The BEST Sweet potato casserole recipe - velvety smooth sweet potatoes topped with the most amazing sweet, crunchy, pecan and brown sugar streusel. A must have side dish on the Thanksgiving or holiday table.
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A Thanksgiving and holiday favorite
Sweet Potato Casserole with its crunchy pecan topping is a favorite on the Thanksgiving or holiday table. Even when everyone is stuffed – we always reach for just one more serving of this sweet, creamy, and crunchy casserole. It makes the perfect side dish for roast turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the fixings.
Side dish or dessert?
Sweet Potato Casserole is a must have on the holiday table. We always serve it as a side with dinner. Its sweet potato flavor comingles perfectly with everything on the holiday plate.
The streusel topping makes it sweet enough and delicious enough to be served as a dessert as well. It makes a great alternative to pumpkin pie.
This streusel is everything!
The pecan crumble topping on this Sweet Potato Casserole is crispy, crunchy perfection! It’s sweet, it’s crunchy. It’s the perfect texture with buttery brown sugar nubs and chunks of pecans.
As it bakes it forms a syrupy glaze underneath the crunchy top that keeps everything moist and delicious.
What ingredients are in Sweet Potato Casserole
- Sweet potatoes
- Granulated sugar – I use white sugar so the delicate taste of the sweet potatoes shines through
- Melted butter – makes it rich and creamy
- Vanilla extract
- Salt – salt brings out the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes
And in the streusel:
- Light brown sugar – for that caramely, praline flavor that’s so wonderful with pecans
- Pecans – for that Southern flavor that complements the sweet potatoes perfectly
- Melted butter – for a streusel with the most amazing texture
How to prepare the sweet potatoes
You can cook the sweet potatoes any way you choose. My favorite way of cooking the sweet potatoes is wrapping them each in foil, then roasting for about an hour. I find it to be the most foolproof method for sweet potatoes that turn out perfect every time. Here’s why:
- the flavor intensifies with roasting
- they don’t become watered down from boiling
- they don’t get overcooked and dried out in the microwave
- the foil catches any sugary drips that come out of the sweet potatoes and seals in moisture
- the peels can be pulled off easily after baking
Alternatively you can:
- prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a foil lined baking sheet until soft, about 1 hour
- prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave until soft, about 10 minutes
- peel and cube the sweet potatoes, then boil in a large pot of water until tender (don't overcook or they'll get watery)
How to make the sweet potato filling
Process cooked and peeled sweet potatoes in a food processor along with the other filling ingredients (eggs, sugar, melted butter, milk, and vanilla) until velvety smooth. This takes about a minute or so in a food processor.
Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl. Or mash the potatoes with a potato masher or press through a potato ricer until well mashed.
Spread the sweet potato filling evenly in a baking dish. I used an oval 2 quart dish that measures 11 by 8 inches. The potatoes in the photo below are not spread evenly 🙂
How to make the streusel topping
The streusel topping couldn’t be easier. Just combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then stir in melted butter with a spoon. Use a gentle hand and mix until everything is moistened and in clumps. Don’t overmix or it will become pasty.
Evenly spread the pecan topping on top of the sweet potatoes.
How to bake the Sweet Potato Casserole
Bake the Sweet Potato Casserole in the lower third of a 350° F oven for about 30 minutes. The topping should get golden brown. If it starts to get too brown, cover with a piece of foil. The inside temperature of the casserole should reach about 170° F.
Can Sweet Potato Casserole be made ahead?
Preparing the Sweet Potato Casserole ahead of time comes in handy, particularly for a busy holiday dinner.
Both the sweet potatoes and the streusel topping can be made up to three days in advance then chilled separately in the fridge. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes before baking, then add the topping and bake.
My signature holiday dish
This Sweet Potato Casserole is perfect as is. However, I make an orange scented variation that’s so special and unique - It knocks everybody’s socks off. It’s the first thing to go on the holiday table.
Adding orange zest and a little orange juice gives the sweet potatoes a lovely brightness. It doesn’t taste orangey. It just elevates the sweet potato flavor to a whole new level.
To make the orange scented variation, to the sweet potato filling add 1-2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and substitute ¼ cup orange juice and ¼ cup heavy cream for the milk.Print
Sweet Potato Casserole
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Sweet potato casserole - velvety smooth, sweet potatoes topped with the most amazing sweet, crunchy, pecan and brown sugar streusel. A must have on the Thanksgiving or holiday table.
For the sweet potato filling:
- 3 cups peeled (cooked sweet potatoes, from about 3 pounds (about 1.36kg) sweet potatoes (See Note 1))
- ½ cup (99g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (113g) butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup (113g) milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the streusel topping:
- 1 cup (213g) light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup (71g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (113g) chopped pecans
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
- pinch of cinnamon
- Preheat (or reduce temperature after baking potatoes) oven to 350° F.
For the sweet potato filling:
- In a food processor, combine peeled, cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, melted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Puree until very smooth, about 1 minute.
- Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer to combine well.
- Pour into a greased casserole dish (mine was about 12 by 8-inches) and spread into an even layer.
For the streusel topping:
- In a separate bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans (breaking up brown sugar clumps as needed).
- Pour in melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moistened. Use a gentle hand and mix until everything is moistened and in clumps. Don’t overmix or it will become pasty.
- Sprinkle mixture evenly over sweet potato mixture in baking dish.
- Bake in the lower third of a 350° F oven for about 30 minutes. The topping should get golden brown. If it starts to get too brown, cover with a piece of foil. The inside temperature of the casserole should reach about 170° F.
- Serve warm.
To cook sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash sweet potatoes, then prick in several places with a fork.
Wrap each in foil and bake until cooked through and soft, about 60 - 75 minutes.
Peel potatoes. The peel should pull right off. Let cool slightly before mixing with eggs.
Alternatively you can:
• prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a foil lined baking sheet until soft, about 1 hour
• prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave until soft, about 10 minutes
• peel and cube the sweet potatoes, then boil in water until tender
To make an orange scented variation:
Add 1-2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest to the sweet potato filling.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Category: Dessert, Side Dish
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: dessert, dinner, holiday, side dish, streusel, sweet potato casserole, thanksgiving
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Would you believe that I've never made a sweet potato casserole?! This looks incredible Kelly. So perfect for the holiday season!
Oh wow! It's our favorite dish on the holiday table, for old and young alike! Thanks so much, Leanne!
Can I pre make this refrigerate and finish it that day ?
Sure, that works! Just keep the topping separate and put it on right before baking. And let the casserole rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
Haylie / Our Balanced Bowl
Kelly...WOW!! First of all, the texture of those sweet potatoes look absolutely out of this world! So luscious and creamy and velvety smooth!! And then that delicious crunchy and sweet topping...YES PLEASE!! So in love with this. Definitely pinning!
They're so creamy and delicious! And the streusel topping is amazing! Thanks so much, Haylie!
o my ... I am drooling seriously over this gorgeous creation, esp. that topping! I would probably make an extra portion of topping so that I could snack on it while preparing the dish LOL!
Angie, the streusel is so yummy! And there's lots of it! It's so good with the sweet potatoes! Thanks so much!
Sweet Potato Casserole is perfect
Thanks so much!
Dear Kelly, what a stunning side dish/dessert! If I served this gorgeous Sweet Potato Casserole everybody would think of this as dessert - around here we do not really have a dish that compares to this one. But I have tasted a similar dish in the past and loved it. It looks stunning, beautifully photographed and with tons of tips and ideas to guide us through your lovely recipe.
Thank you for another wonderful inspiration!
Andrea, it makes a lovely dessert! Very similar to sweet potato pie without the trouble of rolling out a crust and with an amazing streusel. Thanks so much!
i'm sure this is delightful but i just can't think of having it with a main meal. when we stayed with our friends in philly some years ago, they served something similar (plus sweet blueberry muffins) with the turkey. oh dear. it just isn't something we do in australia. but i bet it makes a lovely dessert. cheers sherry
I know what you mean, Sherry! For 364 days of the year I would never serve it at dinner. But for some reason, the Thanksgiving table in our house wouldn't be complete without it! And it's the dish everyone gets most excited about! Thanks so much!
This is really beautiful! Those sweet potatoes are so pretty as is. Personally, I would omit the sugar from the sweet potatoes since they’re already sweet, (most people wouldn’t agree with me) but I love the streusel topping and the crunch. So pretty for the Thanksgiving table.
I could agree with you on that, Mimi! Especially if it's served as a side with the dinner. The streusel adds a fair amount of sweetness, too. And there's lots of it! Thanks so much!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
One of my faves, especially during the holidays! Love that top, especially with those pecans! This would disappear fast on our table 🙂
Dawn, the streusel topping is crazy delicious! Thanks so much!
Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes
This is the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving table for sure. So delicious 🙂
It's definitely a family fave! Thanks so much, Alexandra!
John / Kitchen Riffs
Terrific dish! LOVE sweet potatoes. And this not only makes a great side, sweeten it up just a touch more and it'd make a great dessert, too. Really good stuff -- thanks.
It's a family fave! Thanks so much, John!
I love when a dish can be served with a savory meal or afterwards as a dessert. Never mind my Aunt's marshmallow covered sweet potatoes, I want these at our Thanksgiving table. 🙂 ~Valentina
It's funny how that works! I love sweet potato casserole as a substitute for sweet potato pie, and at the same time Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without it on the dinner table! Thanks so much, Valentina!
I definitely could eat this for dessert - that streusel is gorgeous and such a nice contrast with the creamy sweet potatoes! I'm with you - I love orange juice and zest with sweet potatoes - truly a magical combination!!!
Yay! I'm so glad you love the sweet potato and orange combination, too! It really brings out a wonderful flavor in the sweet potatoes! Thanks so much, Nancy!
Your sweet potato casserole is along the lines of the version that I've been making for years. It has a pecan streusel too, which is so much better than marshmallows in my opinion! Your filling looks so velvety smooth, too -- this would be such a hit here!
It's my family's favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table! Thanks so much, Marcie!
I'm just sitting here gawking at my computer screen thinking, "This Sweet Potato Casserole is happening this Thanksgiving!" Thank you for the inspiration!
I'm so ready to eat Thanksgiving Dinner! Thanks so much, Marissa!
This would definitely be dessert for me! How beautiful and delicious it looks. I can't believe we are in countdown mode already!
I'm so ready for Thanksgiving! Seeing all the recipes online is making me so hungry!! Thanks so much, Susan!
I have always loved sweet potatoes and also the streusel. This combo really hits the spot. Thanks for sharing. It looks amazing! I am so excited to give it a try.
It's a wonderful combination! Thanks so much, Balvinder!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I want to grab that spoon and scoop myself some right through my screen Kelly! Thanksgiving wouldn't to complete without a sweet potato casserole! Delicious!
It's our fave, Mary Ann! And the streusel topping is dreamy! Thanks so much!
Katherine | Love In My Oven
Ah Kelly, this is like dessert!! It looks so delicious. I always chuckle to myself when I see sweet potato casserole, because I remember being a kid and hating it. What was I thinking!? I adore it now! I'd take 2 big helpings!
It's the most popular dish on our Thanksgiving table. Which is funny because I'm the only one in the family who likes sweet and savory combinations. If I were to set it on the dessert table beside the pumpkin pie, I know which one would disappear first! Thanks so much, Katherine!
David Scott Allen
You know, I think this SHOULD be served fro dessert! What a great idea!
David, it certainly seems like dessert to me! There's only one day of the year that I serve it with dinner and that's on Thanksgiving. Any other day, I eat it as dessert. It would be a delicious alternative to sweet potato pie on the dessert table. Thanks so much!
David @ Spiced
You're nailing it with awesome Thanksgiving recipes lately, Kelly! My favorite part of sweet potato casserole are the chopped pecans on top - I love pecans! This looks amazing, and now I'm totally craving Thanksgiving food. 🙂
David, I'm so ready for Thanksgiving! Sweet Potato Casserole is definitely one of our favorites. I also make a version with brown sugared pecans on top. It's hard to choose which is best! Thanks so much!
nice recipe .. gonna try it soon 🙂
This was easy and delicious!! Will definitely be making this again! I used my instapot to cook the potatoes.
So happy you liked it, Crystal! Great idea to cook the potatoes in the instapot! Thanks so much!
If I want to add Maker’s Mark to this dish, how much would I add to the sweet potato purée?
The dish I typically make uses Maker’s Mark and so I enjoy this flavor in the sweet potatoes.
I haven't tried adding anything to the puree, so I couldn't say for sure. You could try using the same amount as in the dish you typically make. Otherwise, start with smaller amounts and increase gradually until you get the taste and consistency you like. Thanks so much!
I make this every year for Thanksgiving upon request. I can't bring anything else to dinner or I might be disowned! Everyone's FAVORITE!!!!!
Definitely our family's favorite as well! Thanks so much, Karen!
Can this be made ahead of time and freeze?
It can be made ahead and frozen, either baked or unbaked. If you freeze it unbaked, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. It may need a little extra time in the oven since it will be cold. It you freeze it after baking it, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm in the oven before serving.
Made this following the recipe as is. So delicious and very simple to do. Roasted the sweet potatoes and used the food processor. The sweet potatoes were so smooth and fluffy. Will for sure make it again.
So happy you liked it, Amy! Thanks so much!
It was so good! I even had a convert to sweet potatoes who swore he”hated sweet potatoes”. He doesn’t anymore!
So happy you liked it! Thanks so much, Jodie!
This is my favorite recipe ever! I have had this for years! It is a must for Thanksgiving and in between! My friends who hate the standard sweet potatoes with marshmallows and I have made them try this recipe, have changed their minds about sweet potatoes!
It's a keeper! Thanks so much, Sharon!
My wife makes. A dish called “Southern mashed yams.” It is identical to yours only made with yams instead. It is the bomb and people love it.
Sounds fantastic, John!
Can I bake the casserole a couple of days ahead of time?
Hi Debbie, You could bake it in advance, however I would be concerned about the topping getting soggy. If you do bake it in advance, reheating it in the oven may help crisp up the topping.
My preferred way to prepare it in advance would be to prepare the sweet potatoes and put them in the baking dish, and prepare the streusel topping and keep it separate, then on the day you will be serving it, put on the topping and bake it.
Made this recipe last year and was a great hit. This year I'm going to add the orange juice and zest. Sounds even better. Thanks.
So happy you liked it, Sandy! Thanks so much!
I made this and doubled it. It’s being refrigerated overnight to bake in the morning. Should I bake twice as long?
Hi April, the baking time will depend on the size of the baking dish. It will take longer to bake, but not necessarily twice as long. Whatever the size of the dish, the inside temperature of the casserole should reach about 170° F.
Haaaaave mercy! These were incredible!
So happy you liked it, Rachel! Thanks so much!