Sweet Potato Casserole has a rich, creamy sweet potato filling sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup. It’s topped with a game-changing brown sugar pecan streusel – it’s crunchy, sweet, and far surpasses any marshmallow topping! This casserole can be made ahead, and will absolutely fly off of plates at your Thanksgiving table.
I have not always been the biggest sweet potato fan. But, this casserole has converted me into a sweet potato fanatic. Move aside mini marshmallows, there’s a new sherriff in town and it’s name is pecan streusel. Let’s dive in!
Why you’ll love this Sweet Potato Casserole:
- Creamy Sweet Potato Filling – This casserole has a rich, creamy sweet potato filling that’s not too sweet, and is perfectly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Pecan Streusel Topping – A crisp, buttery brown sugar pecan streusel topping takes this dish right over the top! I could eat the topping alone by the spoonful. It’s sure to make this a family favorite!
- Make-Ahead Recipe – This casserole can be assembled, refrigerated, and baked the next day, or baked, cooled, and reheated 1-2 days later to make Thanksgiving dinner prep easier! Full make-ahead tips are below the step by step directions.
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Sweet Potatoes – You can use whole, fresh sweet potatoes or canned ones (see note in recipe card below).
- Maple Syrup – Use real maple syrup for the best flavor.
- Sugar – A mix of granulated sugar and brown sugar add depth of flavor to the filling.
- Eggs – Eggs help the filling set up properly during the bake.
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg – Cozy fall spices add flavor to the sweet potatoes!
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Pecans – Pecans add depth of flavor and crunch to the topping.
- Flour – Spoon your flour into the measuring cup, then level it with a flat utensil for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly into your flour will lead to too much flour, and a potentially dry bake.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite, trusted dairy-free butter and milk to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Gluten-free – I have not tested a gluten-free version of this recipe but I suspect a 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour would work well.
- Nuts – You can omit the pecans if you’re nut-free.
- Canned Sweet Potatoes – Canned yams or canned sweet potatoes can be used instead of cooking whole sweet potatoes to simplify this recipe.
How to Make the Best Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Cook your Sweet Potatoes. Cook whole sweet potatoes in your Instant Pot for about 10 minutes, until nice and tender. There’s no need to peel them first – the peels will slide right off once they’ve been cooked! You can also use canned sweet potatoes or canned yams in a pinch. Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, slide the peels off, and mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl.
See alternative ways to cook your sweet potatoes in the recipe variations section farther down in this post.
Step 2: Mix up the Filling. Mix the melted butter, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and eggs into the mashed sweet potatoes. These ingredients add tons of flavor, and create a rich, creamy casserole!
Step 3: Make the Pecan Streusel. Our life-changing topping consists of flour, brown sugar, softened-bordering-on-melted butter, a pinch of cinnamon, and pecans – that’s all! Whip it up in your food processor and you have the most glorious topping to anything you have ever eaten. (I even use it on my Pumpkin Bread!)
Step 4: Bake the Casserole. Spread the sweet potato filling in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the pecan crumble over the top of the casserole. Bake as directed in the recipe card below. Once the casserole is finished baking, add 1-2 minutes under the broiler for a bit of extra golden brown color and crispness to the topping.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Serve this dish while it’s piping hot from the oven! Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. See make ahead tips directly below.
Can I make this Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead?
Absolutely! You will be happy to know I have tested it, and this topping does NOT get soggy in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to reheat it, just cover with foil and pop it in the oven at whatever temp you already have it at to finish baking/warming any other side dishes (somewhere between 300 F and 425 F should be fine). Give it about 10-15 minutes, or until it’s warmed through. You can always stick an instant read kitchen thermometer into the center to make sure it’s completely warmed through.
Expert Success Tips:
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- Creamy Sweet Potatoes – Make sure your sweet potatoes are tender and completely cooked by poking them with a fork in a few different spots. If you do end up with some lumps after mashing, use an immersion blender or a hand mixer to whip them completely smooth. (Although, a few small lumps will not be noticeable in the casserole!)
Yes! Halve the filling and topping, and bake in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish. I suppose you could double it as well, and bake in a half sheet pan (13×18) if you have one.
Yes, scroll up 2 sections to see the full make ahead directions.
How do I cook Sweet Potatoes?
If you don’t have an instant pot, this dish can still be on your holiday table, never fear. You can cook your sweet potatoes in the oven or on the stovetop.
- Oven – Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place rinsed & scrubbed sweet potatoes (peels on) onto a baking sheet. Poke holes all over with a fork. Don’t wrap in foil – it makes the outsides kind of slimy. Roast the potatoes for 40 to 55 minutes, or until they are very tender when pierced with a fork. Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them, then cut down the middle of each potato and scoop the insides out. Mash and proceed with the recipe.
- Stovetop – Peel your sweet potatoes. Dice into 1-inch cubes and add to a very large pot of water. Salt the water well and bring to a boil. Boil for 10-14 minutes, until potatoes are very tender when pierced with a fork. Drain water, and mash the potatoes. Proceed with the recipe as directed.
- Nuts – You can omit the pecans if you have a nut allergy. I think walnuts could be yummy here, or you can just omit the nuts completely.
- 9×13 Casserole Dish – Bake this recipe in any 9×13 pan. Just make sure it’s deep, like the one pictured, so it can hold both the filling and topping.
- Instant Pot – I love using my instant pot to cook sweet potatoes – it’s quicker than baking them in the oven!
More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes to Love:
- Quick Bacon Green Beans
- Baked Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon
- Homemade Maple Cranberry Sauce
- White Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs
- Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Dressing
- Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Pecan Streusel Topping
For the Sweet Potato Filling
- 4 large sweet potatoes, rinsed & scrubbed (no need to peel) See note below
- 6 tbsp salted butter, melted 85 grams
- 3 tbsp milk Any kind works – I used 2%
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp real maple syrup
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 53 grams
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed 55 grams
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the Brown Sugar Pecan Topping
- 2 cups pecans
- 3/4 cup salted butter 12 tbsp, or 170 grams
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour 138 grams
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed 220 grams.
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Cook the Sweet Potatoes: Rinse & scrub your sweet potatoes and place them (whole, and unpeeled) on the trivet (it comes with the Instant Pot) inside the Instant Pot. Add 1 cup of water. Cook on High Pressure using the Manual setting for 12 minutes. If your sweet potatoes are especially large, start with 13-15 minutes. Let the steam release naturally once the potatoes are done (or you will have sweet potato bits spraying out). Open the Instant Pot and use tongs to remove your sweet potatoes (they will be extremely hot). Set them on a cutting board to cool. Once cooled, you'll be able to easily slide the skins off.
- Prep: Preheat your oven to 350℉. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
- Make the Filling: Add the cooked, peeled sweet potatoes (or use one 29-ounce can of cooked sweet potatoes or yams – be sure to drain them) to a large mixing bowl and mash until smooth, using a potato masher. Add all filling ingredients, and stir to combine, making sure the eggs get well incorporated. Evenly spread the sweet potato mixture into your prepared pan.
- Make the Topping: Soften your butter in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds (it should be very soft, with melted butter pooled around the softened parts). Add butter, pecans, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon to food processor or a blender and pulse until just combined. It will be sort of a wet, clumpy mixture. Crumble it over the sweet potato filling. Tip: If you don't have a food processor, or if yours can't handle a thick mixture, simply melt the butter in a medium bowl. Then, chop your pecans roughly, and add them to the bowl with the remaining topping ingredients. Stir until a clumpy streusel mixture forms.
- Bake: Bake for 25-28 minutes. The topping will be lightly browned. Set your oven to "broil" and broil an additional 1-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it while it broils – it can go from perfectly browned to burnt quickly.
- Serve + Store: Serve while it's nice and warm from the oven! Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Directions: Assemble Ahead: You can assemble everything the day before Thanksgiving and wait to bake it until Thanksgiving day – just cover it with foil or plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge overnight.Bake Ahead & Reheat: You can make + bake this 1-2 days ahead. Let the baked casserole cool completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate it. Reheat it in the oven, at any temp between 300℉ – 425℉ (whatever your oven is already at to bake or warm other dishes on thanksgiving day should work just fine) covered with foil, until warmed through. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure it's warmed through to the center. If you microwave it to reheat the topping will lose it's crisp texture.