This sweet potato casserole is for everyone, even the people who don’t like sweet potato casserole. I’m serious! If you enjoy sweet potato casserole, I’m confident you’ll love this marshmallow-free version.
If you don’t like sweet potato casserole, this recipe will change your mind. I know it will, because it changed mine. I’ve sworn for years that I only like savory sweet potatoes, but I’m officially eating my words. I love this recipe.
This sweet potato casserole features an ultra creamy, pillowy interior with deep sweet potato flavor. The buttery pecan topping is crunchy-tender and lightly sweet, with optional fresh rosemary.
Overall, this dish is entirely irresistible. I hope it’s a big hit at your Thanksgiving table.
How to Make the Best Sweet Potato Casserole
Here are a few reasons why this casserole is so delicious:
1) Baked Sweet Potatoes are Better Than Boiled
We’ll roast the sweet potatoes whole in the oven until they’re tender and cooked through. The sweet potato condenses and caramelizes in the oven, producing superior flavor. Boiling chunks of sweet potatoes just adds more moisture.
Baking takes longer than boiling, but it’s easy and worth the wait. You can bake the sweet potatoes in advance or go ahead and prepare the whole dish in advance, if desired. More on that in the next section.
2) No Marshmallows, No Flour, No Nonsense
In this recipe, toasted pecans and creamy sweet potatoes take center stage. There are no puffy marshmallows getting in the way, and no flour to damper the flavors. Make this recipe and I think you’ll agree with me.
Note: No flour means this recipe is naturally gluten free.
3) Less Sugar Makes a Better Casserole
I’ve always wondered why we add so much sugar to sweet potato casserole when the sweet potatoes themselves are already sweet. I reduced the sugar in the filling and the topping as much as I could, while still retaining that classic holiday flavor. Success!
4) Rosemary: Optional But So Good
I added some finely snipped rosemary to the topping, which lends a lovely savory, herbal note to the dish. It’s subtle but so nice.
A Few Notes & Tips
How to Chop the Pecans in a Hurry
Throw your pecans in the food processor and blitz! As a bonus, if you chop your pecans more finely than shown here in the photos, your topping will look more abundant even though you’re using the same amount.
How to Snip Rosemary
I’ll admit that preparing the rosemary is a little fussy. If you have clean kitchen scissors, simply snip the fresh rosemary leaves in tiny increments until you have about two teaspoons’ worth (you’ll need a couple of short sprigs). Snipping is easier than chopping, that’s for sure.
How to Reduce the Sugar
This naturally sweetened sweet potato casserole already has significantly less added sugar than most recipes. To bring it down even further, you can reduce or omit the maple syrup in the filling. I included the maple syrup because it tastes more decadent and holiday-like with it, but I also enjoyed the version without. Up to you!
How to Prepare This Casserole in Advance
You can roast the sweet potatoes in advance and chill them for later. Or, prepare the whole dish up to three days in advance and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. Since your dish is starting off cold, it will likely need an additional five minutes or so in the oven.
More Holiday-Worthy Side Dishes
- Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans
- Best Ever Green Beans
- Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Favorite Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas
- Kale Colcannon or Lucille’s Mashed Potatoes
Please let me know how your casserole turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
Make this sweet potato casserole recipe for the holidays! Topped with buttery pecans, this creamy sweet potato casserole will be a BIG hit. Recipe yields 8 to 10 servings.
Sweet Potato Filling
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)
- ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup milk of choice
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup packed coconut sugar or dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup pecan halves or pieces, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely snipped fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of fine salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to catch the sweet potato drippings. Grease a 9-inch square baker (or any other 2-quart baker) with butter or cooking spray. Remember to leave the butter at room temperature so it has time to soften.
- To prepare the filling: Prick each sweet potato with a fork about 5 times so steam can escape. Place the whole sweet potatoes on the prepared baking sheet and bake until they yield easily to a gentle squeeze (use oven mitts!), somewhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on their size. Set them aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Once the potatoes are cool enough to safely handle, slice each one in half. Use a big spoon to scoop the insides into a large mixing bowl, then discard the skins.
- Add the melted butter, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, nutmeg and salt to the bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip the ingredients together until they’re smooth and creamy (alternately, use a potato masher or stir by hand). Scoop the mixture into the prepared baker and spread it in an even layer.
- To prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the softened butter (if it’s not soft enough to stir yet, microwave it in 6 to 8 second intervals), sugar, pecans, optional rosemary, cinnamon and salt. Stir until the mixture is evenly incorporated. Dollop small forkfuls evenly all over the sweet potato filling.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the pecans are golden and fragrant, and the filling is sizzling around the edges and warmed all the way through. Serve.