Sweet Potato Casserole

$5.94 recipe / $0.74 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
5 from 6 votes

Edited by Beth - Budget Bytes

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If there was ever a dish greater than the sum of its parts, it’s this buttery Sweet Potato Casserole recipe. This Southern classic features a rich base of mashed sweet potatoes and a sweet and gooey marshmallow topping. It’s a total breeze to put together and will be the star of your Thanksgiving table!

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon scooping out a bit of it.

What is Sweet Potato Casserole?

If you’re unfamiliar with sweet potato casserole, it’s traditionally a southern dish served for holidays or special occasions. Despite being very rich and sweet like a dessert, this dish is often served as a side dish with dinner on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holidays. It’s incredibly simple to make with a sweetened mashed sweet potato base and a goey, melted marshmallow or streusel topping.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet potato casserole only requires a few pantry staple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes provide the bulk of this casserole. Look for small to medium-sized sweet potatoes, which tend to be more flavorful and less starchy. Avoid sweet potatoes that have dry, wrinkly, or damaged skin.
  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar sweetens the mashed sweet potatoes to a decadent, dessert-like level with its rich molasses flavor.
  • Butter and Heavy Cream: Butter and cream make the mashes sweet potatoes lusciously rich and creamy.
  • Seasoning: A mix of vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt seasons the mashed sweet potatoes with a super warm and cozy flavor.
  • Marshmallows: Mini marshmallows melt as the casserole bakes to create a super sweet and gooey topping that is hard to beat!

Topping Options

There are two camps when it comes to sweet potato casserole: marshmallow topping or pecan streusel topping. Marshmallow topping is by far the easiest and least expensive, but if you prefer a nut topping, you can use the following recipe to create a pecan streusel:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of flour. 
  2. Cut in 4 tablespoons of diced butter with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until the mixture transforms into crumbles the size of peas. 
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
  4. Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture and bake until golden.

Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead Of Time

This sweet potato casserole recipe is perfect for making ahead of time, freeing up your time and effort on Thanksgiving Day. Just prepare the casserole as usual, but without adding any toppings. You can refrigerate the casserole with a sheet of plastic directly on the surface of the sweet potato mash for up to five days. The plastic helps prevent a skin from forming on top and stops condensation from seeping into the dish.

Sweet potato casserole can be frozen for up to 3 months. Line your casserole dish with enough aluminum foil to extend six inches on each side of the dish. Add the sweet potato filling and cover with the aluminum overhang. Freeze the casserole in the dish. Once it has solidified, unfold the aluminum and use it to lift the frozen casserole out of the dish. Wrap it in the aluminum again and then in a second layer of plastic. Then store in a freezer-safe container. Thaw it in your refrigerator overnight before topping it with marshmallows or pecan streusel and baking it.

How To Store Leftovers

First things first- according to the FDA if the casserole has been out at room temperature for more than two hours, you should throw it out. I’m just the messenger, so please direct all complaints to the FDA. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen in single servings in freezer-safe containers. Thaw the frozen casserole in your fridge overnight before reheating in the microwave.

Overhead shot of a sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon above it holding a spoonful of casserole.

You might also like our Sweet Potato Pie recipe!

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Sweet Potato Casserole

5 from 6 votes
Sweet potato casserole is a Southern holiday classic with its sweet and rich mashed sweet potatoes and gooey marshmallow topping.
Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows in a white casserole dish.
Servings 8 (½ cup each)
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. sweet potatoes ($3.96)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar ($0.23)
  • 4 Tbsp salted butter ($0.38)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream ($0.55)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract ($0.29)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg ($0.01)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ($0.01)
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows* ($0.50)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a three-quart casserole dish with butter. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, peel and dice the sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes.
  • Add the cubed sweet potato to the boiling water and boil until they are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes then add them to a large bowl and mash them until they are smooth.
  • Add the brown sugar and salted butter to a medium pan and heat over medium. Whisk the mixture until the butter and sugar melts and a caramel forms.
  • Add the cream to the caramel and whisk to combine, then add the salt, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon and whisk to combine again.
  • Mix the caramel into the sweet potato mash. Transfer the sweet potato mash to the greased casserole dish and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Top the casserole with 2 cups mini marshmallows (more or less to your liking).*
  • Bake the sweet potato casserole in the preheated 350ºF oven until the marshmallows are golden, about 20 minutes.

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Notes

*If you are opting for pecan streusel, top it with that instead. If you want to use both, start with the pecans and finish with the marshmallows.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 372kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 4gFat: 9gSodium: 332mgFiber: 7g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows in a white casserole dish.

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of a pot with boiled sweet potatoes in it with a serving spoon holding a few cubes of sweet potato above it.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a three-quart casserole dish with butter. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Peel and dice four pounds of sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes. Add them to the boiling water and continue to boil until fork-tender, then drain them in a colander.

Overhead shot of sweet potatoes being mashed in a white bowl.

Add the cooked sweet potatoes to a large bowl and mash them until smooth.

Overhead shot of brown sugar and butter in a silver pan.

Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of salted butter to a medium pan. Whisk the butter and sugar together until they melt and a caramel forms.

Overhead shot of cream v=being poured into a silver pan with caramel and a whisk in it.
When the brown sugar has completely dissolved into the butter and caramel has formed, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Whisk to combine.
Overhead shot of a spoonful of cinnamon being added to caramel in a silver pan with a whisk in it.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the caramel and whisk to combine again.

Overhead shot of caramel being poured out of a pot into sweet potato mash.

Add the caramel to the sweet potato mash and mix thoroughly.

Overhead shot of a rubber spatula smoothing sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish.

Add the mash to the greased casserole dish and smooth the top with a spatula.

Overhead shot of a silver cup measure pouring a cup of marshmallows into a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows already on top of it.

Top the casserole with 2 cups of mini marshmallows, more or less to your liking. If you are opting for pecan streusel, top it with it instead. If you want to use both, start with the pecans and finish with the marshmallows.

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon scooping out a bit of it.

Bake the casserole in the preheated 350ºF oven until the marshmallows are golden, about 20 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows in a white casserole dish.
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  1. This is my arsenal of holiday meals now. This was SOO good. I pressure cooked the potatoes for 8 mins with 3 cups of water (could probably used 2 in my 8 quart instant pot). And just poured the marshmallows instead of measuring. But it was super quick and easy.
    Marshmallows do melt if you reheat it multiple times which made it beautifully sweet.

    I was able to bring it to a potluck Thanksgiving by freshly making it before I left wrapped in towels in a laundry basket using a disposable foil travel dish.

    1. Yes, you could do that, although they will completely melt while baking, which might make the casserole a weird texture.

  2. I boil sweet potatoes then peal them. Then I roll them in granulated sugar. I put butter in a frying pan and once it melts I add the sugar coated sweet potatoes. Once the sweet potatoes are caramelized I put them in a 9×13 pan that has a thin layer of butter greased the pan. Mash the potatoes then add pecans top with marshmallows bake 350 until marshmallows are brown.

  3. Hello! The recipe looks wonderful, but I want to give a fair warning to some newer vegetarians that marshmallows are not vegetarian as they are made with gelatin. If you leave off the marshmallows or substitute them, the recipe looks fantastic.

  4. Love your website but FYI – marshmallows are not vegetarian!! They are (almost always) made with gelatin.

    You can either use vegetarian marshmallows for this recipe or push for a vegetarian alternative such as whipped cream or your pecan preparation (which, TBH, I prefer anyway).

    Please consider this for this and other vegetarian recipes going forward, thank you!

  5. This was really delicious and easy to make. It was my first time making sweet potato casserole and my whole family loved it!

  6. This was delicious but I noticed one thing.. The photo comments say to incorporate caramel into the mash, while the written instructions do not.

  7. So easy. I’m definitely the best judge of that because I don’t cook. My husband is a chef. Tasted amazing and loved by everyone they ate it.

    1. I’m glad that it was a hit! Hi to the hubs. Chef life during the holiday season is NO JOKE. XOXO -Monti

  8. My daughter asked me to make sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving. I had never eaten it or made it so I was a little hesitant, but found this recipe and decided to make it. Everyone in my house absolutely loved it! So tasty and it was very easy to make. Thank you for the amazing recipe

  9. Curious European here: at what point of the meal is this served? As dessert? As a side dish?
    In Finland we make similar vegetable casseroles for Christmas, but without any sweet toppings and all that sugar (so they are definitely more savoury, although with a faint hint of sweetness). Carrot & rice, potato and swede are all popular choices, though nowadays sweet potato has made an entrance as well (often seasoned with chili) :).

    1. Typically this is served as a side dish at Thanksgiving, though I personally find it extremely over the top sweet. I much prefer more savory sweet potato dishes, such as the Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe here on this site. That is my go-to holiday sweet potato dish.

    2. This casserole can be served as a dessert or as a side dish. I have lowered the amount of sugar in it so it isn’t as cloyingly sweet as it can be. If you prefer a savory version, you can skip the sugar, brown the butter, and then brown fresh sage leaves in it. Mix it into the potatoes for a more savory dish. XOXO -Monti

      1. Thanks for that savory option–which I would top with those crunchy fried onions so popular this time of year (we’ve lightened up on the green beans, too, serving them steamed instead of in a casserole). Although I find the caramel an appealing addition to the traditional sweet potato casseroles, we no longer eat those over the top sweet versions, even my favorite with no sugar added to the potatoes themselves but light amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg plus lots of butter whipped into the potatoes and a pecan streusel topping. By the way–this is not only traditional for southerners, as I grew up with mashed sweet potato casseroles in the upper midwest. I expect you will find one on Thanksgiving tables all over this country.

    3. I’m an American, but I was inspired by your comment to serve this recipe as a dessert. It was a total hit! Especially with my two small kids, who were ecstatic to be served something with marshmallows on it. I am so grateful to you for your post!