The best sweet potato casserole is made with creamy mashed sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and cinnamon then topped with an amazing pecan topping.
This yummy side dish will be your favorite for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any special occasion because it's easy to make and make ahead friendly!
Here in the south, potatoes are the number 1 holiday side dish! White or sweet potatoes are the most popular choice. Southern sweet potato casserole is always a top pick! Other classic sides include Cornbread Dressing, Green Bean Casserole, Corn, Macaroni and Cheese, Squash Casserole, and Rolls.
Holidays are a time to enjoy all our favorite foods! Sometimes, my family eats Jambalaya for our holiday meal. So, there's no right or wrong when it comes to what you eat!
Sweet potatoes are available year round. If you live in Mississippi, you've probably eaten a sweet potato grown in Vardaman, Mississippi - sweet potato capital of the world! Read more about the history of Vardaman's sweet potatoes on Mississippi Sweet Potato's website.
November and December is what we call the "eating season." Just kidding (or am I?). Nevertheless, the holidays are getting closer, and I'm getting super excited about good food and good times with family and friends!
Having said that, sweet potato casserole recipes have been around for a long, long time. There are many varieties from family to family. However, we happen to think this is the best recipe 🙂 Pair it with my Southern Cornbread Dressing and Creamy Squash Casserole for an authentic Southern meal!
Why We Love This Casserole
Is sweet potato casserole a dessert or a side dish? Well, it is a side dish, but it is pretty darn sweet! The crispy brown sugar topping reminds me of a pecan praline.
For this reason, just a spoonful should be all you need 🙂 This casserole makes 9 servings, but with smaller portions, you could get a couple more out of it.
As mentioned above, there are SO many variations for this recipe. Some have marshmallows and some have raisins. Some have sweet potato slices and some have mashed sweet potatoes. This southern sweet potato casserole uses mashed sweet potatoes and that's why it's so creamy and smooth!
Some recipes use fresh ingredients and some use canned. So if you're undecided about which one to choose, I highly urge you to give this recipe a try!
What Goes In It
Here, we take a quick peek at the ingredients.
Sweet Potato Mixture:
Sweet potatoes - do not substitute with yams! The flavor and texture won't be the same.
Milk, Butter, Eggs - for moisture, flavor, and make the casserole creamy.
Vanilla Extract, Sugar, Cinnamon - for that delicious flavor combination, nothing beats this combo!
Streusel Topping Mixture:
Butter - real butter is best!
Pecans - use unsalted pecans.
Light brown sugar, all-purpose flour - use dark brown sugar if that's all you have.
How to Make It
Here's a summary of how to make this southern sweet potato casserole. When you get ready to make it, please follow the Recipe Card at the bottom of the post.
(1) Peel, chop, boil, drain, and mash sweet potatoes. Add to a large mixing bowl.
(2) Add remaining ingredients and mix well with a whisk.
(3) Pour sweet potato mixture into an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish.*
(4) Blend the pecan topping mixture and then sprinkle on top.
(5) Bake and serve.
*This recipe can easily be doubled. Use a 9-inch x 13-inch casserole dish and bake as directed.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, these two are totally different root vegetables! First, the skins are quite different. Yams have a dark, bumpy, tough skin while sweet potatoes have reddish-orange, thin, smoother skin. The flesh differs as well. Sweet potatoes have a smooth, sweet flesh while yams have a more fibrous non-sweet flesh. For these reasons, I would not use yams for this recipe.
Make the casserole and the topping the day before you plan to eat it. Keep the topping in a separate container. Store both in the refrigerator. Right before you bake the casserole, add the topping and bake as directed.
It freezes very well! Make the casserole but don't add the pecan topping. Tip - use an oven-to-freezer container. Let it cool completely. Wrap in plastic, then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to one month. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, make the pecan topping, sprinkle on top of the casserole, and bake as directed.
It sure seems that they are the same! Both are sweet and always a treat. But the main difference is a sweet potato pie does not have a topping, and sweet potato casserole usually has a pecan topping or marshmallow topping.
Storing Leftovers in the Refrigerator
Store leftovers in airtight containers for up to 3 days. I like to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids. Available now on Amazon.
If you're running short on time, you can use canned sweet potatoes. Buy three 16-ounce cans, and discard all the liquid. Mash them up and proceed with the recipe card instructions.
If you're going to take your casserole somewhere else, try this Lasagna Lugger Combo by Rachael Ray. It's not just for lasagna 🙂 The set comes with 2 sizes (13x9 and 9x9). Perfect for when you have 2 different size dishes to transport. Available now on Amazon.
More Holiday Side Dishes
If you try this recipe, let me know. I'd love to hear from you!
Sign up for my newsletter to receive a variety of easy recipes sent straight to your inbox!
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
- pot for boiling sweet potatoes
- potato masher
- large bowl
- measuring cup(s)
- measure spoons
- 8 x 8 baking dish
- pastry blender (optional)
- 3 large sweet potatoes You will need 3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes so buy more if they are small.
- ½ cup butter
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ to 1 cup white granulated sugar ½ c for less sweet. 1 c for very sweet.
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup chopped pecans (unsalted)
- 1 cup light brown sugar (packed in measuring cup) see notes
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Peel and slice sweet potatoes into chunks. Cover with water in a large pot. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until very tender.
- Pour off water. Add butter and mash the potatoes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In a large bowl, mix the hot mashed sweet potatoes with milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir well with a whisk and pour into 8x8 dish.
- Topping: Combine cold butter, brown sugar, and flour. Mix well with fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in nuts. (a pie plate works well for this step).
- Sprinkle on top of sweet potatoes.
- Bake uncovered at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until set.
This recipe was originally published in 2020 and was updated in 2022.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.