Easy sweet potato casserole with your choice of a pecan or marshmallow topping will become a family favorite. A classic holiday side that will have them asking for the recipe.
When families come together for a holiday, traditional dishes from all sides of the family help make the event special.
This 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 very similar to The Best Sweet Potato Casserole from the Food Network.
Enjoy this classic Sweet Potato Casserole.
A strong five all around. My daughter makes a triple recipe for leftovers.
🍠Sweet Potato vs. Yam
The debate rages on. Are they the same? Are they totally different? So the answer is yes to all those questions. True yams are mostly grown outside of the US and are much less commonly sold here.
In the US, firm varieties of sweet potatoes are frequently called sweat potatoes, while soft varieties will be called yams. This goes back to African slaves called the soft, sweet potato yams because they resembled the true yams from Africa.
Unless you are specifically searching for yams, you are probably eating sweet potatoes in the US. If you truly want yams, then you perhaps need an international market.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term yam to be accompanied by the term sweet potato.
I have provided a very nice crispy nutty topping that most families will enjoy. But some family traditions need the marshmallow topping.
To create a marshmallow topping, you just give it a nice topping of mini-marshmallows on the top with or without the pecans but not the other topping ingredients. It will take about 1 ½ cups depending on the size of the baking dish.
Due to the raw eggs, the casserole needs to reach 160°+ internal temperature, and the topping should be nicely brown. A marshmallow topping will brown a bit faster.
If ether 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 reach the safe internal temperature of 160°.
This fits nicely in a 2-quart casserole dish. But use what you have, and it will be fine as long as you reach the endpoints.
The oven temperature specified is 350°, and it will take about 30 minutes, but you can vary that some depending on what else you are baking and adjust the time and what the endpoints.
Can I make it ahead? Yes, but... the "but" is I'm not a big fan of uncooked casseroles with egg setting for more than a day in a refrigerator. Many will suggest 3 days, but I feel one day is enough. I can find no FDA guidance on this.
You can cook the sweet potatoes ahead and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Leftovers are good for 3-4 days refrigerated.
Either cooked or uncooked should freeze well for up to 3 months.
📖Side Dish Recipes
Part of Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Note: The recipe is for about eight servings, and you will see pictures for a triple batch. There are only three adults eating today. My daughter was cooking for leftovers.
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 and then peel. You may refrigerate at this point until needed for up to 3 days.
In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 cups sweet potatoes until smooth. A stand mixer or hand mixer work, but you can do this by hand. A bit more sweet potato is fine if that is what you have.
In a separate bowl, beat together two eggs, ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ stick melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla, ½ cup milk. Beat well.
Add to sweet potatoes and mix well.
Place into a well oiled (Pam or butter) oven-safe 2-quart or larger casserole dish.
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.
Traditional 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. 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 and then peel. You may refrigerate at this point until needed for up to 3 days.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 cups sweet potatoes until smooth. A stand mixer or hand mixer work, but you can do this by hand. A bit more sweet potato is fine if that is what you have.
- In a separate bowl, beat together two eggs, ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ stick melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla, ½ cup milk. Beat well.
- Add to sweet potatoes and mix well.
- Place into a well oiled (Pam or butter) oven-safe 2-quart or larger casserole dish.
- Chop 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.
- 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 quart or larger casserole dish. You can use a deep 9 by 9 baking dish if you want.
- 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, but the temperature is still too low, tent lightly with foil until done.
- Make-ahead options. You can cook the sweet potatoes, and they will be good refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can assemble and refrigerate for a day or freeze for up to 3 months.
- 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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Editor's Note: Originally Published December 3, 2011. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.