If there was ever a dish greater than the sum of its parts, it’s this buttery sweet potato casserole. It’s a total breeze to put together and will be the star of your dinner table! If you’re unfamiliar with sweet potato casserole, it’s traditionally a southern dish served for holidays or special occasions.
How To Pick Sweet Potatoes
When selecting sweet potatoes, go for small to medium-sized ones, which tend to be less starchy, have tender skin, and have more pronounced flavors. Also, make sure they are firm and have smooth skin without any cracks or soft spots, all signs that they aren’t old. (Ugh. That reads like a sentence you’d find in some sexist 50’s handbook for How To Pick A Wife.)
How To Store Sweet Potatoes
To keep your sweet potatoes from sprouting and keep them fresh longer, store them in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. Don’t store them next to onions, which tend to release moisture into the air. Also, keep them out of cabinets that are close to your stove, which creates a hot environment in surrounding spaces while in use.
What’s The Best Topping For Sweet Potato Casserole?
Beth and I are split on the best topping for sweet potato casserole. She is camp pecan streusel (it has superior flavor and texture). I am camp marshmallow (it’s easier and costs less). This recipe is for a marshmallow topping, but I’m not leaving you stranded if you prefer pecans. You can use the following recipe to create a pecan streusel:
- In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of flour.
- 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.
- Stir in 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
- Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture and bake until golden.
Should I Boil Or Roast Potatoes FOR Sweet Potato Casserole?
I peel, dice, and boil sweet potatoes for my sweet potato casserole. For the Thanksgiving holiday, most ovens will be working overtime, so the more you can do on the stovetop, the better. But if you REALLY want to go all out, wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum and roast them whole at low heat (about 250°F) until they are fork tender, which caramelizes the sugars for ridiculously deep flavors.
Can I Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead Of Time?
You can absolutely make sweet potato casserole ahead of time. Just leave the toppings for when you are ready to bake, as freezing or refrigerating them for extended periods will change their texture. 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 and stops condensation from seeping into the dish.
You can freeze a sweet potato casserole 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 Leftover Casserole
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 are best frozen in single servings in freezer-safe containers. Thaw them out in your fridge overnight. You should only thaw them once.
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 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)
- Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350ºF. Grease a three-quart casserole dish with butter. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Peel and dice sweet potatoes. Add them to the water once it begins to boil.
- When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, drain them, and add them to a large bowl. Mash them until they are smooth.
- To a medium-sized heavy bottom pan set over medium heat add brown sugar and salted butter. Whisk until a caramel forms.
- Add the cream and whisk to incorporate.
- Add the salt, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the caramel and whisk to incorporate.
- Mix the caramel into the mash and then add the mash into the greased casserole dish. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Top the casserole with 2 cups mini marshmallows, more or less to your liking.*
- Bake the casserole at 350ºF until the marshmallows are golden, about 20 minutes.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole – Step by Step Photos
Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350ºF. Grease a three-quart casserole dish with butter. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Peel and dice four pounds of sweet potatoes. Add them to the water once it begins to boil.
When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, drain them, and add them to a large bowl. Mash them until they are smooth.
To a medium-sized heavy bottom pan set over medium heat add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of salted butter. Whisk until a caramel forms.
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the caramel and whisk to incorporate.
Add the caramel to the sweet potato mash and mix thoroughly.
Add the 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. 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.
Bake the casserole at 350ºF until the marshmallows are golden, about 20 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
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.
Thanks for catching that! We’ve updated the tags. :)
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!
Please see the note on vegetarian options. Thank you.
This was really delicious and easy to make. It was my first time making sweet potato casserole and my whole family loved it!
Awesome! So glad your family liked it! xoxo -Monti
This was delicious but I noticed one thing.. The photo comments say to incorporate caramel into the mash, while the written instructions do not.
Good looking out! It’s been updated. Thank you.
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.
I’m glad that it was a hit! Hi to the hubs. Chef life during the holiday season is NO JOKE. XOXO -Monti
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
Thanks for making it!
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) :).
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.
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
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.
That sounds delish! Happy holidays! XOXO -Monti
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!