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


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 (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


  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,


  1. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    my go to way of eating sweet potatoes is with toasted walnuts on top. i love the crunch that nuts add against the creamy, soft potato! i love the sound of this version (pecans feel more special to me, and crumble is always a good idea!).

    1. Pecans always scream “lovely Southern Holiday to me” so it’s wonderful to incorporate them into dishes. Isn’t it fantastic to be the one who brings the best side dish to Thanksgiving….the one that gets gobbled up before the 2nd meal comes along and you even tripled the batch? I love that sensation!!!! 

  2. Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life says:

    I’m all about those side dishes too Sally! Being a vegetarian and a celiac, the side dishes are always where the magic lies in holiday meals for me 🙂 I can’t wait to make this one to bring along as my Christmas offering this year and add a little SBA sparkle to our traditional Danish Christmas Eve celebrations! Have fun in St Louis!

  3. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    This is exactly what I’m looking for as a side dish for Thanksgiving. It’s not over the top covered in candy. I’m American but live in Australia and they look at candied yams like I’m nuts.  🙂

    1. Me too, Maureen – making it tonight, to freeze, for a Thanksgiving party next weekend. This sounds like a great dish to share!

  4. Yum this looks amazing!! Sweet potato is my favorite right now – I Love it! The nuts are amazing too and add so much more texture and crunch! Can Imagine this recipe being really good! 

    Love Katie 

  5. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg says:

    Sally – I love seeing all of your pictures from your tour on IG. It looks like you’re really enjoying yourself. I’m sure you’ll need some rest and relaxation in the upcoming weeks. There’s no better way of doing this than diving into some Thanksgiving dishes. YUM!

  6. I do love the idea of a crunch over top of my sweet potatoes! After all, my favorite part of regular mashed potatoes is the crust on top. This salty-sweet creamy-crunchy dish looks divine.

  7. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness says:

    This is the most PERFECT Thanksgiving side dish. I love the crunchy texture that all the pecans give this dish. Makes for something a little more! It looks so good I might need to make it prior to Thanksgiving just to make sure that I get to shovel my face with it first!

  8. Leah @ Grain Changer says:

    YES. This will definitely be front and center on our thanksgiving table! I looooove the use of sweet pecans in place of marshmallows! So gorgeous. Glad you’re having a wonderful time in your travels. How fun that you get to hang with your sister for a bit!!!

  9. Lynn @ Fresh April Flours says:

    I am also anti-marshmallows!! Although I do love me some marshmallows, they do not belong on my potatoes! This looks beeeeeeautiful, Sally!

  10. Shelby @ Go Eat and Repeat says:

    These sweet potatoes sound amazing! I love that nice sweet topping!

  11. Del's cooking twist says:

    Woooww, looks absolutely awesome. I really need to try this recipe as soon as possible. Looks very authentic and perfect for Thanksgiving!

  12. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    Oh, this looks so delicious. And I love that this sweet potato casserole includes pecans too. I totally agree that pecans are better than marshmallows, especially since it gives the sweet potatoes more texture. Yum!

  13. Do you have any recommendations for a cinnamon substitute? (Or would it be best to just not include it?) I’m allergic to cinnamon, but I love sweet potato casseroles/pies/etc….sadly they usually have cinnamon.

    1. I use Cardamom. 

  14. Trisha @ Home Sweet Homemade says:

    My aunt makes a dish similar to this that is amazing! It is the reason I started eating sweet potatoes! Pinned!

  15. Naomi @Carrot Cake Kitchen says:

    I completely agree that side dishes are where it’s at! This looks amazing! I love the crunchy topping with the sweet potatoes. My grandmother makes a similar dish with butternut squash!

  16. This looks scrumptious! I love mashed sweet potatoes, and to add that topping….yummy! You are not alone, I too am anti-marshmallow on my sweet potatoes. 🙂

    I will make this after Thanksgiving on a leftover night because, I admit, I am totally stuck on my sweet potatoes, cut into chunks, and put in an electric fry pan with 2 sticks of butter and lots of brown sugar to make a thickened syrupy glaze, cooking them till done. Goodness, that combination is delectable!
    Have fun on your tour!

  17. Senika @ Foodie Blog Stalker says:

    Amazing, as usual Sally! Our Friendsgiving is this Saturday and I’m all about make-ahead dishes. I’m going to forgo my normal marshmallow-laden dish and try this one out. Thanks so much for the detailed make-ahead instructions, much appreciated <3 

    1. Let me know how you all like it!

  18. this. THIS! You are pulling at my heart strings! I will take one of these “To-Go” please! 🙂 I love sweet potatoes but my dad doesn’t like them. Maybe I’ll make myself a baby dish for Thanksgiving. Mmm… with cranberry sauce. I cannot wait.

  19. Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen says:

    Oh my word this looks amazing! I am totally with you on the sides (and dessert) > turkey. And I could also do without the marshmallows on sweet potato casserole… My aunt typically brings that dish but maybe I can convince her to make this version instead 😉

    1. After one taste of the crunchy pecans, you won’t miss the marshmallows!

  20. I’m Canadian, so my thanksgiving has already past, but this dish looks too good to only save for thanksgiving! Maybe I’ll make it as a side along side roasted chicken sometime this season 🙂 

  21. Elaine @ FoodParsed says:

    I’ve often found marshmallow toppings to be too sweet, but I think pecans would be lovely. I’m looking forward to trying this ingredient combination!

  22. My Mom always did the marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and I would shove the topping to the side. My mother in law has made this recipe for many years and it was love at first bite for me!! This stuff is even good cold, if you’re lucky enough to have any left for the fridge!

  23. Richard Martinez says:

    You state you use Rosemary, however the picture shows a thyme sprig.  Which one?  Looks yummy and I want to make it for Thanksgiving dinner!  Thank you!

    1. Pardon my error! Too much travel and not enough sleep. I used thyme as garnish in these photos. Rosemary works too!

  24. Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says:

    Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite.  I love it with this nut topping.  Looks delicious!

  25. Alexe @ Keys to the Cucina says:

    This is just like my mom’s sweet potato casserole that she makes every year. It is amazing and in my opinion it is SO much better than the marshmallow topped one 🙂

  26. Katlyn Fuller says:

    The sweet potato casserole looks really tasty but I love the pot/pan/dish that it is in!! Anyone knows where it is from/brand?

    1. Thanks Katlyn! I actually got it from World Market the other month.

  27. Believe it or not, I only made my first sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving two years ago.  I greatly prefer crunchy over marshmallowy and THIS looks to-die-for!!! 

  28. I just made this today for our Thanksgiving dinner for lunch at work.  It taste so good! The pecans on top were perfect with the sweet potatoes.  I like it so much better than marshmallows.  Thanks Sally!

  29. I’ve been making a casserole like this for many years–no marshmallow topping for our family! I usually roast the sweet potatoes for a deeper, sweeter flavor and sometimes put a bit of shredded coconut in the topping. It’s always sooo good!

  30. Had this today for Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Not only does it look great, but it tastes great too!! Did the make ahead steps and it worked like a charm. Thanks Sally, it seems like you are always “with us” at the table. Today`s dish was referred to as Sally`s casserole.

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