Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe – Sally’s Baking Addiction

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!

overhead photo of sweet potato casserole with pecan topping with fresh thyme.

Side dishes are, without a doubt, the best part of a classic Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get me wrong—I love my Thanksgiving pies. But 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.
serving of sweet potato casserole on geay plate with turkey and green beans.

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.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 Christmas cake.

brown sugar pecan crumble in glass bowl.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 of sweet potato casserole with a serving spoon.

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

And of course… dessert. Here are our favorite Thanksgiving pie recipes, including classics like pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pecan pie. Don’t forget turkey pot pie for any leftover Thanksgiving turkey!