You probably already know that sweet potato casserole is a delectable dish usually served at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And it’s no surprise why it’s such a hit at every party.
It’s got sweet and tender sweet potatoes topped with crunchy pecans, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. How can you go wrong?
Pecan-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
While most sweet potato casseroles have that classic marshmallow top, this recipe goes with a delightful crunchy pecan crust.
As a Thanksgiving side dish, I prefer the less sweet option.
The delicately sweet and spiced sweet potatoes pair perfectly with nutty, crunchy pecans.
And you’ll love that added texture!
Once you have this recipe, you’ll never go back to marshmallows ever again.
There are no complicated or hard-to-find ingredients here.
Check out everything you need to whip up this holiday dinner classic. You may have everything you need on hand right now!
- Sweet potatoes. Bake them in the oven to bring out their rich flavors.
- White sugar. Sure, sweet potatoes are sweet on their own. But adding granulated sugar amplifies their sugary goodness.
- Eggs. Without eggs, it’s just mashed sweet potatoes. Adding egg to your mixture helps bind everything together.
- Salt. A dash of salt helps tame the sweetness and draws out the natural flavor from the sweet potatoes.
- Butter. Always reach for unsalted butter in this recipe. It allows you to control the amount of salt to prevent your dish from being too salty.
- Evaporated milk. While some recipes use milk, evaporated milk adds the perfect creamy consistency to this holiday recipe.
- Vanilla extract. A splash of vanilla extract provides more complex flavor notes.
- Spices. Cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg add a fragrant, and scrumptious flavor to this dish.
- Brown sugar. For the topping, brown sugar adds more sweetness that pairs perfectly with pecans.
- All-purpose flour. The flour helps your crumble topping from sticking together.
- Chopped pecans. And the real star of the show: chopping pecans. If you are short on time, you can give those pecans a quick blitz in the food processor for a quick chopping.
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
You won’t believe how easily this sweet potato recipe comes together. While it bakes, you can spend more time making other sides for the big day.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to whip up this tasty sweet potato casserole.
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray or butter.
2. Bake and mash the sweet potatoes. Pierce the outside skin of the sweet potato with a fork and bake in the oven for one hour. Then, mash in a large bowl.
3. Create the sweet potato mixture. Add white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg to potatoes. Mix well and transfer to the baking dish.
4. Make the pecan topping. In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and flour. Then, slowly add butter until a crumbly mixture forms. Add chopped pecans and sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
5. Bake. Place sweet potatoes in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Serve, and enjoy!
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
Can’t live without marshmallows? You can have the best of both worlds!
Simply make this sweet potato side as-is, then throw on some mini marshmallows and broil for 3-5 minutes.
Not a fan of pecans? No worries!
Skip the pecan crumble topping entirely. Bake the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, add your marshmallows, and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Tips & Tricks
When getting ready for your Thanksgiving family meal, you want everything to be perfect. And that includes the sweet potato dish!
Follow these quick tips and tricks so they’re picture-perfect on the big day.
- Find the right potato texture. If you want some texture in your potatoes, use a potato masher or a fork to mash them.
- Roast your pecans first. Want an even more flavorful topping? Bring out the flavor of the pecans by toasting them for a few minutes in the oven. It’s a little step that makes a big difference.
- Get creative with toppings. You don’t have to stop with just marshmallows and pecans. Top the casserole with toasted coconut flairs for a tropical flair!
- Make it even nuttier. Are pecans not your thing? No worries! Adding any nutty, crunchy element works in this Thanksgiving sidekick. Try almonds, walnuts, or even pumpkin seeds. Or, try a combination.
- Let it rest. Allow it to set before serving. Apart from the sweet potato mixture, the topping also needs 5-10 minutes to dry out to have that wonderful crunch.
Tired of the classics every Thanksgiving?
Check out these quick sweet potato casserole recipe suggestions. They’ll give your sweet potato casserole a modern makeover.
- Savory Sweet Potato Casserole. Skip the sweetness and replace all that sugar with savory components like fresh herbs, garlic, or cheese.
- Candied Sweet Potato Casserole. Candy the sweet potatoes first by boiling them in a sugar syrup. You can even add pumpkin pie spices for a richer flavor.
- Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole. Swap out butter for coconut or vegetable oil. The non-vegans at the table won’t notice!
- Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole with Goat Cheese and Sage. Want to impress your fancy in-laws this Thanksgiving? Try adding a little goat cheese and sage to your sweet potatoes for a sophisticated and complex flavor.
Can You Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time?
Hosting a Thanksgiving party can be tiresome and time-consuming, so you’ll need all the help you can get.
Preparing side dishes ahead of time cuts down so much preparation time on the day of your party.
You can prepare it as early as two days in advance and cross it out of your to-do list early on.
You can either bake the casserole ahead of time or prepare the mixture for baking later
Bake the Casserole
Here’s how to bake the whole casserole ahead of time:
- Follow the instructions and bake the dish.
- Let it cool to room temperature, cover it with plastic, then pop it in the fridge.
- When you’re ready to serve it, cover it with foil and warm it in the oven.
- You may want to add a few extra nuts so it’s nice and crunchy.
Prepare the Ingredients
Another great option is to prep the different elements and put them together to bake on the big day.
- Make the filling and topping, but keep them separate.
- Store in the fridge until ready to bake.
- Take the sweet potato mixture out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking.
- Spread it into a greased baking dish and top with the topping.
- Bake as instructed and serve!
How To Store Sweet Potato Casserole
My favorite thing about Thanksgiving dinner is that there are always leftovers!
And the Thanksgiving side dishes are always the best on the second day.
Here are a few tips to ensure your tasty Thanksgiving sides stay as fresh as possible.
To Store: Allow the casserole to come to room temperature, and cover tightly with plastic. Place it in the fridge, where it will stay fresh for three to five days.
To Freeze: Assemble the unbaked casserole in an oven and freezer-safe container. Cover it tightly with plastic and foil, then freeze for up to three months.
To Reheat: Thaw frozen (unbaked) casserole in the fridge overnight. Then, bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes.
Pro tip: If you want it to survive longer, squeeze some lemon juice on top of the sweet potatoes to delay discoloring.
What to Serve With Sweet Potato Casserole
When coming up with Thanksgiving dinner ideas, sweet potatoes always make the cut. But what else can you serve alongside this classic?
I have a few tasty suggestions that your family will devour.
- Green vegetables. Adding green veggies not only pairs perfectly with the sweetness of this casserole but adds more color to the table.
- Mashed potatoes. It’s Thanksgiving- it’s no time to commit to one type of carb. Give your guests some starchy options, and make up a batch of mashed potatoes. After all, not everyone loves sweet potato casserole.
- Cranberry sauce. Sweet potato casserole is sweet and a little salty. Add a kick of tartness to the table with homemade cranberry sauce.
- Salads. A light and crisp salad is always a welcomed treat alongside heavy Thanksgiving foods. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, either. Some iceberg lettuce, crunchy veggies, and a light citrus vinaigrette are perfect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Here are some of the most common sweet potato casserole questions answered below.
Are yams and sweet potatoes the same thing?
No, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing!
A yam is a tuber, and a sweet potato is a root vegetable. Yams have a more neutral, earthy flavor while sweet potatoes are sweeter and more tender.
How do you keep sweet potato casserole from being runny?
To prevent runny potatoes, always make sure they are perfectly dry before adding them to your casserole dish.
Also, baking them in the center rack until brown and golden ensures they won’t be runny.
Is it better to boil or bake sweet potatoes for casserole?
Baking is always better! Baking potatoes draws out their natural flavors, and prevents them from becoming too soggy.
When you boil potatoes, you often dump all the flavor down the drain.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes To Try
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