This is without a doubt my all time FAVORITE Sweet Potato Casserole recipe, and usually the star of our Thanksgiving table! It’s topped with a brown sugar and pecan topping, it’s easy to make the day of or can be prepared in advance for an easy make-ahead holiday side dish.
I love learning what everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving foods are. What do you look forward to the most? Is it the big beautiful turkey? (Leftover turkey sandwiches are the best!) Is it the mashed potatoes and gravy? (Oh yea!) Or, the cranberry sauce? (I can’t have turkey without it!)
For me, it’s a no brainer…it’s the post-dinner PIE!!
But, if we’re talking Thanksgiving dinner, specifically, then this sweet potato casserole is my absolute number ONE! (Stuffing comes in close second.) The smooth and creamy sweet potato filling, combined with the sweet and crunchy topping, is almost like eating the best dessert of your life!
How to make sweet potato casserole:
1. Cook and peel sweet potatoes. Place them in a large pot and add enough water to the pot to cover the potatoes a little more than half way. Bring to a boil and simmer until fork tender. Drain water and place sweet potatoes on cutting board to cool down. Once they are warm enough to hold, peel the skin from the potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl.
2. Make filling. Add eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, sugar, salt and butter and mash everything together until smooth. I start with a potato masher, and then use an electric mixer on low speed, for about 45 seconds, to get the mixture really smooth.
3. Smooth into casserole dish.
4. Add pecan topping and bake. Combine the topping ingredients; butter, chopped pecans, flour and brown sugar. Sprinkle all over the top of your mashed sweet potato mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Sweet potatoes: To Peel or Not to Peel?
Peeled sweet potatoes are best for sweet potato casserole but you don’t have to peel them before cooking them. In fact, I prefer peeling them afterward. I like to leave the peel on the potatoes whether I am baking or boiling them, and then the skin peels off really easily after they’re cooked.
How do I know if the potatoes are finished cooking?
The sweet potatoes are done cooking when they are fork tender, meaning when they are poked with a fork, the fork slides easily to the center. Once you’re finished cooking your potatoes, it’s a good idea to let them cool on a cutting board or plate, and then peel the skin off.
Pecan or Marshmallow Topping?
Obviously I’m partial to pecan crumble topping on my sweet potato casserole but I know marshmallows are another really popular topping.
To add a Marshmallow topping simply top the casserole with a layer of miniature marshmallows and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the marshmallows are puffy and browned. You could also prepare this dish half and half with half crumble mixture and half marshmallows. For this method, cook with half of the crumble for about 15 minutes first, then remove from the oven, cover the other half of the casserole with marshmallows and continue baking.
Make ahead, storing and freezing Instructions:
To make-ahead: You can prepare sweet potato casserole 1-2 days in advance. First make the filling and smooth into your baking dish. Then make the topping but instead of putting it on the casserole, place it in a ziplock bag. When you’re ready to bake your sweet potato casserole, take it out of the fridge and sprinkle the topping on top! Then bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
This is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish to make a day or two ahead of time, to save time and stress the day of. Here are some other great make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes.
To store: Store sweet potato casserole covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
To freeze: Prepare the sweet potato casserole completely, but don’t bake it. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes on the counter before baking.
Don’t miss these Thanksgiving staples:
- Best Homemade Rolls
- Easy, No-Fuss Thanksgiving Turkey
- Broccoli Casserole
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Sausage Cranberry Pecan Stuffing
- Sweet Potato Souffle
- Cranberry Fluff Salad
- Apple Cranberry Fruit Salad
- Triple Berry Pie
- Other pie recipes
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4-5 large sweet potatoes
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk , or substitute cream or half and half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter , melted
For the topping:*
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Boil potatoes: place the sweet potatoes in a large pot. Add enough water to the pot to cover the potatoes half way (a little more than half way). You will need at least 3-4 inches of water but the water will not completely cover the potatoes!
- Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat to a medium simmer. Simmer them until they are fork tender. It may take 20-40 minutes to cook your sweet potatoes depending on the size of the potatoes, but you don't want them to be mushy!
- Drain water and place sweet potatoes on a plate or cutting board to cool down. Once they are warm enough to hold, peel the skin from the potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl.
- Add eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, sugar, salt and butter and mash everything together until smooth. I start with a potato masher, and then use an electric mixer on low speed, for about 45 seconds, to get the mixture really smooth.
- Pour mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish. Anything around the size of an 8x11'' , 9x13'' or even a deep dish 10'' pie pan would all work great!
For the topping:
- Add flour, brown sugar and pecans to a mixing bowl.
- Add butter and cut in with a fork or pastry blender until well combined.
- Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.
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I originally shared this recipe October 2017. Updated November 2019 with improved instructions.