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My favorite Thanksgiving side dish has been sweet potato casserole for as long as I can remember.
That’s probably because the casserole is basically dessert disguised as dinner. That’s something I can ALWAYS get on board with. I’m particularly fond of that buttery brown sugar pecan topping. However, I know many people and families prefer the marshmallow topping.
That’s why this is such a crowd-pleasing recipe. You can offer your Thanksgiving guests BOTH, so everyone is happy! You can even put the best of both worlds on your own plate if you can’t decide.
This recipe is actually an adaption of one of the first holiday recipes I ever posted on the blog way back in 2009. Many years later and I think I’ve only further perfected this recipe! Using fresh sweet potatoes makes a big difference.
The casserole I grew up eating relied on canned yam puree, which does cut the oven time down, but it also cuts the flavor. Use fresh sweet potatoes, but check out my make-ahead tips below, to help expedite the process on Turkey Day.
We’re relying on maple syrup to add sweetness and a nice depth of flavor in this dish. Since the topping is so sugary, you really don’t miss the sugar and it makes this casserole slightly more acceptable to eat as a part of dinner.
I hope this Crowd-Pleasing Sweet Potato Casserole is on your Thanksgiving table this year!
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
Do I Have to Use Fresh Sweet Potatoes?
Yes – I know it’s a bit of extra work, but I promise, it’s so worth it! If timing is an issue for you, bake your sweet potatoes ahead of time, scoop out the inner flesh, and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the potato casserole.
What Type of Maple Syrup Should I Use?
Be sure to use real maple syrup, not maple-flavored syrup meant for pancakes. I know some real maple syrups can get pricey, so check out Trader Joe’s maple syrup – it’s good quality for a reasonable price.
What Type of Milk for Sweet Potato Casserole?
I always prefer to use whole milk, but 2% should work okay – it may just make your sweet potato casserole a little less rich and creamy. I haven’t tried any dairy-free milks here, but just note that may alter the flavor and texture.
What Type of Pan Should I Use for Sweet Potato Casserole?
- This recipe was designed for a 9×13-inch baking pan.
- I recommend a ceramic pan like this one, for the prettiest table presentation.
- Feel free to use a glass or even a disposable pan, as long as they’re similarly sized.
- Be cautious of the pan’s material if you’re planning to make ahead, as not all pans can go from freezer to oven, or even fridge to oven.
Can You Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time?
Yes! Once the casserole is assembled but just before baking, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Add toppings just before baking. If baking straight from the fridge, add a few minutes to the baking time. If you need to prep further in advance, check out my freezing instructions just below.
How to Freeze Sweet Potato Casserole:
Assemble the Sweet Potato Casserole in a heat-safe and freezer-safe pan but don’t add the toppings yet. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap. Cover with tin foil, label, and date. Freeze for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to bake, remove plastic and foil, add the toppings, and bake for about 45 minutes from frozen.
If using a glass pan, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge before adding the toppings and baking, adding a few minutes to the bake time if baking straight from the fridge.
How to Leftover Store Sweet Potato Casserole:
Store any Sweet Potato Casserole leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes:
For the casserole:
large sweet potatoes
For the toppings:
(32 grams) all-purpose flour
(44 grams) butter,
at room temperature
(100 grams) brown sugar
(70 grams) pecans (or more, depending on preference),
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and place on a foil or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until they are tender on the inside, about 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then slice open and scoop the flesh into a large bowl, discarding the skins. Mash with a potato masher, being careful not to over-mash. Add the milk, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg and stir until just combined.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and butter, cutting the butter into the flour with the back of a fork. Add the brown sugar and pecans and stir until combined.
Spread the potato mixture into a 13 by 9-inch or similarly sized baking dish. Sprinkle the pecan mixture in diagonal rows over the sweet potatoes, leaving a 1 1/2-inch gap between rows. Bake at 350°F until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and gently place the marshmallows between the rows of the pecan mixture. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the marshmallows are just golden brown. Serve.
This post was originally published in 2009 and has been updated with recipe improvements, additional tips, and updated photos. Photos by Patty Kraikittikun-Phuong.