A delicious sweet potato side dish the whole family will love, whether you’re serving it for Thanksgiving or as a special Sunday side. This Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping is a tried-and-true family favorite.
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
Being Canadian, Sweet Potato Casserole was simply not a thing we ever experienced growing up – but now that I split my time between Canada and America, certain American traditions and foods have worked their way into my life. While the idea of a dessert-like side dish was utterly confusing to me at first, I now couldn’t imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without it! (And, now I get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice a year!)
I’ve experimented quite a bit with different sweet potato casseroles and different toppings, and this Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with a Pecan-Streusel Topping is hands-down my favorite.
I love Southern cooking because the basis is humble, everyday ingredients that are transformed into comforting, delicious food that quickly become family favorites. Flavor is everything when it comes to Southern cooking, and this dish totally delivers with sweet, creamy sweet potatoes topped with a crunchy streusel-pecan topping.
The sweet potatoes in this southern sweet potato casserole take on an airy, creamy texture which explains why some people call this a Sweet Potato Soufflé. Thanksgiving Dinner is already heavy enough with turkey, gravy and all the fixin’s, so a light sweet potato dish is an absolute neccessity.
If you’re a staunch believer that sweet potato casserole must contain marshmallows, you can mix them into the topping for this recipe for the ultimate sweet potato mash-up.
How to Fix Runny Sweet Potato Casserole:
The biggest cause for a soggy or runny sweet potato casserole is over-boiling the potatoes, as they will then start to absorb more water, throwing off the liquid ratios in this dish. You just want the sweet potatoes to be fork-tender, not falling apart at the end of the boiling time. If you’ve already over-boiled the potatoes, this post has some tips on how to fix runny sweet potato casserole.
How to Prepare Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time:
Prepare the sweet potato casserole up to the point where the potato mixture has been added to your casserole dish. Cover the casserole dish with a lid or plastic wrap (I love these Pyrex dishes with fitted lids for this, plus easy transportation to parties or leftover storage). Prepare the pecan-streusel topping and store in a covered bowl or container.
Refrigerate the casserole and topping for up to three days (max) then bring to room temperature while the oven preheats. Sprinkle the topping over the casserole before baking as directed.
What is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? Contrary to what some people believe, these two root vegetables are not the same – and using them interchangeably in this recipe will yield very different results. Some grocery stores mislabel sweet potatoes as yams – which is the reason for the confusion.
Yams are tougher, starchier and will result in a “stringier” sweet potato casserole. Yams have a brown, bark-like skin while sweet potatoes have a reddish skin that is the same texture of normal potatoes.
Can I use canned sweet potatoes to make sweet potato casserole? Well, technically yes – but I would advise using fresh, if possible. Canned sweet potatoes will change the texture and taste of this dish. The potatoes will be denser/heavier and you’ll have less control over the salt content. Some canned sweet potatoes are also packed in syrup which will also dramatically affect the texture and flavor.
Can I bake sweet potatoes instead of boiling for sweet potato casserole? Yes! To bake the potatoes, use a fork to prick the potatoes all over and then place them on a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 425ºF, turning once, then peel and proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.
More Thanksgiving Recipes
- Homemade Gravy
- Anthony Bourdain’s Cranberry Orange Relish
- From-Scratch Green Bean Casserole
- Roast Turkey Breast
- Maple Pecan Pie
- One Hour Dinner Rolls
- Easy Baked Hasselback Potatoes
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole Ingredients
For the Streusel Topping:
Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.
Tip: For this recipe, I used Millican Pecan’s Pecan Pieces. I didn’t realize what a difference there could be between pecan brands, but these are so incredibly fresh and flavorful. They also have delicious snack options like the Sweet and Spicy Pecans which are perfect for the holidays. My next order, I’m trying their Pecan Butter and the Caramel Pecan Coffee! (And by the way, this is not sponsored – I just really love them.)
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 9″ x 13″ Casserole Dish <– I love these Pyrex dishes with fitted lids for easy transportation to parties or leftover storage
- Large stockpot
- Electric mixer <– this is a great hand mixer if you don’t want to make the investment into a stand mixer
- Vegetable Peeler
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping
Peel and coarsely chop your sweet potatoes.
Place in a large stockpot and cover with water.
Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until fork tender.
Drain the water off the potatoes, then add in the heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer until completely combined.
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish and pour the sweet potato mixture into the dish.
In a small bowl, combine the streusel topping ingredients and then scatter over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes, until topping is browned and crisped.
Grab your free printable for our sweet potato casserole with pecan topping recipe:
- 6 medium-sized sweet potatoes (approximately 4lb)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the Streusel Topping:
- 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Peel and coarsely chop your sweet potatoes.
- Place in a large stockpot and cover with water.
- Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until fork tender.
- Drain the water off the potatoes, then add in the heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer until completely combined.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish and pour the sweet potato mixture into the dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the streusel topping ingredients and then scatter over the sweet potato mixture.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until topping is browned and crisped.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 562mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 4gSugar: 20gProtein: 5g
Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.
I hope your family loves this easy sweet potato casserole as much as mine does! It’s super quick and easy to make but results in the perfect light-yet-indulgent side dish for any special occasion – not just Thanksgiving!