Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Pecan Crumble

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.

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

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!

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

Why You’ll Love This Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 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

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

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 rosemary.
  9. Serve!

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

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 no 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

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

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.

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

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

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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

  • 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 (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

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,

77 Comments

  1. Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I’ve linked to your recipe my latest post on BuzzFeed. If you wish, stop by and upvote it, and also share it on your social media!

    Here’s the link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annemariewalker/16-amazingly-delicious-sweet-potato-sides-you-need-20ib5

    I loved the recipe and I hope share more of your posts in the future. Have great day! 🙂

  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. 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!

  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. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!!

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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!!

  15. 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

      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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