Simple Sweet Potato Casserole with a Crunchy Pecan Crumble

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble. This side dish is full of flavor and texture, while coming together quick and seamlessly!

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble! What an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish!

Greetings from St. Louis! A new week and new city on this crazy amazing once-in-a-lifetime book tour adventure. I actually visit St. Louis quite a bit because my sister and brother-in-law live here. Not sure if you remember their wedding earlier this year? I love visiting because life isn’t as fast paced as the east coast. Coming here always reminds me to sloooooow the heck down.

So yesterday was my first St. Louis book signing. About 65 readers came to see me and, judging by the amount of samples quickly snatched up, I can easily say St. Louis has a major candy addiction too. Meeting so many of you makes all this chaotic travel worth it, so thank you to everyone who has come out to meet me so far. Speaking of… I have another signing in St. Louis tonight at Left Bank Books from 7-9pm. Would love to meet more of you!

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble! What an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish!

As promised, I have a couple Thanksgiving side dish recipes for you this week. Because we all know that side dishes steal the show on the Thanksgiving table every year. No offense, turkey, I could easily do without you if my plate is piled high with sweet potato casserole, from-scratch green bean casserole, and stuffing (coming soon!). Besides. We already have dessert covered: three apple pies, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie*. So, side dishes it is!

*Please tell me you’re making one of those pies?!

Sweet potato casserole is my pride and joy. It’s a dish I bring to the table each year and I’m sorry, there are no marshmallows here. Is anyone else anti-marshmallow in the sweet potato casserole scene? I don’t like them in my sweet potato casserole business. I much prefer a crunchy, toasty, praline-esque pecan topping. A little texture on top of that creamy dreamy brown-sugared vanilla sweet potato mash.

So how to make it? Oh my gosh, this is the easiest Thanksgiving side dish and that’s why I’m sharing it today. It has so much flavor, too. It’s a simple mash of boiled sweet potatoes, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, cream, vanilla, and salt. All of the ingredients in the mash serve a unique purpose. Melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla for flavor. Eggs and cream for rich creaminess, salt to bring out all the flavors. Want the richest tasting sweet potato mash? Use heavy cream. It’s a dish you might make only once or twice per year, so why not make it the BEST it can possibly be? That’s my thinking anyway.

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble! What an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish!

I like to leave a few chunks in the mashed sweet potatoes for a little texture. You can mash ’em completely smooth if that’s your preference though.

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble! What an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish!

Once the sweet potato mash is prepared, smooth it into an oven safe dish or skillet. The topping takes about 5 seconds to make and uses some of the same ingredients as the sweet potato mash. It’s a streusel-type topping made from butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon (of course!!), and Diamond of California pecans.

Crunchy sweet pecan crumble > marshmallows.

Sprinkle the topping over the sweet potato mash, like so:

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble! What an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish!

Then, bake. That’s all! The best part? You can prep this Thanksgiving side dish ahead of time, which we all know is a total lifesaver leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure you read my make ahead instructions in the recipe.

The sweet potatoes are buttery, creamy, brown-sugared, vanilla scented, and completely luscious. The pecan topping is all sorts of cinnamon-y, toasty, crunchy, and fabulous. Because it’s a little sweet, I like to serve the sweet potato casserole with a sprinkle of sea salt and some savory fresh thyme or rosemary. What a perfect balance of texture and flavor!

Vanilla buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy, cinnamon, and brown sugar pecan crumble! What an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. See you tonight, St. Louis! 


Simple Sweet Potato Casserole with a Crunchy Pecan Crumble

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Creamy, comforting, and simple sweet potato casserole with a crunchy pecan crumble on top. Texture and flavors are spot on!


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled (about 3 large)
  • 1/3 cup (72g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1/3 cup (42g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (72g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups (250g) shelled pecans
  • optional: fresh rosemary or thyme, and sea salt for garnish


  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot or dutch oven and cover them completely with water. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the water and allow the sweet potatoes to cool for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×13 baking pan (or a similar size casserole dish, or a 12-inch deep oven-safe skillet). Set aside.
  3. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the potatoes until relatively smooth– I like to leave some chunks for texture. For your reference, you will have about 4 cups of mashed sweet potatoes. Add the butter, brown sugar, beaten, eggs, cream, vanilla, and salt. Spoon/pour the mixture into prepared pan.
  4. For the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted butter and pecans until the mixture is totally combined. Spoon evenly over potatoes.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then top with a little fresh rosemary and a sprinkle of sea salt. Serve warm.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: This is a great make ahead recipe! Here’s how to get started 1-2 days before– prepare potatoes through step 3, then prepare the topping. Cover each separately and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Then, assemble and bake. Assembled, unbaked casserole can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and continue with step 5. Baked casserole can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and bake at 350°F (177°C) until warmed through.

Keywords: sweet potato casserole,

More Thanksgiving inspiration:

I’ve been getting rave reviews about my creamy butternut squash mac & cheese recently. I love it too; just made it last week again.


My very favorite cornbread recipe!

My Favorite Cornbread Recipe on


  1. Thank you for this yummy recipe!! Best, easiest crunchy topping I’ve ever attempted! I did change a bit and added some honey goat cheese that we needed to eat, so good!! Thank you for sharing your recipes!!

  2. HI! I was excited about this recipe but I am grain free. Would anything terrible happened if I left the flour out of the topping?? It looks amazing!

  3. Finally I tried this amazing recipe of yours for Thanksgiving and I simply loved it! I love sweet potato casseroles but I had never tried myself – it’s ridiculously easy to bake and so incredibly sweet. I’m also crazy about the crunchy pecan topping which definitely bring the casserole to the next level. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks, Sally 🙂

  4. I want to make this and am wondering will the light brown sugar make it less sweet that the dark? Also will the heavy cream or whole milk make it less sweet? Maybe half and half would be good. Anybody try that?

    1. Light brown and dark brown sugar are equally sweet, so that switch wouldn’t be the best option. Rather, you can reduce the sugar.

  5. Thanks for making me a potluck hero Sally! The co-workers raved about this dish and several commented that they liked this version much better than it’s marshmallow counterpart. Another keeper!

  6. I’m going to make this recipe for my Thanksgiving dinner this year. It sounds so yummy. I’ve never made a sweet potato casserole before and I’ve searched the web this one sounds the best of all I’ve read. Cant wait to try it!!

  7. I’ll be making these for Thanksgiving this year. I’m just wondering if the sweet potatoes are boiled whole or should be cubed? 20 minutes doesn’t sound like it would be long enough to cook whole potatoes. Thanks! Mary

  8. This recipe sounds delicious and I am going to make it for Thanksgiving dinner. I need to get a head start cooking, so, my question is: When reheating from either the frozen state or precooking, does the topping remain crunchy? Any advise would be helpful. Thanks. 

      1. Wonderful! Thank you for the advice, and for answering so quickly. It’s much appreciated. Can’t wait to taste this dish in a few days. Have a great, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. Thanks Sally!  Another incredibly easy and tasty recipe. Made today for thanksgiving and it was liked by all except those who would not touch a sweet potato in their lifetime.

  10. Going to try this this weekend! If I sub the milk with almond will it change it too much? My brother has a dairy allergy and hoping I can sub the whole milk.

  11. This really is less of a comment and more of a request. Hope you don’t mind! I had (and lost in my last move-alas) a recipe for candied coated pecans made with 2 flavors of coatings – a cinnamon based and a mint based flavors. The recipe differed from yours in that the coating was heated to a soft candy consistency and the pecans were mixed into the candy coating – then put on a waxed baking sheet and separated and cooled. They were extraordinary as presents as Christmas. At least the ones that my family and I didn’t steal! I wondered if you’d run across such a recipe? I am quite desperate to find the recipe again as we enter our Holiday seasons. Thank you!

  12. Hi Sally,

    I sadly have a question about making this dish less interesting as I need to make it without nuts..!

    I was just going to use your mash recipe without the topping but noticed it includes two egg yolks that would be cooked once it bakes in the oven. Could you suggest an adaptation so I still have a slight crust on top that allows me to bake it, but without the pecans? Not my choice; a couple of my Thanksgiving guests don’t like them 🙁

    Thanks! xx

  13. I am planning to make this for Thanksgiving but need to double the recipe. Could I still use a 9 x 13 baking dish for all of it or would it be best to use two different dishes? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Brandy! Double this recipe will fit just fine in a 9×13 inch baking pan. It’ll be a thick casserole and the bake time will need to be extended by a couple minutes.

      1. Hi Sally,

        Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! What a relief since I’ll be making it tomorrow! My sister and I make so many of your recipes and think you are amazing!! I can certainly say we are grateful for you!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  14. Good Morning!
    I wanted to ask if I could substitute coconut oil in place of the butter for the mashed sweet potato part of this recipe?

      1. Great, thanks so much!!! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, I greatly appreciate it! I have loved baking many of your recipes over the past couple years, all so yummy!
        Happy Thanksgiving!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally