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.
Watch How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
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. Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 to 5 days.
This recipe looks great! We don’t have Thanksgiving here in Australia but I think I will make it for Christmas lunch! However – Quick Q: I am travelling to relatives for Xmas (about a 5 hr road trip) – could I make this beforehand at home up to the baking stage, freeze, and then take it to the relatives and just bake it there? Do you think freezing would be ok?
Hi Elaine! I hope you love this one. I haven’t tried freezing this dish, but I *think* it will work well, especially since baking the sweet potatoes reduces some of their moisture. Do report back if you try it!
Thank you, I will give it a go and report back!
I’d like to hear how it turns out too. I’m thinking of making this at home up to the baking stage, then driving six hours with it in a cooler, and baking it at the destination. No freezing – would this work?
Hi Susan, this dish definitely works well as a make-ahead dish. Sounds like a great plan to me.
Thank you. I see now that you did mention making it in advance. Love your recipes!
Should I warm the leftovers in the oven? I’m planning on making it and traveling to a 3 hour distance
Hi! Sorry for my delay. What did you decide to do?
Sadly I just made my sweet potato casserole but like you I always cut back on sugar..and add a splash of rum or bourbon. I love the idea of Rosemary so I’m off to snip some to add to my pecan topping! More herbs are always a good idea! Happy Thanksgiving!
I’ll have to try adding a splash of rum or bourbon next time! Sounds delicious. I agree, the more herbs the better! Enjoy the rosemary and happy Thanksgiving!
I bought 3 lbs of fresh ore cut cubed sweet potatoes in my grocery store. Can I put these in the oven, or would it it work as well in the recipe
Hi Lisa! I haven’t tried roasting cubes of sweet potato for this recipe, but I’m afraid it will negatively impact the texture. The sides of the cubes will toughen up, which is lovely when you’re eating them whole, but I’m afraid they won’t blend nicely at that point. If you try, please report back.
To Lisa – the commenter with the sweet potato cubes: Use an instant pot! 1 cup of water, cubed sweet potatoes – pressure cook for 10 minutes then release pressure right away. Drain off excess water, mash and continue with this recipe – perfection!
Thanks so much Canadian chick! I got some sweet potato cubes at trader joes today. I was looking for a recipe and this one looks fabulous.
Thanks, Dana pal! Happy Thanksgiving!
Could you give the number of cups cooked, mashed potatoes needed for this recipe?
Hi Ann, Sorry I didn’t provide that as I felt weight was the best measurement here.
OMG WOW! I just made this and it came out BEAUTIFUL! Can’t wait to serve it for Thanksgiving!
Hooray! Thank you, Lysa, and happy Thanksgiving!
Just put it in oven! Serving for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow but cooking ahead of time. Love the lower sugar content as hubby is watching carbs & glycemic index of foods. Smells heavenly as it cooks! Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you so much, Anni! Delighted to hear it!
viola e brooks
Oh my goodness! I am a traditional, old fashion and predictable..but this recipe has me throwing caution to the wind! And so glad I did! My family said get rid of the marshmallow soupy sweet potatos! Thank you for sharing..Happy Thanksgiving!
Viola, your comment made me smile! Thank you very much. :)
Brian S Hook
Really delicious. I have had many sweet potato casseroles (I’m from South Carolina), and I think I like this one best. I went with the maple syrup and agree that it adds decadence, but so much better than other ways of dressing it up (I’m look at you, marshmallows). I got up early on Thanksgiving to bake the sweet potatoes; that is the only complication here, in terms of time. Otherwise, quite easy…although I wearied of snipping rosemary at about 1 tspn, and I can see that it needed more. This is a keeper.
Thank you for sharing! I’m glad this one is a keeper for you, Brian.
Officially a convert to roasting the sweet potatoes vs. boiling. Made this for the first time this year for Thanksgiving and was so amazed at the depth of flavor without the gumminess I used to get by boiling them. This one’s a Thanksgiving keeper!
Glad to hear it, Danielle! Happy holidays. :)
A delicious complement to our Thanksgiving dinner!! I omitted the milk and didn’t add the additional pats of butter at the end. I used margarine as I needed a nondairy alternative. I did not add rosemary as I prefer sweet to savory for this dish. Will make this again.
I made this casserole for thanksgiving and it is delicious! My mother in law makes a similar casserole that calls for boiling the sweet potatoes, but roasting them makes the dish richer and less watery! I love that it’s sweetened with maple syrup and not sugar, it made me feel better letting our 8 month old indulge a little too! Thanks for the recipe! I also made the green beans amandine which were the most delicious green beans I’ve ever eaten!
You’re welcome! Thank you for having it be a new recipe at your Thanksgiving table.
I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! The pecan topping was incredible, like the candied nuts you get in those little paper cones! I’ll try it with the rosemary next time (I didn’t have any on hand)
Wonderful to hear, Aimie! I appreciate your review.
This recipe is a keeper! I used more sweet potatoes, but kept everything else the same and it turned out amazing! Couldn’t stop eating-family said it was the highlight of today’s thanksgiving meal. Thank you for sharing.
Happy Thanksgiving, Annie! That’s great to hear.
Once you sent this recipe, I knew I had to make it for Thanksgiving—roasted sweet potatoes (which I did the day before), maple syrup, pecans—yum! It was a delicious recipe that went directly into my Thanksgiving file. Thanks for helping to make our small gathering meal memorable! Hope you had a nice day as well.
So glad you enjoyed this one, Bea! Happy holidays!
Absolutely perfect! Halved the recipe. Cooked potatos for 25 minutes at 180C in the air fryer. Then used regular milk and coconut sugar options. Didn’t have pecans, so we used walnuts. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
We used this recipe on Thanksgiving this year, one of the best things to come out of 2020. While I wasn’t brave enough to add the optional rosemary, the family loved the perfect blend of gentle sweetness and fluffy delightful texture accented by the pecans. The family has asked that this be added to our yearly dinner and I just may slip in the rosemary version at Christmas
Steven, happy to hear it! Thank you very much for your review.
Mary Anne Simons
Delicious! Our family loved this sweet potato dish. Perfect amount of sweetness. I didn’t use the rosemary and it was great without it.
This was absolutely delicious!!!
I made it with oat milk and vegan butter and it was still absolutely gorgeous. I’m so glad I did not top it with marshmellows, it was so sweet and turned out just perfect. Thank you all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland xx
So glad to hear your vegan variation turned out great, Amanda! Thank you for letting me know.
Wow was the very best. My husband hates marshmallow casserole sweet potatoes. This was so good it was the hit of our thanksgiving meal. Thank you!
Marvelous! Thank you for reporting back!
Delicious! It was my first time roasting the sweet potatoes for this dish and loved it. I did add marshmallows for my kids–it was a hit!
Absolutely delicious! And I’m one of those that doesn’t normally like sweet potato casserole! This is a total winner! Love the topping!
Hooray! Thank you and happy holidays, Jacquelyn.
Hi! I made this for Thanksgiving and my husband and I really enjoyed it. Leftovers were yummy too! Thanks so much :)
Best sweet potato casserole I’ve ever had! I’ve always found sweet potato casserole too sweet, but this recipe was just perfect. I loved the combination of flavors from the sweet pecans and the rosemary.
Wonderful to hear! Thank you, Gaby!
Ridiculously good! Made it vegan for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit!
Hooray, thank you, Amanda!
I’ve been searching for the perfect sweet potato casserole
and now I’ve found it!
Thank you Kate!!
It was absolutely Delicious
Yesss! Thanks, Jules!
Not a huge fan of rosemary, is there another herb you would suggest. Saw it was optional, yet love using fresh herbs. And anything you can make in advance is wonderful, less stress on the day of your event. Thank you.
Hi Jan, late to the party, I make an Ottolenghi recipe for sweet potatoes and loads of fresh sage and it is sublime. Have not tried sage with this recipe but I know it plays well with sweet potatoes so may be worth a try.
This recipe came into my inbox just in time. I live in Berlin, so this was a welcome taste of home on my Thanksgiving table. It was a hit!!
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was so delicious! I love sweet potatoes in all forms. Sweet or savory but I feel that for Thanksgiving you do have to be more decadent and the maple syrup definitely added that decadence for me. I will most likely be making this for Christmas as well.
Wonderful to hear, Kelly! Thank you for your comment.
sharon W Sullivan
I made the sweet potato casserole, and your advice was spot on baking the potatoes made all the difference I did leave out the rosemary though, I just wasn’t that brave. It was delicious!
Wonderful Recipe! Thank you so much for this!
I kinda did a hybrid of this and my usual Thanksgiving yams and oranges…instead of butter and milk I used about a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice and slightly less maple syrup (because of all the natural sugar in oranges). I also cut the oranges into little crowns and scooped out the pulp, then piped the yam mixture into the orange crowns and put the topping on those, they baked beautifully and were a fun presentation.
Thank you as always for your wonderful recipes!
I made this for Thanksgiving. So delicious!
I’m excited you loved it, Ellen!
Love this recipe. It’s great for desert as well as a side with Cornish Game hens!
Thank you for yet another great recipe! I have made several of your dishes before with much success and this did not disappoint. I’ve never made mashed sweet potatoes before and these were a big hit on Christmas Day!
Made this for Christmas dinner and everyone loved it! This recipe is a keeper! Thanks!
Hands down THE best sweet potato casserole! It’s already a hit and I’ve been asked to make it again. I used the coconut oil to replace the butter and it was sooo good! Thank you for this delicious healthy recipe!
That’s great, Jennifer! I appreciate your review.
Hello from Canada ,Kate!
Loved this recipe!!!
Only change was I used 1/8 cup of maple sugar flakes in the topping and omitted the rosemary. I took your advice and roasted the sweet potatoes first and what a yummy different that makes to a casserole!!
Turned out sweet enough and was absolutely delicious!!
Thankyou so much for all your recipes!!
Love your cookbook too and have never had a fail!!
Enjoy your day!
Thank you for sharing, Skip! I’m happy you tried it and loved it.
My husband and I LOVED this dish! So appreciated that is was not super-sweet like so many sweet potato dishes can be. And I can respond to the queries about freezing. Since we were just cooking for the two of us for Thanksgiving, I froze half of our Thanksgiving dinner to serve again at Christmas. I divided this recipe into two casserole dishes. One went into the freezer (covered well but unbaked). I thawed it out at Christmas and baked it off. It was just as good then as it was the month before. Thanks for a great recipe!
I tried this recipe last night and it was delicious! My husband liked it too, and he’s not always the biggest fan of nuts. I’ll have to roast my sweet potatoes this way in the future if I want to eat them whole. I might cut back on some of the sugar next time I make it and see how it is!
Hi Kate! I am so excited to try this dish, it looks amazing! How long would leftovers last when stored in the fridge and freezer? Thank you
Hi Clare, hope you love this casserole! I’d say the leftovers will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. In a well-controlled freezer, 3 to 6 months. The pecans might not be as crisp after defrosting, but I don’t know for sure.
Actually, I take that back—Diane reported that her frozen and defrosted casserole tasted just as good as freshly baked!
I’ve made this twice now. So delicious, and an instant family favourite! The rosemary really adds to the dish.
(Its literally the only thing my 4yo ate for dinner tonight)
Loved this recipe for casserole – not too sweet and everyone loved it.
I’m glad it’s a hit! Thank you for sharing, Sue.
This was a fantastic recipe! Made for Thanksgiving this year – it was perfect and everyone loved it!
I’m glad you loved it, Stephanie!
Do you think using walnuts instead of pecans would alter the flavor a lot? I only have walnuts on hand, but I’m weary to ruin the perfect combo.
What do you think?
You can try it, although I prefer pecans. Let me know what you thought!
I’m allergic to pecans- do you think hazelnuts might be tasty instead?
I haven’t tried it. Let me know what you think!
Can I replace the maple sryup with Agave Nectar?
Hi Shelly, I prefer maple syrup here.
Thank you for sharing. Planning to make this.
Can I use walnuts for the topping? That’s what I have handy.
Hi Hannah, I prefer pecans but you could try it.
This is the best sweet potato recipe ever! It is simply delicious-the Rosemary was a delightful addition!
I’m glad you loved it, Laura!
Made this for Thanksgiving yesterday, and it was a big hit. Best sweet potato casserole I’ve ever tasted. I love the subtle savory flavor that the fresh rosemary adds. This will certainly be on our Thanksgiving table every year!
Hooray! I’m glad it’s already on the menu for next year, Carol. I appreciate your review.
It was incredible! Everyone loved it. Thanks!
That’s great to hear, Chelsea!
Your recipe is SO delicious!! Not too sweet and perfectly highlights the taste of the sweet potatoes. I did add an extra 1/2 tsp vanilla. I also used Sugarspunrun.com’s “How To Make Streusel (Crumb Topping)” recipe to top the casserole, instead of your pecan topping. Our kids don’t like any kinds of nuts. It was a hit!!
I would really love to see a nut free casserole for those that are allergic to nuts
While I haven’t tried, I think that pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) would be nice in place of the pecans. Blitz them in a food processor until they’re finely chopped and proceed as directed. Be sure to use a nut-free milk, and let me know how this turns out in the comments if you give it a try!
In Australia , American friends invited us to their Thanksgiving. I had no idea what to bring as I had never been to Thanksgiving before so I chose your Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole and it was a huge hit! I was so pleased but also thought how polite they were. BUT, we have just been invited to this year’s Thanksgiving which we happily accepted and our hostess said “Oh, by the way, would you mind making that fabulous Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole again?” I told her I will make two, and this time I will take pics, Katie, for your Instagram .
Is it ok to use light brown sugar instead of dark brown?
You can try it, but I recommend what is written. Let me know how it turned out for you!
What size pan do you recommend to cut this recipe in half?
I don’t know of a great pan option that is smaller, sorry!
I made a half recipe and just formed it in the middle of a 9×9 instead of spreading to the sides and it came out great.
If you’re not going to add the rosemary, I’d recommend using the coconut oil rather than the butter even for non-vegans, either in the filling or the topping or both. The flavor it lends to the dish is yummy.
FYI. The video is about flaxseeds not this sweet potato dish.
Hi Lorriane! Not all recipes have videos yet. If they do, once that video plays, it will play another one. I hope they helps!
This was fabulous. I’ve never made sweet potato casserole before, and it’s never been a dish I particularly liked, but this recipe has changed my mind. My brother in law, who went to culinary school and has strong opinions, said it was “the bomb,” and although I made it, it was the general favorite at HIS thanksgiving, so thank you!
p.s. I did it as a half vegan (almond milk and vegan butter) and half regular, and there were no leftovers of either.
I saw this recipe and knew I had to double it for our family’s Thanksgiving Dinner. It was an absolute hit! Even with the teens! I finished the last of the leftovers today and am already thinking of when I can make it again! Thank you for all of your beautiful and healthful recipes! Happy Holidays and God bless you!
You’re welcome, Mary! I’m happy you enjoyed it.