This southern sweet potato casserole is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table. Creamy sweet potato filling is topped with a crunchy pecan crumble and baked to perfection in the oven.
You'll love this southern sweet potato casserole because it's perfectly sweetened and has the most amazing crunchy pecan crust. Plus it's easy to make a day ahead of time and store until dinner, saving your precious time on Thanksgiving day!
Smooth and creamy sweet potatoes, crunchy pecans, and a golden brown sugar topping make this dish a tried-and-true favorite. Prefer a marshmallow topping? This casserole is easy to customize to suit your tastes.
Serve this side dish at your next Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner next to that spiral sliced ham - they're the perfect pairing! Cornbread dressing and green bean casserole are a few of my other favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Sweet potatoes - I highly recommend baking your potatoes instead of boiling. Baking intensifies the flavor of the potatoes, while boiling can reduce the flavor slightly and make the casserole wet/runny. If you need to boil your potatoes, drain them thoroughly before preparing the rest of the filling.
- Eggs - Necessary to bind and thicken the filling ingredients.
- Butter - Unsalted butter can be substituted with salted butter. You'll want to cut the listed salt in half.
- Brown sugar - Sweetens the filling and adds caramelized flavor. Can be substituted with granulated sugar if needed. For a less sweet casserole, cut the sugar in half.
- Milk - Adds moisture to the filling. Whole milk is best for a creamy filling, but any milk you have on hand will work.
- Vanilla - Adds flavor to the filling.
- Seasoning - Cinnamon and salt enhance the flavor of the casserole filling. If using salted butter, the listed salt can be cut in half.
- Flour - All-purpose flour is necessary to make the crumble topping.
- Brown sugar - Sweetens the crumble topping, helps hold it together as it bakes, and adds a caramelized flavor.
- Butter - Acts as the glue for the topping.
- Pecans - Can be omitted or substituted with chopped walnuts.
Tips and tricks
- Bake sweet potatoes for best flavor and texture - I highly recommend baking your sweet potatoes for best results. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub the potatoes and pierce several times with a fork. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on size), or until cooked through to 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. Allow to cool, then carefully peel the skins off.
- Need to boil your potatoes? - Drain them thoroughly before preparing the filling. Otherwise, overly wet potatoes can make the filling runny.
- Making the crumble topping - Stir the ingredients together until it looks like clumpy, wet sand, then sprinkle evenly over the casserole.
- Make ahead and refrigerate - Save time on Thanksgiving day by making your sweet potato casserole the day before. Assemble as directed, cover, and store in the refrigerator. The next day, preheat your oven and transfer the casserole to the counter top to warm up.
Frequently asked questions
Use gluten-free 1:1 flour for the crumble topping or omit the crumble topping entirely. Mini marshmallows are a popular sweet potato casserole topping that happens to be gluten-free.
Omitting the eggs from the filling or adding very wet boiled potatoes to the filling can cause it to turn out runny. Eggs are listed as an ingredient because they add stability to the filling.
Yes, sweet potatoes can be boiled instead of baked, but be sure to drain them thoroughly and allow them to cool slightly before preparing the filling. Wet potatoes add excess moisture to the filling, which can cause it to turn out runny.
Yes, sweet potato casserole can be prepared a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator before baking and serving.
Leftovers will keep for 4 to 5 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Yes, sweet potato casserole can be frozen (baked or raw) for up to three months. To thaw, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight before baking.
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Filling
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed*
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Pour sweet potato filling into prepared 9x13 pan and spread into an even layer.
- In a bowl, add flour, brown sugar, melted butter, and pecans. Stir until combined (mixture will be wet and clumpy). Sprinkle topping evenly over sweet potato filling.
- Bake casserole for about 35-40 minutes, or until center is set and top is lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and serve warm.
- In the oven: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Bake for about 45-55 minutes (depending on size), or until the centers reaches 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to cool, then peel the skins off and mash.
- On the stove top: Peel potatoes, quarter each potato, then place in a pot of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork. Drain well, allow to cool slightly, then mash.