Sweet Potato Casserole (Video!)

The best ever  Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows AND buttery, brown sugar Pecan Topping!

This Sweet Potato Casserole has been our favorite recipe ever since we tasted it almost a decade ago and you will love that you can assemble it the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas!  No Thanksgiving table is complete without this comforting classic!

Sweet Potato Casserole Video

Sweet Potato Casserole.


Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

Thanksgiving is going to be here in snap but you are going to be SO ready this year armed with my rave worthy Potatoes Au Gratin with Bacon, Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes and now this Sweet Potato Casserole as well as all your other favorite Carlsbad Cravings Thanksgiving recipes(Be sure to check my Thanksgiving recipes often as I will add more as I post them.)

Now let’s talk Sweet Potato Casserole.  Sweet Potato Casserole is arguably more of dessert than a side dish, but I love that we get to eat “dessert” alongside our main meal once/twice a year.  If you are looking for a savory Sweet Potato Casserole, this my friends, is not it,  (instead try my Herb Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Bacon and Gruyere,) but if you are looking for a best ever traditional Sweet Potato Casserole, then this IS it!

Now I’ve had my share of Sweet Potato Casseroles over the years.  Some Sweet Potato Casseroles with Marshmallows, some Sweet Potato Casseroles with Pecan Topping, some better than others.  But the one that left my husband and I oohing and ahhing is this Sweet Potato Casserole recipe with BOTH Marshmallows AND Pecan Topping.

The mad crushing for this Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows started one Thanksgiving almost ten years ago at a dear friend’s house.  I politely scooped a small serving of her Sweet Potato Casserole onto my plate, as  I liked the traditional side dish, but never loved it enough for a big scoop – other sides always took priority.  But not this Thanksgiving, not with this Sweet Potato Casserole.

It was rich and buttery, creamy and cinnamony complimented by crunchy, brown sugar pecans and ooey gooey marshmallows.  It was love at first bite.  Ever since that day, this Sweet Potato Casserole has been our one and only.  I hope its yours too.

This Sweet Potato Casserole is a family recipe of my friend that goes way back in the day.  So its safe to say its a tried and true favorite and a must have at every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And it’s not just one of those obligatory side dishes that you have to make because it is Thanksgiving –  nay, its one off those eagerly anticipated side dishes that you get to make because it is Thanksgiving.

The best ever  Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows AND buttery, brown sugar Pecan Topping!  This Sweet Potato Casserole has been our favorite recipe ever since we tasted it almost a decade ago and you will love that you can assemble it the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas!  No Thanksgiving table is complete without this comforting classic!

Sweet Potato vs Yam

Have you had yams lurking in the back of your head thru this whole Sweet Potato Casserole conversation?  It would be hard not to.  Manufacturers often label sweet potatoes as yams on frozen and canned packaging.  They cannot even tell them apart, and grocery stores sell most orange sweet potatoes as yams. It seems they are interchangeable or the same thing.

However, yams and sweet potatoes are very different and come from opposite parts of the world.  Sweet potatoes come from South America and are a member of the morning glory family.  Originating from Africa and a part of the lily family are our Yams. They are both tuber vegetables and have similar shapes.

Over 600 varieties of yams are known, and 95% of these are still grown in Africa.  Yams are darker, almost black, and have a rough texture.  Yams are also mushier (due to their higher water content) and have higher sugar contents.  However, yams do not taste sweeter even with more sugar.   Yams, true yams, can be hard to find, unless you frequent international or ethnic food stores.  They are long like sweet potatoes, but do not taper at the ends.

Sweet potatoes come in 4 colors: purple, orange, yellow and white.  They are often called “yams” at your grocery store but are in fact, are sweet potatoes.  Most people, in fact, have probably never tasted a true “yam.”

North Carolina is currently the largest producer for sweet potatoes! These look a-likes can substitute for each other between most recipes. Unknowing you have probably done this.  Just be aware of the increase in moisture and sugar.

Sweet potatoes are lower in calories and higher in beta-carotene and vitamin C than yams. Yams have slightly more potassium and manganese. They both contain decent amounts of B vitamins.  Both have great health benefits.

How to Choose Sweet Potatoes

When selecting your sweet potatoes for this Sweet Potato Casserole, look for garnet yams – these are red sweet potatoes masquerading as yams!  You may also use Jewel or Beauregard, which are also sweet potatoes. 

These three varieties are the orange fleshed, reddish-brownish skinned sweet potatoes that are often confused as yams.  When picking out your sweet potatoes find ones that are firm and have unwrinkled flesh, free of blemishes.

 

Showing how to make Sweet Potato Casserole.

 

How to Boil Sweet Potatoes 

To make our Sweet Potato Casserole, we start by cooking our sweet potatoes.

  1. Peel and wash your sweet potatoes
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into 2″ chunks.
  3. Add potatoes to a Dutch oven and add just enough water to cover potatoes.
  4. Season with ½ teaspoon salt.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until very tender when pierced with a fork; drain VERY WELL.

how to make Sweet Potato Casserole

Once our sweet potatoes are tender, this Sweet Potato Casserole is a simple whipping of cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, milk, a generous amount of butter, eggs, splashes of pure maple syrup and vanilla and enlivened by cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves and a pinch of pepper.   Because even a Sweet Potato Casserole should be loaded with multidimensional flavor.  You whip your potatoes until they are fluffy and dreamy but not completely smooth and then pour into your casserole dish.

Pour your sweet potato mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.  And now it’s time for the delectable Pecan Topping.

How to Make Pecan Topping

Now for our buttery, Brown Sugar Pecan Topping that takes MINUTES because we make it all in our food processor!  Simply add pecans, maple syrup and vanilla extract to your food processor and  pulse 3 times to slightly chop up pecans. Then add your flour, brown sugar, cubed butter and dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and pulse until it resembles coarse pebbles.  Evenly spread this Brown Sugar Pecan Topping over your sweet potatoes.

Showing layers of Sweet Potato Casserole.

How long to bake Sweet Potatoes?

Now that our Sweet Potato Casserole is assembled (marshmallows to be added later), we bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden.   As the topping bakes the brown sugar caramelizes with the maple cinnamon butter and coats the toasted pecans for a truly magical texture flavor explosion in every bite.  But wait, we’re not even done with the delicoiusness…

Next, we add our layer of mini marshmallows and either bake for 5 minutes for golden marshmallows or I prefer to bake closer to 10 minutes for more toasted ooey, goey marshmallows as pictured.

Now we’re done.

With one bite of this Sweet Potato Casserole, even a sweet potato hater will become a lover.  The creamy sweet potato layer + the crunchy brown sugar butter Pecan Topping + the toasted, gooey marshmallow layer = texture flavor heaven!

How to prep Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time

With all the chaos that can be Thanksgiving, its a life saver to prep as many recipes or parts of recipes ahead of time.  To prep in advance:

  1. Make casserole as directed through spreading sweet potatoes in the dish.  Let sweet potatoes cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  2. Prepare Brown Sugar Pecan Topping as directed and store in a sealed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  3. When ready to bake, remove potatoes and Topping from the refrigerator at the same time.  Uncover potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 20  minutes.  Add  topping and continue to bake an additional 30 minutes OR until potatoes are completely warmed through.  Add marshmallows and bake as directed.

White plate with Sweet Potato Casserole.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

The best ever  Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows AND buttery, brown sugar Pecan Topping!  This Sweet Potato Casserole has been our favorite recipe ever since we tasted it almost a decade ago and you will love that you can assemble it the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas!  No Thanksgiving table is complete without this comforting classic!

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows AND Pecan Topping (Video!)

The best ever Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows AND buttery, brown sugar Pecan Topping!  This Sweet Potato Casserole has been our favorite recipe ever since we tasted it almost a decade ago and you will love that you can assemble it the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas!  No Thanksgiving table is complete without this comforting classic!
Servings: 16 servings
Total Time: 1 hr 35 mins
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 5 mins

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Ingredients

SWEET POTATO FILLING

  • 2 pounds yams/sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into 2” chunks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup not imitation
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground nutmeg, ground cloves
  • Pinch of pepper

Add later

  • 2 eggs

BROWN SUGAR PECAN TOPPING

  • 1 1/4 cups pecans chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter cubed (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground nutmeg, ground cloves

MARSHMALLOWS

  • 1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows

Instructions

SWEET POTATO FILLING

  • Add potatoes to a Dutch oven and add just enough water to cover potatoes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until very tender when pierced with a fork; drain VERY WELL.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Add potatoes to large bowl (to use with hand held mixer). Add all “Casserole” ingredients except eggs and beat until combined.
  • Add eggs; beat well, but don’t beat out all the lumps. You don’t want it to be perfectly smooth.
  • Pour potato mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

BROWN SUGAR PECAN TOPPING**

  • Add pecans, maple syrup and vanilla extract to food processor. Pulse 3 times to slightly chop up pecans. Add all remaining topping ingredients and pulse until it resembles coarse pebbles. (See notes if you don’t have a food processor.)
  • Evenly spread Brown Sugar Pecan Topping over potatoes and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden.

MARSHMALLOWS

  • Remove casserole and line top with marshmallows (you won’t use the whole bag). Bake an additional 5-10 minutes (closer to 10 minutes for extra gooey marshmallows that spread together, my personal preference) then broil marshmallows until golden brown, watching carefully so they don’t burn.

MAKE AHEAD

  • Make casserole as directed through spreading sweet potatoes in baking pan.  Let sweet potatoes cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Meanwhile, prepare Brown Sugar Pecan Topping as directed and store in a sealed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • When ready to bake, remove potatoes and topping from the refrigerator at the same time.  Uncover potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 20  minutes.  Add  topping and continue to bake an additional 30 minutes OR until potatoes are completely warmed through.  Add marshmallows and bake as directed, 5-10 minutes.

Video

Notes

Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
**Brown Sugar Pecan Topping without a food processor: Add chopped pecans to a medium bowl and toss with maple syrup and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and cut butter into brown sugar with pastry cutter, 2 forks, etc.

prep ahead

  1. Make casserole as directed through spreading sweet potatoes in the dish.  Let sweet potatoes cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  2. Prepare Brown Sugar Pecan Topping as directed and store in a sealed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  3. When ready to bake, remove potatoes and Topping from the refrigerator at the same time.  Uncover potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 20  minutes.  Add  topping and continue to bake an additional 30 minutes OR until potatoes are completely warmed through.  Add marshmallows and bake as directed.

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27 Comments

  1. judy says

    Sure would like to print this recipe, but your site won’t let me……Help ?!?!

    • Jen says

      Hi Judy, can you please describe the problem in more detail as I am not having this issue.

    • Cathy says

      Click on the picture and then it gives you the option to print

  2. Deb says

    Can canned sweet potatoes be used instead and if so do I modify the sugar added to dish please? Thanks

    • Jen says

      HI Deb! I have never used canned sweet potatoes for this but I am sure it should work fine. As long as you use unsweetened canned sweet potatoes then you shouldn’t need to adjust the sugar. Enjoy!

      • Deb says

        Thanks! Happt Thanksgiving!

  3. Kelly O'Brien says

    Can you bake the sweet potatoes vs boiling them?

  4. Kimberly says

    Is there a way I can fix my pecan topping? I used a pastry cutter and must have over done it – the topping is very soft and mushy. I was thinking to add more flour and pecans?

    • Jen says

      Hi Kimberly, the flavor will still be the same so I wouldn’t worry too much about it as it gets covered by the marshmallows. You can certainly add more pecans if you want.

  5. Heather Steffl says

    We need to omit the pecans due to severe nut allergies. Are there any substitutes you would recommend?

    • Jen says

      Hi Heather, I would increase the flour to 1 1/2 cups and omit the nuts so it becomes a traditional streusel topping. I hope that helps, enjoy!

      • Lynnda says

        Make part of the flour ~ steel cut oatmeal flakes. Not as doughy and healthier than all flour. It will also be crunchier.

  6. Kim says

    Hi Jen we are not much for marshmallows can I leave them off the top of the sweet potato casserole

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! it will still be delicious!

  7. Kris says

    Hi! If I wanted to double this recipe, do I just double all the ingredients?

    • Jen says

      Yes, that will be perfect. Enjoy!

  8. Renee Christian says

    We’re guests and I’d like to bring this dish to share. However, due to a small kitchen and long travel time, I’m thinking crock pot preparation is the way to go. Any suggestions on how to convert this yummy recipe for crock pot cooking? Thanks Much, Renee

    • Jen says

      Hi Renee, I haven’t personally made them in a slow cooker but after looking at a few other recipes, I would suggest layering the mixed sweet potatoes with the topping and cooking for 2 1/2-4 hours depending on how hot your slow cooker cooks then adding the marshmallows and cooking an addition 20 minutes or until soft. I hope that helps! Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Carly says

    This was absolutely delicious. I felt guilty eating it with dinner and then eating dessert afterwards because it basically is a dessert. I think next year I may try omitting the sugar from the sweet potato filling and just getting the sweetness from the pecan topping and marshmallows. So so amazing though!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Carly for your awesome comment! I’m so pleased it was a winner! And nothing wrong with double dessert on thanksgiving 😉

  10. Samantha says

    I’ve made a lot of your recipes and my family has enjoyed them all. However, this one is special. My five year old had a helping of this durung Thanks dinner. Then, he asked for more a few hours later. He woke up this morning and had some with breakfast. This will be a staple during the holidays in our house. We loved the pecan topping paired with tbe marshmallows.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Samantha! I’m so happy this sweet potato casserole was such a hit and that it will be a new tradition! Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Amy says

    Can you cut this recipe in half in order to make 8 servings? Will it come out the same? What size pan would you use?

    • Jen says

      Yes, you can absolutely cut this recipe in half. I would use an 8×8 pan. Enjoy!

  12. Carol Hash says

    The most Wonderful recipe!! Even the sweet potato haters in my family tried it and asked for more! It will be made again and again. Thank you for such a delightful addition to Thanksgiving.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I love hearing this recipe was such a huge hit, thanks Carol!

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