Fragrant with cinnamon and topped with melted marshmallows and fresh pecans, comforting Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows is a beloved holiday side dish that’s as indulgent as dessert, and as wholesome as can be.
A Sweet and Satisfying Holiday Casserole
Have you ever tried a sweet potato casserole? For some of us, it’s a must-have part of any holiday meal. For others, it might be unfamiliar and even a bit confusing; is it a dessert, a side dish, or both?
After all, it is a sweet dish, standing out among all the savory sides with its proud topping of nuts and marshmallows.
Well, whether you place it right next to the stuffing and green bean casserole, or place it with the pies and cookies, there’s no doubt that this seasonal favorite is utterly scrumptious, thanks to a wholesome blend of mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.
The melted mini-marshmallows on top form a sweet golden-brown topping that’s crisp on the outside, and almost foamy inside, perfect with the comfortingly sweet casserole mixture and crunchy pecans.
What Is the Difference Between Sweet Potato Pie and Sweet Potato Casserole?
Well, it’s true that the two dishes are very similar! Both are sweet, and both feature a filling made with sweet potatoes. Adding to the confusion, some people even add eggs to their sweet potato casserole and call it a soufflé! But, there are a few differences that make, well, all the difference:
- Crust: A sweet potato pie is very similar to pumpkin pie, and is always baked in a pastry crust.
- Seasonings: Sweet potato pie is made with a generous blend of pumpkin pie spices, while casserole usually includes only a moderate amount of cinnamon, or no warming spices at all.
- Topping: Sweet potato pie is not baked with any topping, although like most pies, it’s great served with whipped cream. Sweet potato casserole, on the other hand, is all about the topping! Crunchy nuts are a must, and streusel, marshmallows, maple syrup, and crushed cereal are common, as well.
- Custard: Sweet potato pie filling usually contains eggs and milk, creating a more wobbly custard texture, while sweet potato souffle is light, silky, and less “set.”
So what exactly goes into this sweet potato casserole with marshmallows? Mostly, just wholesome mashed sweet potatoes! There’s no need for a long list of additional items. Each simple ingredient shines in this easy recipe!
- Sweet Potatoes: You can use any variety of sweet potatoes in this dish. Peel and cube them before cooking.
- Butter: ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- Brown Sugar: Either dark or light brown sugar will be fine.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon goes perfectly with sweet potatoes and marshmallows!
- Crushed Red Pepper: Definitely optional, but a shake of crushed red pepper gives this sweet dish a spicy update!
- Salt and Pepper: I love adding freshly ground black pepper to my casserole for an unexpected savory bite.
- Pecans: Chop the pecans, and divide in half. One half will go into the sweet potatoes, and the other will be sprinkled on top.
- Marshmallows: Mini marshmallows turn into a sweet, melty, s’mores-like topping.
Can I Substitute Yams for Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows?
Sure! Canned yams are an easy shortcut to making this simple casserole. Drain them well before mashing them and making the casserole mixture. You may want to reduce the sugar in the casserole if the yams were canned in syrup.
How to Make This Classic Dish
Making sweet potato casserole is as easy as can be! Pro tip: for the silkiest texture, purée the cooked sweet potatoes. For a more homestyle vibe, mash by hand.
- Prep the Oven and Baking Dish. Before you get started, set your oven to preheat to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish or small casserole dish with nonstick spray, or with butter.
- Cook the Sweet Potatoes. Place the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot, and cover them with about two inches of cold water. Add a big pinch of salt, and bring them to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until the vine cubes are very tender.
- Mash the Sweet Potatoes. Drain the sweet potatoes, and return them to the pot. Using a fork, potato masher, or immersion blender, mash or process the sweet potatoes.
- Make the Casserole Mixture. Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, crushed red pepper (if using), salt, and pepper to the pot, and stir thoroughly to combine. Fold half of the pecans into the mixture.
- Assemble the Casserole. Use a spatula to scrape the sweet potato mixture into your prepared baking dish, and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top, and top with the marshmallows. You can arrange the marshmallows in stripes, or just scatter them evenly over the casserole.
- Bake. Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the marshmallows are melty and golden-brown.
- Enjoy! Let the sweet potato casserole stand for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving, to stabilize and cool slightly.
My Favorite Tips and Variations
Here are my top tips for customizing and hacking this easy casserole recipe. Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows is amazing any way you make it!
- Cooking Sweet Potatoes: You can cook the sweet potatoes any way you like before mashing them! Baking is a great option, or you could cook them in your Instant Pot or slow cooker. Either way, discard the skins before mashing and continuing with the recipe.
- Crunchy Options: For an added crispy crunch, sprinkle the top of the casserole with crushed corn flake cereal. You can also substitute some or all of the pecans with walnuts.
- Sweet Options: Omit the marshmallows if you prefer. In that case, you can add a little sweetness with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
- Spices and Seasonings: For a smoother, sweeter casserole, omit the cinnamon, black pepper and crushed red pepper. You can also make a version without the peppers but with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
- The simplest way to prep this casserole ahead of time is to assemble the whole thing the day before.
- From there, just cover it in foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
- You will need to add ten minutes to the baking time.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
- To store leftovers, you can either cover the casserole tightly with foil or plastic wrap, or pack it into airtight containers.
- If you are freezing your leftovers, it’s best to use airtight containers only.
- Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
- To reheat, uncover the casserole dish and bake at 350°F until heated through, or microwave on medium heat for a minute at a time until hot.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot, and cover with two inches of cold water. Add a big pinch of salt, and bring to a high simmer over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to maintain the simmer, and cook the potatoes for 8 to 10 minutes, or until very tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
- Use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash the sweet potatoes until very smooth.
- Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, crushed red pepper (if using), salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined. Fold in half of the pecans.
- Transfer the sweet potato mixture to the prepared baking dish, and smooth into a flat layer. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top, followed by the marshmallows.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the marshmallows are melted and golden-brown, and the potatoes are heated through. Rotate the pan after the first 5 minutes for even cooking.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.