potato casserole on a plate.

    What are Sweet Potatoes?

    Sweet potatoes are a delicious and versatile root vegetable that you can enjoy in both sweet and savory dishes. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from the commonly known orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to the lesser-known purple and white varieties.

    Sweet potatoes, or Ipomoea batatas, are native to Central and South America. Over time, they have become a staple food in many cultures and cuisines worldwide, including North America, Asia, and Africa. They are delicious and pack a punch in terms of nutritional value.

    These nutrient-rich vegetables are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals. They contain high amounts of Vitamin A (beta-carotene), Vitamin C, and manganese. Additionally, sweet potatoes provide good dietary fiber, potassium, and several antioxidants, contributing to overall health.

    When it comes to cooking, there are countless ways to prepare and enjoy sweet potatoes. You can boil, bake, roast, or even fry them.

    Yams Vs. Sweet Potatoes

    It’s important to know that they are two different root vegetables. Although their names are often used interchangeably in conversation and cooking, they come from distinct plant families, taste different, and have different nutritional profiles.

    Yams are native to Africa and Asia, with over 600 varieties available. They generally have darker, rough, bark-like skin, and their flesh can vary from white to purple, depending on the variety. Yams tend to be starchier and drier in comparison to sweet potatoes.

    Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, originate from the Americas, especially Central and South America. They have smoother skin, ranging in color from beige to orange. Their flesh also varies in color and can be white, orange, or even purple. Sweet potatoes are generally sweeter and creamier than yams.

    You’re likelier to find sweet potatoes in your local grocery store than true yams in the United States. Some so-called “yams” at the supermarket are just orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. This confusion often stems from a historical marketing strategy to differentiate between the two types of sweet potatoes – the firm, white-fleshed ones and the softer, orange-fleshed ones, which were then labeled as “yams.”

    You’ll want to use sweet potatoes when making your sweet potato casserole due to their sweeter taste and creamier texture. To be sure you’re buying the right ingredient, look for smooth, thin skin and a label that says “sweet potato.”

    Are Sweet Potatoes Good for You?

    Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but they also offer numerous health benefits. They are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, they are rich in vitamin A, vital in maintaining good vision, healthy skin, and a strong immune system.

    Apart from vitamin A, sweet potatoes also provide vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. These nutrients promote digestion, support heart health, and regulate blood sugar levels. The antioxidants in sweet potatoes, such as beta-carotene, can help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals.

    Can I Use Canned Sweet Potatoes?

    Absolutely! Using canned sweet potatoes can save you valuable time in the kitchen and still provide delicious results.

    Preparing the casserole with canned sweet potatoes is quite simple. You just need to drain the canned potatoes, mash them, and mix them in the ingredients. 

    Do I Peel the Sweet Potatoes?

    Yes, peeling sweet potatoes is essential when making a sweet potato casserole. It’s crucial to properly clean and peel them before cooking to ensure a smooth and flavorful dish. Start by giving the sweet potatoes a good rinse in cold or warm water to scrub away any dirt.

    How to Tell When Sweet Potatoes Are Fully Cooked

    You can use the fork test. When you think your sweet potatoes might be done, gently poke a fork into the center of the thickest part of the potato. If the fork slides in easily without resistance, your sweet potatoes are cooked and ready for use in the casserole. If there’s still some resistance, continue cooking and checking regularly.

    Another method to check the doneness of sweet potatoes is by observing color and texture changes. As sweet potatoes cook, their color will change from a vibrant orange to a slightly muted orange, and their texture will become soft and tender. Keep an eye on these changes to help you determine when the potatoes are fully cooked.

    Sweet potatoes are usually fully cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 200°F (93°C). If you have a kitchen thermometer, you can use it to check the temperature of the potatoes. Insert the thermometer into the sweet potato’s thickest part without touching the pot’s bottom. If they’ve reached the proper temperature, they’re likely done cooking.

    How to Choose the Best Sweet Potatoes?

    • Inspect the skin: The skin of the sweet potato should be smooth and free of any significant blemishes, cracks, or bruises. These imperfections may affect the taste and texture of your casserole.
    • Firmness is key: Gently press on the sweet potato with your thumb. The ideal sweet potato will be firm to the touch but not rock hard. If the sweet potato feels soft or has any give, it may be past its prime and unsuitable for your casserole.
    • Pay attention to the shape: While sweet potatoes come in various shapes and sizes, choosing uniform ones is best. This will make it easier to chop and ensure even cooking for your casserole. Uneven or oddly shaped sweet potatoes can result in inconsistency in your dish.
    • Avoid sprouting or mold: If you see any sprouts or mold on the sweet potato, it’s best to skip it. This could be a sign the sweet potato is no longer fresh and may not provide the best flavor for your casserole.


    How can I make the casserole fluffy and not dense?

    Don’t skip adding the eggs to achieve a light and moist casserole filling. They provide lift, structure, and volume, making the filling custard-like. 

    Why are there eggs in sweet potato casserole?

    The eggs in sweet potato casserole help bind everything together and make it more of a casserole consistency vs. just being a sweet potato mash!

    Sweet Potato Recipes

    Try my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Bacon and Turnip Casserole.

    Do you have any amazing Thanksgiving recipes? I’m always looking for more recipes to try! Follow me on Instagram @simplystacieblog, on Facebook at Simply Stacie, and on Pinterest @SimplyStacie and let me know how you liked this and my other recipes!

    4.80 from 10 votes

    Sweet Potato Casserole

    Created by Stacie Vaughan
    Servings 8
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 35 minutes
    Total Time 45 minutes
    This simple Thanksgiving side dish is dessert-like! The filling is creamy and sweet and the topping adds an extra bit of flavour and crunch.


    • 3 cups cooked sweet potatoes mashed
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
    • ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
    • ½ tsp salt


    • ½ cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
    • 1 cup pecans chopped


    • Preheat oven to 350°F.
    • In a large bowl, stir together sweet potatoes, brown sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, butter, coconut and salt. Spread evenly in a 9×13 inch baking pan.
    • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, butter and pecans until a crumbly consistency. Spread evenly over sweet potato mixture.
    • Bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot.



    Tip: Use clean hands to quickly to get the topping to a crumbly consistency.


    Serving: 1g | Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 550mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 37g

    The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

    Course Casseroles
    Cuisine American
    Keyword sweet potato casserole

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    Recipe Rating


    1. We will love this delicious casserole! Your post is awesome and thanks so much for sharing it with us at Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have a great week and come back to see us real soon!
      Miz Helen

    2. Hi Stacie! I am featuring your casserole at Totally Terrific Tuesday! This looks amazing and perfect for Thanksgiving. Have a great week!

    3. Rita Thayer says:

      Thank you…the sweet potato casserole sounds amazing…& will be cooking it soon!

    4. Have you prepared this the day b/4 and cooked it just prior to the meal. 2# – Can it be prepared, not baked, and frozen ahead of time?

      1. Hi Ramona,

        Yes, you can prepare the day before. However, I would make the topping portion the same day right before you go to bake it.

        Yes, you can freeze it for up to 3 months.

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