This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Full of flavor and perfect for making ahead, this homemade sweet potato casserole will steal the show at your next holiday meal. Crunchy sweet brown sugar pecan crumble covers every bite of this buttery sweet potato mash. After your first forkful, you’ll already be thinking about going for seconds!

sweet potato casserole with brown sugar pecan & fresh thyme topping in casserole dish.

Side dishes are, without a doubt, the best part of a classic Thanksgiving meal. We’re talking creamy from-scratch green bean casserole, flaky soft dinner rolls, and flavorful cornbread stuffing.

Today’s recipe for homemade sweet potato casserole is a family favorite. Enjoy 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 lovely balance of texture and flavor!

Why You’ll Love This Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

  • Creamy + crunchy = wonderful contrasting textures in every bite
  • Buttery sweet potato mash with a hint of vanilla
  • Cinnamon-spiced brown sugar pecan topping
  • Sweet + salty—a decadent way to get your vitamin A!
  • You can conveniently prep it a couple days in advance

One reader commented: “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! ★★★★★

dish of sweet potato casserole with a serving spoon.

10 Ingredients in This Thanksgiving Side Dish

  1. Sweet Potatoes: You need 2 pounds (908g) for this casserole, which is 3 extra large sweet potatoes or 5 small/medium sweet potatoes. Don’t go overboard on the potatoes because the mash will end up tasting heavy and dense.
  2. Butter: For unparalleled buttery flavor.
  3. Brown Sugar: I prefer dark brown sugar in this casserole, but light works too. You’ll use some in both the sweet potato mash and the pecan crumble topping.
  4. Eggs: For structurethey turn this into a casserole, rather than a pile of mashed sweet potatoes.
  5. Half-and-half: Half-and-half keeps this dish extra creamy. If you have heavy cream on hand for your other cooking and baking needs (like whipped cream & pumpkin pie), you can use that instead.
  6. Vanilla extract: For just a hint of delicate, aromatic flavor.
  7. Salt: Brings out all the flavors, and balances the sweetness.
  8. Flour: Gives structure to the crumbly topping.
  9. Cinnamon: Complements both the sweet potato and pecan flavors.
  10. Pecans: Buttery, nutty pecans are the jewels in the sweet potato casserole crown!

Plus, finishing touches like thyme or rosemary and a sprinkle of sea salt round out the entire dish. One reader commented: “The fresh rosemary and sea salt made it…*chef’s kiss*. ★★★★★

ingredients on wood backdrop including pecans, sweet potatoes, eggs, butter, brown sugar, and more.

Boil & Mash the Sweet Potatoes

Start by peeling the sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler. Boil them in a large pot of water until they’re nice and tender. Let them cool for about 15 minutes, and then mash. You can use a potato masher and some arm muscle for this, but I usually just use my mixer. Once they’re as smooth as you’d like (feel free to leave some chunks if you prefer them that way!), beat in the eggs, brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. These are all the ingredients you need for the sweet potato layer.

peeled sweet potatoes in a pot under water and shown again after being boiled.
two photos of mashed sweet potatoes in glass bowl.

FAQ: Can I Use Yams Instead of Sweet Potatoes in This Casserole?

For the best taste and texture, I recommend using sweet potatoes instead of yams.

The names of these two starchy root vegetables are often used interchangeably, but they are actually different, and originate from different continents. Native to Central and South America, sweet potatoes typically have orange flesh and a pinkish-brown skin, and are sweeter and creamier in texture when cooked. Native to Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, true yams have white flesh and a bark-like skin, with a drier, starchier texture—more like a regular baking potato.

You could, however, use purple sweet potatoes if you can find them!

Easy Crunchy Pecan Topping

We’re finishing this sweet potato casserole with a delicious crumbly, praline-esque pecan topping. The crunchy texture contrasts so beautifully with the creamy, buttery sweet potato mash. It comes together quickly and easily, and uses some of the same ingredients as the sweet potato layer.

If you love the cinnamon-y brown sugar pecan topping here, you’ll enjoy something similar on this pumpkin French toast casserole and this cranberry pecan cake.

brown sugar pecan crumble in glass bowl.

Can I Use Marshmallows on This Sweet Potato Casserole?

Yes. If you love marshmallows on your sweet potato casserole, you can certainly add them. I wouldn’t leave off the pecan topping, though. (You’ll really miss that texture!) Add the marshmallows towards the end of the bake time. See recipe Note below for details.

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time

This easy side dish can be prepared 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: Spoon the topping over the sweet potato layer 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.
dish of sweet potato casserole with a serving spoon.

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

And, of course, turkey pot pie for any leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
dish of sweet potato casserole with a serving spoon.

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe with Pecan Topping

  • 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 (908g) sweet potatoes, peeled (about 5 small/medium)
  • 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) half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 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
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (210g) pecan halves or chopped 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-inch baking pan (or a similar size casserole dish, or a 12-inch oven-safe skillet). Set aside.
  3. Place the cooked sweet 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, half-and-half, 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 thyme or 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 sweet potatoes through step 3, then prepare the topping. Cover each separately and refrigerate for up to 2 days. On the day of serving, 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.
  2. Adding Marshmallows: If you love marshmallows on top of your sweet potato casserole, you can certainly add them. Bake as directed above, but 5 minutes before it’s done, add 1 cup marshmallows on top and then finish baking.

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

      1. I prefer to bake mine. Easier, uses less sugar because of natural sugar in potatoes. Can bake up to two or three days ahead. Just leave them in a closed oven after baking individually in foil overnight. Next day, they are ready to continue recipe. They don’t need refrigeration, and I usually need my oven back.

  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*.

    1. The casserole won’t taste quite as creamy, but that swap should work!

  22. Hi! My boyfriend is lactose intolerant, and I’ve read that soy milk is usually the best non-dairy substitute for whole milk in baking – would you agree with that for this recipe? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Shelby! We don’t have much experience with baking with non dairy milks. Let us know how it goes if you give soy milk a try!

  23. I’ve been making this for over a decade. It’s great because you can make ahead of time. And it puffs up as it bakes. A real special way to make sweet potatoes for the holidays!

  24. Hi Sally
    Do you have a crunchy topping to get the same effect of the pecans?
    My family hates nuts
    Thank you

    1. Hi Meg, some readers have replaced the pecans with oats and reported back with delicious success.

  25. I need to make 8 lbs. could I use triple the added in ingredients and not use 4x the added in ingredients ?

    1. I think triple the other ingredients with 8 lbs of potatoes would be fine. I’m unsure of the best size pan for that much, though.

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.