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Homemade sweet potato casserole is full of flavor and comes together seamlessly. I make this simple Thanksgiving side dish every year– and after one bite of buttery sweet potato mash underneath a crunchy brown sugar pecan crumble you’ll know why.

sweet potato casserole in a blue skillet with a serving spoon

We all know that Thanksgiving side dishes steal the show. No offense, turkey, I could easily do without you when my plate is piled high with sweet potato casserole, creamy from-scratch green bean casserole, and cornbread stuffing.

Today’s recipe for homemade sweet potato casserole is a family favorite. It’s a dish I bring to the Thanksgiving table every year– and you won’t find any marshmallows here. We’ve got a smooth and creamy sweet potato mash topped with a crunchy, toasty, praline-esque pecan topping. Because it’s a little sweet, I like to serve this casserole with a sprinkle of sea salt and some savory fresh thyme or rosemary. A perfect balance of texture and flavor!

sweet potato casserole in a blue skillet with a serving spoon

Video Tutorial


Why You’ll Love This Thanksgiving Side Dish

  • Sweet + salty
  • Totally decadent
  • Lots of flavor + texture in each bite
  • Buttery and vanilla-y sweet potato mash
  • Cinnamon spiced crunchy pecan topping
  • Easy to prepare
  • A great make-ahead Thanksgiving side dish
2 images of boiled sweet potatoes in a glass bowl and mashed sweet potatoes in a glass bowl

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

All of the ingredients in the sweet potato 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?

This casserole is the easiest Thanksgiving recipe to prepare. Let’s review:

  1. Boil sweet potatoes.
  2. Mash sweet potatoes. 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.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared 9×13 pan.
  5. Make the topping.
  6. Sprinkle topping onto sweet potato mash.
  7. Bake.
  8. Sprinkle with sea salt and garnish with rosemary.
2 images of sweet potato filling in a glass bowl and in a skillet

Crunchy Pecan Topping

Sweet potato casserole is topped with a deliciously sweet and salty pecan topping. Crunchy pecan crumble > marshmallows. It’s a fact and here’s why:

  • Crunchy texture on top of smooth and buttery sweet potatoes
  • 2 layers to love
  • Takes little time to prepare
  • Cinnamon-y, toasty, crunchy, and fabulous
  • Uses some of the same ingredients as the sweet potato mash
  • Tons of flavor thanks to brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and pecans
  • Simply sprinkled on top of the sweet potato mash– no complicated steps

If you love the brown sugar pecan topping here, you’ll enjoy something similar on this pumpkin French toast casserole.

sweet potato casserole in a blue skillet before baking

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time

This is a wonderful side dish to prepare ahead of time, which we all know is a total lifesaver leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s how to get started:

  • 1-2 days before serving: Boil and mash the sweet potatoes, add the remaining ingredients to the sweet potatoes, and smooth into a baking dish. Prepare the topping in a separate bowl. Cover each separately and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  • Day of serving: Assemble and bake.
  • Freezing instructions: If assembled, the unbaked casserole can be frozen up to 2 months. Take it out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring the casserole to room temperature and bake.
sweet potato casserole in a blue skillet with a serving scooped out

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

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sweet potato casserole in a blue skillet with a serving scooped out

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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Topping

  • 1/3 cup (41g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I made this for Thanksgiving and it is already gone! I doubled the topping recipe for extra crunch. Amazing! 

  2. 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!!

  3. I made this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was so good I made it again for Christmas! Everyone loved it!

  4. 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 🙂

  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’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

  7. 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. Hi Sam! Yes if you follow the “Make ahead” directions it should still turn out great! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

      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.

  8. 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.

    1. I use the full fat canned coconut milk and it works great. I swap butter for the country crock plant butter with almond!

  9. 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.

  10. 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?
    Thanks,
    Stephanie

  11. Would this be ok fully assembled then refrigerated for just a couple hours before baking?

  12. Can you please share if canned yams/sweet potatoes can be used? If so, what is the equivalent? Thank you!

    1. Hi Shannah- I don’t recommend using canned yams/sweet potatoes for this recipe. Fresh will yield best results!

  13. Thanks for these alternate topping suggestions, Sally! I’m not a big fan of pecans, so I was thinking of doing half with and half without, but perhaps I’ll just try one of these crumb toppings instead. Would we just add one of the alternate toppings at the same point of the recipe as the pecans, or do we need to alter anything else in the instructions?

  14. Made this for our Thanksgiving and it was really good. I personally would reduce the sugar because I’m trying to not to eat much sugar. It almost tasted like I was eating pumpkin pie, fabulous! I doubled the recipe and had some leftovers. Since it was high in sugar I put leftovers in baggies in the freezer to spread it out. Can’t wait to have it again and again!

  15. I’m an American living in Finland and always get cravings for my favorites from back home. I made these with our Christmas dinner this year and they were AMAZING. Everything I have made from this site turns into an instant favorite! Thank you for all of the amazing recipes!

    1. Hi Michaeline, we do not recommend leaving the eggs out. We haven’t tested this recipe with egg substitutes, so can’t give any advice. Let us know if you try any!

  16. Does the cooking time change if you’re not going to do the pecan topping? Unfortunately, my son is allergic to pecans and other tree nuts.

    1. Hi Vanessa, bake time should be about the same, but keep a close eye on it and bake until it’s golden brown on top. Enjoy!

    2. I swapped in quick cooking oats for the nuts because of an allergy and the topping turned out great!

  17. Excellent recipe as are all that I’ve tried from this site! This site is my initial “go to” when looking for something/anything!

  18. Out of the fridge, how long do you think it should take to cook? And, uncovered or covered?
    Thank you guys!

    1. Hi Donna, You’ll want to bake it uncovered. Out of the fridge it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to up to an hour. Keep an eye on it and bake until golden brown on top. Enjoy!

  19. Yum. I was extra lazy and used canned sweet potato puree. Also added cardamom to the topping. So easy and decadent. It’s like if a sweet potato pie and pecan pie had a casserole baby.

  20. Very easy to make and was a big hit at Thanksgiving! Prepared the potatoes and topping the night before so was a quick dish to put together and bake on the day. The pecan topping and sweet potatoes together were divine!

  21. Everyone LOVED this recipe, including my brother that claims he doesn’t like sweet potatoes. I reduced the sugar in the sweet potatoes, but not the topping. The fresh rosemary and sea salt made it…*chef’s kiss*.

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