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This baked Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe is the one! It has the ideal balance of sweet and savory and the creamy sweet potato filling is pure comfort. The pecan oatmeal topping maintains an old-fashioned feel, yet is unique and a little unexpected. I’ve been cooking it for more than a decade, and it’s everyone’s favorite!

a pan of the best sweet potato casserole

Why This Is the Best Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

  • No Cloying Casseroles Here! As you can see from my Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey Pecans and Sweet Potato Souffle, I’m not opposed to a sweet potato casserole that’s sweet. Now, so sugary and gloppy and covered with marshmallows that you get a toothache just looking at it? That’s where I draw the line! This sweet potato casserole recipe is juuuust sweet enough without overdoing it.
  • A Thanksgiving Classic. Sorry, Mr. Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey. For many of us, it’s all about the sides on Thanksgiving. Every family has their faves and for mine, it’s the Butternut Squash CasseroleCornbread Stuffing, and my sweet potato casserole recipe.
  • That Little Je Ne Sais Quoi. My two tricks to setting this sweet potato casserole recipe apart from others you’ve tried are vanilla beans and a crunchy pecan oatmeal topping. The vanilla flavor is subtle but surprising and the savory crunch of the oats and pecans is an ideal counterpoint to the velvety sweet potatoes.
  • Vegan and Gluten-Free. But no one will suspect. Struggling to find some side dishes that everyone at the table can eat? In addition to being gluten-free, this sweet potato casserole is vegan. Instead of using butter and heavy cream, I used almond milk and coconut oil, along with a light touch of maple syrup. (Does this resonate? Check out my full list of Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes.)

5 Star Review

“Had a family cookout today, and my youngest daughter made this. It was amazing! I’ll be having some for breakfast!”

— Carla —
a plate of yummy sweet potato casserole recipe with pecans

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecans

The Ingredients

For the Sweet Potato Casserole Filling:

  • Sweet Potatoes. This, friends, is important! While purple and white sweet potatoes are delightful, they have a higher starch content than their red and orange cousins. You might be tempted to give this sweet potato casserole recipe a gourmet upgrade with a unique sweet potato variety, but stick with the tried-and-true for that classic creamy, velvety texture.
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. Or another plant-based milk.
  • Vanilla Beans. Or use vanilla bean paste. Basically, we want those glorious little flecks of vanilla in our casserole, which is a visual cue that says: this is going to be delicious. Will vanilla extract work? Absolutely (just no flecks).
  • Virgin Coconut Oil. This has a light coconut flavor that you’ll appreciate in this recipe.
  • Seasonings. Ground cinnamon, kosher salt, grated nutmeg, and white pepper.

For the Pecan Oat Topping:

  • Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats. Not steel-cut or quick oats, which don’t have the right texture for the topping. 
  • Pecans. You’ll be chopping them anyway, so buy pecan pieces, which are cheaper than whole pecans.
  • Almond Meal. Not to be confused with almond flour! Almond meal is coarser and the skin is still on the almonds when they’re ground. (You can swap almond flour if that’s what you have.)
  • Ground Cinnamon. Key for cozy fall flavor.
  • Kosher Salt. A bit of salt adds balance to the topping.
  • Coconut Oil. For more subtle coconutty-ness. Feel free to swap butter.
  • Pure Maple Syrup. The kiss of fall! Honey works too. Need more sweet potato sweetness? Check out my Candied Sweet Potatoes.

The Directions

  1. Prepare. Preheat your oven and grease a casserole dish. 
sweet potatoes on a baking sheet to make crowd favorites sweet potato casserole
  1. Bake the Sweet Potatoes. Until they are nice and soft.
  2. Peel and Prep. Scoop the sweet potato flesh into a big bow.
the perfect spices for sweet potato casserole recipe
  1. Make the Vanilla Milk Mixture. Warm the almond milk and vanilla beans in a small saucepan, simmering for 5 minutes to infuse the milk with flavor.
mixing sweet potatos to make holiday favorite casserole
  1. Combine All the Ingredients. We’re making the mashed sweet potato base. 
mashed sweet potatoes for the best sweet potato casserole
  1. Mash. Beat with a paddle attachment or mash by hand until the mixture is smooth, then season to taste.
pecans and oats for sweet potato casserole with pecans
  1. Make the Topping. Stir together all of the ingredients in a separate bowl and sprinkle over the potatoes.
baked sweet potato casserole
  1. Bake. Place the dish in the oven and bake sweet potato casserole until the topping is toasted and the casserole is warmed through. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Make It With Butternut Squash. Yes, you can! Butternut, honeynut, or another sweet winter squash variety would work well in this recipe.
  • Use Dairy. You can use cow’s milk instead of the almond milk and butter instead of the coconut oil. Because vanilla dairy milk isn’t a thing, you may want to add an extra splash of vanilla extract to make up for it.
  • Change Up the Topping. If you have a go-to topping you like, feel free to use that instead. You might even want to try the topping from my Pineapple Casserole for a change of pace. (Unlike vanilla dairy milk, pineapple casserole is a thing that exists.)

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Let the sweet potato casserole come to room temperature, then place it in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat. Heat up leftovers in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through, or warm in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. To freeze sweet potato casserole, wrap it in the casserole dish with plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil, or freeze leftovers in an airtight container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.

Meal Prep Tip

This sweet potato casserole recipe can be prepared up through Step 5 one day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator with plastic wrap over the top of the dish and let it come to room temperature before baking.

sweet potato casserole with pecans for the holidays

What to Serve with Sweet Potato Casserole

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use the Vanilla Beans. Or the vanilla bean paste! You’ll get a much richer flavor. If it’s absolutely not an option, 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract will do in a pinch.
  • Make Almond Meal if You Can’t Find It. Almost every grocery store sells it these days, but it’s easy to make! Pulse whole, raw almonds in the food processor just until they form fine crumbs. 
  • Grate Your Own Nutmeg. It’s an amazing flavor upgrade to grate your own nutmeg. I use this zester to do it.
  • Roast the Sweet Potatoes. Some sweet potato casserole recipes will have you zap the potatoes in the microwave or boil them. Don’t do it, I beg you! Baking sweet potatoes in the oven caramelizes the sugars, concentrates their flavor, and gives them a smooth, creamy texture. It’s so worth it.
  • Buy Sweet Potatoes That Are Roughly the Same Size and Shape. A one-pound sweet potato that’s short and squat will take a lot longer to cook than a one-pound potato that’s long and thin. To make sure your potatoes are done at the same time, they should be the same size, shape, and thickness throughout.
  • Don’t Rush It. Keep in mind that even after an hour, a hefty sweet potato may not be done cooking. A knife should slip in easily, the skin should start feeling loose as the flesh inside collapses, and caramelized juices should be seeping from the holes you’ve poked.
healthy recipe for sweet potato casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

4.94 from 31 votes
The best sweet potato casserole recipe ever! Creamy and decadent with pecan oat topping, it's the perfect balance of sweet and savory. The best of all worlds!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Servings: 10 servings (1 9×13-inch casserole)

Ingredients
  

For the Sweet Potatoes:

For the Pecan Oat Topping:


Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish or other 
     and set aside.
  • Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then place them on a baking sheet lined with foil or a silpat mat. Bake until the potatoes are fork tender, about 1 hour or so, depending upon the size of your potatoes. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Peel and discard the skins (they should come off easily with your fingers), break the potatoes in large chunks with a fork, then place the chunks into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl.
  • While the potatoes bake, pour the almond milk in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds into the pan, then add the empty pods to the pan too. Bring to a very gentle simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the almond milk boil. Remove from heat and let the vanilla steep while the potatoes continue baking.
  • Remove the vanilla bean pods from the saucepan, then pour the almond milk and vanilla bean specs into the bowl with the sweet potato chunks. Add the melted coconut oil, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and white pepper.
  • Mash the potatoes together with the milk and spices (or beat gently with a mixer or your paddle attachment or run though a food mill) until fairly smooth with some texture remaining. Taste and add additional salt/pepper as desired. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. With the back of a rubber spatula, press and smooth into a single layer.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients—oats, pecans, almond meal, cinnamon, salt, coconut oil, and maple syrup—until moist and evenly mixed. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.
  • Bake until the topping is toasted and fragrant and casserole is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Video

Notes

  • *You can substitute 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract for the vanilla beans, but the flavor will not be as rich and you lose the pretty specks.
  • **To make your own almond meal, pulse whole, raw almonds in the food processor until they form fine crumbs. Do not over process, or you will have almond butter instead.
  • MAKE IT AHEAD: Casserole can be prepared up through Step 5 one day in advance. Store refrigerated with plastic wrap over the top of the dish. Let come to room temperature prior to baking.
  • TO STORE. Let the sweet potato casserole come to room temperature, then place it in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • TO REHEAT. Heat up leftovers in a 350 degree oven F until warmed through, or warm in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE. To freeze sweet potato casserole, wrap it in the casserole dish with plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil, or freeze leftovers in an airtight container. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
Pecan oat topping adapted from my Cherry Blackberry Crisp

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 10)Calories: 422kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 7gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gPotassium: 778mgFiber: 9gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 28965IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 121mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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68 Comments

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  1. Erin, I made the sweet potato casserole but with the vanilla extract and it turned out really good! I plan to make it again for Thanksgiving and use the real vanilla beans!!5 stars

  2. This was delicious. Thank you.
    FYI, I used skim milk in place of almond milk and vanilla in place of vanilla beans, simply because I didn’t have those items. It was still delicious. I did use fresh nutmeg.
    This casserole was sweet, but not too sweet, just right.5 stars

  3. Hi Erin!

    I am interested in making this for family over the holiday, however we have a few tree nut allergies. Coconut oil is not a problem, pecans can be left out of the topping, and I assume I could use any other milk as a substitute for the almond milk (?)…I’m just not sure about a substitute for almond meal. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sue! I’ve only tested this recipe as written so I wouldn’t be able to advise what you could substitute for almond meal. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  4. This looks really good. Except… Oats are not well tolerated in our house. What do you suggest to use instead? Thank you!

    1. Hi Sunshine! I’ve only tested this recipe as written so I wouldn’t be able to advise what you could substitute for oat. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  5. i don’t have vanilla beans right now, how much vanilla extract should I try? Making this for Easter and will be cutting it half only 4 of us. I am making a mayo potato salad for others and this for myself.

    1. Hi Nana, just want to make sure you are seeing the recipe card on your end because I had already made a note of this substitution in the notes of the recipe card? It’s 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract for the original recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. My family couldn’t get enough of this dish and we were all so impressed by its flavor and texture. Thank you so much for the recipe.5 stars

  7. I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but this one taste so gooood. The flavors are incredibly balanced.5 stars

  8. I tried this recipe last night and the flavors are just right. I don’t have vanilla beans available so I just use a regular vanilla extract. I will buy vanilla beans next time and make this again. Thank you for the recipe.5 stars

  9. This recipe is a new family favorite!! The topping is phenomenal with the touch of coconut. And the sweet potatoes with maple syrup and just divine! Thank you for this recipe that is now a staple on our Thanksgiving table!5 stars

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