As the holiday season approaches and you start planning your holiday meals, don't forget one of the most beloved side dishes of all - Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole! This savory and sweet classic is the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving or Christmas table.
In this post, we'll share our easy step-by-step recipe for making old-fashioned sweet potato casserole from scratch. You'll also learn tips on selecting the best sweet potatoes, preparing them properly, and assembling this iconic dish. So preheat your oven and get ready to enjoy this holiday staple!
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- Reasons Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Key Ingredients
- Step-By-Step Instructions for Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole
- Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole Tips and Tricks
- Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Substitution and Addition Ideas
- Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole FAQs
- More Recipes You'll Love
Reasons Why You'll Love This Recipe
Perfect Blend of Sweet and Savory: This Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole strikes a delightful balance that appeals to both sweet and savory taste preferences.
Creamy and Luscious Texture: The combination of whole milk and softened butter contributes to a creamy and luscious texture in the sweet potato filling.
Irresistible Pecan Topping: The pecan topping adds a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor, elevating the casserole's texture.
Gooey Marshmallow Layer: The layer of mini marshmallows creates a gooey and sweet topping and contributes to a delightful caramelized finish that's both visually appealing and tasty.
Versatility for Special Occasions: Whether served as a side dish for a festive Thanksgiving dinner or as a comforting accompaniment to a weeknight meal, this sweet potato casserole is versatile and a go-to recipe for special gatherings.
Ease of Preparation: With a straightforward set of instructions and common kitchen tools, this recipe is easy to follow for both new and experienced cooks.
Sweet Potatoes: The fresh sweet potatoes in this casserole give it a rich and creamy base. When peeled and cubed, the sweet potatoes become tender and flavorful after boiling. These sweet potatoes add a natural sweetness to the dish. For a potential substitution, you can use canned sweet potatoes which can be found in most grocery stores, especially during the holiday season.
Dark Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar intensifies the natural sweetness in the sweet potato filling and provides a robust caramel flavor to it. If you run out of dark brown sugar, you can substitute it with light brown sugar, maple syrup, or a combination of white sugar and molasses for a similar taste.
Cinnamon and Vanilla: Cinnamon and vanilla bring warm and aromatic flavors to the sweet potato filling. Nutmeg, All spice, and pumpkin pie spice can be a suitable replacement for cinnamon, while almond extract or vanilla bean paste can substitute for vanilla if needed.
Pecan Topping: The crunchy pecan topping adds a delightful crunchy topping and nutty flavor to the casserole. If allergies or preferences are a concern, chopped almonds or walnuts can be substituted for pecans.
Mini Marshmallows: The mini marshmallows create a gooey, sweet layer on top of the casserole during baking. You can use large marshmallows as well. If you're not a fan of marshmallow topping, consider a streusel topping made with oats, brown sugar, and butter for a different texture.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole
Peel and slice your cubed sweet potatoes, then place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
Cook the sweet potatoes until they are fork-tender, then drain, place them in a large bowl, and mash them using a potato masher or hand mixer.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8-inch baking dish with oil, melted butter, or nonstick cooking spray.
In the large mixing bowl with mashed potatoes, add brown sugar, whole milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, softened butter, and salt. Mix them together using a potato masher or hand mixer. You can also use a food processor.
Pour the sweet potato mixture into the greased baking dish.
In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, flour, and chopped pecans. Mix them well.
Spread half of the pecan mixture evenly on top of the sweet potato mixture. Top it evenly with marshmallows as well as the remaining pecan mixture.
Bake your traditional sweet potato casserole for 25-30 minutes or until the marshmallows begin to turn golden brown and bubbly. Place a tray underneath the casserole dish just in case it bubbles over.
Enjoy this old-fashioned sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner along with a main course like roast turkey or side dishes like pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, or green bean casserole.
Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole Tips and Tricks
We sometimes buy whole crunchy pecans and chop them using a sharp knife. Pulsing them in a blender or food processor will also do the trick.
When shopping for sweet potatoes, choose fresh, firm sweet potatoes that have smooth, unblemished skins. We usually look for varieties like Beauregard or Jewel.
When peeling and cubing the sweet potatoes, do your best to cut them into small uniform-sized pieces. This will ensure even cooking, and all your cubes will be fork-tender at the same time.
Adjust the amount of sugar in the sweet potato mixture according to your taste. We recommend tasting the mixture before baking and adding more sugar if needed.
For a crunchier pecan topping, toast the pecans in a dry pan before adding them to the casserole
If the casserole is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil during the baking process to prevent the top from burning. If you prefer less browning on the marshmallow topping, add them during the last 10 minutes of baking.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Reheat the leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes or until warmed through. You can also microwave individual servings for a quicker option.
We usually store leftover sweet potato casserole in an airtight container.
Substitution and Addition Ideas
You can use canned sweet potatoes as a time-saving alternative. Make sure to drain and rinse them before incorporating them into the recipe.
You can also substitute pecans with chopped walnuts or almonds for a different nutty flavor and texture.
Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole FAQs
Can I use a dairy-free alternative for the milk in the sweet potato mixture?
Yes, almond milk or any other non-dairy milk can be used as a substitute for whole milk in the sweet potato mixture for a dairy-free version.
How can I make this recipe healthier?
To make this sweet potato casserole healthier, consider reducing the amount of sugar, using a sugar substitute, or incorporating more natural sweeteners like maple syrup. Additionally, you can experiment with whole-grain flour in the topping.
What can I serve alongside this sweet potato casserole?
This casserole pairs well with a variety of dishes, including roasted turkey, ham, or chicken. It also complements classic Thanksgiving sides like stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Can I use sweetened coconut flakes for the topping?
Yes, you can use sweetened coconut flakes if you prefer a sweeter topping. Adjust the amount according to your taste.
Can I make this casserole without nuts for allergy reasons?
Certainly, you can omit the nuts in the topping or replace them with sunflower seeds or pepitas.
What's the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?
While often used interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are botanically different. Yams have a starchy, dry texture, and their flavor can differ from sweet potatoes. This recipe typically uses sweet potatoes, but you can experiment with true yams if they are available.
Can I use a different sweetener instead of dark brown sugar?
Yes, you can use alternatives like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar as a substitute for dark brown sugar, adjusting the quantity based on your desired level of sweetness.
Do I have to add marshmallows to this recipe?
No, even though they are a game changer, you don't have to use marshmallows in this recipe. Sweet potato casserole without marshmallows is sometimes called sweet potato souffle.
What else can I top this casserole with?
You can add coconut flakes, pecan crumble, pecan streusel (which contains oats), or crushed drained pineapples.
Can I cook this on the top rack of the oven?
We recommend cooking old-fashioned sweet potato casserole in the middle rack of the oven because that’s where the hot air circulates best around the dish. It also prevents the top or bottom of the casserole dish from browning too quickly.
Can this be made the day before?
Yes, feel free to make it the day before, cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and refrigerate it. But I wouldn’t put the pecan topping on it.
What size pan would you recommend for this casserole?
I recommend an 8x8 baking dish but you can use a 9x13-inch dish or whatever baking dish you have, as long as the ingredients can fit in it.
Can I use an aluminum pan to cook this recipe?
Yes, you can totally also use an Aluminum pan but you might have to adjust the cooking times. Also, please be sure to place the pan on a baking sheet so that it's easy for you to handle.
Can this classic sweet potato casserole recipe be frozen?
Yes, it can be frozen but I would freeze it without the toppings. This casserole lasts up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. Thaw it in the fridge before baking it the next day.
Is it okay to wait until the last 10 minutes to put the marshmallows on?
Yes, that’s perfectly okay
Old-fashioned sweet potato casserole truly is a timeless holiday recipe. This easy sweet potato casserole recipe will quickly become your new favorite holiday side. Just don't be surprised if you catch your guests sneaking in seconds!
Now that you know how simple it is to make this nostalgic dish from scratch, be sure to download our full recipe below to have everything you need for sweet potato casserole success this holiday season.
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Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole
- Baking dish
- Can opener
- Measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Cookie tray
For the sweet potatoes:
- 4 pounds Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the pecan topping:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups marshmallows
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Peel and slice your cubed sweet potatoes, then place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Cook the sweet potatoes until they are fork-tender, then drain, place them in a large bowl, and mash them using a potato masher or hand mixer.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13-inch (3 quarts) baking dish with oil, melted butter, or nonstick cooking spray.
- In the large mixing bowl with mashed potatoes, add brown sugar, whole milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, softened butter, and salt. Mix them together using a potato masher or hand mixer. You can also use a food processor.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into the greased baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, marshmallows, brown sugar, flour, and chopped pecans. Mix them well.
- Spread half of the pecan mixture evenly on top of the sweet potato mixture. Top it evenly with marshmallows as well as the remaining pecan mixture.
- Bake your traditional sweet potato casserole for 25-30 minutes or until the marshmallows begin to turn golden brown and bubbly. Place a tray underneath the casserole dish just in case it bubbles over.
- Enjoy this old-fashioned sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner along with a main course like roast turkey or side dishes like pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, or green bean casserole.