This traditional recipe for The Best Sweet Potato Casserole is an indulgent dessert-like side everyone will rave about! You’ll love the sweet blend of mashed sweet potatoes, crunchy pecans, fragrant cinnamon, and brown sugar.
A Sweet and Cozy Thanksgiving Side
Sweet potato casserole is one of my family’s favorite dishes for Thanksgiving, and it often makes its way onto our Christmas menu, too. While we adore savory sides like roasted veggies, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green bean casserole, this sweet spiced casserole adds a great contrast. It really brings a festive, holiday feeling to the table!
The base of the casserole is a silky-soft, buttery mash of golden-orange sweet potatoes, blended with brown sugar, chopped pecans, pumpkin pie spice, and a shot of additional cinnamon.
From there, a crumbly topping and more chopped pecans adds a wonderful crunch! If you’ve never made this before, it’s going to rock your world. Guaranteed. 💯
What You’ll Need
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients for this sweet and cinnamon-y side dish. Each item is easy to find, wholesome, and simple!
For the Casserole
- Sweet Potatoes: You can use any variety of sweet potato here, from Beauregard to Garnet to purple sweet potatoes. If you do go with a purple variety, you may need to boil them a bit longer to make sure they’re tender.
- Eggs: I recommend using large, whole eggs—free range tend to have more flavor.
- Brown Sugar: Light or dark will both work. Raw sugar is also a good option, or you can substitute maple syrup or honey.
- Butter: Melt the butter so that you can easily blend it into the casserole.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract is my go-to, but vanilla flavoring will also work!
- Pecans: Coarsely chop the pecans. Walnuts are a good substitute if you don’t have (or want) pecans.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice and Cinnamon: I like to use equal parts pumpkin pie spice and ground cinnamon, to boost the cinnamon flavor.
For the Topping
Some sweet potato casseroles are topped simply with marshmallows! I like to top mine with a “crisp” topping made with flour, butter, sugar, and nuts.
- Brown Sugar: I like to use light brown sugar here. It has a light molasses flavor and more moisture than regular sugar.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is fine, or you could use gluten-free.
- Butter: Melted butter binds the topping together into a crumbly crisp.
- Cinnamon: You can omit this if you want more contrast between the topping and the casserole. Without cinnamon, the topping will have more of a sugar cookie taste.
- Pecans: Coarsely chop the pecans for the topping.
Are canned yams and sweet potatoes the same?
- Yes, they are typically the same! While some growers and cooks call the sweet root veggies “yams” instead of sweet potatoes, there is no difference in the actual ingredients. A true yam is actually a very different vegetable, more similar to yucca, with a very rough bark-like exterior and not much sweetness, flavor-wise.
Can I substitute yams in sweet potato casserole?
- Yes, you can use one large (29-ounce) can of yams, drained, in place of the fresh sweet potatoes. Easy!
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
This recipe is so easy to make! All you have to do is pre-cook the sweet potatoes and then mix everything together! Bonus: Your house is going to smell ah-mazing!
- Pre-Cook and Mash the Sweet Potatoes. Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place the chunks into a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and boil for 15 minutes or until cooked through. When they are tender, drain all of the water and mash the sweet potatoes. Allow them to cool before adding the remaining ingredients.
- Combine the Casserole Ingredients. Once the sweet potatoes are cool, preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Fold in the chopped pecans. Pour this mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish, and use a spoon or spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Make the Topping. To make the topping, mix together the melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a separate bowl. It should be the texture of coarse crumbs. You may find it easier to use your hands to combine it thoroughly.
- Bake. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture, and bake the casserole uncovered at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes, until the casserole is hot all the way through and the topping is golden-brown.
- Enjoy! This is best served hot or warm.
Tips for Success
And that’s all there is to it! Seriously, this casserole is so sweet, so full of Fall flavor and holiday spices, and So. Darn. Easy. But, before you start cooking, let me share a couple of helpful tips for making it even more delicious (if that’s even possible!).
- Topping Alternatives: To put a different spin on this casserole, try topping it with whole marshmallows, or stirring mini marshmallows into the crisp topping recipe! You can also replace the flour in the topping with rolled oats, for even more texture.
- Let It Stand: While the casserole is best served on warm or hot side, be sure to let it stand for ten to fifteen minutes before serving. It will firm up, making it easier to serve and eat.
- Baked Sweet Potato Option: If you have a little more time, try baking the sweet potatoes instead of boiling! Wash your sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a fork. Then bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 375°F, for 1.5 hours or until tender (depending on the thickness of the potatoes). Once the potatoes are cool, peel the skins off, and mash. You can do this up to two days in advance, and refrigerate the potatoes in an airtight container until ready to use.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store, cover the casserole dish with foil, plastic wrap, or a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also pack the leftovers into airtight food storage containers.
- To reheat, place the desired portion in an ovenproof dish, and cover with foil. Bake at 350°F for twenty minutes or so, until hot.
- You can also microwave leftover casserole in a microwave-safe dish.
Can I Freeze Sweet Potato Casserole?
- Yes, you can! Just cool the casserole first. Then pack leftovers into shallow, airtight freezer containers and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
The Best Easy Sweet Potato Casserole
For the Casserole
- Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Cover with cold water, and boil for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
- Mash the sweet potatoes, and allow them to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a bowl, whisk together the cooled mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Fold in the chopped pecans.
- Spread the mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
- Prepare the topping by combining the melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a separate bowl. Mix the ingredients with your hands until they are the texture of coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped pecans.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture, and bake uncovered at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Serve hot.