Sweet Potato Casserole is a Thanksgiving must-have! This easy sweet potato casserole is topped with brown sugar and crunchy pecans, just like it should be. It’s sweet, hearty, and perfect for your traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s a dessert-like side dish that pairs perfectly with the salty and savory flavors on your holiday dinner table. It’s almost like sweet potato pie, but formatted to be a side dish rather than a dessert so that you can enjoy it in the same bite as your roast turkey and mashed potatoes. Trust me, that is the perfect fork-full!
This sweet potato casserole comes together super simply, with a streusel topping packed with brown sugar and pecans. It’s creamy, crunchy, and classic, making it a must-make thanksgiving side dish.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- No Marshmallows. Sweet potato casserole with a marshmallow topping is good, but the marshmallows can make it too sweet. I like making this casserole without marshmallows so that the flavor of the sweet potatoes really shines.
- Traditional Flavors. Sweet potato casserole is expected at Thanksgiving! If it’s not already a family tradition at your house, make it one this year.
- Easy to Make Ahead. You’ve got enough to do on the big day. Prep your sweet potato casserole ahead of time for a smooth experience.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Sweet Potatoes: Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes so that they will cook quickly.
- Butter, Sugar, and Milk: These common ingredients are added to the sweet potato so that you can mash it up smoothly and add some flavor.
- Eggs: Eggs are a functional ingredient in this casserole. They allow it to bake up semi-firmly so it’s easy to serve.
- Vanilla Extract and Salt: For flavor, these two work together to create the perfect sweet potato casserole seasonings.
- Brown Sugar, Flour, and Cold butter: a simple streusel crumb topping comes from these ingredients.
- Pecans: Top your casserole with traditional chopped pecans for a nutty, crunchy finish.
How To Make Sweet Potato Casserole
- Make Streusel Topping: Combine the brown sugar with flour. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or use your hands to rub the butter into the mixture until you get a coarse, pea-sized crumb. Stir in the pecans and set aside.
- Cook Sweet Potatoes: Add the diced sweet potatoes to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered until fork-tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain, mash the sweet potatoes, and allow to cool for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Mix up the Filling: To the sweet potatoes, add butter, sugar, beaten eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Stir until well combined. Then transfer the mixture to a 9×13 inch casserole dish or pan.
- Bake: Spread the streusel topping over the sweet potatoes and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the potatoes start to puff up a bit and the topping is lightly browned.
Tips and Tricks
Make it ahead: Make the sweet potato casserole filling, add it to the casserole dish, and refrigerate, covered. Make the streusel topping, and refrigerate that as well, in a separate dish or zip top bag. About a half hour before you’re ready to eat, add the topping to the casserole dish and bake as directed.
Want it smoother? A potato masher does a fine job of mashing the sweet potatoes for this recipe, but if you want a super creamy filling, grab your hand mixer for the job.
Use cold butter for the topping! Cold butter mixed with flour is what makes the topping super crispy.
Roast the potatoes instead: If you want to, you can roast the potatoes (whole) in a 400°/200°C oven until softened. This will add a smoky flavor to your casserole.
What To Serve with Sweet Potato Casserole
With Turkey: Obviously, this is a traditional Thanksgiving side dish. Make sure to read my tips and tricks for the perfect Roast Turkey while you’re planning your dinner. Cooking for a smaller crowd? Make a Turkey Breast in the Instant Pot.
With More Delicious Sides: Creamy Green Bean Casserole, homemade Cranberry Sauce, and Buttery Herb Stuffing are just some of the classics. Want something different? Make Creamed Corn or Roasted Brussels Sprouts too.
I really don’t suggest it, but if it’s all you have, then by all means, use them! They are already cooked, so just skip the boiling step. Since canned sweet potatoes (yams) typically come already sweetened, don’t add sugar to the filling until after you’ve mashed everything up. Then sweeten only as needed.
Yes. If you don’t like or can’t have nuts, leaving them out is totally fine. I suggest adding a tablespoon or two of flour to the topping to make up for the lost volume.
I don’t put marshmallows in this casserole, but there are tons of people who do! If you’d like to try, add 1 cup of mini-marshmallows to the top of the casserole about 5 minutes before it’s done. They will toast up nicely in the last minutes of cooking.
This casserole can be made with cubed, boiled sweet potatoes. Omit the egg and milk from the filling ingredients, and toss the cooked sweet potatoes with butter, sugar, and seasonings before adding the topping.
Pecans are super traditional, but this dish would be delicious with sliced almonds or walnuts instead. You can even use a combination of all three nuts if you like.
This is supposed to be a sweet dish. If you’d prefer it to be less sweet, you can omit the sugar from the filling, or reduce it. Adding some savory seasonings is also an option. A sprinkle of black pepper and garlic powder would change the flavor profile to be more savory.
You will be so glad that you decided to make this sweet potato casserole this year! Enjoy the sweet, creamy side dish with your family, and be sure to pin this so you always have the easy recipe.
- 4 cups chopped sweet potatoes cubed into 1-inch
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs beaten
- ½ cup milk 2%
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter cold and diced, Note 1
- ¾ cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped, Note 2
- 9×13 inch casserole dish
- To make the streusel topping, combine the brown sugar with flour. Cut in the cold butter or use your hands to rub the butter into the mixture until you get a coarse crumb (pea sized crumb). Stir in the pecans and set aside.
- Add sweet potatoes to a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, simmer uncovered until fork tender (10-15 minutes). Drain, mash the sweet potatoes, and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- To the sweet potatoes, add butter, sugar, beaten eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Stir until well combined.
- Transfer mixture to a 9×13 inch casserole dish or pan.
- Spread the streusel topping over the sweet potatoes, and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the potatoes start to puff a little and the topping is lightly browned.
- Cold Butter: Use cold butter for the topping! Cold butter mixed with flour is what makes the topping super crispy.
- Make it Nut Free: Omit the pecans and add a tablespoon or two of flour to the topping to make up for the lost volume.
- Make Ahead: Make the sweet potato casserole filling, add it to the casserole dish, and refrigerate, covered. Make the streusel topping, and refrigerate that as well, in a separate dish or zip top bag. About a half hour before you’re ready to eat, add the topping to the casserole dish and bake as directed.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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