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The Best Sweet Potato Casserole recipe is easy, delicious, and an all-time family favorite! Rich sweet potatoes topped with your choice of a Southern pecan crumble, gluten-free crumble, or marshmallow topping make this recipe the BEST side or dessert! Ready in 30 minutes, this Southern Sweet Potato Casserole is so easy to make! Recipe video included.
This Sweet Potato Casserole graces my family table for many so special meals and holidays – not only every Thanksgiving, but on Christmas, Easter, and for many Sunday suppers too! This is the best sweet potato casserole I’ve ever tasted, and it’s been a family favorite for generations.
Dessert or Side Dish – Or Both?
Sweet potato casserole. Do you consider it a side dish or dessert? Or both? I’d love to hear what you think. I’ve heard from several of you, and many of you are like me – it works beautifully for both!
My Grandmother Verdie and my Mama always served it during the holidays -Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and many Sunday suppers. And it has always been one of my favorite parts of the meal! It’s still a tradition in my home that every Thanksgiving, it is served alongside roast turkey, Grandmother’s famous cornbread dressing, and cranberry sauce. It can be made ahead of time, yet it’s so easy to make and ready in 30 minutes!
Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
Let’s talk about the basics of this delicious dish.
What is Sweet Potato Casserole?
A southern-style casserole that is a dessert-like side dish. It is made of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes combined with sugar, butter, vanilla, milk, and eggs. In this recipe, the sweet potato mixture is then topped with a buttery pecan crumble topping and baked until golden brown. It’s a traditional southern favorite for Thanksgiving and other family meals and holidays.
How to Prepare the Sweet Potatoes
You will need about 5 to 6 medium sweet potatoes for a 9×13 casserole. When selecting them, look for potatoes that are free of any blemishes or bruises.
You can prepare your sweet potatoes for using in the casserole by baking or boiling them. The method is really based on personal preference. I will say that I love the deep flavor of baked sweet potatoes but have used boiled sweet potatoes from time to time. Both are delicious!
Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Scrub the sweet potatoes until clean and place onto a baking sheet.
- Prick the potatoes 4 to 5 times all over with a fork and bake until the potatoes are tender about 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and peel.
Boiled Sweet Potatoes
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 2-inch cubes. The potatoes cook much faster this way when boiling than boiling unpeeled.
- Add the sweet potatoes to a Dutch oven or large pot. Rinse the potatoes and then add enough water to cover them.
- Bring to a boil and boil until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and drain well.
You can also follow the method described in my Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes as well.
How to Make the Best Sweet Potato Casserole
To make this favorite recipe, you’ll need a few delicious ingredients. The full recipe, including amounts is included in the recipe card at the end of the post.
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole Ingredients
Sweet Potato filling Mixture:
- sweet potatoes – You’ll use cooked and mashed sweet potatoes as described earlier. As discussed above, I prefer baked sweet potatoes for their deep, rich flavor.
- sugar – I use granulated sugar for this recipe. You can also use your favorite sugar substitute made for baking. If you prefer, you can also substitute ¾ cup maple syrup for the sugar called for in the sweet potato mixture. Decrease the milk by 2 tablespoons.
- butter – softened to room temperature. I use salted butter. If you use unsalted, I recommend adding a pinch of salt.
- vanilla extract – I use my homemade vanilla, but you can use store-bought pure vanilla extract
- milk – I prefer to use whole milk. See my notes below for a dairy-free casserole.
- eggs – you’ll need large eggs for this recipe. See my notes below for an egg-free casserole.
- brown sugar – packed
- all-purpose flour – For gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free flour substitute.
- pecans – chopped
- butter – softened. I use salted butter. If you use unsalted, I recommend adding a pinch of salt.
Sweet Potato filling Mixture
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- In a large bowl, mash the cooked, cooled, and peeled sweet potatoes.
- Stir in sugar, butter, vanilla extract, milk, and eggs, and mix well. If your sweet potatoes are very fibrous, you may prefer to use your hand mixer to make your sweet potato mixture light and fluffy.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
southern sweet potato casserole with Buttery Pecan crumble Topping
- Mix the brown sugar, flour, nuts, and butter together and spread evenly over the sweet potato mixture.
- Cook for 30 minutes until the streusel topping has been browned.
- Remove your baking dish of sweet potato casserole from the oven and serve!
Dairy-Free Sweet Potato Casserole
Replace milk with your favorite dairy-free milk option, such as oat milk, almond, or coconut. Replace the butter with coconut oil for a fully dairy-free option. If in need of something just without lactose, may use ghee. Note that Ghee can still include trace amounts of dairy and should be avoided for dairy allergy.
Egg-Free Sweet Potato Casserole
For an egg-free Sweet Potato Casserole, use ½ cup applesauce in place of the eggs called for in the recipe.
Sweet Potato casserole with Nut Free, Gluten-Free Topping
For a nut-free, gluten-free topping, make my easy Oat Crumble topping using gluten-free rolled oats, brown sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla extract. I provide the ingredient amounts in the printable recipe card below.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow topping
If you desire the optional marshmallow topping in place of the crumble topping, omit the crumble topping and sprinkle with mini marshmallows during the final 10 minutes of baking.
How to Make Ahead and Store this Recipe
We all know that preparing for special holiday meals can be a bit stressful during such a busy time. I like to make it easier by doing some of the meal prep and cooking ahead of time. I use my Make Ahead Thanksgiving and Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers plans to help make my holiday meals less stressful. I think you may find it useful, too.
This casserole makes a great make-ahead side dish for those special meals since you can easily prep it ahead and either freeze or refrigerate it. Then it can easily be baked fresh for serving or baked ahead of time to simply serve at room temperature.
Make Ahead Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
Prepare sweet potato mixture and spread into casserole dish. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Prepare streusel topping and store it in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator.
When ready to bake, remove all from the refrigerator. Spread pecan crumble on top of the casserole and bake as directed.
Can You Freeze Sweet Potato Casserole?
This dish freezes wonderfully!
Prepare the sweet potato filling mixture and spread the filling into the casserole dish. It will be warm from the heat of the sweet potatoes. So you will need to cool it completely. Then, wrap tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Make and add the topping mixture and place it on top of the casserole as directed based on your topping choice. Bake as directed and serve.
How Long Do Leftovers Last in the Refrigerator?
If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, simply cover well with wrap or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve cold, room temperature, or reheat and serve.
How Do You Know When Sweet Potato Casserole is Done?
You’ll know the casserole is done when the topping is browned, and the center of the casserole is set.
How Do You Keep Sweet Potato Casserole from Being Runny?
Make sure that you bake the casserole in the center of the oven at the proper temperature. Cook until the top is browned and the center of the casserole is set. Then, allow to cool uncovered so that the casserole does not steam underneath the cover.
Can You Prepare Sweet Potato Casserole in Advance?
Yes! It freezes and stores beautifully. I include the details in my “How to Make Ahead and Store this Recipe” section and in the recipe notes.
What to Serve With Sweet Potato Casserole
This rich and delicious dish pairs well with so many other favorite foods and is perfectly served as a side or as a dessert. It’s a must on our Thanksgiving table, along with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, southern cornbread dressing, vegetables, and pecan pie.
We enjoy it with glazed ham, squash casserole, deviled eggs, vegetables, and more for Easter.
I also enjoy serving this when I have a large family Sunday meal. It’s delicious alongside chicken or pot roast, our favorite vegetable dishes, biscuits or cornbread muffins, and other favorites.
It’s so simple and easy to make ahead, too, that it pairs perfectly with so many meals my family enjoys throughout the year.
More Sweet Potato Favorites
Sweet potatoes make some of the most delicious dishes. They are oh-so good simply baked and served with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon! And these beauties are loaded with nutrition. They are full of fiber and contain antioxidants, vitamins, such as vitamin c, and many minerals. They are readily available in most areas and are usually inexpensive as well. It’s no surprise that they are used in so many favorite dishes! Here are a few more sweet potato favorites I hope you try soon.
Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Instant Pot Sweet Potato Chili
Here’s my recipe for how I make my Grandmother’s Southern Sweet Potato Casserole. I’ve also included options to make it work for your family if you need a nut-free, gluten-free option. I hope you love it as much as my family does!
Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
- Food Processor Optional: For Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole option
- 5 cups cooked sweet potatoes mashed (about 5-6 medium sweet potatoes)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
For the Sweet Potato Casserole Crumble Topping:
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Sweet Potato Casserole Topping: (Optional)
- 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats divided
- 3/4 cups brown sugar packed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons butter melted and cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping: (Optional)
- 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
- Prep. Preheat oven to 350º F. Scrub sweet potatoes and boil or bake in the oven until tender.
- Make the Sweet Potato Casserole. Cool, peel and mash the sweet potatoes. Stir in granulated sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and eggs, mix well. Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish or individual dishes for serving.
For the Sweet Potato Casserole Pecan Crumble Topping:
- Make Pecan Crumble topping. Mix brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter together and spread evenly over sweet potato mixture.
- Bake. Bake until the topping has browned and the sweet potato casserole has set in the center, about 30 minutes.
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Sweet Potato Casserole Crumble Topping: (Optional)
- Make oat flour. Process 1 cup of rolled oats in a blender or food processor until they resemble flour.
- Make crumble topping. Stir together the oat flour, remaining 1 cup oats, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in the melted and cooled butter and vanilla extract if using. Stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to add to the sweet potato casserole.
- Bake. Spread the crumble topping on top of the unbaked casserole, leaving clumps of the mixture in places. Bake until browned and the sweet potato casserole has set in the center, about 30 minutes.
Marshmallow Topping: (Optional)
- Bake. Bake the sweet potato casserole for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the marshmallows over the top of the casserole. Return to the oven and bake the remaining 10 minutes, until brown and toasty.
Make-Ahead Tips:Prepare sweet potato mixture and spread into casserole dish. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Prepare crumble topping and store in a zip top bag in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, remove all from the refrigerator. Spread the crumble on top of casserole and bake as directed.
Freezer Friendly Tips:Prepare sweet potato filling mixture and spread the filling into the casserole dish. It will be warm from the heat of the sweet potatoes. So you will need to cool it completely. Then, wrap tightly and store in the freezer up to 3 months. When ready to bake, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Make the crumble topping mixture and place on top of casserole and bake as directed.
ingredient substitutions:Sweet Potato Casserole with Gluten-free, Nut-Free topping – For a nut free, gluten free topping, make my easy Oat Crumble topping using gluten-free rolled oats, brown sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla extract rather than the traditional Pecan Crumble. Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow topping – If you desire the optional marshmallow topping in place of the crumble topping, omit the crumble topping and sprinkle with mini marshmallows the final 10 minutes of baking. Dairy-Free Sweet Potato Casserole – Replace milk with your favorite dairy-free milk option such as oat milk, almond, or coconut. Replace the butter with coconut oil for fully dairy-free option. If in need of something just without lactose, may use ghee. Note that Ghee can still include trace amounts of dairy and should be avoided for dairy allergy. Egg-Free Sweet Potato Casserole – Use ½ cup unsweetened applesauce in place of the 2 eggs called for in the recipe.
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From the Add a Pinch recipe archives, originally published 2010.
Simply delicious. This was a hit at Thanksgiving. Making the sweet potatoes vs using canned makes a huge difference. This was the first time I used fresh and I will continue. Thank you so much.
The difference is amazing, isn’t it, Traci! I don’t know if you used the baked sweet potatoes to make this but they make a huge difference, too. I’m so thrilled you loved this casserole.