This sweet potato casserole recipe is elevated with a few kitchen staples that take it from just plain good to extraordinary! Make it ahead to save time on Thanksgiving! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Our Favorite Sweet Side Dish
My family requests (demands) I make this sweet potato casserole recipe every year for Thanksgiving. It’s a staple side dish on our holiday table, holding its own among its ever-popular peers (green been casserole and sausage stuffing, in our house anyway!).
A few things to know about my recipe:
- It’s great for making in advance! Save yourself some time and hassle the day-of and prepare the sweet potato casserole up to 3 days in advance (detailed notes below and in the recipe). One less thing to stress over on Thanksgiving day!
- Unparalleled flavor. My recipe has a few unique twists that set it apart from the others. Maple syrup, a dash of cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla all make an appearance for an incredible flavor.
- It’s hearty and satisfying. Eggs and cream help stabilize the dish and prevent it from becoming too runny (a common complaint with many sweet potato casserole recipes).
- Make it as smooth or chunky as you like! I personally prefer mine to be more smooth (and have tips in the post if you are looking for a truly smooth texture!), but some people prefer a heartier texture.
- Balances the dinner table. Brings a little sweetness to all the savory dishes on the Thanksgiving dinner table.
What You Need
This recipe is considered a side dish for the dinner table, but the ingredient list certainly reads a lot like a dessert, doesn’t it!? Here are the most important ingredients you will need (besides sweet potatoes, of course!).
- Melted butter. I tried this sweet potato casserole recipe with browned butter thinking that would be a slam dunk for flavor, but surprisingly I couldn’t even tell the difference! So we’ll keep things easy and stick with regular melted butter.
- Brown sugar. I prefer dark brown sugar since it is sweeter and has more molasses, but you could use light brown.
- Cinnamon and vanilla. While cinnamon and vanilla aren’t necessarily traditional, I find that these flavor boosters are what really set my sweet potato casserole recipe apart. If you made a batch of homemade vanilla extract for your holiday baking, feel free to use it here!
- Maple syrup. I love the flavor that maple syrup adds here. Make sure to use the real stuff, not pancake syrup. If you don’t like maple syrup or don’t have any on hand, you can just use another 3 tablespoons of brown sugar instead.
- Pecans and mini marshmallows. I like using pecans here (they tend to be a Thanksgiving tradition!), but walnuts would work equally well, or you can leave the nuts out entirely. To up their flavor, toast the pecans before adding them.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t forget the salt! I use salted butter and salt to help counteract all the sweet. If you only have unsalted butter on hand, add an additional pinch of salt (about ⅛ teaspoon).
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make It
- Pierce your sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then place them on a baking sheet and bake until tender. This takes about 45-60 minutes for me, but will obviously be less time if your potatoes are smaller, and more if yours are larger.
- Let the potatoes cool, then peel off the skins and discard them. My dogs love this part, as they get the skins as a snack with their dinner.
- Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, stopping once you achieve your desired texture. I like to make mine pretty smooth, but if you like yours chunky, that’s totally fine!
- Add all ingredients except the pecans and marshmallows and stir until everything is well combined, then spread into a 9×13″ dish.
SAM’S TIP FOR A SMOOTH SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE: Sweet potatoes are naturally stringy, so you should expect some of this texture. However, if you want a totally smooth casserole, there is a way! After cooking your potatoes, peel them and drop them in your food processor (you may need to do this in batches). Pulse until smooth, then carry on with the recipe. This is actually my personal preferred method, but my family likes the natural texture.
- Sprinkle the pecans over the dish (if you’re using them, otherwise skip this step!) making sure to evenly distribute them.
- Scatter the mini marshmallows over the pecan layer, then place in your preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The marshmallows should get nice and golden in the oven.
- Let the casserole cool for a few minutes before serving and enjoying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Prepare your casserole but don’t add the pecans and marshmallows. Cover and place in the fridge; the casserole can be stored for up to three days this way.
Once you are ready to bake, bring the casserole out of the fridge, uncover, and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Add the pecans and marshmallows, then bake at 375F (190C) for 25-30 minutes.
Yes! If you do, skip the baking and peeling step and simply drain your sweet potatoes before mashing and combining with the other ingredients. Make sure you don’t buy the kind sold in syrup, as they will be too sweet.
I bake the potatoes because I think I get best/most uniform results that way, but you could always peel and boil them like when making mashed potatoes.
Does your family love sweet potatoes? My candied yams are another great option!
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 3 lbs (1.4 kg) sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
- ⅓ cup (76 g) salted butter melted
- ½ cup (100 g) dark brown sugar firmly packed
- 2 large eggs room temperature preferred, lightly beaten
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (120 g) chopped pecans (optional)
- 2 ½ cups (141 g) mini marshmallows
- Bake the potatoes: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Pierce each potato all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake in oven until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45-60 minutes.3 lbs (1.4 kg) sweet potatoes
- Cool. Let the potatoes cool until easy to handle then remove the skins.
- Optional, for smooth texture: sweet potatoes are naturally a bit stringy. If you want a smooth texture, pulse the sweet potatoes in batches in your food processor before moving on to the next step. If you don't mind the more natural texture, skip this step.
- Mash. Place sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher until there are no large chunks remaining (if you prefer a chunkier texture, feel free to leave some chunks behind).
- Mix. Add heavy cream, melted butter, sugar, eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt to the mashed sweet potatoes, stir until well-combined. I prefer to use an electric mixer to make the mixture as smooth as possible, this is optional.¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream, ⅓ cup (76 g) salted butter, ½ cup (100 g) dark brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 3 Tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add pecans & marshmallows. Spread mixture evenly into 9”x13” baking dish. Scatter pecans evenly over top of potatoes (if using), then scatter mini marshmallows evenly over the pecans.1 cup (120 g) chopped pecans, 2 ½ cups (141 g) mini marshmallows
- Bake. Transfer baking dish to center rack of 375F (190C) oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until marshmallows are deeply golden browned.
- Serve. Allow to cool for several minutes then serve.
Making in advanceTo prepare in advance, prepare through step 3, then spread evenly into intended baking dish. Do not top with pecans or marshmallows. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then sprinkle with pecans and marshmallows and bake as indicated.
StoringStore tightly covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.