This sweet potato casserole is perfect for a holiday dinner. Not too sweet with the right amount of spice and a crunchy pecan topping. Make-ahead friendly!
I have made dozens of sweet potato casseroles over the years. After a few months of dating my husband, I started joining his family for various holidays. They always did it potluck style, and people were unofficially expected to bring the same dish each time. My mother-in-law always brings cabbage rolls, and father-in-law brings scalloped potatoes. I don’t remember how I got started with sweet potato casserole, but after bringing it only once, it became “my” dish.
The recipe I’ve used has changed drastically over the years. From the way I cook the sweet potatoes, to the seasonings I add, to the way I make the pecan topping. But over the past 3 or 4 years, I have gotten it to a point where I don’t want to change it anymore. Ever. Thus, I feel comfortable calling it The Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole.
Since we live far away from our family now, we don’t get to go to those potlucks much anymore. But this is still one of my favorite holiday dishes (it’s tied with stuffing), so I make it for my family for holiday dinners, or just whenever I feel like it.
I really like that it’s make-ahead friendly, which I adore when it comes to entertaining. In fact, I already have my sweet potatoes cooked and hanging out in the freezer from when I recently had an abundance of CSA sweet potatoes. And that will be just one last dish I have to make when the next big holiday dinner rolls around, perhaps saving time for an extravagant dessert.
Want more Sweet Potato recipes?
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4 Tablespoons butter, cut into chunks (use Dairy Free butter alternative to make this recipe Dairy Free)
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about 2 large or 4 small
- 1/3 cup, plus 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten (or use 2 Tablespoons of aquafaba to make this recipe vegan)
- pinch cayenne
- pinch cumin
- Melt butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, water, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring regularly for 45 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft but not broken down.
- Increase heat to medium-high and boil until liquid thickens to a glaze, about 5 minutes.Transfer sweet potatoes to a 9×9″ baking pan or casserole dish of a similar size.
- While sweet potatoes are cooking, mix pecans, 1/4 cup brown sugar, egg white, a pinch of salt, cayenne and cumin together in a small bowl. Spread evenly over sweet potatoes.
- Heat oven to 400°F and move oven rack to the middle position. Bake casserole until sweet potatoes are heated throughout and pecans are golden brown and crisp, 15-25 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. (Note: If finishing this step after the sweet potatoes were made ahead, then refrigerated, ensure to use an instant read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 165°F).
*Note: Recipe adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
Sweet Potato Casserole Nutrition Notes:
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and nutrients like potassium and vitamin A. There are also lots of healthy (unsaturated) fats in this recipe from the pecan topping.