Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole has a creamy sweet potato custard filling with a pecan or marshmallow topping and has become an American traditional holiday classic.
This Thanksgiving favorite was brought into our family by a son-in-law, a favorite from his family's table to ours.
Pantry ingredients—eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, butter, milk
Pecan topping—chopped pecans, brown sugar, butter, flour
Optional mini-marshmallow topping—chopped pecans, mini-marshmallows
Featured comment from Ellen:
"Just made this for Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm blown away by how good it is! ….Turned out fabulous, my favorite dish this year!"
A wonderfully sweet and buttery holiday side dish with a nutty topping that will become a family tradition. But you make it your way with the crunchy pecan topping or the traditional marshmallows.
This sweet potato casserole will scale the size you need and can easily be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen.
👨🍳How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole
Scrub and bake sweet potatoes. Please give them a good scrub and poke with a fork a few times to vent steam. You will need about 3 cups, so 3-4 medium sweet potatoes. Bake at 375° for 1 to 1 ½ hours until very soft.
Allow to cool, then peel the sweet potatoes by hand—they will come off easily. You may refrigerate before or after cooking until needed for up to 3 days.
In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 cups of sweet potatoes until smooth. A stand or hand mixer works, but you can do this by hand. A bit more sweet potato is fine.
In a separate bowl, beat two eggs, ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ stick melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla, and ½ cup milk.
Add to sweet potatoes and mix well.
Place into a well-oiled (Pam or butter) oven-safe 2-quart or larger casserole dish.
Chop the pecans.
Mix topping in a medium bowl. 1 ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup flour, ⅓ stick melted butter, and ½ cup chopped pecans.
Add topping to sweet potatoes. You may cover and refrigerate at this point for the next day or freeze.
Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes until golden brown and 160° minimum internal temperature.
Note: The recipe is for about eight servings, but these photos are for a triple batch. Only three adults were eating—my daughter was cooking for leftovers and the freezer.
For more details, keep reading. See the Recipe Card below for complete instructions and to print.
The pan size
A full-size recipe fits in a 2 ½ quart casserole dish or a 9 by 12 baking dish. If cooking a half-size recipe, use a 6 by 9, 8-inch square, or 9-inch round baking dish.
↕️How to make this a half-recipe
Since this recipe is most commonly used for bigger meals, I have left it as the full recipe that makes about 8 servings. Make a half recipe for 4 servings—more "cooking for two" friendly.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings to 4.
- Use the amount of ingredients in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- Use a 6 by 9, 8-inch square, or 9-inch round dish.
- Cook until browning well—about 25 minutes. Be sure to check for a safe internal temperature of 160° or more.
📆Make ahead option
You can make it ahead, but I find long refrigerated bothersome because the uncooked casseroles contain eggs. Many suggest three days refrigerated, but I feel 2 days is enough. I can find no FDA guidance on this, so it's your choice. Add the topping just before baking.
You can also freeze sweet potato casserole uncooked. Mix it, but do not add any topping. Seal it very well and freeze it for 3 months.
If you make it ahead, you can make up the topping and refrigerate or freeze it separately, but do not add it until ready to bake.
Due to the raw eggs, the casserole needs to reach 160°+ internal temperature.
If the topping is browned, but the internal temperature has not reached 160°, tent the casserole with foil lightly to prevent further browning and continue to bake until you get the safe internal temperature of 160°.
Temperature issues are more likely to happen with deep dishes or marshmallow toppings browning too fast. You may use a larger baking dish for a thinner casserole that will cook faster. You will need more topping.
How to store leftover sweet potato casserole
Leftovers are good for 4 days refrigerated. It should freeze well for up to 3 months, either cooked or uncooked.
Reheat in the microwave for small amounts. For a larger amount, cover it with foil and reheat it in a 325° to 350° oven for 20-25 minutes.
Yes and no. True yams are mostly grown outside the U.S. and are much less commonly sold here.
In the U.S., firm varieties of sweet potatoes are frequently called sweat potatoes, while soft varieties are called yams. This goes back to enslaved Africans called the soft, sweet potato yams because they resembled the true yams from Africa.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term yam to be accompanied by the term sweet potato. To find true yams in the U.S., you will need to hunt.
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Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole
- 3 cups sweet potatoes - about 3-4 medium
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ stick butter - melted
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup milk
Pecan Topping Option
- ½ cup pecans - chopped
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- ½ cup flour
- ⅓ stick butter - melted
Marshmellow Topping Option
- 1 ½ cup mini-marshmallows
- ½ cup chopped pecans - optional
- Scrub and bake sweet potatoes. Please give them a good scrub and poke with a fork a few times to vent steam. You will need about 3 cups, so 3-4 medium sweet potatoes. Bake at 375° for 1 to 1 ½ hours until very soft.
- Allow to cool, then peel the sweet potatoes by hand—they will come off easily. You may refrigerate before or after cooking until needed for up to 3 days.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 cups of sweet potatoes until smooth. A stand or hand mixer works, but you can do this by hand. A bit more sweet potato is fine.
- In a separate bowl, beat two eggs, ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ stick melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla, and ½ cup milk.
- Add to sweet potatoes and mix well.
- Pour into a well-oiled (Pam or butter) oven-safe 2-quart or larger casserole dish.
- Chop the pecans.
- Mix topping in a medium bowl. 1 ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup flour, ⅓ stick melted butter, and ½ cup chopped pecans.
- Add topping to sweet potatoes. You may cover and refrigerate at this point for the next day or freeze.
- Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes until golden brown and 160° minimum internal temperature.
Marshmallow Topping Option
- Skip the above topping. Using about 1 ½ cup of mini-marshmallows. You may add ½ cup of chopped pecans before the marshmallows if you want.
Your Own Private Notes
- Precook the sweet potatoes the day ahead
- The recipe calls for 3 cups of sweet potatoes, but a bit more is fine. That will be 3-4 medium potatoes.
- This fits in a 2 ½ quart or larger casserole dish. You can use a 9 by 12 baking dish if you want.
- Instructions for a half-size recipe are in the post.
- Cook to nicely brown with at least 160° internal temperature, which should be about the same amount of time. A marshmallow top may brown a bit faster.
- If the top is brown too fast, but the temperature is still too low, tent lightly with foil until done.
- Make-ahead options are in the post.
- The topping can also be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen separately. Add the topping just before cooking.
- After cooking, store refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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This wonderful recipe was brought into our family from our son-in-law's family for our first Thanksgiving together and has been a staple ever since. It is similar to The Best Sweet Potato Casserole from the Food Network.
Editor's Note: Originally Published December 3, 2011. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.