This sweet potato casserole with pecan topping is a fun twist on the classic Thanksgiving side dish! Mashed sweet potatoes are lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup and orange juice, then topped with a buttery pecan crumble that can easily be made gluten and refined sugar-free. Your whole family will rave over this dish this holiday season!
Table of Contents
- This recipe is…
- Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Recipe Ingredients
- Recipe Variations and Modifications
- How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
- Make-Ahead Tips
- How to Serve
- How to Store and Reheat
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping Recipe
Growing up, I was always a fan of sweet potato casserole. After all, between the mashed candied yams and the marshmallow topping, it was really just dessert! Then, one year, my aunt brought over a new version of sweet potato casserole. Instead of marshmallows, she’d topped it with a crunchy pecan crumble. It was a game-changer. From then on, sweet potatoes became one of the stars of the Thanksgiving show and we always opted for the pecan version.
Want to complete your Thanksgiving table? We’ve got all of the recipes you need. My ideal menu would be: a perfect oven roasted turkey, traditional turkey gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, homemade gluten-free stuffing, this yummy sweet potato casserole, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, and gluten-free pumpkin pie.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s easy to make – this casserole is incredibly easy to make. Once the potatoes are boiled, you’ll just mash them and stir in the extras. Top with the also very easy crumble, then bake and enjoy!
- It’s make-ahead friendly – if you’re looking to split cooking your Thanksgiving dishes over a couple of days, know that this dish is 100% make-ahead friendly. Find instructions below on the two best ways to do this.
- It’s decadent – if you’ve had silky smooth, maple syrup sweetened sweet potatoes topped with a buttery pecan topping before, then you know that this recipe means serious business in the decadence department. If you haven’t had anything like this don your Thanksgiving table before, you are in for a treat!
There are thousands of sweet potato casserole recipes on the internet, but this one stands out thanks to the pecan topping, the fluffy mashed sweet potatoes sweetened with pure maple syrup, and the hint of orange in every bite. Find ingredient notes (including substitutions and swaps) below.
- Heavy cream or milk – for a truly indulgent casserole (there’s no better time for it than Thanksgiving, after all), we recommend using heavy cream in this recipe. If you’d like to lighten the dish up, though, you can replace the heavy cream with regular milk.
- Pure Maple Syrup – be sure to buy pure maple syrup! Really good maple syrup makes all the difference.
- Flour – for the pecan topping, you can use regular all-purpose flour or this gluten-free all-purpose flour for a gluten-free version.
- Brown sugar or coconut sugar – the topping works with both brown sugar or coconut sugar if you’re looking to make a refined sugar-free version!
A full ingredient list with exact amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
Recipe Variations and Modifications
- Make it dairy-free – use full-fat coconut milk in place of the cream and substitute ghee or your favorite vegan butter for the butter.
- Make a paleo crumble – for a Paleo crumble, use the crumble in this paleo apple crisp.
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
Here’s how you’ll make this easy sweet potato casserole recipe:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cubed sweet potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt in a pot and cover with one inch of water. Then, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, then drain out the water.
Step 2: While the potatoes are boiling, make the crumble. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon, then stir in the butter until a crumbly mixture has formed. Stir in the pecans and set aside.
Step 3: Use a potato masher to mash the sweet potatoes until smooth.
Step 4: Stir the butter, cream, maple syrup, orange juice, and orange zest into the sweet potatoes. Taste the potato mixture for seasoning, adding more salt if needed, then stir in the eggs.
Step 5: Spread the sweet potatoes into the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish, then top them with the pecan crumble.
Step 6: Bake the casserole at 350°F for 30 minutes, until the top is browned and crisp.
Make the casserole in advance to keep your time in the kitchen the most efficient. Here’s how you’ll do it:
- Freeze the sweet potato mash – If you’d like to really knock out some of your Thanksgiving prep in advance, you can freeze the sweet potato mash – just leave out the eggs. You can either transfer the sweet potato mixture from the freezer to the fridge 2 days in advance or reheat it on the stove or in the oven. Once it is thawed, stir in the eggs, put it in the casserole dish, and top with the crumble.
- Make the full casserole – You can assemble the full casserole up to 2 days ahead of time, then bake it on the day of. If you do this, add an extra 10 minutes to the cook time since it will be cold from refrigeration.
If you like super smooth, silky sweet potatoes in a recipe like this, feel free to use a food processor or immersion blender to mash the potatoes rather than a handheld potato masher.
How to Serve
Serve your sweet potato casserole alongside all of the classic Thanksgiving dishes. Here’s my ideal menu, in case it’s helpful:
- Main: Oven Roasted Turkey
- Starchy Side: Creamy Mashed Potatoes (topped with traditional gravy, of course)
- Stuffing: Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Stuffing
- Sweet Starchy Side: this YUMMY sweet potato casserole!
- Veggie Side: Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Dessert: Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
How to Store and Reheat
Store leftover sweet potato casserole in an airtight container in the fridge. Stored this way, it’ll last for up to 5 days.
This sweet potato casserole also freezes really great. To do this, we recommend packing any leftovers up in individual servings and then freezing.
Reheat the casserole in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or microwave it for 2-3 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Good question! You’ll know that your sweet potato casserole is done when the pecan topping is browned and crisp.
Yes! In fact, most of the time, yams are actually mislabeled and are really just orange sweet potatoes. A true yam has a dark, almost black skin and is white inside. If you happen to come across a true yam, it can’t be substituted for sweet potatoes, but know that it is fine to use the orange varieties here!
As mentioned above, true yams have really dark skin and are white on the inside. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are orange on the inside. Yams are typically starchier and higher in fiber, while sweet potatoes are slightly sweeter and creamier.
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Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping
For the sweet potatoes:
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt divided
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk*
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 eggs whisked
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt in a pot and cover with one inch of water, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, then drain out the water.
- While the potatoes are boiling, make the crumble. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon, then stir in the butter until a crumbly mixture has formed. Stir in the pecans and set aside.
- Mash the potatoes until smooth and stir in the butter, cream, orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed, then stir in the eggs.
- Spread the mixture into the bottom of a 2 quart 8×8 baking dish, then spread the crumble over top. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, until the top is browned and crisp.
- This can be assembled up to two days ahead of time then baked. If you bake this after refrigerating, add an extra 10 minutes to the cook time.
- For dairy-free, use full-fat coconut milk in place of the cream and substitute ghee or your favorite vegan butter for the butter.
- For a Paleo crumble, use the crumble in this paleo apple crisp.
- For silky smooth mashed sweet potatoes, use an immersion blender or food processor rather than mashing and mixing by hand.