Looking for the perfect Thanksgiving side dish? This Sweet Potato Casserole with pecan topping is always one of the first to disappear! Cinnamon-spiced sweet potatoes with crunchy pecans and brown sugar are a winning combo.
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A Classic Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe, Perfect for the Holidays
There are some holiday dishes that you kind of have to acquire a taste for – maybe it’s brussels sprouts, maybe it’s oyster dressing, maybe it’s that odd Jello salad that seems to have a lot of things… floating in it. If you give them a shot – or multiple shots – you can eventually see why they keep coming back year after year…
Other holiday dishes just speak for themselves, no learning curve necessary. This is one of them. Every year, sweet potato casserole with pecans shows up at Thanksgiving, and every year, you better believe it’s a race to get a serving before the whole thing is gone! Nothing beats a simple casserole of creamy mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon, topped with crunchy pecans in a streusel-like mixture of flour, brown sugar, and butter. Yum!
If you want more ideas for using sweet potatoes this holiday season, be sure to take a glance at this marshmallow-topped Sweet Potato Casserole, these Instant Pot Mashed Maple Sweet Potatoes, and my easy Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows.
Sweet potato casserole with pecan topping may taste indulgent, but it’s actually made with only a little bit of sugar – and everything in it is from scratch. If you don’t want to use pecans, feel free to swap them for walnuts.
For the Casserole
- Sweet Potatoes: Peel them, and cut them into chunks.
- Salt: Some for the cooking water, and some for the actual casserole.
- Butter: While I often use unsalted butter for baking, in this recipe I like to use salted. If you use unsalted, you might want to add just a pinch of additional salt.
- Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar, or for a more molasses-y taste, use half light and half dark brown sugar.
For the Pecan Topping
- Pecans: Finely chopped. You can do this by hand, or put them in a food processor.
- All-Purpose Flour: To bring the topping together and give it some body.
- Brown Sugar: Again, light brown is my preference, but you could use dark brown, as well.
- Cinnamon and Nutmeg
- Butter: Make sure to melt your butter to use in the topping.
Do You Put Eggs in Sweet Potato Casserole?
Some recipes for sweet potato casserole call for eggs, but this one does not. Eggs can be great in sweet potato casserole, adding some richness and structure to the mixture, but I find that this simple recipe doesn’t need eggs in order to have a great flavor and perfect texture – and it’s also helpful for those with allergies!
Let’s Make Sweet Potato Casserole!
So just how do you make sweet potato casserole? It’s actually really easy, even if you’re not using canned sweet potatoes. Here’s the scoop.
- Prep the Oven, Baking Dish, and Sweet Potatoes. To get started, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or butter a big baking dish (9×13” size) and set it aside. Then place your peeled and cut sweet potatoes in a large pot along with a teaspoon of salt, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, turn it down to a simmer, and let the sweet potatoes cook for 15 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Make the Casserole Mixture. Drain out the water, and return the cooked sweet potatoes to the pot. Toss in the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining salt. Mash with a potato masher until they’re nice and soft and well combined. Spread this into your buttered baking dish and smooth it out.
Make the Topping Mixture. Now grab a mixing bowl, and place your chopped pecans, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and melted butter in it. Stir well to make a crumbly topping. Sprinkle this evenly over the sweet potato mixture in the baking dish. Make sure to use every bit – it’s so good!
- Bake! Slide that baking dish into the preheated oven, and let it cook for about 25 minutes. The topping should be lightly browned and the whole casserole should be heated through nicely. (Also, your house will smell like heaven.) Take it out of the oven, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving so it can set up.
There’s a lot to love about this recipe, especially when you count all of the variations and twists you can do with it! Here are a few helpful notes on the recipe.
- Add Oats: Sometimes I also like to add 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats to the topping mixture. If you do this, add 3 extra tablespoons of melted butter to help wet the oats.
- Sweet Potato Prep: If you prefer not to boil your sweet potatoes, an even easier way is to bake them and remove the skins, and mash. It takes a little longer, but it’s less time standing at the stove.
- For a Fluffy Texture: If you want to make your sweet potatoes fluffier like a sweet potato soufflé, add an egg and whip the sweet potato mixture with a hand mixer to get lots of air into the sweet potatoes. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- For a Creamy Taste: For a creamier sweet potato casserole, swap out the brown sugar in the mashed sweet potatoes for sweetened condensed milk.
Festive Serving Suggestions
A dish like this works perfectly as part of a Christmas or Thanksgiving feast, so serve it up with all of your family’s favorites. Some of ours include…
- Stuffing: This easy tutorial for making The Best Homemade Stuffing will have everyone’s mouth watering, long before the meal is ready. Consider yourself warned!
- Sausage Balls: No one can resist classic Bisquick Sausage Balls – their biscuit-like texture with sausage and cheddar is just too good.
- Roast Turkey: A big roast turkey just makes the perfect centerpiece for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, right? And it doesn’t have to be difficult – this post shows exactly How to Cook a Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey.
- Ham: Of course a big gorgeous ham also goes great with sweet potatoes. Try my favorite easy recipe for Crockpot Ham! Or save some time and make an Air Fryer Ham!
Make Ahead Instructions
Can you make this ahead? Absolutely! Prep the sweet potato casserole all the way until the last step, but instead of baking it, wrap it with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate it for up to 48 hours.
When you’re ready to bake, remove the casserole from the fridge for an hour so that it can come to room temperature. Then bake according to the recipe directions.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.
When it comes to reheating, use the oven if at all possible so that the topping is crisped up. If that’s not on the cards, this sweet potato casserole with pecan topping can be reheated in the microwave as well.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, sweet potato casserole with pecan topping can be successfully frozen for up to 3 months. Make sure you wrap it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil – or just pack it into an airtight container. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
For the Casserole
- 3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 2” pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Pecan Topping
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9x13” baking dish. Set aside.
- Add sweet potatoes and salt to a large pot and add water till sweet potatoes are just covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Drain sweet potatoes and return to pot. Mash sweet potatoes until smooth, then add in butter, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Mash again until well combined.
- Transfer the mashed potatoes to the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top into an even layer. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together the pecans, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and melted butter until well combined. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes in an even layer.
- Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until topping is lightly browned. Let rest for 5 minutes after baking to set up, then serve warm!
Tips and Variations:
- You can use walnuts in place of the pecans if you prefer.
- Sometimes I also like to add 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats to the topping mixture. If you do this, add 3 extra tablespoons of melted butter to help wet the oats.
- If you prefer not to boil your sweet potatoes, an even easier way is to bake them and remove the skins and mash. It takes a little longer, but is less time standing at the stove.
- Can I make this ahead? Absolutely! Prep the sweet potato casserole all the way until the last step - baking it. Instead, wrap it with saran wrap or foil and refrigerate it for up to 48 hours. When ready to bake, remove casserole from the fridge an hour before you want to put it in the oven and let it warm up to room temperature. Then bake according to recipe directions.
- If you want to make your sweet potatoes fluffier like a sweet potato soufflé, add an egg and whip the sweet potato mixture with a hand mixer to get lots of air into the sweet potatoes. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- For a creamier sweet potato casserole, swap out the brown sugar in the mashed sweet potatoes for sweetened condensed milk.
- Fridge: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in fridge.
- Reheat: I like to reheat this casserole in the oven, whenever possible, for best results. But it can be reheated in the microwave as well.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 296Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 334mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 5gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g
More Holiday Favorites
- Rustic Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash
- The Best Green Bean Casserole
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Cranberry Relish
- Crockpot Turkey Breast
- Easy Jiffy Corn Casserole
- Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Pie
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