Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans is a Thanksgiving tradition and family favorite. Whether for a special occasion or just Sunday supper, it’s the perfect side dish for any meal.
What's In This Article
Casserole vs Souffle
Really the difference between most sweet potato casseroles and sweet potato souffle is negligible with the exception of the name. Use whichever you prefer.
Both are light, fluffy and topped with crunchies and something sweet. In this case it is corn flakes cereal, pecans, marshmallows and a generous helping of butter.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Although it seems more like a dessert, Sweet Potato Casserole is a side dish, balancing out the other savory flavors of turkey and stuffing.
Most variations are sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, however the original version of this recipe didn’t have any marshmallows. To me, that just seemed silly, so I added them to my own.
This recipe landed in my lap when I was still in college. My sister’s college roommate was unable to fly home for Thanksgiving, so we invited her to spend time at our home, which was driving distance from their college.
To make her feel more “at home,” my mother asked her to share her favorite dish from the holiday. Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans was what she sent!
In addition to adding the marshmallow layer, I also doubled the pecan topping. This is really what makes this Sweet Potato Casserole different from the rest.
Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams
Lastly, let’s talk about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. A sweet potato is not a yam. Epicurious summed it up beautifully:
They’re two different plants. The sweet potato is in the morning glory family, while yams are related to palms and grasses.
And they grow in different parts of the world: yams in Africa, where they originated, and also Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Central America. Sweet potatoes in the United States, with North Carolina leading the way in production.
So at a typical supermarket, what you’re buying is an American-grown sweet potato. True yams are imported and a rare find outside of ethnic grocery stores.
Needless to say, we need sweet potatoes for this creamy sweet potato casserole.
Sweet Potato Filling:
- Large sweet potatoes – I like using fresh sweet potatoes rather than frozen or canned. They taste so much better
- Butter – I always prefer to use unsalted butter, however if you use salted, omit the additional salt from the recipe.
- Eggs – Eggs act as a binding agent and help to hold everything in the sweet potato base together.
- Evaporated milk – This is easy to find at any grocery store, but you can also make your own by scalding the milk and then allowing it to simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes.
- Sugar – Just regular granulated white sugar is what we need for this easy sweet potato casserole recipe.
- Cinnamon – Sweet potatoes and cinnamon go hand in hand. The cinnamon really helps to bring out the natural flavors of the sweet potatoes.
- Salt – I always like using fine sea salt, but if you used salted butter for your sweet potato recipe, go ahead and just leave this out. You don’t want a salty casserole!
- Unsalted butter – The pecans and corn flakes bring their own amount of salt, so make sure to use unsalted butter for the crunchy topping.
- Light brown sugar – You can use dark brown sugar if that’s all you have, but it adds a little flavor and sweetness to the top of casserole.
- Corn flakes cereal – I like to add corn flakes for a little added crunch on top of the casserole.
- Pecans – I know some choose either marshmallows or pecans, but I like to add both. I love both the crunch and the sweetness that each of them bring.
- Mini marshmallows – The marshmallow versus pecan topping is highly debated, so why not have both? It’s the best part of Thanksgiving dinner in my opinion.
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
- Prepare sweet potatoes. Preheat your oven and bake the sweet potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Remove and allow to cool until able to handle. Cold sweet potatoes will take longer to bake, so don’t allow to cool fully.
- Scoop sweet potatoes. Cut sweet potatoes in half, scoop out sweet potato mixture and add to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. You could also use a large bowl with a potato masher or hand mixer.
- Prepare oven and baking dish. Raise the temperature of the oven and coat your casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Combine rest of ingredients. Add butter, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Place potato mixture into prepared baking dish and bake.
- Pecan topping. Meanwhile, prepare pecan topping. Cream together butter and sugar. Add pecans.
- Marshmallow topping. Top sweet potatoes with marshmallows, return to oven until marshmallows start to melt. Remove from oven.
- Add pecan topping. Top marshmallow layer with creamed butter, sugar and pecans by using two forks and evenly placing over marshmallows. Return to oven.
- Top with corn flakes. Finish by topping this classic sweet potato casserole recipe with corn flakes, gently pushing them into the mixture. Allow to rest before serving.
Storage and Freezing
You can store any leftovers of this best sweet potato casserole recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Sometimes casseroles even taste better the next day!
It also freezes well. Check out my tips for how to freeze a casserole here!
More Easy Thanksgiving Recipes
Sweet Potato Casserole
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Remove and allow to cool until able to handle.
- Cut sweet potatoes in half, scoop out potato flesh and add to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Add butter, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Bake 15 – 20 minutes @400 degrees.
- Place potato mixture into prepared 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove.
- Meanwhile, prepare pecan topping. Cream together butter and sugar. Add pecans.
- Top sweet potatoes with marshmallows, return to oven for 5 minutes or until marshmallows start to melt. Remove.
- Top marshmallow layer with creamed butter, sugar and pecans by using two forks and evenly placing over marshmallows. Return to oven for 15 minutes.
- Finish by topping with Corn Flakes, gently pushing them into the mixture. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.