This Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole recipe combines a crunchy brown sugar pecan topping with both toasty and gooey, melty marshmallows for a side dish that’s perfect for any Thanksgiving menu!
Now, at our house, Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without a sweet potato casserole on the table. When it comes to Thanksgiving side dishes, it’s just about as important as the cornbread dressing and the green bean casserole. And over the years, I’ve given you plenty of options when it comes to sweet potatoes.
There’s my mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Praline Topping. Heather’s grandmother’s Sweet Potato Pudding. There’s my Candied Sweet Potato with Pecans and My Sweet Potato Cobbler. And for dessert, you’ve got options like Classic Sweet Potato Pie and Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream.
So yeah, I’ve given y’all some options. 😄
So why another sweet potato casserole, you ask? Well, for my family, sweet potato casserole has traditionally come in one of two ways: topped with a pecan and brown sugar crumble topping or topped with toasted melty marshmallows. But usually never both.
But honestly, I like them both. So this recipe includes them both.
Are sweet potatoes better boiled or roasted for sweet potato casserole?
When it comes to preparing those sweet spuds for your sweet potato casserole recipe, you’ve got options: boiling or roasting. Let me break it down for you.
Boiling sweet potatoes can be a quicker method, and it’s the method I used for my mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Praline Topping. You simply peel and chop those orange gems, toss ’em in a large pot of boiling water until they’re fork-tender, drain them well, and you’re good to go. This method retains a lot of their natural sweetness and moisture.
Now, roasting sweet potatoes is like giving them a golden tan in the oven. Simply place them on a foil-lined baking sheet, with a few holes poked in the top to allow steam to escape, and let them roast at 400°F until they’re soft. This brings out their rich, nutty flavor and adds a delightful depth to your casserole.
So, which one’s better? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want your sweet potato casserole to be extra sweet and moist, boil them. But if you crave a richer, slightly nutty flavor, roasting is your jam.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal taste. Whichever way you choose, you’re in for a scrumptious casserole that’ll have your family coming back for seconds!
What makes this Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole ultimate?
In my family, it’s always been either a brown sugar pecan crumble or marshmallows on sweet potato casserole. Never both. Combining both seems like an appropriate way to amp up the classic.
So I’ve included that streusel topping along with marshmallows that are added before it bakes, with more added at the end.
As with my other “ultimate” recipes, this one might take a little more time, but it really is the best sweet potato casserole recipe.
Is sweet potato casserole a side or dessert?
Ah, the sweet potato casserole debate – is it a side or a dessert? Well, my friend, it’s a bit of both! That’s the beauty of Southern cooking; we love our dishes to straddle that line between savory and sweet.
Typically, sweet potato casserole is served as a side dish, especially during holiday feasts like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its natural sweetness and comforting flavors make it a perfect companion to roast turkey, ham, or other savory main courses. It’s like a sweet and cozy hug for your taste buds in the middle of your meal.
However, here’s where it gets interesting: some folks love it so much that they treat it like a dessert. With that heavenly pecan praline topping and gooey marshmallows, it’s no wonder! If you have a sweet tooth, you might find yourself reaching for seconds or even enjoying it as a sweet ending to your meal.
So, the answer is that sweet potato casserole can be whatever you want it to be – a scrumptious side dish or a delightful dessert. It’s the versatile star of the table that brings joy no matter where you place it on your plate!
Can I make sweet potato casserole ahead of time?
Yep, you can certainly make this casserole in advance to save some time on Thanksgiving day! You have a few options, depending on how you want to handle it.
Option 1: If you’ve got a little time on the day of but want to get a head start, you can cook your sweet potatoes a day or two beforehand, peel them, and then store them in a ziptop bag or an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the casserole.
Option 2: Cook the sweet potatoes, make the sweet potato filling, put it in the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. You can also make the pecan streusel topping in advance and store it in the fridge as well.
Just remember, cold dishes don’t go in hot ovens, so let the dish sit out to come to room temperature before putting it in the preheated oven, or place the cold dish in a cold oven and allow the dish to warm with the oven. Then proceed, with the recipe. Keep in mind that you’ll need to add about 10 minutes to the baking time to allow this to cook through from cold.
Ingredients in Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potatoes: There’s something like more than a dozen varieties of sweet potatoes, and they range from white flesh to orange flesh to even purple flesh. For this casserole, I tend to use those in the orange variety. And no, sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing. I explain the difference here.
Granulated Sugar: I use plain white granulated sugar in the filling and brown sugar in the topping.
Vanilla: If you’ve been hanging with me for any amount of time, you know my thoughts on extract versus flavoring. Just use what you’ve got or whatever you can afford. In my opinion, vanilla flavoring is not inferior to extract, so there.
Eggs: Room temp eggs blend in better, so sit them out for a few minutes before mixing it all together.
Evaporated Milk: My mom and grandmother both use evaporated milk for its rich flavor, so I use it here. With that being said, some heavy cream will work, too.
Melted Butter: Unsalted butter that’s melted mixes more easily into the casserole filling.
Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is a must for the topping. I recommend using light brown sugar, but dark brown will work, too. It will just have more molasses flavor.
All-Purpose Flour: Nothing weird or quirky here. Any brand will do.
Softened Butter: As frustrating as it is to have butter two ways in one recipe, it’s just a matter of practicality. The melted mixes into the casserole better, but the softened is what you need to make your crumb topping be crumbly and not paste-y.
Salt: Everything sweet needs a little salt. I just used table salt.
Pecans: Buying them already chopped saves money and time. You could also use walnuts.
Marshmallows: Mini marshmallows are the perfect topping for this dish. I add them in two steps so we get gooey marshmallows and toasted marshmallows.
Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole
- 3 pounds medium sweet potatoes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the topping:
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wash the potatoes. Place them on the baking sheet and prick each potato several times with a fork. Bake for about an hour or until they are soft and a knife easily slides through the middle of each potato. Allow to cool enough to handle, then peel.
- Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add the peeled potatoes to a large bowl. Mash them well with a potato masher or a hand mixer. Add the sugar, vanilla, eggs, evaporated milk, and butter and mix very well. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
- To make the topping, use a fork to combine the brown sugar, flour, and softened butter in a medium bowl until crumbs form. Add the pecans and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle about half of the mini marshmallows over the sweet potato mixture, then sprinkle the topping on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the remaining marshmallows over the top, and return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden brown. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.